The Brooklyn Nets hit the jackpot this offseason. Obviously, getting Kevin Durant is a gold medal level move for the franchise. But after rupturing his Achilles in the NBA Finals, we expect Durant to miss all of the 2019-20 season.
So, the question is, what can they do without him? The answer might be more than you think.
The majority of fans forget how good the Brooklyn Nets were before they made all these quality moves. They made the playoffs last season and even gave Philly a competitive series. Here are five reasons why the Brooklyn Nets are going to be Contenders without Kevin Durant next season.
5. Young Core
The Brooklyn Nets have a fantastic young core including Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris Levert, Jarrett Allen, Rodions Kurucs, and Taurean Prince. Dinwiddie is one of the better sixth men in the NBA while LeVert, before his leg injury last season, was tearing it up offensively. Jarrett Allen is an excellent shot-blocker and is developing a reliable outside jump-shot.
Kurucs and Prince are solid wings with the ability to grow into rotational pieces. Cannot forget about the sharpshooter, Joe Harris.
The main headline for the off-season is going to read about the big three of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan. This narrative overlooks the pieces that were already in Brooklyn. Sean Marks already had the foundations in place.
4. Front Office
The Nets, much like the Knicks, are now used to being the laughing stock of the East. They lost most of their draft picks in the trade for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, allowing Danny Ainge to pull off one of the biggest heists in NBA history.
Sean Marks soon stepped in and began by hiring a competent coach in Kenny Atkinson. He slowly worked his magic by assembling a competitive and watchable product. The level-headedness of the Nets front office made Brooklyn a more attractive free-agent destination.
They positioned themselves well this offseason and grabbed three marquee free agents. But this front-office is capable of bringing in more and making the necessary adjustments. This is why, despite KD’s injury, Brooklyn could still take the East
The Nets are easily one of the deepest teams in the league. At every position, they are stacked to the brim with talent.
In the backcourt, they have guys like Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, Theo Pinson, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris. Their wings consist of David Nwaba, Garrett Temple, Wilson Chandler, Taurean Prince, and Rodions Kurucs. This is not including a healthy KD. Their frontcourt includes names like DeAndre Jordan, Jarrett Allen, Alan Williams and Nicolas Claxton which makes for a pretty deep team.
Their depth is unique because of how the roster balances each other out. You have your playmakers, shooters, wing defenders, shot blockers, and board men — even guys that are veteran leaders in the locker room.
The NBA is a balancing act. You want players that fit your system and give you added versatility. Players with different skill sets make for a better team. A team cannot have players who all do the same thing.
That’s why the Celtics have a tough time running Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward together. Too many talents that serve the same purpose is toxic. There doesn’t seem to be any present log jams in Brooklyn, and Sean Marks has done an excellent job finding a balance between his players.
1. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving had his best NBA season to date last year. We had never seen his hustle on the defensive end as consistently as he did last season. Uncle Drew is proving to be less of a one-dimensional guard, getting the proverbial monkey off his back last season by staying healthy and leading to the Celtics to a series win against Indy.
However, there is still another layer of growth Kyrie will have to address: leadership. Irving was not a good leader last season. If he fails to improve in that aspect this season, this Nets team will implode.
The Nets success rests on Irving’s ability to lead and play at the high level we know he can during the season.