The breaking news of this week is the fact that Kevin Durant has decided to move forward with the Brooklyn Nets. There has been a surprising change of heart following this summer’s drama, and retaining the 2x NBA champion has essentially placed Brooklyn on the map alongside other top title contenders, including the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, and Milwaukee Bucks. Most, however, will argue that the Nets are actually the favorites for the NBA championship.
Last season, the Brooklyn Nets did make the playoffs somehow despite having zero team chemistry and dealing with never-ending on-court and off-court drama, mainly thanks to James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Still, they made the postseason thanks to Kevin Durant’s elite play. Remember, only two seasons ago, the team made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals in an exciting showdown with the Milwaukee Bucks that ended in an overtime period.
Kevin Durant certainly played like an MVP last season by averaging 29.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and a career-high 6.4 APG. For most of the season, KD had to carry the team without James Harden, Ben Simmons, and Kyrie Irving on the floor for various reasons. This upcoming season, things will be a lot different. We all know the Nets have incredible talent, but there are many more reasons why Brooklyn will lift the championship trophy at the end of the season. Without further ado, here are the 5 major reasons the Brooklyn Nets could win the Eastern Conference and complete a sensational Finals run in 2023.
Kevin Durant Is The Best Player In The World
The main reason the Nets will win the championship is that Kevin Durant is the best player in the world. He proved it two seasons ago by almost leading an average Nets squad (without Harden and Irving) past the NBA champion Bucks and proved it again in the Olympics. Last season, Durant was the only bright spot for the Nets as the team went through crippling drama on and off the court. The superstar forward averaged a career-high in APG and was as special as always in scoring by posting 29.9 PPG on 51.8% shooting from the field and 38.3% from three.
With Durant on the squad, the Nets will always have a chance to win the championship. It has been historically proven that the best player in the world has a massive impact on a team’s title chances, as seen by the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, among others. Durant’s presence as a top-two player in the game gives the Nets a massive chance for them to compete with the best, and that is one major reason why Brooklyn can make it out of the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn’s Potential Big Three Is Scary On Paper
Brooklyn has the most talented Big Three in NBA history, so it is only reasonable that the Nets win the title. Kevin Durant is a special player and had a chance to cement himself as one of the greatest ever to do it. Kyrie Irving is the greatest ball-handler we have ever seen and elite offensive talent in his own right. Last season, Kyrie posted 27.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 5.8 APG on 46.9% shooting from the field, 41.8% from three, and 91.5% from the stripe. Together, Durant and Kyrie can legitimately combine for 60 points every single game with ease.
The third player, Ben Simmons, has yet to play a game with the Nets, but he has proven he can be a game-changer on both ends of the floor. Simmons has made 3 All-Star Teams and 2 All-Defensive Teams over the past few years and is one of the best all-around players in the NBA. The last time we saw Simmons, he averaged 14.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 6.9 APG while playing hellacious defense on ball-handlers.
This Brooklyn team can be extremely dominant, and each one of their Big Three can be the most impactful presence in any game. Kevin Durant can play with any player in any era, Simmons can play primary point guard and also occupy the forward spot, and Kyrie can be the designated hitter when needed. The Nets have no weakness on offense while having a 6’11” defensive phenom in Simmons, who completes a talented trio. Once again, Kevin Durant, arguably the best player in the world, is the key.
Other Contenders Are Not Quite As Talented
Talent wins games and wins championships. Even the best coaches of all time can't get it done without the best players, and dynasties are built off the skills of superstar players. That is why, when health is guaranteed, the most talented teams get the job done. We have seen that throughout history with the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, and Miami Heat, among many others. When looking at the rest of the contenders in the league, none come close to the talent of the Nets. The Warriors are reigning NBA champions and should be respected, but even they do not have 3 All-Star players in their primes.
Stephen Curry is in his prime, and a superstar, and Andrew Wiggins made his first All-Star Team at age 26. But Klay Thompson is no longer an All-Star player following his career-altering injuries, although he has a star impact on the Warriors. Of course, Green is long past being an All-Star. The star power of the Nets gives them a top-heavy talent advantage over Golden State and other contending teams as well. Other contending teams include the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Suns are still quite young, and Chris Paul will be 38 years next year, so the point guard could be past his best. We saw the Suns collapse last year, quite embarrassingly against a team that was not supposed to be in their league quite yet. The Clippers will also need to press reset as Kawhi Leonard returns to the court after a year off, and Paul George always needs some time to get his rhythm back. Of course, former All-Star point guard John Wall has dealt with his own injuries. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks are a very good team, but Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are not on the level of Kyrie and Simmons in terms of talent and impact.
