Yes, they’re old. Yes, we should have concerns about injuries. Sure, we don’t even know if all the players are vaccinated yet, which will matter because they’ll have to be.
But, damn, on paper, these motherfuckers are good. The Brooklyn Nets are the odds on favorites to win the NBA title this season and for great reason. They’re a couple of days removed from adding Paul Millsap, they brought back LaMarcus Aldridge, who is cleared to play after abruptly retiring this past April, and most importantly, they not only got rid of DeAndre Jordan, but they were able to bring back former Net Jahlil Okafor (who could be waived by the time this posts) and 2019 near-lottery pick Sekou Doumboya, along with $5.78 million, and while it did cost four second-round picks, that’s inconsequential for a win-now team. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes that the team also created a $6.3 million trade exception on top of an $11.5 million trade exception they already had.
As of now, the Nets’ starting five would be, from 1-to-5, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, and Blake Griffin. Off the bench, they’ll have Patty Mills, Bruce Brown, Nic Claxton, Millsap, and Aldridge, as highlights, Jevon Carter, James Johnson, and DeAndre Bembry are wildcards who could become important. And rookie Cameron Thomas averaged 27.0 points per game in summer league, as well, so who knows.
The Nets were mainly top-heavy last year, who felt the sudden departure of Aldridge after five games and were never truly able to adequately replace him. They lost Harden due to a hamstring injury in the playoffs, which limited him for the remainder of the Milwaukee Bucks series in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, in which they lost in seven games. Irving suffered a debilitating ankle injury a few games prior, which ended his season. Even still, Durant’s foot being just too big may have cost them a championship. And now, they’ve reloaded. They still might not even win the title, winning is hard as hell, but they’re better equipped now than they were when we spent a season marveling at or second-guessing them in their 2020-21 incarnation.