After falling short to the eventual champions, Milwaukee Bucks, in 2021, the expectations have never been higher for the Brooklyn Nets heading into the 2022 NBA season. The Nets were the heavy favorites to win it all in the preseason and expect the Big 3 will be available for most of the season. But like everything else in NetsWorld, things never go according to plan.
The Calm Before the Storm
The Nets unstoppable big 3 played 2 games this season. Kyrie Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated and being sidelined by the Nets is a big reason for that and Nets struggles. The Nets started this season 23-9, overachieving as a collective group. Kevin Durant was playing at an MVP level and once again looked to be the best player in the world. The Nets were getting positive contributions from veterans such as Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge, making up for James Harden’s lackluster start to the season.
The Brooklyn Winter Meltdown-End of the Big 3
But then disaster struck in late December. With COVID-19 cases rising across the country, many players tested positive and entered HSS protocols. Nets had eight players entering the protocols leading to the Nets to clear the way for Kyrie Irving to play games as a part-timer.
The Nets “Big 3” did eventually make their season debut against the Pacers in mid-January and followed it up with a dominating win against the first seed Chicago Bulls. Things were looking good in NetsWorld as the team was getting ready for a five-game road trip-meaning Kyrie was available to play for five straight games. But once again, there was another setback, as Kevin Durant had a small MCL injury in a game prior, sidelining him for 4-6 weeks at minimum.
The Nets lost the next 8 of the next 11 and are currently on a 10 game losing streak. They have the worst record in the NBA since the new year and are in danger of falling out of the play-in spot. To add salt to the wounds, James Harden has privately asked the Nets to trade him by the trade deadline and Kyrie Irving is still illegible to play at home. In short, the Brooklyn Nets are having a disastrous season. As I’m writing this editorial, James Harden is no longer on the Nets in a blockbuster deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets Big 3 is no more and played a grand total of 16 games. They went 13-3 in those 16 games.
Ben Simmons Era + New Big 3 in Brooklyn?
Although it is hard to envision Brooklyn winning the title given the chaos that unfolded, there are reasons to be optimistic about moving forward. While Simmons has his offensive weakness, he is arguably the best defender in the NBA. Simmons’s versatility on defense plus his elite ability to run an offense in transition will make the Nets better. More so, Brooklyn also added Seth Curry to a roster that already includes Patty Mills and Joe Harris… In my last article, I mentioned the Net’s lack of perimeter shooting as their bottom five in 3pt percentage. A core of Mills/Harris/Curry is the strongest shooting trio in the league, perfectly complimenting Ben Simmons.
While the Nets have not lived up to expectations and are no longer a super team, I can’t help feeling excited about this new Brooklyn team post ASB. As one wise man said, all you need to do is win 16 games come April to be world champions.