The Brooklyn Nets just completed one of the biggest trades in NBA history. After James Harden completely gave up on the Houston Rockets this season, he was moved immediately to Brooklyn for a massive return of picks and players. On paper, the Nets have the most talented and intimidating team in the entire league. Superstars and MVP-caliber players win championships, and Brooklyn has 3 of them on one team.
But that doesn’t mean that the rest of the league will bow down to the Nets. In fact, Brooklyn has a few problems that must be ironed out before the postseason starts. It might even be impossible as there are 5 reasons why the Brooklyn Nets won’t win the 2021 NBA title, even with James Harden joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
5. Chemistry Cannot Be Guaranteed
Team chemistry is arguably the most important aspect of winning NBA titles. We saw last season how the Los Angeles Lakers won the title as LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the entire roster were on the same page. They loved playing with each other and that helped them destroy the competition in the playoffs. A team like the Clippers had tremendous talent without chemistry and were embarrassed as they faltered in the postseason.
James Harden’s arrival in Brooklyn does not guarantee team chemistry, even if he played with Durant in Oklahoma City. Harden loves to dribble, but so does Kyrie. Harden loves to shoot, but so does Durant. The head coach, Steve Nash, is a rookie and still needs to get acclimated to Durant and Irving regardless of Harden’s arrival. DeAndre Jordan is only playing 17.1 minutes per game, and the depth is now gone with the likes of Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen leaving town. A team with 3 new superstars is not easy to deal with, and this could be a massive headache for Steve Nash.
4. James Harden Loves Isolation Too Much
James Harden is out of shape this season but is still averaging 24.8 PPG through 8 games. Harden can roll out of bed and score 30-40 points a night as he is a 3-time scoring champion for a reason. But Harden can get his points with ease as long as he plays his style of offensive basketball. James Harden is arguably the greatest isolation scorer in NBA history because he can beat any defender off the dribble and finish at the rim, often with an And-One. But this love of isolation might be a problem in Brooklyn.
The Nets have 3 offensive superstars who love scoring the ball, and there might not be enough for everyone to share. Kevin Durant, averaging 29.9 PPG, is back to his best and must get his shots because he is sensational at winning games. Kyrie Irving is putting up 27.1 PPG this season and is known for one thing: offense. Harden’s isolation style of play might not bode well with Durant and Irving who love playing with each other already. There is a big possibility that Irving becomes the 3rd option on offense, while Durant won’t get his 20-25 shots a game as he expected.
3. The Nets Will Have Shockingly Inconsistent Defense
The Brooklyn Nets might possibly have the best offense in the entire NBA. Kevin Durant and James Harden are arguably two of the 5 greatest scorers of all-time, and Kyrie Irving is averaging 27.1 PPG this season. The Nets will have no problem dropping 150 points a game in today’s NBA, but their defense will be shockingly inconsistent. James Harden makes Brooklyn the favorites in the East, but he brings arguably the worst defensive presence in the league. Harden has highlight reels of lazy defensive plays and he has been at his worst again this season.
Similarly, Kyrie Irving isn’t the best defensive presence and neither is Joe Harris - who will be starting for the Nets as well. Kevin Durant is a great defensive player but he is older and fresh off a severe Achilles injury. Only DeAndre Jordan can be trusted to play lockdown defense, which is a major problem for Brooklyn. Head coach Steve Nash was an offensive genius as a player but was also one of the worst defenders in the league. Even assistant coach Mike D’Antoni completely ignored the defensive side of the game when he coached. This could be a tough season for Brooklyn on the defensive end.
2. Kyrie Irving Seems Mentally Checked Out
Kyrie Irving is playing at his best this season when he has actually been on the court. Irving is averaging 27.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 6.1 APG for the Nets this season and has been unguardable at times. Irving is actually having his best season because he looks focused, healthy, and extremely smart with his play. But Irving has seemingly gone “off the grid” for 5 straight games. Unfortunately for the Brooklyn Nets, Irving has seemingly checked out for this season for unknown reasons.
Without Kyrie Irving, the Nets are a shell of themselves. The team forked out a ton of their depth to acquire James Harden, which means the Nets need all their stars to make up for their lack of depth. If Irving misses the entire season for personal reasons, the title chances are out the window because Durant and Harden won’t be enough to guarantee an NBA title. If Irving returns, there is the risk he will not be at his best mentally. This is also a major problem because even a slight lapse of focus opens the door to the best team in the NBA: the Los Angeles Lakers.
1. The Los Angeles Lakers Are Still The Favorites
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Lakers are probably not worried in the slightest about Harden’s arrival to Brooklyn. The Lakers have 2 of the top 5 players in the world on one team and have an incredible roster filled with depth in all positions. Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder, Marc Gasol, Wesley Matthews, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Alex Caruso are all perfect role players for 2 superstars. The Lakers have too much depth and talent in all positions compared to the top-heavy Nets.
Most importantly, the Lakers have the edge in championship mentality. They are fresh off the 2020 NBA title and have all the momentum in the world. Even this season, the Lakers are once again the best team in the NBA. Los Angeles holds the best record in the league and sit with the number one seed in the West with a 10-3 record. They have a consistent core and do not have to implement a massive piece like James Harden into their scheme. A superteam often needs a full season to get acclimated to one another, and Brooklyn will likely experience growing pains while the Lakers cruise with a dominant team.