At the start of the 2019 NBA free agency period, The Brooklyn Nets started things off with a bang as they signed both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to four-year contracts. This completely shifted the balance of power in the NBA and took another playoff team in the Eastern Conference and jumped them up a few pegs in the pecking order.
While it was widely speculated that Irving and Durant would both go to the New York Knicks, it is a major win for the “little brother” team in the Big Apple.
We have seen superstars team up in the past and failed to get things done so today we will ask the question: how good will the Brooklyn Nets be?
Signing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant
Although the Nets lost D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade with Golden State, we think it is a big upgrade in talent on their roster. A lineup with Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, and Joe Harris could cause a lot of matchup problems once playoff time hits.
Irving is one of the best point guards in the NBA and has a championship ring under his belt from his time in Cleveland. The only big threats to worry about in the Eastern Conference along with the Nets are Milwaukee, Boston, and Philadelphia.
Irving’s time in Boston
Irving spent two seasons with the Boston Celtics and wanted to step out of LeBron’s shadow to be the leader of a franchise. It didn’t work out the way he hoped though, as the younger players on the team weren’t really buying into any of the messages he tried to get across to them.
While Irving sat out the 2017 playoffs with an injury, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown took the offensive scoring load and put it on their shoulders, as each averaged over 18 points per game as the Celtics pushed the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics had a very rough 2018-19 season even though they were the No. 4 seed in the conference.
There were multiple chemistry issues between the younger players and Kyrie, and by February Irving was singing a different tune, and it looked like he checked out mentally.
What Irving brings to the table
Kyrie is arguably the best ball handler we have ever seen on an NBA floor. He can score from almost anywhere on the court and has averaged 22 points per game for his career, but the big issue with Irving is his inability to play even average defense. Irving is constantly exposed on that end of the floor, and it could be a major issue as the playoffs begin.
Durant out next season
After tearing his Achilles, we don’t expect Kevin Durant to play at all in 2019. We have seen few players come back from Achilles injuries, and in those cases, there has been a significant drop in production due to the lost explosiveness from the injury.
Kevin Durant is a career 27 point per game scorer and a former four-time scoring champion, but history has shown us that we shouldn’t expect him to return to that level of play for the second half of his career.
How good can the Nets be?
Next season we think the Nets can finish with a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference, and they should secure home court for the first round of the playoffs. The other big addition for Brooklyn was free agent center DeAndre Jordan, who will provide excellent rebounding and good defense in the middle.
The 2020 season will be the real gauge for Brooklyn, as Durant should be ready to step back on the floor and if he is even at 85% of his former level of play, you could be looking at the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. We won’t say that they can keep up with the Milwaukee Bucks, but they should still be one of the best teams in the conference.