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Durant, Irving and Now Harden. How the Nets Will Make This Trio Work

In Houston, below Coach Mike D’Antoni, the Rockets emphasised isolation as the remainder of the league was transferring away from it, typically giving Harden the ball and having his teammates stand round waiting for him to create shots. Final season, 45 percent of Harden’s possessions had been isolations, almost twice that of Westbrook’s, the second most within the league.

It labored: Not solely did Harden put up a number of the finest offensive numbers of any participant ever, however the Rockets, throughout D’Antoni’s tenure from 2016-17 to 2019-20, had been additionally a prime offensive group. Now Harden will reunite with D’Antoni, who’s an assistant below Nets Coach Steve Nash.

However as a substitute of being the offensive engine, as he was for the Rockets offense, Harden can be considered one of three elite choices. Even this season, with out D’Antoni as the pinnacle coach, the Rockets have led the league in isolations, partly due to Harden. The Nets had been ninth in that class going into Thursday’s play, although it’s cheap to imagine they might rank larger if Irving hadn’t been out for private causes (he hasn’t performed since Jan. 5) and if Durant hadn’t missed three video games due to coronavirus protocols.

Durant was within the N.B.A.’s prime 20 in isolations, at 15.6 percent, in his final full season, nonetheless nicely behind Harden. This season, Durant is isolating much less incessantly than he was with Golden State (13.7 percent).

That is the place the adjustment would be the largest for all of the gamers. Harden is used to not solely receiving the ball — but in addition to holding it and being in full management.

The place Harden differentiates himself essentially the most from Irving and Durant is in how more likely he’s to hunt for fouls and get to the road. Harden has averaged no less than 10 free throws a recreation in seven out of the last eight seasons. He typically frustrates opponents, typically by purposely locking their arms whereas making halfhearted shot makes an attempt.

Irving is the other. He shies away from contact, opting to fade away quite than get hit. His profession excessive in free throws per recreation got here final season (5.1) when he performed solely 20 video games. Durant has reached 10 per recreation simply as soon as in his profession, however he has been higher than Irving at attending to the road, averaging 7.7 foul photographs a recreation in his profession.

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