Brooklyn Nets: Nothing has changed, the Nets are still the team to beat

Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Brooklyn Nets are still the team to beat. 

The Milwaukee Bucks may have prevailed in their second-round NBA playoff matchup en route to winning a championship, but, make no mistake, the Brooklyn Nets are still the team to beat heading into the 2021-22 NBA season.

So when James Harden says that, when healthy, there’s no team that can beat his, he’s right. The Nets are single-handedly the most talented team in the NBA and it begins with their historically great big 3.

In addition to Harden, Kevin Durant is coming off an amazing season considering the injury he was coming off of, and Kyrie Irving had another fantastic campaign. If it wasn’t for injury in the playoffs, there’s no question that the Nets beat the Bucks – and pretty comfortably

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Before Kyrie’s injury, the Nets managed to race off to a 2-0 series lead over the Bucks. Even with Harden sidelined with his injury, Brooklyn had still managed to win Games 1 and 2. The Kyrie injury was too much and even though the Nets were still competitive, they weren’t able to overcome the loss in offensive production.

What the Brooklyn Nets have done right this offseason.

Nevertheless, the team essentially returns the same roster from a year ago – with the small additions of Patty Mills, James Johnson, and one rookie that has looked impressive in Summer League (Cam Thomas).

Based on simply improvement that would occur with more chemistry and experience playing together, the Nets should be better than they were last season. But even if they were just as good as they were last season, there is a case to be made that this team should still be the favorites.

While many have celebrated what the Los Angeles Lakers have done, and with how difficult it will be to score or out-physical the Miami Heat next season, the Nets did something that can’t be overlooked this offseason – they didn’t screw things up.

And, more often than not, that’s the key to many contenders during the offseason. Brooklyn didn’t overthink the offseason and that’s important. They protected their stars and took care of them – they extended Durant to a huge extension and are expected to do the same for Harden and Kyrie by the start of next season.

So as the Nets head into year 2 of a healthy Durant, the scariest version of this team has yet to be seen. And there’s a good chance that this is the year that we’re finally going to see it. Durant is one full year removed from his return to the basketball court (after his Achilles injury), Harden will have a full offseason to get his body right in a place where he wants to be, and Kyrie will also have a full offseason to get his ankle healthy.

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There’s no question that there are more than a few teams that have improved this offseason, but the Nets are still the team to beat. Let’s not get that twisted.