James Harden Says He's Trying to Figure out Role in Nets Offense Without Kyrie Irving

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IINovember 28, 2021

BROOKLYN, NY - NOVEMBER 27: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets drives to the basket during the game against the Phoenix Suns on November 27, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets point guard James Harden told reporters that he's still trying to figure out his role in the team's offense after a 113-107 home loss to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.

James Herbert of CBS Sports provided the quotes:

James Herbert @outsidethenba

james harden said his hamstring isn’t an issue anymore. when asked if, without kyrie, he needs to be more of a scorer, he said he’s “trying to figure all that out right now.” the full quote: <a href="https://t.co/SAuFvWHxuB">pic.twitter.com/SAuFvWHxuB</a>

Harden struggled with 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting (0-of-6 three-point range) and seven turnovers, but he also had 14 assists and 13 rebounds.

The Nets have gone through this entire season without seven-time All-Star guard Kyrie Irving (ineligible to play). Irving averaged 26.9 points and 6.0 assists per game last year, so finding out how to play without him has naturally been an ongoing process.

On Harden's end, it's been an off-year for the 2017-18 NBA MVP, who entered Saturday averaging 20.7 points on 41.4 percent shooting and 9.2 assists. He's tasked with being the team's de-facto facilitator, as well as its No. 2 scorer behind Kevin Durant (28.1 PPG).

Harden's also had to adjust to new NBA rules in which offensive players no longer get calls leaning into defenders with non-basketball moves to draw fouls. The Beard benefitted greatly from that tactic in the past.

Ultimately, the 14-6 Nets entered the night a respectable 10th in offensive rating and points per game, per Basketball-Reference, and they're still atop the Eastern Conference standings. Plus, there's no shame in losing to the 17-3 Suns, winners of 16 straight.

At any rate, the regular season still has 62 more games, giving Harden and the Nets plenty of time to figure things out. Their next game is Tuesday at home versus the New York Knicks.