Nets Needed Kyrie Irving to Return by Sameer Kumar
According to Sameer, the Nets need Kyrie Irving if they plan on winning the title.
Two months after being exiled from the team due to his decision to be unvaccinated against COVID-19, the Brooklyn Nets have decided to bring Kyrie Irving back as a part-time player. For those unaware of what that means, that means he will now be playing for the Nets during their road games, but not home games since he’s still reportedly unvaccinated.
The Nets needed to bring Irving back for a number of reasons. His on-court intangibles, which includes shooting the three, finishing at the rim and ability to create his own shot from anywhere with historically high field goal percentages in all areas speaks for itself, but when you look at the Nets’ current roster, despite boasting two former MVPs, there are a lot of holes.
There have been far too many instances where Harden or Durant will just iso and not move the ball, which has led to a stagnant offense for several possessions throughout a game.
Harden, in particular, has become too predictable with his tendency to take too many dribbles with a defender on him and going right almost every time. With the new foul rules in place, it’s become much more difficult for him to draw a foul, and given his predictability, it has led to way too many turnovers or defenses knowing how to contest him. His burst of speed has also decreased significantly, which impacts his ability to finish around the rim.
KD will get his 25-30 points on a nightly basis. It’s just automatic, as his presence alone will carry the Nets to wins against teams they should handle with ease.
However, because of a lack of a consistent shot-creator next to KD thus far this season, and one that gives defenses headaches on a nightly basis, the Nets have yet to register a win against a legitimate championship-contending team, taking losses to the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bulls in their own building, and getting blown out by the Bucks in Milwaukee on opening night.
It’s one thing if those losses were close, but an overwhelming majority of them weren’t.
With Irving and Durant by his side last season, Harden thrived as the primary playmaker, as he would sometimes rack up double-digit assists before recording a single point in a given game.
He found new life getting his rim running bigs, such as DeAndre Jordan and Nic Claxton easy looks at the rim, creating easy floater opportunities for Bruce Brown and kicking it out to Irving, Durant, Joe Harris and Jeff Green in their spots. When Harden saw an easy opportunity to score or draw a foul, he would take advantage of what the defense was giving him and still get his points.
With Irving out, Harden has had to revert back to the same player he was with the Houston Rockets, which has been an issue for him. But with Irving now back, even just part-time, that will allow Harden to settle back into a role he was more comfortable taking on when he first came to Brooklyn. The eased pressure off of Harden’s back will allow him to stop overthinking things and just go out and play basketball. We can expect to see a rejuvenated Harden.
Irving coming back will also help Durant and Harden significantly in the minutes department. Both Durant and Harden are top six in the league in minutes per game at the time of this article, and with them being on the wrong side of 30, and the wear and tear their bodies have already gone through, there would be a significant risk of injury or burnout for the two stars if they continued to carry this type of load on a nightly basis. Irving being able to come in would now give the Nets the luxury of sitting Durant and/or Harden out on road games or for longer stretches of time during those games without the heightened risk of losing that game.
Some may think that Irving being a road-only player would disrupt team chemistry, but with the fluid nature of this season with players in and out of health and safety protocols, continuity just can’t be established as easily this season anyway. Plus, Irving is one of the most popular players in the Nets’ locker room and within their fanbase, so he’d be more of a delight to have around in any capacity rather than not having him around at all.
The fabric of the Nets’ roster is also built around Irving being available. LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Harris can all inflict damage in their own right, but they’d be better off as the fourth option at best on this particular team. Simply put, those three players alone cannot give you what Irving gives you every night.Ideally, Irving is able to rejoin the Nets in a full-time capacity at some point, but for now, having him back at all will significantly help them down the stretch of the season and especially during road games in the playoffs, where Irving can serve as a difference maker in front of opposing, hostile crowds.
The Nets are your favorites to win the 2021-22 NBA Finals once again.