NBA: Ranking the top 5 Eastern Conference contenders

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Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

No. 5: Brooklyn Nets

At their peak, the Brooklyn Nets can contend with anyone. Their offensive explosiveness is next to none, with both Durant and Irving averaging above 28 points a game. It should be expected for the duo to combine for almost 70 each and every playoff game, as they’ve both been tested under the biggest lights.

However, they essentially traded James Harden for Seth Curry and Andre Drummond for this season, with it looking less and less likely that Ben Simmons sees the court before next season. Both Curry and Drummond can help, but even a disgruntled Harden offers more to a contending team than the former Philadelphia duo.

Along with Simmons, Joe Harris has also been ruled out for the year. Harris struggled last playoffs against Milwaukee, but his presence as a shooter was valuable to space the floor at the very least, giving more opportunities for Durant to get into his shot.

Brooklyn’s main problem lies on the other side of the ball – their defensive rating is only 24th in the league at 114.0. Both Durant and Irving, along with Bruce Brown, can be fine defenders if they want to, but beyond that, the Nets’ rotation is littered with below-average athletes for their position.

To win, they’re going to need Kevin Durant in all his greatness to perform against some of the best defenses in the league (which you’ll see later on in this list). It’s certainly possible, but considering the fact that they are going to have to win a play-in game just to get into the playoffs, their odds of representing the East are relatively low.

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