The Brooklyn Nets have gotten off to a troublesome start to the 2021-22 season. Without Kyrie Irving in the lineup, the Nets are 1-2 through their first three games of the year, and they needed a double-digit fourth-quarter comeback against the Philadelphia 76ers to scrap out their only win.
But despite Brooklyn’s early struggles, Kevin Durant is still confident the Nets have enough talent to accomplish their goals this season with or without Irving. Or, at least he says he is.
The Nets are missing Kyrie Irving already
The Nets could be the most fascinating team to follow in the NBA all year. Irving isn’t with the team because of his decision not to get vaccinated from COVID-19, and he won’t play a single game this season unless he gets the shot.
Brooklyn still has two of the best scorers in NBA history in Durant and James Harden on its roster, but the team has struggled to find an offensive rhythm without the third piece of its Big 3. Through three games in 2021, the Nets are averaging just 104.3 points per game, which ranks 23rd in the league. With Irving in the lineup for much of last year, Brooklyn scored the second-most points per game in the NBA (118.6 ppg).
Durant and Harden have been picking up the slack for the most part, but the two superstars haven’t had any consistent scoring help from the rest of the roster. In the Nets’ 111-95 loss to the Charlotte Hornets over the weekend, Durant and Harden were the only players on the team to reach double digits.
This roster is constructed to outscore opposing teams. The Nets simply don’t have the defensive personnel to grind out wins while scoring just over 100 points per game, so Irving’s absence might be even more problematic than they originally thought.
Kevin Durant still believes the Nets have enough talent to win without Irving
Durant couldn’t have been feeling too confident about the state of the Nets after getting blown out in the second half by the Hornets on Sunday. The four-time scoring champ did his part with 38 points on 17-of-24 shooting in the contest, but no other Brooklyn player scored more than 15.
Despite the disappointing performance from his supporting cast, though, Durant still believes the Nets have enough firepower to get where they want to be without Irving.
I’m not about to say there’s not going to [be] enough out here. I’m not going to say that. I feel like we had a nice control of the game in the first half, and they played a better second half.
But yeah, it’s three games in. Of course we have enough.Kevin Durant
Durant knows how important Irving is to this offense, but he also knows the Nets are going to have to learn how to win without their third star.
“We definitely want Kyrie Irving out here on the floor, and he is a huge part of what we do. But it’s not happening right now, so we got to figure it out.
“But no one is going to lose confidence while we playing and hope Kyrie comes to save us during the game. No, we got to play. Everybody here is confident in what they do. We just got to play.”
Is Durant lying to himself and Nets fans?
Look, it’s far too early in the season to stick a fork in the Irving-less Nets. Any team with two future Hall of Famers on the roster will have a chance to push for a championship come June.
But three future Hall of Famers is astronomically better than two, and that one missing piece might just be what derails Brooklyn’s season in the end.
Without Irving on the floor, it’s much easier for opposing teams to key on Durant and Harden and make the rest of the team beat them. Couple that with Harden struggling to score and get to the free-throw line with the new foul rules in place, and the Nets have some serious concerns that can only be remedied by a shot in Irving’s arm.