3 ways Brooklyn Nets can avoid leaning excessively on Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /
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Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

If you ask any NBA organization what their goal is for the season, it’s to be the lone team standing at the conclusion of the NBA Finals. That’s exactly what the Brooklyn Nets are expected to do, especially after last year’s loss to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Kevin Durant led the surge last season for Brooklyn and he’s doing the same this year.

But for his sake, how can the Nets take some of the pressure off of him to ensure that he’ll be primed for another deep playoff run?

He’s averaging 29.6 points per game, the most in the NBA, and has played around 34.6 minutes in Brooklyn’s 14 games, which is good for 29th, but only a minute-and-a-half separates him from the top 10. The 14-year veteran is shooting 58.6% from the field and 42.4% from the 3-point line. The Nets are 8-2 in their last 10 games and that’s in large part due to his production. After an abysmal start to the season, Durant has pulled the team up the rankings to second in the Eastern Conference with a 10-4 record.

There’s been nothing wrong with Durant’s level of play. In fact, the only “issue” we have with it is that the Nets might be relying far too much on him being unstoppable, which could make them a bit one-dimensional and run KD into the ground. Nets fans undoubtedly love having Durant lead the charge, but they need to help their best player to avoid having to excessively rely on him for this marathon of a season and throughout the lengthy playoffs.

Brooklyn Nets: 3 ways to avoid leaning on Kevin Durant too heavily

3. Deadline Trades

Let’s be real, it doesn’t seem as if Kyrie Irving is going to play for Brooklyn this season. If for some reason he does decide to get the COVID-19 vaccine, he’ll be able to rejoin the team. Even if (a big if) that happens, it’s going to take some time before he can actually play in a game. The point guard hasn’t taken the court since Game 4 against the Bucks on June 13, so he’s not exactly in game shape.

Irving seems to be standing firm on his decision, so it’s time for the Nets to start exploring other options. He averaged 26.9 points and six assists in the 54 games that he played in last year. Brooklyn won’t find an equivalent replacement for that kind of production, but at this point he’s not contributing to the team at all. Something is better than nothing, right?

The trade deadline isn’t until Thursday, Feb. 10, so the Nets have plenty of time to make a move. Philadelphia has its hands tied with Ben Simmons, so the likelihood of a trade happening there isn’t probable. Also, Simmons wouldn’t be a good fit, and the last thing that Brooklyn needs right now is another major distraction. But there are other options. There’s a particular point guard in Houston that could help the Nets be a true contender …

Or, Brooklyn could look for a package that doesn’t feature big-name players. As the season progresses and teams begin to gain a better grasp of what players don’t fit their roster, the likelihood of this kind of deal will come into greater focus. Irving can play in home games for any team that’s not in New York City or San Francisco, so that leaves a number of possibilities.

But what team is willing to go all in for Irving?