Nets: Brooklyn is the team to beat in 2021 when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving return

Nets stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Nets stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Nets will be the team to beat when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving return.

We knew it would happen sooner rather than later, but the Brooklyn Nets’ bubble journey came to an end this past weekend when they dropped their fourth consecutive game to the Toronto Raptors.

While it would have been nice for the scrappy underdogs to steal a game (or two) from the defending champs, getting swept shouldn’t take away from their remarkable showing since the NBA restart.

However, if there’s a silver lining to be had in the wake of Brooklyn’s defeat, it’s that the massively important offseason gets an earlier start. Not only will the Nets have to narrow down a permanent replacement for Kenny Atkinson in the coming months, but they will also have to figure out how to incorporate the likes of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving into their offense. After all, the group was thriving for the last month with them on the sidelines.

Either way, you have to figure that Brooklyn will be the team to beat next season once the superstar duo returns from injury.

The East is as deep as its been in years, but the Nets should absolutely be considered the prohibitive favorites to represent the conference in the Finals next season. Each of the top three contenders have glaring flaws. We won’t believe in the Bucks until they actually get over the hump; Boston has zero depth in the front court; and Toronto simply lacks star power. Miami could pose problems, but do we really expect them to continue shooting lights out from beyond the arc? And please, don’t even get us started with the walking circus that is Philadelphia.

Assuming the Nets don’t move any of their current young core via trade this offseason — we are praying that doesn’t happen — we could be looking at a starting five of Irving, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, Kevin Durant and Jarrett Allen/DeAndre Jordan. If that prospect doesn’t scare the living daylights out of the rest of the NBA, we don’t know what will. Mark our words: That rotation will lead the league in scoring next season.

Don’t sleep on Brooklyn’s depth, either. As things stand, the team could have Spencer Dinwiddie, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Taurean Prince, and potentially Garrett Temple all available to come off the bench. That list could grow if the franchise chooses to retain some other bubble standouts, too.

Wanna get even more excited? Think about the potential ceiling of that roster with Gregg Popovich, who the Nets are reportedly planning to pursue this offseason, at the helm to keep everything running smoothly. Forget the East, Brooklyn could become the team to beat in the entire NBA in 2020-21 if that’s the case.

No matter who ends up coaching the team, the bottom line is that Nets fans are fully justified in starting a countdown for next season.

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