The big news from this week is the trade that sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets (click here for the details of the trade). As a result, the Nets now have a "Big Three" consisting of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in addition to Harden. Before they got Harden, the Nets were already considered by many to be contenders, but now that they have Harden, it's fair to wonder whether or not they're the favorites to come out of the East.
In my opinion, the real key to the Nets having success will be how well the egos of Durant, Harden, and Irving are managed. If they can put their egos aside, play unselfish basketball, and put the team first, they'll be dangerous. If not, there could be trouble in paradise.
All three of them are among the most gifted offensive players in the game. Irving has fantastic ball handling that can create space as well as anyone in the league. He knows how to get to the rim, shoot it from deep, and also create plays for others. Durant, he's a 7'0" freak with shoes that can make it rain from deep, attack the rim, and just get buckets. That's what he does. Harden, he's one of the craftiest scorers the NBA has ever seen. He's got an array of moves, can shoot it from deep, and also get to the rim while creating contact. The bottom line is it's going to be tough for teams to figure out how to defend all three of them when they're together.
This isn't to say that from a pure basketball standpoint, they're a lock to win the East. The biggest issue that these three guys have is they're not great defenders. Especially Irving and Harden. For as great as they are on offense, their defense is just so-so. One could of course argue that with those three guys, who needs defense, but in truth, you can't win by just playing really good offense. You need to play defense as well. Just ask Don Nelson. If the Nets are going to accomplish their championship goals, they're going to have to figure out how to improve on defense. Having DeAndre Jordan in the middle certainly helps as he knows how to block shots and get rebounds. But I'm not sure he's enough.
Ultimately, I like this Nets team a lot. There's talk about the three of them not getting along and things blowing up, but Durant and Harden know each other from their days in OKC and as for Irving, he's a smart enough guy to get in line as well. When looking ahead to the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Nets should absolutely be a factor now that they have Harden aboard.
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