By Derrel Jazz Johnson
With the signings of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets were expected to compete for a championship in the 2020-2021 season. But Brooklyn upped the ante, even more, when they made former NBA MVP James Harden a Brooklyn Net and combined his talents with those of Durant and Irving. But will the Brooklyn Nets win a championship?
The simple answer is yes, the Brooklyn Nets have the talent, if healthy come the 2021 NBA Playoffs, to win an NBA Championship. But there are several threats to Brooklyn winning a championship.
In the Eastern Conference, one of the biggest threats is the Philadelphia 76ers. Led by NBA MVP candidate Joel Embiid and new head coach Doc Rivers, the 76ers lead the Eastern Conference, with Brooklyn close behind. The Milwaukee Bucks have dominated the Eastern Conference during the regular season, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Greek Freak leds a Bucks team this year that is structured to make more noise in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
In the Western Conference, the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, if healthy, are a huge threat and perhaps the favorite to come out of the West, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But the Los Angeles Clippers, led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and the Denver Nuggets, led by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, poise strong threats if the Lakers falter.
One of the keys to the success of Brooklyn was a simple conversation between Irving and Harden in mid-February. “I just looked at him, and I said, ‘You’re the point guard, and I’m going to play shooting guard,’” Kyrie Irving told James Harden. “That was as simple as that.”
And it was that simple.
Though the James Harden Era of the Nets started off with poor defense, the eight-game winning streak, snapped by Dallas against the Brooklyn, who were without Durant and Irving, saw the team play better-than-average defense. With arguably three of the NBA’s top 10 or 15 players, Brooklyn doesn’t need to play elite defense: it just has to be above average.
Harden gets a bad rap on the defensive end, but Durant took up for him. “If we ask him to guard somebody, he can go out there and do the job,” Durant said. “I think that’s the underrated part of his game.”
Harden also discussed round two as a teammate of Durant. “We were young in Oklahoma City,” Harden said. “We are grown men now. We know what we want. We really know the game of basketball now. We are not those young guys that want to run around and just shoot and dunk all day. And then for me, I sit back and I know what player Kevin Durant is. He’s one of the best players to ever touch a basketball.
Indeed, the Nets has three of the best players to ever touch a basketball, and hope to bring a championship to the borough of Brooklyn this summer.