The New York Nets: The Next Big 3 or The Next Big Bust?
James Harden is a Brooklyn Net. That is a phrase that one could take great delight in hearing or immense horror knowing that there is now a new favorite for the eastern conference. On Wednesday, a four-team deal was conducted that, in summary, traded Harden to Brooklyn for almost half their bench and team depth. This new trade allows for Brooklyn to finally assemble its long-awaited and talked about big three with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. This powerhouse in the big apple is sure to be a threat to anyone that gets in their way. However, do the Nets have all the components they need to win it all against the presumed favorites, the Los Angles Lakers? Is Kyrie Irving going to be able to control himself, and be the third option the Nets rely on?
For starters, One must understand the situation in Brooklyn in the previous week or two before the Harden trade was conducted. For reasons no one knows, not even his own teammates, Kyrie had gone M.I.A. to the team and was not showing up to the games nor practice. During this time, a video had emerged of him dancing with a few of his family members, a clear violation of the NBA covid protocols, leaving him to miss even more games. The Brooklyn front office noticed this, and not wanting to have to rely so much on the liability that is Kyrie, they began to pursue a trade for Harden. The Nets also actively tried to go through with the trade after one of their best role players, Spencer Diwiddie, tore his ACL and had to be benched for the rest of the season. In the end, the Nets gave up a good many assets, especially given that they were the ones who had all the bargaining chips for this trade, in order to acquire Harden.
On paper, the Nets should be one of the best teams out there right now, but they seem to have some major problems on their hands. First and foremost, the defensive of the Nets is one of the worst in the league. As mentioned before, the team lost a significant amount of depth and role players when acquiring James Harden. This made the Nets heavily off-balanced toward offensive in order to win games and not doing as much on the defensive end, which allows other great offenses to score high points on the Brooklyn-based team. This was shown a few weeks ago against one of the worst teams in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Nets came down 0-2 against the Cavaliers while on the road to Cleveland. The Nets allowed Cleveland to score 62 points in the paint on the first game and 70 in the paint on the second game, a significant amount even for a team with a rocky defense. The Nets had the worst rebounding rate they have had in two seasons ( 35.6%) in the second game they played. Irony also played a big part in this game, with one of the players that was traded to Cleveland in the four-team deal to acquire Harden, Jarrett Allen, contested 23 shots and kept Brooklyn making only 23% of those shots. The only true center that can be found on the nets roster is DeAndre Jordan. He had to take on the task of guarding both Andre Drummond and Jarrett Allen, getting them to shoot only 7 for 11 from the field.
Defensive is not the only aspect of the team that needs to be addressed before a championship can be discussed. Kyrie Irving seems to be holding on to the ball much more than what coach Steve Nash has planned on him to do. Going off the raw talent of the big three, Kyrie should be played as a third option for the team. Instead, he is holding onto the ball more and not allowing Harden, the second option, the time he needs to get his job done. In order for this offensive trio to work out, Kyrie has to understand what his position is on the team.
This team has many problems going against it. A sizable portion of this article was focused on their problems, but this team has great potential. The triple-double Don Dada, James Harden, will guarantee you an unguardable player that can play both at mid-range and on the three with deadly efficiency along with an unnatural ability to set up lobs from anywhere. Kevin Durant has earned the title of the Slim Reaper for a reason. A 7-foot giant, Durant can shoot from three, break your ankles, and play with force in the paint, which allows him to average 30 points despite coming off of an achilles injury. Kyrie, a man with handles great enough to take on even the best defenders, is a menacing threat to any team that he is a part of. The coach of the Nets, Steve Nash, was a hall of fame player in his area that would dominate almost anyone with his lethal shooting ability. Also regarding the depth problems they face, they still have time to get good players that could help fix their predicament, like Andre Drummond for example.
Overall, this team is a mountain of potential at the moment with even more expected to be coming throughout the month of February. However, if the cards are not placed right, the house will fall in on itself. Harden, K.D., and Kyrie are all amazing players and no one is arguing against that, but the question still remains if three-ball dominant players can operate on the same team and still do their own thing effectively. Whether we see this team shine like a star or burn to a crisp is yet to be seen, but despite what happens in the future, we can expect a great number of games for us to bear witness to.