The Brooklyn Nets have quite obviously emerged as the championship team out of the East because of their star power. After all, having players like Irving, Harden, Durant, and Griffin all on the same team should virtually guarantee a championship run, right? Well, not quite. There is a multitude of hurdles they need to overcome to even make the finals, let alone defeat a team like the Lakers in a 7-game series. On paper, the Nets are a force to be reckoned with, but injuries, defense, and coaching are all kinks in the way of their full potential.
Injuries: the Nets have been plagued with them throughout the whole season. KD’s absence and inability to stay healthy have been concerning, to say the least. Being the best player on that team and playing a minuscule number of games this season scares me, as well as millions of other Nets fans waiting to see how a fully healthy team fares against the competition. If you look at the stars, Irving, Griffin, and Durant have all had big injuries that have led to them missing a lot of time. Even putting injuries to the side, Irving has been missing many games because of “personal reasons;” having such spontaneity and uncertainty from one of your star players is not a great sign. A whole roster of guys having to adjust to such regular changes depending on the star players’ availability is also not great for chemistry. Overall, the Nets being so injury-ridden and inconsistent in their lineups could cause a myriad of problems in the playoffs.
Another massive problem with the current Nets team is their defense. This has been a very prominent issue in the Nets’ system. Guys like Kyrie and Harden, though not terrible defensive rating-wise, make up a very weak defensive backcourt. With guys like Jarrett Allen being traded away in the Harden deal, they took a massive hit in rim protection. There is currently no solid rim-protecting big on the Nets roster, which could prove to be incredibly detrimental against big man-heavy teams like the Sixers and Bucks in the playoffs. With there being absolutely no defensive anchor and a surplus of defensive liabilities, the Nets are in for a beating against offensively-powerful teams. As they say, defense wins championships, and this Nets team has absolutely no chance with the defense they have been playing thus far.
Finally, the Nets coaching has been simply atrocious. Although I understand the thought process behind bringing in a former NBA MVP like Steve Nash to coach this team, it simply does not work. Nash has had very little influence on this team, and it shows blatantly. Throughout the course of a Nets game, you will see very little ball movement and weak offensive sets. They let the star players do the heavy lifting and leave it at that. Nash barely calls out sets and has a very stiff way of coaching. His plays in clutch time are often obsolete and sloppy in execution. For a team like this, a coach with coaching experience could elevate their play much, much higher. To see Nash take the back seat and let Harden and Durant run the show truly hurts because a lot of potential is being flushed down the drain. On top of this, his defensive sets look to be the same for almost every team, only adjusting to defend guys like Steph Curry. Having such stiff game plans will only hurt the Nets because adaptability means everything in the NBA.
All in all, if you take a close look at the Nets team as it is today, there are a lot of fundamental flaws that need to be resolved as soon as possible. They have a real shot at the championship, but the trophy would be considered as good as theirs if they were able to fix some of these kinks. Seeing people put so much confidence in them without really understanding their system is scary, which is why I would encourage everyone to watch this team closely and rethink their confidence.