James Harden arrived in Brooklyn last season to well deserved fan fare and hype. His arrival also brought scrutiny. The question was if he was willing to adapt to playing with two other stars. Now, there’s a new and significant problem. The new foul rules implemented by the NBA at the start of this season. 

Harden finished Wednesday’s 106-93 loss to the Miami Heat with just 14 points on 4 of 12 attempts. Also taking just 3 free throws in 36 minutes. Harden has been the biggest early season story. A perennial offensive force largely due to his unique ability to draw fouls. A singular blur of insane scoring ability. Harden led the league in scoring three times and looked at times, unstoppable. Strangely, he is starting to look rather ordinary. 

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Harden came up against a Heat team loaded with intelligent defenders. As he drove to the basket hoping to win fouls, he got nothing. There are a ton of reasons as to what might be wrong with James Harden up till this point. The hamstring injury he suffered during the postseason. The lack of adequate pre-season. All valid reasons but the one that stands out seems to be the new rules change. He is averaging 16 points a game this season, his lowest since 2012.

Harden has always been able to shoot the three at an above average rate. What makes him standout is free-throws. James led the league in attempts every single year from 2014 to 2020. He also ranked in the top 10 in his position in shooting fouls drawn every year of his career until this season.  The Nets need Harden to figure it out as soon as possible or this could quickly become a season to forget.