Should Nets Be Worried About James Harden’s Slow Start?

James Harden, Brooklyn Nets, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

The Brooklyn Nets are off to a slower than anticipated start this NBA season, stumbling out of the gate with a 2-3 record. Some bumps along the way were to be expected, as they are currently playing without starting point guard, Kyrie Irving.

Irving will not be back with the team until he receives his COVID-19 vaccination and is eligible to become a full-time player. Without him in the mix, Steve Nash is going to be relying on Kevin Durant and James Harden a lot more to carry the load.

Thus far, Kevin Durant has answered the call. He is leading the team with 29.8 points and 10 rebounds per game. He is chipping in five assists, one steal, and one block in 35 minutes per game as well to round out an impressive stat line. Harden, unfortunately, isn’t finding the same success.

While it is still very early in the season, people may start to worry about James Harden because he is still recovering from the hamstring injury that plagued him throughout the 2020-21 campaign. He focused so much on rehab during the offseason that these games are the first time that he has had competition against someone else.

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Knowing what the end goal of the team is, it makes sense to take things slow and work his way back. But, it certainly has been a struggle for him.

Harden is second on the team with 16.6 points per game and leads them with eight assists. He is adding seven rebounds, 1.2 steals, and one block as well, but he just cannot get going offensively.

He has an unsightly shooting split of .359/.333/.933. The most concerning thing for him thus far this season is adjusting to the new emphasis on calls from the referees. He is no longer being rewarded for what has been deemed unnatural basketball plays and is averaging only three free throws per game.

Following the Nets’ game against the Charlotte Hornets, James Harden had a lot to say about the referees and how he is reffed. He said he is not the type to complain about it, but it certainly sounds like he is unhappy with how things have changed.

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James Harden said that he will not adjust his game because of the rule changes, which is a poor mindset to have. The Brooklyn Nets need him to provide more than he currently is, efficiency-wise if they want to make noise in the Eastern Conference. 

If he is not willing to make some changes, he will be hurting the team and keeping them from winning games. He can no longer rely on going to the foul line double-digit times per game to make a winning impact for the team.