Brooklyn Nets star James Harden feels healthy after dealing with a hamstring issue in the latter part of the 2020-21 season. He said that’s a terrifying prospect for the other 29 teams in the NBA.
All eyes are on Harden and the Nets as their Big Three aims to win a title. If The Beard is to be believed, there is no reason to peg any other team as the favorite to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy next summer.
James Harden was slowed by a hamstring injury during the 2021 NBA playoffs
James Harden suffered a physical setback at just about the worst possible time.
Harden had been nursing a hamstring injury that forced him to miss most of the final month of the regular season. He appeared to heal up for the playoffs and dominated in Brooklyn’s first-round series win over the Boston Celtics. But The Beard’s problems were only just beginning.
The 32-year-old aggravated his hamstring issue during Game 1 of Brooklyn’s second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. Harden valiantly returned in Game 5, but he was a shell of himself. The former MVP shot 11-of-36 from the field and 5-of-26 from beyond the arc in the final three games of the series.
Harden was unable to give the Nets the additional scoring punch they needed alongside Kevin Durant. Brooklyn’s season ended in disappointment as the Bucks won the final two games of the series and ultimately rolled to their first NBA championship in 50 years.
However, Harden withdrew from the Olympics to heal up and assure he would be healthy for the start of the 2021-22 season. He thinks things are about to get dangerous for the rest of the NBA.
A healthy Harden makes a Drake reference to send a warning shot to the rest of the NBA
Nets fans are probably every bit as curious about the extent of James Harden’s contract talks as they are about the team’s outlook for the 2021-22 season.
Harden figures to let the business take care of itself as it pertains to his future in Brooklyn. For now, he wants to assure Nets fans he is ready to dominate.
Ari Alexander of KPRC 2 Houston asked Harden this weekend what he wanted to tell Nets fans ahead of his second season with the organization. The Beard had a straightforward message.
Harden is never afraid to profess his status as one of the best players in the NBA. The above statement might come off as arrogant, but it’s hard to argue with The Beard considering what he achieved last season.
The Nets guard almost single-handedly carried the team in multiple stretches when one or both of Durant and Kyrie Irving were sidelined with injuries. For example, Harden helped the Nets erase a 21-point deficit in a Feb. 16 game with the Phoenix Suns. He posted a 40-point triple-double in a win over the Indiana Pacers in March.
It’s not as if Harden’s game suffered when Durant and Irving were healthy, either. The Nets went 10-3 when their Big Three all suited up together.
Health will be imperative for Brooklyn this upcoming season. Harden is especially confident in his own abilities to be a difference-maker when he’s in the rotation.
Will The Beard commit to Brooklyn?
As previously mentioned, James Harden’s contract negotiations are a major source of interest this offseason.
Durant has already inked a max extension with the Nets. Harden and Irving have yet to do so, though general manager Sean Marks is confident the team will sign both stars before the start of the season. For his part, Harden might be looking to cash out.
The three-time scoring champion surprisingly parted ways with the Wasserman agents who helped secure his trade from the Houston Rockets to the Nets last fall in favor of longtime friend Lorenzo McCloud and the NBPA. The change in representation may reflect Harden’s desire to get the full three-year, $161 million contract for which he is now eligible.
James Harden’s Nets future has yet to be decided. In the more immediate sense, though, The Beard believes he and the Nets will be a problem for the rest of the NBA.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.