James Harden has been the weapon in Houston Rockets offense, but he’s also made it easier to defend against. Brooklyn Nets are now more dynamic than ever before after acquiring D’Angelo Russell from the Lakers for Brook Lopez and moving him into a starring role.

The “James Harden contract Nets” is a recent article that discusses the Brooklyn Nets signing James Harden to a 4-year, $160 million dollar contract. The article also discusses how the new contract makes it harder for defenders to guard him and how he has made the team more dynamic.

James Harden's Adjustment Makes Him Harder to Guard and the Brooklyn Nets Even More Dynamic

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, the Brooklyn Nets’ deadly three, have enough firepower to make even the strongest NBA defenses shudder.

Because of a slight alteration Harden has made to his game in recent weeks, that superstar bunch has been even more effective of late — see Brooklyn’s recent thrashing of the Chicago Bulls. The former NBA MVP, who was dealt from Houston to Brooklyn a year ago today, just made a change that might make the Nets even more offensively explosive and destined to win an NBA championship this summer.

James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets required some time to acclimatize to the NBA’s new regulations.

Brooklyn-Nets-James-Harden-1024x683

Brooklyn-Nets-James-Harden-1024x683 Prior to Wednesday’s game, Brooklyn Nets player James Harden (13) laughs around with Chicago Bulls guard DeMar DeRozan (11). In Brooklyn’s 138-112 triumph, Harden got the final laugh, scoring 25 points and dishing out 16 assists. | Getty Images/Stacy Revere

Early in the season, there was a lot of talk about the NBA cracking down on players who used “non-basketball actions” to induce contact in order to go to the free throw line. Change is never easy, and in this case, it resulted in a handful of new NBA game implications. In addition to the rule modifications lowering scoring, there was plenty of whining from elite athletes who had previously benefited from whistles.

James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets, who has been the NBA’s gold standard in terms of creating contact and getting to the free throw line for years, had to feel targeted by the rule change. After all, from 2014 to 2016, he led the NBA in both free throw attempts and makes per game.

Harden, unsurprisingly, was the player most affected by the rule changes early in the season. In October, he tried just 5.3 free throws per game, and only 7.8 in November, a significant drop from his career-high 11.8 free throw attempts per game in the 2019-20 season. His scoring productivity dropped to a 10-year low (22.4 PPG in mid-December) as a result of the decline in free throw attempts, but he also saw his 3-point shooting (33 percent) plummet and his turnover stats (4.8) surge.

Harden’s offensive productivity with the Brooklyn Nets skyrocketed once he adjusted his game.

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Brooklyn Nets standout guard James Harden, like many great players, adapted his game to match the NBA’s new regulations. As a result, he was once again putting up the type of eye-popping numbers that earned him the 2018 NBA MVP, nine NBA All-Star appearances, and six All-NBA First-Team selections.

Harden has been on a roll offensively during the previous nine games, beginning with Brooklyn’s thrashing of LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day. During the previous nine games, he has averaged 27.3 points, 10.8 assists, and 8.4 rebounds. During that time, the up-and-down Nets are only 5-4, and they can blame Kyrie Irving for their inconsistency since his unwillingness to get vaccinated keeps him out of half of the games.

Harden’s rebirth has been fueled in part by his weekly return to the free throw line. Harden, who is as deft and as astute as any great scorer in the game, adapted to the new regulations and discovered new methods to create contact with overly aggressive defenders. Harden is going to the free throw line 10.1 times per night during this nine-game stretch, which is similar to the double-digit free throw attempts he averaged each season from 2014 to 2016.

Brooklyn’s offense is once again unstoppable, thanks to Harden’s increased use of the free throw line.

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To show how big of an impact Harden can have on the Brooklyn offense, look no farther than the Nets’ win against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

Harden’s 25 points, seven rebounds, and one assist short of his career best of 16, helped Brooklyn to a 138-112 victory against the East-leading Bulls. With 8 minutes left in the third quarter and the score tied at 71, Brooklyn went on a 42-8 run, fueled by Harden’s spectacular passing and playmaking.

Harden’s double-team splitting pass between his knees to a cutter or his no-look, behind-the-back throw to Blake Griffin for another slam was the sole point of contention.

“We wanted to come out against a really good team that’s been playing good basketball and execute and play good, and that’s what we did,” Harden said after the game in an on-air interview with ESPN. “We wanted to come out against a really good team that’s been playing good basketball and execute and play good, and that’s what we did.”

While Durant is the game’s most unstoppable offensive threat, and Irving is a ball-handling maestro, Harden might very well be the driving force behind Brooklyn’s attack. Because of his ability to identify shooters, flawlessly manage pick-and-roll settings, and score by hitting baskets or getting to the free throw line, anything appears conceivable when he runs the offense.

Opposing teams were probably stunned by the Nets’ hammering of the Bulls on Wednesday in Chicago. Harden’s propensity to get to the free throw line has resurfaced, making Brooklyn even more difficult to defend than before.

With that in mind, with Harden at the helm once again, Brooklyn might very well be the club to defeat in the playoffs. A lot can happen between now and then, as Irving and Harden demonstrated last season when they dragged through the playoffs. If Brooklyn’s offense keeps humming like it has recently, not even Milwaukee, Miami, Golden State, or Phoenix will be able to stop the Nets from winning their first NBA championship.

ESPN.com provided all of the data.

RELATED: Kyrie Irving’s Dazzling Return Just Gave Us a Glimpse of What the Brooklyn Nets Might Look Like at Their Peak

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