2020 NBA Team Preview: How High Can The New-Look Nets Climb This Season?
The Brooklyn Nets are quite possibly the most interesting team in the NBA heading into this season. The reasons are obvious. We’ll look at them below.
The Nets brought in Landry Shamet as part of a three-team trade with the Clippers and Pistons. The Nets traded a pick in that deal, so they didn’t lose one of their established roster players. Kevin Durant being part of the 2020-2021 Nets is something which has been known for over a year. Nevertheless, it does represent a roster change, given that Durant was unavailable to play throughout the entirety of the 2019-2020 season.
Most of all, the biggest offseason change in Brooklyn is that Steve Nash, former NBA MVP and all-time-great point guard, will be the coach for this team. The Nets are certainly hoping that Nash will become for them what Steve Kerr was for the Golden State Warriors. Kerr had plenty of experience as a player but none as a coach when the Warriors hired him. Yet, Kerr turned out to be a perfect fit… and will one day be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach. If Nash is even 40 percent as good as Kerr was, it will be a great result for the Nets.
The Nets Will Succeed If…
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant figure out how to play well together. Isn’t this the big question when superstar players unite? The Miami Heat in 2011 went through this problem with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade: Who gets the ball late in games? Who takes the big shots? Are players comfortable giving up the ball to the other? Are the egos in the locker room insecure and unwilling to share the credit for victory, or do great athletes focus on the interests of the team first? The Heat were unsure of how to handle this in the 2011 NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks, but they figured it out the next few years and won consecutive titles while making four straight NBA Finals. The Nets aren’t the favorite to win the East, but if KD and Kyrie get along great and enable each other to thrive, this project is going to work out in Brooklyn.
The Nets Will Fail If…
Their coach isn’t up to par. The Nets know Steve Nash has a great basketball mind, but they are still taking a chance on him, given that he hasn’t been an NBA head coach before. Nash was a great communicator on the court, so that part of coaching won’t be a problem. However, Nash’s tactics – managing lineups and rotations, and putting the best combinations on the floor – are completely unknown. No one knows how he will fare in some of the more richly strategic aspects of coaching. If he fumbles that part of the job, the Nets are in real trouble.
The Nets have two elite scorers, but do they have a complete team surrounding Durant and Kyrie? That is the real question. Less educated fans are going to assume this team should destroy opponents, but anyone who follows pro basketball knows there are better teams in the Atlantic Division… and in the East. This is a playoff team, but it’s not ready to be a Finals contender until Durant proves he can return to an elite level of performance and can make his teammates better.
Prediction: 3rd in Atlantic Division