Anna Bauer ’23
The Brooklyn Nets are the team to beat with an unexpected power trio leading them to victory. The Brooklyn Big Three consist of Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant. Since trading for Harden this past January, the Nets have a record of 17-7; by the halfway point of this season, the Nets have won 10 games and only lost one, despite missing Durant for nine of those games.
The reason this power trio is so unexpected is because they have only played together in seven games because of injuries. So, despite not always playing together, these three are playing some of the best basketball of their careers and as a result, the Nets are merely a half-game behind Philadelphia for the number one spot in the Eastern Conference.
Potentially making them only stronger, there are two players on the Nets’ radar: (1) Andre Drummond and (2) Blake Griffin. Drummond currently plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers and is one of the greatest rebounders in all of league history; a buyout agreement has not yet been reached between him and Cleveland but that is the hope. Just recently, however, was the news that Griffin has already bought out the Pistons and is expected to join the seemingly unstoppable Nets.
Missing most of his 2019 to 2020 season because of a left knee injury which led to surgery, Blake Griffin, six-time NBA All-Star, was beyond ready to come back this season and play for a contender. Meanwhile, the Pistons, who have won 10 games and lost 26, are prioritizing strengthening their younger players. As a result, after three years with the team, Griffin just officially bought out the Detroit Pistons’ and, though initially looking at the Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Heat and Warriors, is expected to officially join the Brooklyn Nets. Paying $13.3 million of the $75 million he was owed from the Pistons, Griffin leaves the Detroit Pistons with no regrets or any ill-will with the organization; both wish the best for the future of the other.
The addition of Griffin only enhances the legitimacy of the Nets. They are serious contenders and right now, they are definitely the team to beat.
Prior to Harden’s trade, he was with the Houston Rockets and his game was not nearly as on point as it is now. Before, he was lethargic on the court, now, he is helping to run the show and excelling at creating easy opportunities for both role players and Irving, who is doing exceedingly well at shooting guard this season.
Again, despite the power trio not playing together all that much, the three are majorly responsible for the Nets having the league’s best offense. Now, while the Nets impressive offense is winning the games, their defense has significantly weakened. Prior to Harden, the Nets were 13th in defense; with Harden, they have dropped to 26th and are still below average despite their ten wins. This drop is partially due to Durant’s left hamstring injury which has kept him, a very talented defender, out of games since Feb. 13, but it is also simply due to not great defense. While one might think that defense would have to be at least better than average to lead to winning a championship, bad defensive teams with amazing offense have indeed won before and the Nets could definitely be another one of these teams.
One thing is for sure, every team to go against the Nets in the second half of the season should definitely bring their A-game.