With the NBA in hiatus, many questions have been circulating on the format of the games upon the return of the NBA. Assuming that the NBA can resume play in July, there will be many players who will be able to participate in the games despite injuries that would have kept them out of the playoffs. Two of those players include Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and Kevin Durant (Achilles). This powerful duo is earning almost 70 million dollars combined, and they have only played 20 games for the Nets so far. However, could this NBA hiatus give Kyrie and KD a chance to redeem their lackluster season in Brooklyn? Are the Brooklyn Nets with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the greatest team in the Eastern Conference?
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant Career Accolades
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are elite players in the game. Irving won rookie of the year after the 2011-12 season, and he did not stop there. Irving has career stats of 22.4 PPG, 46.6 FG%, 39 3P%, and 5.7 APG. He already has 6 all-star selections, a championship (2016), and an All NBA second team (2018-19) at the age of 28, and he seems like he will flourish under interim head coach Jacque Vaughn. Durant has career stats of 27 PPG, 49.3 FG% 7.1 RPG, 38.1 3P%. He also won rookie of the year for his strong performance in the 2007-08 season. Add on an NBA MVP in 2014, a 10-time all-star, two championships (2017 & 2018), 2-time finals MVP, and a six-time all NBA first-team selection. This combination may have a bright future.
This year, the Nets have found themselves in the 7th seed through their core of Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris Levert, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, Deandre Jordan, and Taurean Prince. The Nets are 30-34 this season, but the nets have grown both individually and as a team. Spencer Dinwiddie has been stunning to watch this year, averaging 20.6 PPG and 6.8 APG with a defensive rating of 109.4 (Giannis Antetokounpo has a defensive rating of 96.5). Caris Levert has also put together a solid year despite his thumb injury in November. Levert is one of the most talented players on the roster, and he continues to show flashes of greatness on the court. Levert has averaged 17.7 PPG this season while posting an impressive 38.1 3P%. He defends well, with 1.1 steals per game and a defensive rating of 108.5 this season.
The Contributions of Joe Harris
Joe Harris is still the sharpshooter for the Nets, despite a decline in his 3P% from last year to this year (47.4% to 41.2%). However, Harris is still averaging 13.9 PPG on 47.1% shooting and defending with a rating of 108.3. I believe that he can contribute in the playoffs and that he will be a crucial piece to the success of the Nets moving forward.
Strong Performance at the Center
Jarrett Allen and Deandre Jordan have been excellent at the center position this year. Allen has put up numbers of 10.6 PPG on 64.6% shooting, 9.5 RPG, 1.3 blocks per game, and a defensive rating of 108.9, while Jordan has added 8.3 PPG on 66.6% shooting and 10 RPG, with a defensive rating of 105.8. These two will be vital towards a playoff run this season, and they will be competing for minutes down the stretch as the season continues. Finally, Taurean Prince has been an excellent signing for the Nets due to his statistics of 12.1 PPG, 6 RPG, and a defensive rating of 108.4.
How the Brooklyn Nets Can Finish Strong
If the Brooklyn Nets can combine their strong core of players with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, they would be the best team in the East on paper. The obstacles that must be overcome by the coaching staff and the players are making sure that their stars are genuinely healthy and ready to play after the conclusion of the hiatus, and improving team chemistry before the Nets have to play in high-pressure playoff games. Also, players like Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris Levert need to accept their lesser roles as Irving and Durant are integrated into the lineup.
The Nets are a deep team, and they can match up with Boston, Toronto, or Milwaukee based on their bench play and strong starting lineup. That lineup could be Irving at the point guard, Dinwiddie at the shooting guard, Harris at the small forward, Durant at the power forward, and Allen at the center, with Levert leading the second unit and taking some minutes from the 1-3 spots in the lineup. If the Brooklyn Nets can play together as a team, then the ceiling is the Finals for this talented group of players.
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