The Brooklyn Nets have become must-see TV since acquiring James Harden from the Houston Rockets. The team’s Big 3 of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving have the potential of being the most explosive threesome in NBA history since each player can score 30 points in their sleep.
However, defense wins championships in the NBA, and the Nets don’t have a single elite defender on the roster. As a result, Brooklyn may not win the title this season despite having three of the best scorers of all time.
The Nets are 6-3 since trading for James Harden
The Nets are 6-3 since acquiring James Harden from the Rockets. They have defeated the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat (twice), Atlanta Hawks, and Oklahoma City Thunder. Brooklyn’s three losses have come against the Cleveland Cavaliers (twice) and Washington Wizards.
Harden has played in eight games with the Nets. He’s averaging 24.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 11.8 assists while shooting 48.4% from the field, 40.0% from beyond the arc, and 87.7% from the free-throw line. The 2018 MVP already has terrific chemistry with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, both on and off the floor.
The Nets had to part ways with Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Taurean Prince to acquire Harden. While it was the right move to make since Harden is a once-in-a-generation player, Brooklyn lost three of its best defenders and got a below-average defensive player in return.
Scoring will never be an issue for the Nets with James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving leading the way. However, the team’s defense will be a weak point all season, and it could be why the Nets don’t win the title.
The Nets are making NBA history on offense and defense since adding James Harden
The Nets have an offensive rating of 122.6 since the James Harden trade. That’s the best in the league and would be the top offensive rating of all time if the team keeps it up.
However, Brooklyn also has the worst defensive rating in the NBA following the acquisition of Harden. The Nets’ 119.9 defensive rating would be the worst in NBA history if the club doesn’t get its act together quickly.
Against the Wizards on Sunday, the Nets gave up 149 points. Washington scored 48 points in the fourth quarter and won by a final score of 149-146. Wizards stars Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal combined for 78 points.
Harden didn’t play versus the Wizards due to a left thigh injury. Even if The Beard played, the Nets’ defense wouldn’t have been better. Brooklyn is severely missing Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert, especially Allen, one of the NBA’s top shot blockers.
If the Nets win the Eastern Conference and face the LA Clippers or LA Lakers in the Finals, they will be underdogs since both LA teams are elite on offense and defense. It doesn’t matter how many points you can score if you can’t stop the other team from scoring at will.
Brooklyn may have to make another trade
The Nets may have to make another trade before the trade deadline to shore up their defense. The team needs a defensive center, as DeAndre Jordan is no longer the stout defender he used to be on the Clippers.
Brooklyn is giving up 111.7 points per game on the season, which is 27th in the NBA. To no one’s surprise, the Nets are first in the league in scoring at 122.2 points a night.
It’s going to be fascinating to see if Nets general manager Sean Marks looks to make another trade to add more defensive weapons on the roster around James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.