The Brooklyn Nets find themselves in a special situation, and not in a good way. Kyrie Irving's decision not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is affecting the aspirations of the team led by Steve Nash and no prognosis sounds favorable in the short and medium term.
Although Kevin Durant and James Harden are available, healthy, and injury-free, Irving's absence is key, especially since the Nets' three-headed monster lacks the biggest dribble-dribble threat in the paint, who can penetrate opponents without even using a pick-and-roll.
But what if the Nets were able to compete (and win) without Kyrie? For Jim Jackson, the issue is very clear and the answer is a resounding yes. This is what he stated in a debate that took place on No Chill, the Gilbert Arenas show.
“Last year, out of 3900 plus minutes, they (Durant, Harden, and Kyrie) played 202 minutes and still got together as a threesome. And still got to the Eastern Conference final. So let’s look at the history. 202 minutes, Their depth in rebounding wasn’t as good as it is now. But still, they were there to compete and beat Milwaukee to get to the final. So you don’t think management is looking at this and said who’s the most expendable player out of these three. So history tells us that if we have these two here along with the built-out roster. We still have a viable chance to get to the final. Now whether we win it, we don’t know, but can we get there in the Eastern Conference with a James Harden and a Kevin Durant in this retool roster. If I’m the management, I’d say yes.”
Is Jackson's approach correct? The winning record of James Harden and Kevin Durant in the previous season with the Nets could be a factor in favor of it.
For example, according to Stat Muse, the former Houston Rockets player had a record of seven games won and only two losses when he was without the starter point guard.
So did Durant, who had a similar record. He had seven wins and just one loss when Irving was absent.
But despite what the stats say, it is undeniable that Kyrie's talent can improve Brooklyn in all facets, especially on the offensive end. His ability to solve any defensive system on his own is essential for Durant and Harden to have other spaces when receiving on the weak side or when they are moving without the ball.
Regardless of what happens, having Irving will always add a step of superiority to any team and the Nets are not the exception.