The Brooklyn Nets are the favorites to take home the Eastern Conference crown this year thanks to the combination of the efficient scoring of Kevin Durant, the mesmerizing ball-handling of Kyrie Irving, and the propensity to record a triple-double in any given game that James Harden provides.
Assuming that everyone stays healthy, the Los Angeles Lakers are the favorites to clash with them in the Finals, as adding Russell Westbrook to a team that already had LeBron James and Anthony Davis is just as overpowering as what Brooklyn has assembled on the other coast.
The Nets continued to supplement their trio of stars with veteran additions like Paul Millsap and LaMarcus Aldridge, subscribing to the philosophy that accentuating the talents of their superstars with veterans who want a ring is the best roster-building strategy.
Between the two squads, there is a truly special collection of historic scoring talent.
As Ajayi Browne of Nets Wire points out, Chris Paul is the only one of the top eight active scorers not on the Lakers or Nets. In terms of total points scored, the Nets are in possession of the third (Durant), fourth (Harden), and seventh-highest (Aldridge) scorers. The only team that can match Brooklyn’s armada of talent on offense lies in Los Angeles.
The Lakers have the top two active scorers (James, Carmelo Anthony) along with the fifth (Westbrook) and eighth-highest (Dwight Howard). Safe to say, both teams have an incredible amalgamation of offensive firepower at their disposal, and they just might put it on display in the postseason.
The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers have tons of star power.
Between the Nets and Lakers, the 2015 All-Star team is represented 11 times. In addition to those historic scorers, the Nets will be able to lean on Millsap and Blake Griffin as part of their frontcourt rotation. The Lakers may choose to start Marc Gasol at center over Howard this season.
While a hypothetical matchup between the Nets and the Lakers will inevitably be framed as a competition between the trio of superstars, the winner of this series may come down to which team gets more consistency and offensive contribution from their parade of role players.
James and Durant would both cancel each other out by topping 30 points per game with ease, Davis and Harden would be right behind them, and Irving and Westbrook will be locked in a vicious battle on the perimeter. Who will be the fourth option that starts to assert themselves?
Will Griffin start scoring as he did during his Clippers days for a few games? Will Gasol lock down on defense in the same way he did for Memphis and Toronto? Can Aldridge withstand what might be a punishing series going against James and Davis in the paint? We need to wait until June to see if this dream series can indeed come to fruition.
It goes without saying that the fact players like Anthony, Aldridge, or Howard rank high on the all-time list doesn’t mean they will score as they did in Denver, Portland, or Orlando in their new digs. However, that experience and consistency is an invaluable asset when the calendar flips to May and June.
One thing is for sure. If the Lakers and Nets can muster enough pixie dust to overcome their conference rivals and square off in the Finals, it would be the very definition of must-see TV and one of the greatest combined showcases of offensive basketball we’ve seen in the history of the game.
With at least seven no-doubt Hall of Fame players on these rosters and a handful of others with compelling cases, this would be one for the history books.