The Brooklyn Nets, in just two seasons, have turned their franchise around in a huge way. But wait, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have only been there one year, right? That’s true, but it all started with D’Angelo Russell in 2018. Russell led a team to the playoffs many believed had no shot at even 30 wins. When he accomplished that incredible feat with that cast, it opened the floodgates.
The very next year, Russell was sent packing, and Irving and Durant spurned the New York Knicks for Brooklyn all because winning means more than bright lights and show. Russell is no longer there but the Nets have a core that could easily have them in the NBA Finals next season.
Durant and Irving are the cogs to that happening but there will be no trophy presentation without the rebounding and defensive presence of Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan.
This past season, Allen averaged 11.1 points, 9.6 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per. On the other side, DeAndre Jordan averaged 8.3 points, 10.0 rebounds in 22.0 minutes per. During the offseason, it was a question of how would these two players be able to coexist? It was tough at first but that was due to the team feeling each other out.
With Irving back, armed with a godly-like showcase of perimeter and ball-handling skills and Durant in full attack mode, the Nets’ big men can focus on protecting and dominating the paint. There will be tons of shots from the perimeter where the Nets attempted 38.1 threes per game.
Armed with new coach Steve Nash and his possible trademark 7 seconds or less offensive scheme, it will be up to Jordan and Allen to control the boards on both ends of the floor
Last season, the Nets ranked 9th in defensive rebounds and 2nd in offensive rebounding. But that was a different team with a different scheme. The 2021 Nets will have four capable scorers on the floor with Durant, Irving, Caris LeVert, and Spencer Dinwiddie. Scoring will come easy for them. But what has put the 7-second or less offense in a bad light has been on the defense side. Too much energy spent running but not enough energy protecting.
If Allen and Jordan can focus on the defense and rebounding side of the game, the Nets will be unstoppable. It’s rare that a team can have four scorers at their disposal. Nash’s job will be easy. Get Durant, LeVert, Dinwiddie, Irving, and possibly Joe Harris open looks and let the big men take care of the rest.
Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic are far better players offensively, but they spend too much energy playing both ends. This is an issue the Brooklyn Nets will not have to contend with. In 2020, they ranked 16th in points scored and 19th in points against. Let’s remember, that was done with a slew of injuries and Durant never seeing the floor this year.
While Irving and Durant will be the focal point of the Brooklyn Nets and their championship dreams appear to be attached to their success, it will be the play of Allen and Jordan that determine whether or not the Larry O’Brien Trophy will be displayed at The Barclay’s Center in 2021.