Kevin Durant: James Harden finding ‘perfect balance’ for role with Nets
James Harden spent a majority of his tenure with the Houston Rockets developing a style of play unflatteringly referred to as “hero ball” by critics. Now that he has six games under his belt with the Brooklyn Nets, the one-time MVP is beginning to settle into his role in the team’s offense.
Harden’s ball-dominant playing style was never expected to work with the Nets given the presence of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, two superstars who crave having the offense run through them. It appears the one-time MVP is beginning to understand how to balance being a scorer and facilitator when the Nets are on offense.
After being held to 10 points through three quarters, Harden doubled his scoring output in the fourth quarter, finishing with with 20 points and eight assists in the Nets’ 98-85 victory over the Miami Heat.
“I was in a role for eight years, controlling the ball, dominating the ball,” Harden said after the game, referring to his time with the Rockets, via Malika Andrews of ESPN. “Now it’s a different experience for me, but it’s still great.”
Harden went on to say that “the best part” of getting acclimated to the Nets is the learning process required to find his niche in the newly formed Big Three.
Kevin Durant believes Harden struck the “perfect balance” in Monday night’s win.
“Feels like he just transferred to a new school and he’s trying to figure out the curriculum,” Durant said. “And it’s going to take some time to figure out who your teammates are, what your rotations are in the game, when to be aggressive, when to score, pass.”
He continued: “As a scorer and the focal point of your offense, sometimes the balance between score and pass — you got to figure that out each night.”
When chatter surrounding a potential deal between the Rockets and Nets involving Harden was at a fever pitch last month, there was an abundance of skepticism that acquiring the superstar would pay off for Brooklyn.
The belief at the time was that pairing Harden, KD and Irving was a horrible idea. The notion that the three mercurial personalities could coexist on the court without serious issues erupting was legitimately called into question.
Harden’s arrival occurred when Irving was still away from the Nets for “personal reasons,” and his reunion with Durant could not have gotten off to a better start in their first two games together. Harden did cool off a bit in the games that followed once Irving returned, but perhaps the three are starting to develop some on-court chemistry.
If that does indeed come to fruition and their on-court relationship continues to blossom, Harden, Durant and Irving could very well head up one of the most lethal offenses the NBA has ever seen.