The Brooklyn Nets continue to dominate the headlines after their talismanic superstar and former MVP Kevin Durant demanded a trade from the franchise yesterday. Despite being filled with superstars like Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, the Nets rarely found any success and couldn't even make it to the Conference Finals in the two full seasons we saw KD in.
Last season was supposed to be the one where the Nets would compete to win and were touted as the favorites as well. But with Kyrie Irving missing the majority of regular season games and James Harden's numbers also taking a massive hit until his eventual departure, it was fitting to see the Celtics who lost the Nets 4-1 last time around, sweep them 4-0 in the very first round of the 2022 playoffs.
While Durant understandably is looking for better opportunities to compete for a championship, analyst Stephen A. Smith thinks that Kyrie Irving and his off court antics which led to the embarrassing downfall of the Nets. (0:37 onwards)
“I feel that Kyrie Irving ruined the franchise,... I feel that all of this is his doing. If Kyrie Irving had shown up to work, if he had been a more consistent presence, then he’d still be in Brooklyn. KD would still wanna be in Brooklyn. They probably might have won a championship, or at least would at least be knocking on the door again.”
Smith certainly raises a fair point here. In the 2020-21 season, the limited time we did see the trio of Harden, Kyrie and KD, they were simply lethal. If Irving would have been available for the team more often in the 2021-22 season, we might have ended up seeing a much more consistent Nets who could have ended up being one of the top teams in the East.
This would probably have affected the market as well and we could have seen the original Big 3 of Harden, Kyrie and KD make a deep run into the playoffs. The Nets really blew a once in a lifetime opportunity to keep a superteam and challenge for titles.
They instead will be stuck with a player in Kyrie who will likely miss half of the season yet again while another ball dominant guard in Ben Simmons who can't shoot, slipping into mediocrity in no time.