The Boston Celtics made the NBA Finals, but they do not have a Big Three on the level of Brooklyn’s, although their star duo of Tatum and Brown are exceptionally talented. Finally, the 76ers are resting their title chances on James Harden, who has already shown flashes of being past his best. In terms of star power, no team comes close to the Brooklyn Nets.
Motivation Could Be At An All-Time High
Kyrie Irving is aware of the world’s social issues, but he is also aware of what is being said about him. Whether it is his inability to remain on the floor consistently or even his questionable leadership abilities, Irving is very aware that many doubt his legacy. While Irving is a 7-time All-Star, former NBA champion and future Hall of Famer, a player of his greatness wants more respect on his name. Expect Irving to hover around his usual 26 PPG average and have the legs under him to play significant minutes.
Kyrie is the best ball-handler in the NBA right now, and having a season under his belt with his new teammates will do him wonders on and off the floor. A healthy and motivated Kyrie Irving is scary, and he will be back. Of course, Ben Simmons has more than heard the slander he has gone through. Pundits have named Simmons an “embarrassing” athlete, while fans are sick of the player’s unwillingness to play basketball. He is getting paid millions of dollars, so why is he not participating? If Simmons gets his mind right and returns to action, he could play with a chip on his shoulder, which could benefit his team greatly.
Head coach Steve Nash was also in the spotlight after Kevin Durant reportedly asked for him to be fired while pundits questioned his decision-making on offensive strategies. Nash has the backing of Joe Tsai and the Nets’ management, so he could be focused on getting his troops ready to play and motivated.
Finally, Kevin Durant has gone through his own experience of slander. Durant has become one of the most disliked athletes in America after he asked for a trade out of Brooklyn, just a few seasons after leaving the championship Warriors team that welcomed him with open arms. Durant is fully aware he is in the argument for being the best player in the world, and he could be out to prove to all the doubters that he can win as the undisputed leader of the squad.
The Nets Might Have The Best Team Since The Kevin Durant And Kyrie Irving Era Started
Sure, James Harden isn’t on the squad anymore. But Ben Simmons is, and he fits alongside two offensive players better than The Beard does. Not to mention, Simmons is a far greater defensive player than Harden and complements Durant and Irving perfectly in that sense. Simmons acts as an upgrade over Harden in multiple facets of the game in terms of on-court fit with the Nets, so that is one advantage.
Not to mention, the Nets got rid of dead weight last year by moving on from DeAndre Jordan while also bringing in a very solid two-way wing in Royce O’Neale. O’Neale is not a star, but he started 77 games last year with the Utah Jazz and posted 7.4 PPG and 4.8 RPG while playing some elite perimeter defense. O’Neale is a much better defender than Bruce Brown and brings more size at 6’4” and 226 lbs. Nic Claxton is also getting experience under his belt and, after his extension, could be a valuable contributor. Claxton is only 23 years old, and his numbers have gone up every year. Last season, Claxton averaged 8.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 1.1 BPG on 67.4% shooting. The 6’11’’ center can get up in the air quickly and will be a far better contributor than DeAndre Jordan ever was with the Nets.
Seth Curry is also an elite shooter and adds a shooter that the Nets never had previously. He only played 19 games last year and still averaged 14.9 PPG on 49.3% from the field, 46.8% from three, and 85.7% from the free-throw line. Curry is a massive factor when it comes to spacing the floor, and he is an upgrade over anyone the Nets had as a shooter over the past few years. Alongside three All-Stars, Curry could be a far better shooter than Joe Harris was.
Finally, Durant and Irving will be back and ready to play full-time. The covid vaccine mandate is hopefully long gone, and that means the point guard will be available to play for the majority of the season. As mentioned, motivation could be at an all-time high, and the Eastern Conference might not be ready for an exceptional Big Three that brings size, scoring, defense, and playmaking at elite levels. As long as Simmons is healthy and available to play, the Nets are in the mix for the NBA title and have five major factors that can boost the team for the 2023 NBA championship.