How will the Brooklyn Nets stack up against the Eastern Conference after this offseason’s addition of Kyrie Irving?
Last year, Golden State’s newest guard, D’Angelo Russell, captained the Brooklyn Nets to a season most described as a “pleasant surprise”; as Brooklyn posted an admirable 42-40 record en route to securing the East’s sixth playoff seed. However, a lot has changed since then.
As the catalyst for what lead to Brooklyn’s sign-and-trade deal which sent arguably their best player from last year’s campaign all the way out to the west coast, the Nets inked a deal with superstar point guard Kyrie Irving.
Now after putting down one guard to seemingly pick up and play with a different one who’s made five more All-Star games and also won an NBA Championship, the Nets certainly improved this summer. However, this improvement’s extent remains somewhat cloudy.
With the team’s other big fish lured in this summer, Kevin Durant, poised to miss next year’s entire season as he recovers from his ruptured Achilles tendon, the general consensus claiming Brooklyn’s best chance to win their first title will come not next year; but the following year, continues to surround the team.
Although the Brooklyn Nets will indeed refrain from playing its best card until two seasons from now when Durant returns, next year’s team certainly deserves a long look in regards to its ability to challenge its eastern foes even with only Irving’s services available.
During the 2018-19 season, Irving led a talented Boston Celtics roster by averaging 23.8 points-per-game while shooting with a 48.7 field goal percentage. Both statistics rise above those that any player for the Nets posted last year, certainly giving reason to expect the team’s offensive capabilities to elevate with him on the court.
Adding onto this, the Irving brings forth some always appreciated playoff experience to a talented, yet young core including Caris LeVert and Jarret Allen. Tossing a player into your lineup who just three years ago nailed an NBA Finals-clinching bucket on the road certainly bodes well for a team looking surge deeper into the postseason next year.
Put simply, Irving remains a top tier NBA talent, pound for pound he’s a better guard than Russell and an overall home-run signing for the team.
In accordance with the Nets, the East entirely underwent a makeover this summer as well. Although this factor remains out of Brooklyn’s control, it indeed impacts the team’s chances to potentially ascend as a true threat.
Meanwhile, the Celtics lost big man Al Horford to the Philadelphia 76ers, a team most already expected to challenge the Milwaukee Bucks for the East’s top spot even prior to the acquisition. Although Boston attempted to bandage things up by signing former Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, the holes which Irving and Horford both leave behind appear too deep for just Walker to fill.
With those teams trending downward, I foresee the Nets leapfrogging both squads.
Next year I expect Brooklyn to cross the finish line holding onto the fourth-best record amongst this fraternity of eastern teams, with only the Bucks, 76ers, and Indiana Pacers ahead. With that said, I also expect Brooklyn to win its first playoff series in six years before taking a second-round exit.