CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Every once in a while, when a player is wearing a mic during a game or practice, it catches a moment of honesty the player did not want to be public.
That appears to have happened on Saturday during Team Giannis’ practice All-Star weekend. Stephen Curry was mic’d up and talking to coach Mike Budenholzer, with Coach Bud praising Curry and the way the Warriors play, when Curry started talking about James Harden.
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2019 | @stephencurry30 on conversation with @jharden13 "I talked to James in the back… obviously complemented him on what he's done. First thing he says is, it's fun, but I want to play different. Playing by myself or whatever , heroball — the people wanna play in a system where they actually can play beautiful basketball with guys that know how to play.”
“I talked to James in the back and obviously complemented him on what he’s done. The first thing he says is, it’s fun, but I want to play different. Playing by myself or whatever , heroball, the people want him like that, play in a system where they actually can play beautiful basketball with guys that know how to play.”
I’m with Budenholzer here when he says “That’s interesting for him to say that, I would not…”
Harden thrives in heroball — it’s not coach Mike D’Antoni’s preferred system, but he is going with what works.
Harden is an MVP candidate averaging 36.6 points per game with a ridiculously efficient 61 true shooting percentage. He’s shooting 37.4 percent from three, his stepback three is the game’s most dangerous weapon right now, and he draws fouls and gets to the line 15.1 times per game.
How he does that is heroball — pick-and-rolls to force mismatches he can attack one-on-one, and isolations. Harden has run more isolation plays this year than any other team, according to the league’s Second Spectrum data.
Just a guess: Harden thinks he wants to play in a more Warriors-like system, but if put in it he would love it like he thinks. That said, he may understand the limitations of how the Rockets are playing right now.