JAMES HARDEN BLAMES THE BAD TO START TO THE SEASON ON LACK OF "PICKUP BALL" -- BUT WE KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM REALLY IS.

Omni (WSN)

Oct 28, 2021

Harden simply isn't getting the calls he used to, and he's averaging just three free-throw attempts per game. At the time Harden was winning scoring titles in Houston and, analytically speaking, actually validating Morey's claim.

But very few people would have agreed with Morey's assessment, which was based on a strict points-per-possession formula. That formula, of course, included free throws, which for years Harden piled up by taking his contact-selling techniques to outright theatrical levels. Over the offseason, the NBA resolved to stop rewarding offensive players for drawing contact, or more often simply creating the illusion of contact, by way of non-basketball moves and natural shooting motions, and Harden is not the same kind of scorer as a result. Through four games this season with the Brooklyn Nets, Harden has scored 83 points on 78 shots. Having only gotten to the free-throw line three times per game, down from the double-digit attempts he averaged in Houston from 2014-20, he's averaging 16.6 points on 35 percent shooting, including 33 percent from 3. After Brooklyn's loss to Miami on Wednesday, Harden attributed his rough start to the season to his inability to play "pickup" games over the offseason, when he was forced to rehab his hamstring. Listen, having to rehab an injury over an offseason sucks. It does keep you from working on your game. He's 36 percent from 3 for his career. He elevated himself to a historic level of scoring on sheer volume, both from 3 and the free-throw line.