Before the 2020 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets proved to be an underwhelming team that lacked talent and it showed in their record. Sure, they had pieces like a rising star in Spencer Dinwiddie, but one player was not enough to bring a franchise back to life. That problem would soon be fixed.
On July 7, 2019, the Nets would officially sign all-stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to contracts that would make them a dynamic duo. Due to an injury Durant would sit out in the 2019-2020 season, but this move would still automatically elevate the Nets to a team to watch in the upcoming years. Additionally, it would make them a threat to the Celtics, 76ers, Bucks, and the Raptors- all top teams in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, the Nets would still have a losing record, going 35-37 and getting the seventh seed in the NBA bubble.
In an odd season, Nets fans still had a lot to look forward to. Kyrie Irving showed that he was happy with Brooklyn and looked very good, averaging 27.4 points per game in the 2019 season. An even bigger positive was that Durant was going to return the next season- and the Nets were not going to disappoint.
Acquiring James Harden
Fast forward to the start of January 2021, the Brooklyn were doing okay. They started off to a 7-6 record- not ideal for a squad led by two elite players, but they were still managing to get wins. It is also worth mentioning that theywere putting up a great amount of points, showing that they were capable of keeping up with and even surpassing some of the top offenses in the league.
Then, the team made a huge move that would have them land another superstar in James Harden.
This was crazy.
Not only did the Nets have a super team, but they also brought Kevin Durant and James Harden back onto the same team, for the first time since they were in OKC. But is Harden what the team needs? Superteams are now being formed and are the normal for the NBA. It’s never a “one man show” that we saw in the earlier years in the NBA. Some people saw the Nets landing Harden as a great move. Some did not like it, and I can see why.
If the last few months proved anything for James Harden, it proved that he can be an awful leader. Not only that, but he was also a “diva”. Harden did not play to his fullest potential when he was upset with the Rockets organization. This is the last thing the Nets needed.
Assessing the move
Doesn’t the last months or Harden’s career with the Nets sounds familiar? It should if you are a Nets fan. Yes, I am talking about Kyrie Irving. He has been another “diva” that has become notorious for having a unique personality and a bad awful leader. As a Celtics fan, I can back that up. It was clear that the Celtics did better without Irving. They brought LeBron James and the Cavs to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals without Irving and with their young core. Although the Celtics didn’t win the series, it did show them promise for the future and let them know that they would do just fine without Irving (in which they would).
The past few weeks with Irving has once again been confusing. He’s been missing a good amount of games due to “personal reasons”. It looks like to be one of his bizarre antics that we’ve seen a few times. In fact, it even had Stephen A. Smith say Kyrie should retire if he can’t take the game seriously.
So, talent wise, has the James Harden move been successful? As of right now, one can assume that. The Nets are fifth in the Eastern Conference and have been playing pretty good ball as of late. In the locker room, though, it was not the best decision the Nets have made (but not the worst. Remember when they traded for the aging Celtics’ big three?).
If James Harden and Kyrie Irving ever get into a quarrel, it’s over for the Nets. If even one of them starts acting up like we’ve seen in the past, it could prove to be a questionable move for Brooklyn. They need a leader right now. For now we just have to see how it plays out.