With James Harden now on their roster, the Brooklyn Nets are one of the NBA’s highest scoring teams. They were ranked second at 119.1 points per game ––trailing only the Milwaukee Bucks (120.1)––after defeating the Miami Heat by 98-85 at the Barclays Center on Monday night. But it will still take some time for the Nets to evolve and become what they’re expected to be––which is the Eastern Conference champion according to gambling odds.
Harden, along with teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, are in the process of figuring out an ideal formula. All three are prolific scorers and ball handlers, and will have to redefine and maybe refine their roles.
Harden, who had 21 points,12 assists, 10 rebounds and followed by 19 points and 11 assists in Brooklyn’s back-to-back road losses against the Cleveland Cavaliers last week, is still finding his way in offense in which he is not the primary scorer. Durant was No. 2 in the NBA in scoring average at 30.4 when the Nets––who were 11-8––faced the Hawks in Atlanta last night (Wednesday). Irving was scoring at a 28.1 points per game clip, and Harden was at 23 in his six games with Brooklyn and 24 overall in 18 combined games with the Nets and the Houston Rockets.
Nets head coach Steve Nash foresees the three-time NBA scoring champion increasing his offensive output as the season progresses. “I think once he gets more comfortable with his teammates, when he gets in better shape, when he’s adapted to this whole new environment, we’ll see an improved James scoring the ball,” said Nash regarding Harden, who has had two triple-doubles and one double-double in three out of the Nets’ last four games.
“I give James his space offensively,” Nash expanded. “I mean, he’s one of the greatest offensive players to ever play the game…I trust in him figuring out where he’s at with his game and how he can affect the game.”
The week marks the Nets completing one-fourth of the NBA’s reduced 72-game schedule for the 2020-21 season. The league and the global basketball community also commemorated one year since the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in California last Jan. 6.
The Nets next two games, road matchups versus the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow night and the Washington Wizards on Sunday has them facing the current No. 12 and No. 14 seeds respectively in the Western and Eastern Conferences. Their schedule gets much more difficult afterward with the L.A. Clippers (next Tuesday), the Toronto Raptors (next Friday) and the Philadelphia 76ers (next Sunday) on the horizon.