James Harden’s arrival in Brooklyn meant three of the NBA’s best — Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving — on one squad. A bona-fide superteam. But one question quickly arose: How would Harden fit into the Nets’ lineup?
A month after being dealt to the Nets from the Houston Rockets in a four-way trade, Harden has established a new role for himself, one that allows each member of Brooklyn’s Big Three to thrive. Irving elaborated more after the Nets’ 134-117 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.
Kyrie Irving Makes It Clear
Harden, after 16 more assists Saturday, is up to 11.6 assists per game — tops in the NBA. It was essentially obvious at this point, but Irving spelled it out after Saturday’s game: Harden is the Nets’ point guard.
“I feel like he’s just been doing a great job of just managing the point guard role,” Irving said told reporters after the game, via SNY. “We established that maybe four days ago now — I just looked at him and I said, ‘You’re the point guard, and I’m going to play shooting guard.’ That was as simple as that.
“So he’s been taking control of the responsibilities and doing an incredible job. It just makes my job to just go out and play free and just make plays. So, it’s a luxury.”
Harden is still getting his points — he entered the weekend averaging 23.3 since joining the Nets — but his role as the team’s offensive orchestrator is ensuring Irving (28.4 points per game entering the weeknd since the Harden trade) and Durant (29.6) have the best opportunity to score.
James Harden Elaborates More on New Role
In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that aired Friday, Harden used the word “draining” to describe his experience with the Houston Rockets. On the flip side, Harden said it was “relieving” to land in Brooklyn where he has co-stars in Durant and Irving.
“The situation that I was with in Houston, consistently and every single night having to get 40 points to give ourself a chance to win, for a long stint of years is draining,” Harden told Nichols, “and so just to be able to have a skillset of guys that you can be the play-maker and you can get guys involved and not necessarily worrying about scoring each possession, it’s a little bit relieving for me.”
Harden reiterated that point after Saturday’s win.
“I came to this team knowing they have two special scorers on this team,” Harden told reporters on Saturday night, via SNY. “Obviously, I’ll score when I need to. But as long I’m getting everybody involved and Kyrie is getting the shots that he wants, KD is getting the shots that he wants, it’s pretty efficient.”