Brooklyn Nets taking over top spot in the East is a true testament to their depth

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 31: Blake Griffin #2 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 31: Blake Griffin #2 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

It’s lazy to compare the 2020-21 Brooklyn Nets with the Miami Heat after LeBron James took his talents there. Sure, they both have superstar trios leading the way, but Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden have depth at positions that Miami lacked, which killed them in the postseason.

Rather than populate the roster with a bunch of flotsam, Sean Marks has added quality at nearly every position, as Brooklyn has an array of talented wing players and veteran bigs that have helped salvage this season despite injury problems and a lack of cohesion at times.

Irving has missed time due to personal issues as well as bumps and bruises here and there, and Durant has suffered through a hamstring injury for a large chunk of the season. With the three stars only having played just seven games together, the Nets’ reserves have done yeoman’s work to make sure they keep winning.

Even with Spencer Dinwiddie potentially out for the season and two promising youngsters in Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert in Cleveland and Indiana, respectively, the Nets are the No. 1 seed in the East for the first time since the Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin era.

The Brooklyn Nets have leaned on a deep bench.

Even though Landry Shamet has struggled, the likes of expert marksman Joe Harris and super-versatile guard-forward Bruce Brown have help replaced the production from Durant. The frontcourt, once a source of misery, has turned into a strength given all of the veteran talent.

The Nets just added Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge to a team that already featured the ageless wonder Jeff Green, a lumbering scrapper in DeAndre Jordan who has been playing better basketball of late, and one of the more intriguing young bigs in the game on both sides of the floor in Nic Claxton.

On teams like LeBron’s old Miami squad, one of those three star players not performing up to par would be catastrophic for the Heat. The Nets can at least rest easy knowing that their collection of role players can step up.

Ironically, the Harden trade, which many scolded the Nets for consummating due to how much depth was lost, has allowed these backups to take on increased roles they wouldn’t have had on the old roster. Steve Nash deserves all the credit in the world for taking this ragtag bunch and turning them into one of the NBA’s best battalions of reserves.

The Nets might have three superstars, but two of them have missed large chunks of the season. If they take on the Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers in the postseason, their ability to shoot, play stout interior defense, and get out in transition should help give the Nets an edge.