The Brooklyn Nets have a superteam in the making, with the expected returns of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to the roster next season.
Even with the likes of Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert on the team, the Nets looked primed to make an Eastern Conference Finals run next year. But many fail to realize how they could be a superteam right now if they got their draft picks right.
Instead of praying on Durant’s and Irving’s health, they could be rubbing their hands waiting for an NBA title that would certainly be in their grasps. Here is the starting lineup the Nets would have if they would have made perfect decisions.
Point Guard: Damian Lillard
The Nets traded their 2012 first-round pick to Portland if they had kept it they could’ve drafted Damian Lillard. Instead, they used that draft pick to acquire Gerald Wallace, a defensive specialist, and veteran who played heavy minutes with the Charlotte Bobcats. He was clearly past his prime, despite putting up a decent 15.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 3.1 APG through 16 games.
But shortly after, Wallace’s production began to decline. He was relegated to mainly become a role player and still received a $40 million contract. At that time, that was just a disaster of a contract. Wallace clearly wasn’t a player who could be a building piece for the future, and the Nets ended up without the services of superstar point guard Damian Lillard.
Shooting Guard: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving recently signed a max contract to join the Brooklyn Nets this past offseason. Irving’s signature was the biggest since the Nets moved to Brooklyn since Irving immediately suited up and hit the court. As good as the signing of Deron Williams was at that time, Kyrie is clearly in his prime and a former NBA champion with proven clutch performances in big games.
Irving is averaging a career 22.4 PPG and 5.7 APG with a 46.6 FG percentage and is one of the most feared scorers in the game. Clearly a superstar offensive player and a proven clutch performer, with the highlight of a deep three-pointer over Stephen Curry as the game-winning shot in Game 7 of the Finals, there is great stock in the talented point guard. Irving will be the man to lead the franchise for the next few years, along with the newly signed Kevin Durant.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant
Next to Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant’s signature was the biggest in Brooklyn Nets history. While Durant is a better player than Irving when healthy, there are still concerns over his ability to return to full form as an Achilles injury is quite possibly the worst injury to experience for an explosive player like Durant. If KD is able to return at least 80% of his capability, the Nets are going to be a major problem in the East.
Clearly, the Nets could have given KD and Kyrie more help if they got their draft picks right. KD averages a career 27.0 PPG and 7.1 RPG on 49% shooting and will probably go down as a top-five offensive player of all time. The fact that he teams up with Kyrie in Brooklyn is going to bring legitimate excitement to New York.
Power Forward: Jayson Tatum
The Nets had traded their 2017 pick to the Celtics, which turned out to be the number one overall pick that could’ve been used to draft Tatum. Essentially, the Nets opted for a win-now strategy with the likes of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry who were all 36 years old or older. Instead of acquiring budding superstar Jason Tatum, they were left with over-the-hill stars who could not make any sort of impact in the post-season because their best days were behind them.
If the Nets held onto their first-round pick, they would have drafted Jason Tatum as the modern-day Paul Pierce, and teamed him up with offensive superstar Kevin Durant. Tatum and Durant would be one of the best scoring frontcourts in the league, and a possibility compete with the likes of the Lakers for overall productivity at the forward spot.
Center: Draymond Green
Brooklyn traded their 2012 2nd round pick to the Warriors, that pick ended up being future DPOY, Draymond Green. After all, nobody could have possibly seen the Draymond Green pick coming. He was a second-round pick and someone who countless teams passed on, including the Brooklyn Nets.
Green clearly ended up being an extremely valuable pick for the Warriors, since he was the main defensive cog for the team and the vocal leader for the squad. If the Nets had gotten the Draymond Green pick right, they would be fielding a powerful small-ball lineup with Green at the center.
Clearly, the Brooklyn Nets could have had an incredibly special team if they made perfect decisions with their draft rights. While KD and Kyrie look good on paper, they would be even more effective with the likes of a cold-blooded killer in Damian Lillard, a defensive monster in Draymond Green, and a budding young superstar in Jayson Tatum.
The Nets expect great things next season, but there are still major doubts on Durant’s ability to come back from a serious injury along with Irving’s ability to be a locker room leader. Instead, if the Nets made better decisions with their picks, these two doubts would be countered with the incredible talent of Lillard, Tatum, and Green.