The New Era
By: Chase Sommer
With the trade of James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, which reunited the former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates James Harden and Kevin Durant, we are now greeted with a new potential NBA dynasty; Similar to the Golden State Warriors over the last couple of years. The Nets now have the most intimidating star power in the league with the two former MVPs (Durant, Harden) and also Kyrie Irving. With this immediate star power, the Nets have the ability to rise to the occasion and win the title or lose and disappoint once again.
In the 2010s the Nets went all-in on players such as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, hoping it would win them a championship, but instead all it led to was one playoff series berth and years of losing. All of the draft picks traded away to get declining stars handicapped the Nets until now, where they just made a huge gamble, in a move that feels familiar to ten years ago. When this team is firing on all cylinders, there is going to be no stopping them and their offense is no doubt going to be one of the best in the league, but as always, valid concerns are raised about the defense knowing that defense, not offense wins championships.
The addition of Harden could cause the Nets to fall back on the defensive side of the ball, as he does not have the reputation of not being a defensive player. All of these points are crucial in determining if the Nets crippled their franchise for another decade or if they now have the chance to gain all the glory. Veteran championship winners Irving and Durant should be enough to catapult the Nets into the NBA Finals in a relatively weak Eastern |Conference. But the defending champion Lakers squad is still favored to win the Finals this year despite the star power on the Nets squad. Regardless, it’s going to be interesting to see if their “all in” gamble pays off, or if it hurts their franchise in the future.
Additionally, another parallel to the Warriors dynasty is that the Nets have a first year head coach in Steve Nash. This is similar to the Warriors when they had Steve Kerr lead them to the 2014-2015 NBA Championship. These retired point guards relied on their basketball IQ and mental understanding of the game to make up for their lacking size and athleticism. Both of these coaches are tacticians and masters of the game. In spite of their knowledge, it is hard to win a championship in today’s game without a big man’s presence in the paint, especially against the rim attackers of Lebron and Davis. Trading away Jarett Allen, their top shot blocking prospect could come back to haunt them when facing the Lakers.
Additionally, the first Warriors team had a plethora of depth allowing them to keep their starters fresh and prevent injuries. In the Warriors final season they were riddled with injuries, most notably taking KD and Klay Thompson out for extended amounts of time. The Nets may have gambling too much and overplaying their star’s could have the same outcome unless they take necessary precautions. In sum, the modern era of the NBA with superteams has both worked, and flopped. Following the Nets will be at the very least an entertaining and dramatic ride this season.