The Brooklyn Nets have only played in five games since the start of the 2021-22 NBA season, but sit at 2-3. After beating the Washington Wizards on Monday, it seemed as if the Nets were finally starting to get into some sort of offensive groove.
However, the woes continued on Wednesday as Brooklyn lost to the Miami Heat, 106-93.
MVP-favorite Kevin Durant has carried the majority of the weight on the offensive end for the Nets, averaging 29.8 points and five assists so far this year. With Kyrie Irving out indefinitely, Durant can’t do everything on his own.
That’s why Brooklyn also has James Harden, right? Eh, not really.
The Nets still have 77 regular-season games to decipher who should be on the court and when, but Harden has struggled. He’s averaging 16.6 points, eight assists and seven rebounds so far this year. Those aren’t bad numbers exactly, but they aren’t the type of statistics that Harden is used to putting up. Last year, he averaged 24.6 points per game, a whole eight points more than what he’s scoring right now.
What’s wrong with Harden, then? Well, he’s not making it to the free throw line as often as he’s used to.
Why? He’s no longer able to draw fouls on non-basketball moves. That was the name of Harden’s game, but the NBA has put a stop to it. It’s obviously going to take him a little bit to adjust, but he’s still throwing his hands up in disbelief.
James Harden’s struggles continue as the Brooklyn Nets fall to 2-3
Harden was forced to step back and reevaluate his game, but it’s clear that the referees aren’t falling for his bait anymore. If he’s still expecting these types of calls to go in his favor, Brooklyn is going to continue to skid. Harden heavily relies on the amount of points that he’s able to put up from the free throw line, so something is going to have to change.
Last season, Harden knocked down 278 free throws and averaged 7.3 attempts at the line per game. This year, he’s hit 15 free throws. Perhaps Harden thought that he would be excluded from the new rule. For the first time in a decade, the premise of his game is up in the air.
The Nets already aren’t getting much out of Joe Harris, so they can’t afford to watch Harden fall apart, too. Irving averaged 26.9 points per game last season, so Brooklyn entered the season already lacking on the offensive end. There’s only so much that Durant can do, but the biggest favor to him would be if Harden finds his flow.
There’s still plenty of basketball left to be played, but if this problem persists for too much longer, the Nets will be in danger.