Following Saturday’s win, Kyrie Irving confirmed something we already knew — James Harden is the Brooklyn Nets’ point guard.
Kyrie Irving is a point guard by trade, but he’s willing to change for James Harden. Following a blowout win over the Golden State Warriors, Irving told reporters that Harden is the Brooklyn Nets‘ point guard now.
Kyrie Irving on James Harden: "I just looked at him and said 'You're the point guard and I'm gonna play shooting guard.' And it was as simple as that." pic.twitter.com/L7Az7epJjX
— Danny Small (@dwsmall8) February 14, 2021
“I feel like he’s been doing a great job at managing the point guard role,” Irving said about Harden on a postgame Zoom. “We established that maybe four days ago now. I just looked at him and said ‘You’re the point guard and I’m going to play shooting guard.’
And it was as simple as that. He’s been taking control of his responsibilities and just doing an incredible job. It just makes my job easier to go out and play free and make plays. It’s a luxury.”
There were legitimate questions to be asked when the Nets acquired Harden. Kevin Durant, Irving, and Harden are all players who can dominate the ball, but so far so good with this trio.
James Harden Point God
Saturday night was vintage Point Harden. He dished out 16 assists as Irving and Durant combined for 43 points. Nine different Nets finished with eight or more points, due in large part to Harden’s facilitating.
The two-time MVP is well on his way to becoming just the 13th player in NBA history to win multiple assist titles. He’s averaging 11.2 assists per game and leads second-place Luka Doncic by nearly two assists per game.
In fact, his assist numbers have gone up since he arrived in Brooklyn (11.6 in 14 games) and now that we have confirmation that Harden is the full-time point guard, it’s hard to see Doncic or anyone else catching him. Harden would become the first player in NBA history to win three scoring titles and two assist titles.
"I came to this team knowing that they have two special scorers on this team. As long as I'm getting everyone involved –– Kai is getting the shots he wants, KD is getting the shots he wants –– it seems like it's working pretty well."
— Matt Brooks (@MattBrooksNBA) February 14, 2021
Kyrie Irving At Shooting Guard?
Don’t overthink this. Remember, Irving won a championship in Cleveland with one of the best passers of all-time — LeBron James. He’s no stranger to playing off the ball and it actually helps bring out some of his best qualities as a player.
Irving is shooting 40.9% from three-point range this year and averaging 27.1 points on 54/40/94 shooting splits since Harden’s arrival. Teams can’t sag into the lane as much when Harden has the ball or they run the risk of giving Irving, Durant, Joe Harris, or Jeff Green open threes.
The Nets have three dominant scorers who can go get a bucket at any point in time, but Harden fits best as the main ballhandler with Irving and Durant playing off of him.
Brooklyn’s Big Three Together
Harden was traded to the Nets one month ago, but we still have not seen much of Brooklyn’s superstar trio. Irving’s sabbatical, load management, and COVID-19 protocols have limited Brooklyn’s Big Three to just six games together. The good news is that the Nets are 5-1 in those games and they are a legitimate championship contender.
However, there are still concerns with this team. Despite the fact that Brooklyn looks to be the clear favorite in the Eastern Conference, anything can happen in the playoffs. Just last season we watched a loaded Clippers squad flame out in the playoffs because they simply didn’t have enough in-game reps to develop the proper on-court chemistry.
Clearly, the fact that Irving and Harden are settling into their roles is a positive sign for Brooklyn, but there is still work to be done.