The Brooklyn Nets are 2-1 on the young season and look like title contenders with stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving leading the way. Durant has completely recovered from his Achilles tear and is scoring the ball at will again, while Irving has made a strong case that he’s the best point guard in the NBA.
Even though the Nets lost to the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday, the team is still viewed as a lock to make the playoffs and contend for a championship. However, besides losing to the Hornets on the road, the Nets suffered a huge loss on the roster, and it could cost them a title in the long run.
The Nets were banking on their Big Three to win them a title
The Nets’ roster is pretty stacked top to bottom. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are the main cogs on offense, but the secondary pieces are excellent as well.
Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Caris LeVert, and Joe Harris are all outstanding players. The Nets, who have been involved in James Harden trade rumors with the Houston Rockets, would have to gut their depth on the roster to acquire the 2018 MVP. While Durant, Irving, and Harden would be a lethal Big Three, a case can be made that having depth at each position is better than being top-heavy.
The Nets have four players on the team who can score 20 points in their sleep in Durant, Irving, Dinwiddie, and LeVert. After missing the entire 2019-20 season, Durant is averaging 26.7 points through the Nets’ first three games of the 2020-21 season. Irving is putting up 29.3 points, LeVert is notching 13.3, and Dinwiddie is at 6.7.
LeVert and Dinwiddie’s usage rates were going to be low this season with Durant back in the fold. However, both players are critical to the Nets’ title hopes. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, its third option in the starting lineup is already out for the season.
Spencer Dinwiddie has a partially torn ACL
Spencer Dinwiddie partially tore his ACL in his right knee on Sunday against the Hornets. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the versatile guard will miss the rest of the 2020-21 season. Dinwiddie has experienced ACL injuries before in his basketball career. During his junior year at Colorado in college, Dinwiddie tore his left ACL.
Last season for the Nets, Dinwiddie averaged 20.6 points per game while shooting 41.5% from the field and 30.8% from beyond the arc. He signed a three-year, $34.4 million extension with Brooklyn during the 2018-19 season. Dinwiddie is making $11.5 million this season and has a player option worth $12.3 million for the 2021-22 campaign.
While the Nets are still going to be an elite team in the East due to the brilliance of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the loss of Dinwiddie will come back to haunt Brooklyn once the playoffs start since half-court scoring is at a premium in the postseason and Dinwiddie is a proven scoring threat.
Will the Nets make a trade after losing Spencer Dinwiddie?
Caris LeVert will likely replace Spencer Dinwiddie in the Nets’ starting lineup, which means the team’s reserve unit will take a major hit. General manager Sean Marks may have to acquire a scoring guard in the wake of the Dinwiddie injury.
Detroit Pistons star guard Derrick Rose is in the last year of his contract. The Nets should look to acquire the former MVP, who averaged 18.1 points per game off the bench for the Pistons in 2019-20. With Dinwiddie out, Brooklyn will rely on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Caris LeVert to score the basketball in the starting unit, but the Nets need someone to lead the bench.
It’s going to be interesting to see what the Nets do moving forward after losing their third-best player to a devastating injury.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.