The Brooklyn Nets season is officially over, and the NBA Finals are coming up soon; as a Nets fan, it is hard not to see a built team and maybe be in the Finals.
The Nets already had Finals hopes before the season started. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the roaster, the NBA Finals would be a possibility. The chances only increased after the Nets pulled off the trade for James Harden, sacrificing a lot of their role players and depth to add that third star.
Ultimately the sacrifice felt vain for this season, as both Harden and Irving suffered injuries leading them to miss around half of the second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. It was heartbreaking to end the season knowing the Nets could not throw out their best lineup, and the possibility of winning with their best lineup was very real.
The fact is – all three stars are signed for next year, so the idea of run it back, and try to stay healthy, could lead the Nets to a chip.
The Big Three
On top of that, all three stars had a fantastic season when they were healthy. Before Durant suffered an injury less than halfway through the season, Durant was seen as an MVP candidate and put up better numbers than his actual MVP year.
When Harden joined the team, before he got hurt, missing most of the last month of regular season basketball, he was also in the conversation for MVP as Harden flourished on his new team and was given more of the scoring load with Durant out.
Irving was never mentioned in the MVP race like the other two stars but was the only Net featured on an All-NBA team and became the ninth player to join the 50-40-90 club.
In his own right, Joe Harris had a great season, leading the NBA in three-point percentage for the second time, and even though he did not play well in round two of the playoffs, he is still a reliable piece and perfectly supports the other three stars. His floor spacing opens the floor for the stars, but sadly when stars got hurt, he was asked to step up; he could not, which is fine because that has never been his role.
In the role he retained all year, he flourished, and he should return to being one of the best role players in the league.
Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge
The buyout signings of Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge were perfect for this team, but sadly Aldridge was forced into retirement after just five games with a heart issue. Griffin, on the other hand, became the starting center in the playoffs and had big-time performances.
Griffin proved the NBA world wrong, showing that he still had life in his legs, and it would be great to see him back with the Nets next season if they can work out a solid deal.
Off-season acquisitions like Landry Shamet, Jeff Green, and Bruce Brown played crucial moments throughout the season, being three of the four players to play over 60 games for the Nets. Shamet started this season slowly, but in almost every month, Shamet’s shooting became more efficient. Even though his minutes were not consistent, he did find ways to impact playoff games.
Green, like Griffin, showed he still had some life left in his tank and proved to be a solid role piece, and was crucial to both sides of the ball in the playoffs before his injury. Brown was one of the most exciting players on this Nets team; at just 6-4 in stature, he often played a rim running center on offense and provided much-needed intensity and perimeter defense on the other side of the ball.
Mike James, who was signed by a European team mid-season, elevated the team like many people did not expect. He became a crucial part of the offense after the team was hit with injuries. James’s story was a fantastic way to shoot some talent into a very top-heavy roaster after the trade for Harden.
Sadly, DeAndre Jordan and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot were disappointments to Nets fans, as we had high hopes for them going into the season. Luwawu-Cabarrot could not find his shot all season, while Jordan just struggled on defense, not even getting a single minute in the playoffs.
Nicolas Claxton was exciting at times at gave Nets fans hope for a new Jarret Allen. However, his minutes were inconsistent, and even though he thrived in the minutes he received, it never led to anywhere. It would have been good to see more of Claxton, but it’s hard to tell its true impact with a small sample size. He could be very impactful next season.
Head Coach, Steve Nash
Finally, rookie head coach Steve Nash did a fantastic job with this team, and when you have the players as he has, there isn’t much work that has to be done. However, you never heard anything terrible about Nash, nor were there any glaring issues with his clock management or lineups, to the extent to bring the fan base into an extreme uproar. With the help of two former head coaches Mike D’Antoni and Jacque Vaughn, Nash improved every day.
The Nets look forward to this off-season to build a team around their three stars, and with a coaching staff pretty much staying the same, NBA Finals pressure will only grow.
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