The Brooklyn Nets were commonly known as a laughingstock of the league for a number of years after trading away a plethora of future first-round picks to the Celtics for the aging trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. That trade helped them make the second round of the playoffs a whopping one time, but nothing more than that, and it seemed like they were doomed for the foreseeable future. They fired general manager Billy King and brought in Sean Marks in 2016, where they immediately began collecting assets. Flash forward to three seasons later, and the Nets are coming off of their first playoff berth in over five years led by D'Angelo Russell, and have one of the most dangerous future cores in the league. So what's in store for the 2019-20 Nets?
2019-20 Brooklyn Nets Season Outlook
Key Additions: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Garrett Temple, Henry Ellenson, David Nwaba
Key Subtractions: D'Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jared Dudley, DeMarre Carroll, Shabazz Napier, Treveon Graham,
Draft: Nicolas Claxton, Jaylen Hands
As we can see from the moves above, the Nets are a completely different team heading into next season. Key contributors like D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are gone, but the superstar duo of Kevin Durant (who's injured) and Kyrie Irving are now in town, along with various other role players. Losing Russell stings, as he has an extremely bright future and really helped put the Nets on the spectrum this season. Fortunately for Brooklyn, they upgraded by adding two of the game's best players in Irving and Durant who can do what Russell does, but much, much better. Irving may be coming off a season full of negativity and drama, but he gets a clean slate with Brooklyn and gets to play with another young, proven core that has playoff experience. And although Kevin Durant won't be playing next season, and there is a risk he may never be the same player again, it's Kevin Durant. Durant at his worst is better than most NBA players at their best.
A big reason why Brooklyn is going to be a very fun team to watch is because as of now, this team looks like it can excel at every aspect of the game. You have your playmakers such as Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie, your shooters in Irving, Durant, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, Garrett Temple and more. You have rebounders and rim protectors in DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen, and perimeter defenders in Harris, LeVert, and Durant. You have overall bench depth with players like Dinwiddie, Rodions Kurucs, Wilson Chandler, and Garrett Temple. Head Coach Kenny Atkinson is becoming recognized across the NBA world as one of the better coaches in the league. After signing a lot more veterans in the offseason, the Nets come into next season with even more playoff experience. This is a team that has improved all across the board, in every aspect of the game, and will certainly be in contention for a top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference for a long time.
However, I do have two areas of concerns for the Nets. My first one is with DeAndre Jordan, and the contract Brooklyn signed him to. They shelled out 4 years and $40 million to Jordan, who is entering this season at 31 years old. They also have another center, Jarrett Allen, who is 10 years younger than DJ and shows a very similar skill-set to him as well, such as being a tenacious rebounder, a shot-blocking rim protector, and a dominant finisher around the rim. My main gripe is that, with the money the Nets are paying Jordan, that he will take some valuable minutes away from Allen, which could cause bumps in his development. Jordan is still a good center, but he is coming off of his worst season since 2012 (aside from his surprisingly better free throw numbers), and regression is inevitable for him in the future. My other problem comes from Kyrie Irving. Obviously, last year turned out to be a disaster for him, and he now has an awkward reputation with him. Sure, Brooklyn is a clean slate, but this situation he's entering this year is eerily similar to the one that he endured in Boston. His star teammate isn't playing the first year he's there (Gordon Hayward, Kevin Durant), and he's surrounded by a ton of young talent ready to prove themselves. Sure, it might not be on the level of Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, but the similarities are there. Kyrie Irving is coming into this season with something to prove after last season's tumultuous turn of events. It's time to see if he can come back and dominate in his new opportunity.
Final Outlook on the Brooklyn Nets
Personally, I think Kyrie will have a better year than last year and be able to co-exist with his Nets teammates. Unfortunately, we won't see a full-strength Nets roster until 2020, but this looks like a sure-fire playoff lock in the Eastern Conference this season. The Eastern Conference is wide-open this season, and I could see the Nets placing anywhere from a second seed in the East to the sixth seed. I have them penciled in at a 50-32 record for next season, which is an eight-game improvement over last year. The future is very bright in Brooklyn, and with Durant coming back next year, the Nets should be title contenders within no time.