Harden: Playing with the Nets 'best style for me'

Michael Hickey / Getty Images Sport / Getty

James Harden has found the perfect situation with the Brooklyn Nets.

Despite coming up short in the Eastern Conference semifinals to cap an injury-riddled campaign, Harden says his team complements his skill set.

"There really wasn’t any adjustment. I still play how I play, but now I don’t have to shoot the ball so much. It’s really the best style for me, to be honest," Harden told Sports Illustrated's Michael Shapiro.

Harden bore the brunt of the offensive responsibilities with the Houston Rockets, where he played eight seasons before getting shipped to Brooklyn as part of a four-team swap. With the Nets, Harden believes he can focus more on playing the role of a provider.

"Kevin (Durant) and Kyrie (Irving) can always go get a bucket, and, with me as a playmaker, I can think about how to get shooters involved, how to get bigs touches, how to create open shots," he added.

"My main focus is trying to get everybody involved and have each guy make an impact on the game."

The nine-time All-Star and 2018 NBA MVP was saddled by a hamstring issue for much of his first season with the Nets. Still, Harden's 10.9 assists per game were a shade below his career best and his 8.5 rebounds were his highest since he entered the league in 2009, highlighting the 31-year-old's versatility.

Harden hopes the team can build on a season where he, Durant, and Irving all missed stretches for assorted reasons.

"It was pretty good, considering all the adversity we had to deal with, whether it’s me getting traded midseason, (Durant) missing damn near three months of the season, the COVID protocols, (Irving) missing a chunk of the season as well," Harden admitted. "And with all that said, we were a step away from the Eastern Conference finals. Now we’ll get a full year to regroup and get this thing going where we want it to."

Like last season, expectations are that Steve Nash and the Nets will steamroll their way to the NBA Finals. Harden seems to agree.

"At full strength, nobody can beat us. I’m just going to leave it at that."

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Harden: Playing with the Nets 'best style for me'
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