Is James Harden still a free-throw magnet?
Absent Kyrie, the Nets are only favorites if Harden’s still a superstar
BY DAVID THORPE
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If Kyrie Irving isn’t going to be in uniform, the Brooklyn Nets—the favorites to win this year’s title—are betting on the combined superpowers of Kevin Durant and James Harden. They proved just last season that they are super capable of leading an elite team. Over 301 minutes last season, those lineups outscored opponents by 11 points per 100 possessions, which is very good. (The Nets were elite last year, even though the three stars played together for only 202 minutes together.) Vegas seems to think a Harden/KD tandem is sufficient to be the favorites. Given the Nets’ improved depth—but with some concerns about the center position—I’m inclined to agree. In winning gold for Team USA at the Olympics, Durant appears to be fit and ready to make a r…