Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant. (Photograph by Stacy Revere/Getty Pictures)
Proper now, James Harden might be interested by Kevin Durant’s game-ending Sport 7 shot whereas sitting alone within the east trophy wing of his million-dollar mansion observing an empty cupboard with the precipitously-etched plaque studying: 2020-2021 NBA CHAMPIONSHIP.
His ring finger feels as barren because the hearts of Brooklyn followers all over the place.
Regardless of the clearly disappointing early exit, the Nets may need executed the perfect they might with their crapshoot of a season. Virtually every little thing dangerous that would have occurred, occurred. Kyrie bought injured within the playoffs. Harden too. Durant nearly did. LaMarcus Aldridge retired. And from the bench, Spencer Dinwiddie watched the Nets season spectacularly fizzle out with a quiet, barely discernible “poof.”
The one linings of the 12 months have been extra brass than silver: Durant went full-on beast mode in his first season again from a torn Achilles, and in some way Blake Griffin did too, in his first season again from everybody calling him a loser.
Certain, anybody may tack on this overused and customarily meaningless phrase to the Nets’ 2021 season: “They have been unfortunate.” However as one well-known smart man from Rome put it, “Luck is what occurs when preparation meets alternative.”
The Nets should be higher ready for subsequent season’s title run, and it’s as much as Sean Marks and the entrance workplace to get issues executed this summer season. With a horde of gamers getting into free company, the Nets even have restricted monetary flexibility to work with: the Large Three is owed roughly $115 million subsequent season, and one other $26.4 million is tied up between Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan. After the semifinal loss, nobody however your loopy, trash-talking, and subtly racist uncle noticed coming, there are extra questions than solutions about Brooklyn’s future as an elite superteam. Listed here are three strikes Brooklyn has to make to win all of it subsequent 12 months.
3. Nets Should Bulk up on Protection
When the Nets first shaped their superteam, they banked on the wager that their sturdy, cannon-loaded battle tanks in Durant, Harden, and Irving would blast their opponents out of the water. They learn the bookmarked and neon-highlighted web page out of winners’ books claiming “Protection Wins Championships,” scratched their heads and mentioned, “Nah.”
Possibly if their Large Three had stayed wholesome, they’d have confirmed their naysayers mistaken, however for subsequent season, the Nets want a dependable wing defender to organize for a type of sport situations when, you recognize, it’s important to play protection.
To be honest, the Nets didn’t put up the season’s worst defensive ranking (they have been twenty second total), however amongst playoff groups, it was the second-lowest rating. When your only option at defending Giannis is Blake Griffin, your workforce most likely may use some backup. (All respect to Griffin this postseason, however he generally is a bit…dense.)
The Nets have the mid-level exception to signal a stopper, and with Spencer Dinwiddie possible declining his $12 million participant possibility looking for greener (as within the money, not grass) pastures, Brooklyn may use him as bait. There have been earlier rumors that the Nets wished to ship Dinwiddie to Golden State in change for Kelly Oubre Jr., and actually, that bundle rocks. They may additionally go after the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma and even the Bucks’ PJ Tucker, who was fairly buddy-buddy with Durant (and his mother) this collection. Different choices embrace Avery Bradley, James Ennis III, Kris Dunn, or Josh Jackson – all gamers who not at all will skyrocket the Nets’ protection to unstoppable heights, however not less than will increase it a pair steps. Brooklyn can now not afford to wager on their offense sooner or later, and gaining a mid-level defender this summer season ought to be on the high of their agenda.