The superstar duo of James Harden and Kevin Durant has looked terrific in Harden’s first two games with the Nets, wins over Orlando and Milwaukee.
Durant has averaged 36.0 PPG in those two victories, while Harden has contributed 33.0 PPG, 13.0 APG, and 9.0 RPG. Their 138 combined points are the highest total since 1961 for any two teammates in their first two games with a franchise, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.
Harden and Durant, of course, played together with the Thunder earlier in their respective NBA careers, and Nets coaches and management have said they’d lean on the two stars’ previous chemistry in the early going this season. As Andrews details, Harden believes the increased maturity level of the two former MVPs has helped them quickly reestablish that chemistry.
“We were young in Oklahoma City,” Harden said. “We are grown men now. We know what we want. We really know the game of basketball now. We are not those young guys that want to run around and just shoot and dunk all day. And then for me, I sit back and I know what player Kevin Durant is. He’s one of the best players to ever touch a basketball.”
While Durant said the Nets still have “room to improve,” he told reporters after Monday’s game that incorporating Harden into the lineup has been “pretty seamless,” per Andrews.
Here’s more on the Nets:
- Head coach Steve Nash said that Kyrie Irving will “hopefully” be available to return to the Nets’ lineup on Wednesday against Cleveland, tweets Andrews. Irving is back with the team and has been cleared from COVID-19 protocols, but is still ramping up his conditioning. “What you want to see is him to get some time in his legs so he’s more able to adapt back to playing,” Nash said.
- Asked on Monday if they would have pulled the trigger on the trade that brought Harden to Brooklyn if they were running the Nets, both Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince admitted they would have, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “Look at what happened with the Lakers, they did the same thing,” Allen said, referring to the Lakers’ 2019 acquisition of Anthony Davis. “The next year they went and got their ring. So take myself out of it, I’d love to stay in Brooklyn, but I understand in the opportunity like that you have to go do it.”
- Both Allen and Prince also said on Monday that while they understand the business side of the NBA, that understanding didn’t necessarily make it easier to be traded. “It was definitely rough on me,” Allen said, according to Lewis. “Even though you say it’s the business of basketball, it never makes it easier. But it’s the business and I had to move on.”
- In case you missed it on Monday, we relayed a report indicating that the Nets shopped Landry Shamet in an effort to avoid including Allen in the Harden blockbuster. We also passed along a series of NBA franchise valuations that estimate the Nets’ worth to be $3.4 billion, fourth-highest in the league.