Connect with us


How post-Kevin Durant Nets compare to pre-Durant version



#postKevin #Durant #Nets #examine #preDurant #model

The Nets’ championship goals have gone up in smoke, torched by pressured trades of Kyrie Irving and now Kevin Durant.

With James Harden dealt away a yr in the past this week, the Large 3 is useless. Some hot-take purveyors have opined that the Nets are in a worse place than when GM Sean Marks took over seven years in the past subsequent Saturday.

Others counsel they’re an up to date model of the 2019 playoff squad that Durant and Irving walked into, earlier than they swapped Brooklyn grit for Brooklyn glitz. So which is it? How do the post-Durant Nets examine with the pre-Durant ones?


Not like the crew Marks inherited that was a cellar-dweller with no draft picks, by 2019 he’d constructed them right into a playoff squad. However ignoring the again of the bench and simply evaluating the cores of every, this Mikal Bridges-Nic Claxton unit has an edge.

“This isn’t a complete retool; we’ve got guys in that room that I’m extraordinarily pleased with. And so they’re going to compete,” Marks mentioned.

“We’re in all probability just a little bit extra gifted than we have been after they got here,” mentioned Spencer Dinwiddie, accustomed to each eras after an earlier five-year stint in Brooklyn. “I don’t assume you’ve gotten any regrets, since you go all-in on a championship.

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie #8 drives to the basket as New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton #6 defends during the first quarter.
Spencer Dinwiddie thinks the Nets have a deeper reserve of expertise on the roster now than when he was in Brooklyn earlier than Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Publish

“So it’s completely different. However like I mentioned, with where Mikal is at, in all probability simply sub-All-Star degree with Nic being at a Jarrett Allen-type of degree, you would argue that we’re extra gifted than we have been after they first got here — exterior of them, clearly. So yeah, I believe it’s in a great place. However [the franchise] gained picks, too, so I’m positive Sean is joyful about that.”

Again in 2019, D’Angelo Russell was 22 and coming off his first All-Star berth after averaging 21.1 factors and 7 assists. A restricted free agent, he ended up packaged in a sign-and-trade for Durant.

Jarrett Allen (10.9 factors, 8.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks) was simply 20 on the time however a future All-Star. He grew to become a centerpiece within the deal that landed Harden. Caris LeVert (24), Dinwiddie (25) Joe Harris (27) — off his first All-Star Weekend 3-point crown — all have been a part of that core, with none of them incomes even $10 million.

In the present day’s core is probably going higher, albeit just a little older and pricier (nonetheless $6.9 million over the luxurious tax).

“Something can be higher than beginning up with actually no draft picks, making an attempt to get inventive with the way you have been bringing in younger gamers,” Harris mentioned. “I imply, it was nice for folks like me and Spencer, a few different guys, the place it allowed us as younger gamers a possibility to return in and play. However yeah, now they clearly made probably the most out of a fairly powerful scenario.”

Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen #31, blocks a shot by Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons #25, in the 2nd quarter.
The spine of the Nets’ protection earlier than Durant and Irving arrived, Jarrett Allen grew to become an asset with which the Nets dealt for James Harden in early 2021.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Publish

Dinwiddie is again, Harris by no means left, and each are 4 years older.

Claxton is averaging 13.2, factors, 9.2 rebounds and a league-best 2.6 blocks. At 23, the middle is extra superior than his counterpart Allen had been on the time, and is a viable candidate for Defensive Participant of the Yr.

Small ahead Mikal Bridges — acquired for Durant — was runner-up for the award final season, whereas Ben Simmons completed second the yr earlier than that. Whereas Claxton, Bridges and Cam Johnson — a restricted free agent who additionally arrived within the take care of Phoenix — are constructing blocks trending upward, the Nets have to determine easy methods to get the struggling Simmons righted.

The X-factor for the present core is likely to be guard Cam Thomas, nonetheless simply 21. He’s solely averaging 10.6 factors total, however has proven tantalizing flashes of what he might be, together with pouring in 134 points in a recent three-game stretch. When he’s logged at the very least 20 minutes, Thomas has averaged 22.4 factors on .439 p.c capturing from 3-point vary and .869 from the free throw line.

In the present day’s Nets doubtless have a slight edge in upside. But when they will both develop Thomas or refurbish Simmons (averaging simply 7.3 factors and being benched late in video games), the hole might grow to be important.


Allen was a fearless rim protector, and by no means noticed a shot he wouldn’t problem. And LeVert could possibly be disruptive, when wholesome. However protection was a battle at occasions for the 2018-19 Nets, who have been completely reliant on Allen’s shot-blocking in Atkinson’s drop protection type. The present unit, although has various gifted particular person defenders, and versatile ones who can guard a number of positions. That provides them the sting.

