Brooklyn Nets: Grading every player through first chunk of 2020-21 season

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 25: James Harden #13, Kevin Durant #7, and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 25: James Harden #13, Kevin Durant #7, and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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After a sluggish start, Steve Nash and the Brooklyn Nets have turned things around, as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden have been playing some high-level basketball.

The Nets are second in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game behind the Philadelphia 76ers. Their trio of superstars have been the main catalyst for their success, as all three players are averaging at least 24.9 points per game, a mark that has never been accomplished in NBA history over a full season.

The Nets are clearly leaning on their star trio, as the bench was depleted by the Harden trade. While this philosophy made wins hard to come by early in the season, the Nets have rebounded and played less individual basketball of late.

That depth was exhibited during a dominant win over the Orlando Magic, as even players at the very end of the bench were getting in on the scoring fun.

While there have been some stinkers, plenty of Nets are having breakout seasons in 2020-21. It’s time to take stock of the roster and figure out which players are excelling and which are disappointing.

Which Brooklyn Nets players have excelled in 2020-21?

Kevin Durant

Durant hasn’t always been in the lineup due to injuries, rest, or COVID-19 protocols. However, when he’s been on the floor, he looks exactly like the MVP and future Hall of Famer that everyone expected he would be. Durant is averaging 29.0 points per game, numbers he hasn’t touched since his Oklahoma City days, to go along with 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per contest.

Durant’s efficiency is what stands out, as he is making 52% of his shots overall on the year and 43% of his 3-point attempts. KD came into this season with some questions surrounding him, but he appears to have silenced the doubters and put together a truly remarkable campaign to this point. While the lack of games might hurt him, he is firmly in the MVP discussion.

Grade: A

Kyrie Irving

Irving’s decision to leave in the middle of the season raised some eyebrows, but he has returned to the Nets and looks ready to dominate. Irving has long been one of the best offensive players in the NBA, but what he’s done under Nash and Mike D’Antoni this season has proven what an efficient scorer he can be.

Not only is Irving averaging 27.4 points per game, but he’s doing so while shooting 52% from the field and 40% from three. While he has conceded touches to Harden, that has done little to dull his effectiveness. Irving has been rock-solid on the offensive end, as some struggles on defense are swiftly forgotten when Uncle Drew snatches another pair of ankles.

Grade: A-

James Harden

Harden arriving in Brooklyn was a move that was full of controversy. Not only would the Nets be completely out of depth, but they planned to add the most ball-dominant player in the league to a team with two superstar players in Durant and Irving. Harden has done more than just tread water in his new role as Brooklyn’s facilitator. He’s thrived.

Harden is still putting the ball in the basket and draining some clutch shots, but his ability to distribute is really astonishing, as Harden is leading the entire NBA in assists per game. While there were some questions about his fit on this roster alongside the two superstars, Harden has proven to be a lethal scorer, excellent defender, and master distributor.

Grade: A