Nets: Will James Harden or Kyrie Irving play more without ball in new offense?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 18: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 18: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

How will James Harden and Kyrie Irving mesh in the backcourt?

The Kevin Durant-James Harden tag team has gotten off to a fine start, and the Brooklyn Nets are poised to somehow upgrade by getting the tertiary part of this three-headed monster back.

After two games, both of which were wins over Eastern Conference playoff teams in the Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks, Kyrie Irving rejoined the team after his personal leave. This will, naturally, bring up questions about which player will sacrifice touches and time with the ball in their hands: Harden or Irving?

Given the history of these two, Irving looks is more likely to play off-ball.

Kyrie Irving has proven before that he can play without the ball in his hands

While Irving’s spellbinding handles and ability to distribute the ball helped create a narrative that states he needs to have the ball in his hands at all times, his play next to LeBron James in Cleveland and under a ball movement-centric offense in Boston, for which he received praise from head coach Brad Stevens, suggests that he will be willing and able to give up control of the rock.

Harden, on the other hand, has a playing style that is inexorably tied to handling the ball. Not only is Harden an inferior 3-point shooter when compared to a player in Irving who has topped 40% from deep multiple times, but his assists and assist-to-turnover ratio are better than what Irving can boast, proving he is the better option to set up the offense.

Additionally, years of playing under Mike D’Antoni helped Harden pick up a usage rate that only Russell Westbrook can compete with. It’ll be easier to convince Irving to handle the ball less than totally changing Harden’s style of play.

This is the definition of a “good problem to have.” Figuring out how to divvy up shots between these three stars should be fun for Steve Nash.