One of the most enjoyable things about All-Star Weekend in the NBA is that it allows us to watch how all these superstars interact with each other when the pressure is off and they can let their guard down a little. Practices are more of a hangout session for these guys than anything, and watching players who normally don’t show too much personality during the regular season get to be their regular selves is a treat.
The weekend has also become a place for stars to vent to one another about a style of play they feel locked into, apparently. Steph Curry was chatting with Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer during practice for Team Giannis on Saturday morning, and NBA TV’s mics picked up a pretty fascinating conversation between the two, with Curry relaying to Budenholzer a conversation he and Houston Rockets star James Harden had earlier in the day.
Curry said, basically, that Harden is tired of playing hero ball in Houston.
“I was talking to James, and the first thing he says is like, ‘This is fun, but I want to play different,'” Curry can be heard saying, referencing how much iso basketball Harden plays for the Rockets. “People want him to play like, in a system where they can actually play beautiful basketball.”
Harden is currently on an outrageous run of 31-straight games in which he’s scored at least 30 points, and has done so almost exclusively through iso offense. A whopping 509 of his made baskets this season have been unassisted, compared to 72 buckets that have come by way of the assist. His usage rate currently sits at 39.1 percent, No. 1 in the NBA and seven points higher than any other player that’s logged over 1,000 minutes, per NBA.com. That type of offensive burden can exhaust a player, for sure.
Though the Rockets nearly knocked off the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals last season, there have long been critics that the Rockets iso-heavy style of offense will never get them to the promised land. And despite Harden’s historic dominance this season, the Rockets still sit in just 5th place in the West. If Curry is to be believed, it sounds like Harden is starting to envy the type of offense the Warriors run, and has started to sour on having to carry the Rockets offense on his broad shoulders night after night.