Mikal Bridges #25 of the Phoenix Suns plays defense during the game against the Indiana Pacers on January 21, 2023 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
A onetime Defensive Participant of the Yr runner-up, Mikal Bridges has made a fame as one of many NBA’s greatest perimeter defenders.
NBAE by way of Getty Photos

As identified above, each Bridges and Simmons have been Defensive Participant of the Yr runners-up the prior two seasons, and Claxton — who’s main the league in blocks — is making a compelling argument to win the award this season. That trio will give the Nets excessive switchability from one-through-five.

And even the older gamers who went from being win-now enhances round Durant and Irving to non-core items are stable defenders.

Wing Royce O’Neale and energy ahead Dorian Finney-Smith — who arrived from Dallas with Dinwiddie in return for Irving — are each stable on that finish of the ground.

“Protection wins championships,” Finney-Smith mentioned. “And we [can] change every thing.

“[Bridges] can guard each place, he disrupts offense, as he’s been displaying these days…It’s going to be enjoyable enjoying with them guys. All of us can guard our yard. That’s going to be a energy for us, making groups take powerful 2-pointers.

“It makes me excited. I advised Nic I can’t wait to get on the courtroom with them as a result of I do know what he can do, how one can have an effect on the sport. Being in a recreation with Ben, it’s love as a result of we will change every thing. So it’s going to be enjoyable shutting guys down and making them work on protection.”

Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton (33) defends Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the first half at Barclays Center, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, in Brooklyn, NY.
Nic Claxton is a vital a part of a Nets defensive lineup that may change on virtually any participant.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST


This has been a Nets drawback for years. However what as soon as was a weak spot on that 2019 roster is a potentially-crippling Achilles heel on the present one.

And that’s regardless of investing a 2021 first-round choose on probably the most efficient offensive rebounders in faculty basketball historical past. Edge: 2019 by default.

Previous to this week’s trades, the Nets have been arguably the worst-rebounding crew within the league, and that was with Durant and middle Markieff Morris. The lack of each virtually necessitates giving Finney-Smith important enjoying time, as a result of Johnson is extra a stretch-four who barely rebounds and Simmons is struggling mightily.

Brooklyn was supplied two first-rounders for Finney-Smith earlier than the commerce deadline, however held onto him for apparent causes. However with a glut of wings, they’ve the means to commerce for an additional large within the offseason — or get second-year bruiser Day’Ron Sharpe’s defensive positioning and fouls underneath management sufficient that he can earn the backup job behind Claxton.


The 2019 Nets returned to the playoffs and received Recreation 1 of their first-round collection in Philadelphia. They proceeded to drop the following 4 straight and exit in a gentleman’s sweep by the hands of famous person Joel Embiid (and Simmons). It was a end result that underscored the impression of MVP-level stars within the postseason, and why pursuing Durant and Irving that summer time grew to become such a no brainer.

Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets speaks with Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets in the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Brooklyn Nets defeat the New York Knicks 110-98 in New York, April 06, 2022.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving opened a path to a title the Nets doubtless noticed closed this previous week.
Jason Szenes for the NY Publish

The ceiling for that 2019 roster was a first-round playoff exit (barring a one-off upset, adopted by a second-round ouster). The ceiling for this present roster is most probably the identical. That ignores the additions the 2019 crew made (Durant, Irving) or those this squad will hope to.

Which brings us to….


The 2019 crew used cap house so as to add Durant and Irving. Even after their departures, the Nets are nonetheless over the cap, so they could have to make use of draft capital to both choose an impression participant or commerce for one.

“We’ll we go about constructing it just a little bit completely different method, yeah, as a result of the final time I took over I didn’t have something,” Marks mentioned. “So it positively appears completely different.”

The Nets nonetheless don’t management their very own picks for years (agreeing to potential choose swaps with the Rockets in 2023, ’25 and ’27), however transferring Durant and Irving within the final week (and Harden a yr in the past) has replenished the cabinet that bought stripped down in dealing for Harden in January 2021.

They already had their very own first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, and Philadelphia’s first in 2027 (protected 1-8). Then Brooklyn added Dallas’ unprotected first in 2029 for Irving, and Phoenix’s unprotected firsts in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, together with a swap in 2028 for Durant.

Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks speaking to the media during a press conference at the Nets training facility in Brooklyn, New York.
Nets GM Sean Marks has 11 first-round picks to make use of between now and 2029 to reconfigure a franchise all of a sudden in transition.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Publish

That provides the Nets a complete of 11 first-rounders by 2029, and eight extra seconds after getting two for Irving and one other pair from Milwaukee for Jae Crowder. Throw in three commerce exceptions (the most important $18.1 million) and $5.7 million left on their taxpayer MLE.

“Yeah, I believe now they clearly made probably the most out of a fairly powerful scenario,” mentioned Harris, including “However I’m not the entrance workplace, and I’m in all probability not going to be enjoying in 2029 when a few of these picks are going to be made.”