No Harden, no championship for the Nets

It would have been crazy to say at the beginning of the season that the Brooklyn Nets needed another superstar if they were to make a deep playoff run, but it would have been the truth.

With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant both healthy and in the starting lineup back in December, many analysts were predicting big things for the team assuming Durant’s Achilles held up and he was at least 80% of his former self – which he has been when on the floor.

When James Harden joined the team in January, it was all but a done deal for many who predicted a championship for a Nets team stacked with offensive talent.

Little did anyone know just how important Harden would be to the Nets – and one could argue he is the most important piece if the Nets are to win an NBA title.

Harden has received a lot of flack over the years for certain aspects of this game, most notably what has been perceived as a decline in production in the playoffs.

But this is unfair criticism on a player whose stats during the regular season have been through the roof. Since 2015, Harden has averaged no less than 29ppg. Coming to the Nets, that number has gone down slightly, as he is not required to produce as many points alongside Durant and Irving.

During the playoffs, there are only two players who are ahead of Harden in ppg since 2017: Lebron James and his teammate, Durant.

For Harden’s career, he is averaging 25.2ppg in the regular season and 23.5ppg in the playoffs – keeping in mind that competition is stronger night after night in the playoffs.

The 2018 MVP is putting up 25.2ppg with the Nets, along with nearly 11 assists and 8 rebounds per game. When in the lineup, Harden has taken on the role of floor general for the Nets and has unexpectedly become the most important player on a team loaded with talent.

The timeline on Harden’s return is still unclear, and he could miss the beginning of the playoffs. One could argue that if the Nets had to be down one player come playoff time, the last person they would want on the bench would be Harden.

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