There have been mostly highs, but some issues should be noted for the second half of the season.
By far, the most significant move for the Nets this season has been trading for James Harden. As of right now, Harden has been playing spectacularly, averaging 25.3 points, 11.3 assists, and 8.7 rebounds in his 22 games as a Net. Harden has been able to run the offense and has transitioned to looking for the pass more than his shot, leading him to lead the NBA in assist.
This offense is filled with opportunities; even though the offense does stagnate and turn into isolation-centric plays, the floor spacing is insane, and Harden has been able to find the open man.
Even though this trade right now looks perfect, you can’t fully judge this trade yet.
This trade will either be seen as a success or failure based on the fact if the Nets make it to the NBA Finals this season or not. The trade was to make this team massive favorites to make it to the finals, and anything less than that will be a failure.
The Nets’ mentality is championship or bust, and they have been treating the regular season like that.
Kevin Durant has only played 19 games due to COVID contact tracing rules, rest days, and now this hamstring injury. Kyrie Irving has also missed several games with injures and personal days. All that is fine, and honestly, is okay because it’s all about the playoffs, and they are healthy and ready for the playoffs; that is what matters. The Nets record has not suffered as they are second in the Eastern Conference with a 23-13 record.
In all honest, letting the role players play quality minutes this early in the season might be necessary. The Nets traded away three quality rotation players in Caris LeVert, Jarret Allen, and Taurean Prince in the trade for Harden. Along with that, Spencer Dinwiddie tore his ACL taking him out for the rest of the season. This first half of the season, and maybe a lot of the second half of the season, will be figuring out who will get minutes in the playoffs.
So far, it has been a weird mix of Bruce Brown, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Jeff Green is the players who have stepped up to fill in these roles. Brown has been the sparkplug energy player, who has grown into his own as a perimeter defender, and as a screen and roller on offense, playing almost like a center. Luwawu-Cabarrot has come off the bench to be a defensive anchor and hit some threes. Green has started and even closed some games at center, which is not good on defense, but on offense, his shooting ability has allowed the team to create a lot of space on the court.
The Nets roster is still in flux, with multiple players being signed on 10-day contracts and nonguaranteed vet minimums, who will be fighting for a spot. Andre Roberson and Iman Shumpert seem to be the most likely candidates to get actual roster sports. However, both play similar games to Brown and Luwawu-Cabarrot.
On top of that, Nicolas Claxton is coming back from his injury. He might break into the regular rotation as a backup big, which would be good taking some minutes away from Green at center and even give some motivation to DeAndre Jordan to not be so lazy on defense.
The biggest issue so far for the Nets team has for sure been its defense allowing 116.2 points per game which is the 4th highest in the league.
This is an issue, but as the season has gone along, the defense has gotten better, and big games have been good. On top of that, the Nets’ offense is so good that it can often overshadow the Nets’ shortcomings on defense.
This is still something the team needs to work on but is fixable as the season goes along, and at least they have shown they can bunker down in games that matter.
All in all, the Nets have had a great start to this season; having one of the best records in the league and the best offense in the league is not a bad start.
However, the end goal is an NBA Championship, and the team needs to do whatever it can to make that happen.
The team’s roster will keep evolving, and the team chemistry should only get stronger as the season goes along.
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