1. James Harden
If Griffin and Harris continued to play mediocre ball, that wouldn’t be completely awful, as long as James Harden improved his play. His production on the offensive side of the floor is what Brooklyn has desperately been missing. Harden revealed after Wednesday’s loss that he’s still working his way back from the hamstring injury that plagued him during the second half of last year, but the Nets can’t afford to not have him as a playmaker.
It’s been blatantly clear that Harden has struggled with the NBA’s new rule that doesn’t allow for players to draw fouls on non-basketball plays. He used to be a wizard at getting to the charity stripe, but not anymore. Not only is his conditioning not at its best, but he’s also having to alter his game in other ways.
Harden is averaging 16.6 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds. He’s shooting 35.9 percent from the field and has turned the ball over 23 times. That comes down to 4.6 turnovers per game, which is one of the worst numbers in the league. He said himself that right now he’s not able to put up 30 to 40 points per game, but the Nets just need him to be a consistent scorer.
I know that at this point saying that Brooklyn is missing Irving sounds like a broken record, but it’s true. Especially in regard to Harden, whose play hasn’t done much to make fans feel better about not having Irving on the floor. If Harden can get into a groove, Nets fans will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. The pressure is on, even if he isn’t feeling it.