A 12-year NBA veteran with 64 playoff game appearances, three All-Star selections and an NBA Finals victory would, on the surface, appear to be a fairly credible source of basketball analysis and perspective.
But that's not the case according to Nets All-Star James Harden, whose arrival in Brooklyn earlier this season has propelled the team to new highs. In fact, despite the absence of Kevin Durant since February 13, the Nets have gone 9-1 in their last ten prior to the All-Star break, and Harden's stellar play has been a primary factor in their success.
Thus, when Antoine Walker — the aforementioned 12-year NBA veteran with quite the decorated career — said that the Celtics were smart in deciding not to trade for Harden because "you can't win with that style," Harden disregarded that thought and threw an extra jab in his dismissal of Walker.
Well that's one way to put it. It's not the first time that we've heard someone question whether or not Harden's ball-dominant style of play is conducive to winning, with the late Kobe Bryant once saying that he didn't think Harden's game would ever lead to a Rockets title.
But Bryant was also talking about a completely different era of Harden back in 2019, when his usage rate was at an astounding, league-high 40.5 percent, which is the second highest total in a single season of all time. He also had a much different supporting cast in his Houston days.
Walker, on the other hand, is able to watch a completely different type of Harden, whose usage percentage with the Nets through 23 games is at 26.9 percent. His field goal percentage (.497) is the highest it's ever been, and his 11.4 assists per game so far with the Nets would be a career-high rate.
If the Nets continue their recent play throughout the second half of the season and the playoffs, Walker might be eating his words before too long. Alternatively, if the Nets can't find a way to win a title after mortgaging their future in their acquisition of Harden, it probably means that Harden's chances of winning a championship with another squad are close to zero.
Time will tell how it pans out, though I have a feeling Nets fans are as excited for their team as ever before.
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