Brooklyn doesn’t necessarily need Irving to return, granted that the team is in first place in the Eastern Conference without him. However, if the Nets want to make a playoff run, they’re going to need him.
Kevin Durant has shouldered the majority of the load for Brooklyn and is leading the NBA with 29.7 points per game. He’s one of the frontrunners in the MVP conversation. Durant’s had to step up both because Irving’s been out and because Harden hasn’t been himself.
It goes without saying that if Irving rejoins the Nets, their offense will be given a huge boost. With the playoffs starting in mid-April, that gives the star point guard about four months to get acclimated as best he can.
When Irving suits up again for Brooklyn, what will the lineup look like?
What’ll the lineup look like for the Brooklyn Nets if Kyrie Irving returns?
Let’s say that Irving decides to make his way back to the Nets before the end of December, whether that be via vaccination or playing on a part-time basis (road games only). According to Shams Charania, Irving’s been working out and staying in shape, but he hasn’t played in a game since June 13 and his return was delayed after he was put in the league’s health and safety protocols.
It’s safe to say that it’ll take Irving at least a couple of weeks for him to get back in game shape once he returns. Based on the assumption that he’ll be back this month, that means that Irving could return to the court for a game around mid-January.
How will things look then?
Who knows what moves Brooklyn is going to make before the Feb. 10 trade deadline, but let’s analyze Irving’s fit in the current lineup.
Once he’s able to play in a game again, he’d move back into his role as the Nets’ point guard, which means that Harden would slide back to shooting guard. Durant would remain at power forward and LaMarcus Aldridge at center. DeAndre’ Bembry’s been starting in the final spot, but when Joe Harris returns, he’s going to take that position back.
Predicting the Nets’ starting lineup with Kyrie Irving
- PG: Kyrie Irving
- SG: James Harden
- SF: DeAndre’ Bembry
- PF: Kevin Durant
- C: LaMarcus Aldridge
Patty Mills and DeAndre’ Bembry would move back down to the second unit, with Bruce Brown, James Johnson, and Nic Claxton.
Mills and Bembry have done well in the starting lineup, but the expectation was that they’d be coming off the bench when they signed with Brooklyn during the offseason. The Nets are going to need a strong bench in the playoffs, and Irving moving back into the starting lineup would help ensure that.
The point guard returning would shake things up a bit, but it wouldn’t be anything too drastic. His teammates and coaches are ready to welcome him back, but it’s still uncertain as to when that’ll be.
We’ll continue to pass the time thinking about what a healthy Nets lineup with Irving would look like in a game. At least we can envision it.