The Brooklyn Nets can still make noise in the East without Kyrie Irving

Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) /

Can the Brooklyn Nets still be competitive without Kyrie Irving? 

The Kyrie Irving era in Brooklyn is officially over. And it ended almost as quickly as it started. After officially requesting a trade from the team late last week, Kyrie was traded to the Dallas Mavericks two days later. Not only did the trade indicate the end of Kyrie in Brooklyn, but it also brought more uncertainty for the Brooklyn Nets.

In exchange for Kyrie, the Nets acquired Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a future first-round pick, and two future second-round picks. In short, the Nets added two players that should help them continue to compete in the East during the second half of the season.

Make no mistake, this team is no longer the dark horse championship contender that they were just 24 hours ago with Kyrie. Nevertheless, with this newly assembled team, you can’t help but wonder how competitive can the Nets be in the Eastern Conference.

Where do the Brooklyn Nets stand without Kyrie Irving?

If the Nets are going to have any shot of competing in the East, there’s one thing that needs to happen – Kevin Durant has to be healthy. And he has to be in the right mindset. If those two things aren’t so, this Nets season is going to tank.

It was reported that KD was somewhat taken aback and surprised by the Kyrie trade demand. At this point, who knows where KD’s head is and what he’s feeling? Could he feel that it’s over in Brooklyn? Could he be out of it? Could he feel as if this is already a lost season?

There are a ton of factors that we don’t really know how they will play out. And KD is at the center of most of them. But, KD is a competitor. And even though he may be surprised and perhaps disappointed in Kyrie, I’d be shocked if he still didn’t play his heart out for the remainder of the season.

Through it all, KD is a hooper. And that’s what hoopers do. They hoop.

Beyond KD, the Nets are going to need Ben Simmons, perhaps more than ever. This is why they acquired him last year. For this very moment. For him to rise as a star and be there in the event that the Nets, for one reason or another, lost one of their stars.

It’s unfortunate that it had to come this way, but KD needs a supporting star. And Simmons needs to be that.

Let’s also not gloss over how good Dinwiddie has been this season in Dallas. Before the trade, Dinwiddie was averaging 18 points and five assists on 46 percent shooting from the field and 41 percent shooting from 3-point range. He’s a player that should be able to continue to thrive next to a superstar such as KD.

We also can’t overlook how good Nic Claxton has been for the Nets this season. He’s slowly evolving into a star for the team.

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All in all, it would be insane to say that the Nets will be as dangerous in the East as they were before the Kyrie Irving trade. But they still have the talent to make noise in the East. Plus, don’t count this team out to make another move ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline.