The summer of 2019 was surely the one that put Brooklyn back into serious conversations about the next best thing in the NBA. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both agreed to long-term deals at the time that would make them a Brooklyn Net until the 2022-2023 season. How do we look at the Brooklyn Nets in 2022? A failed dynasty.
Present-day, Durant has signed his extension and secured a deal worth $198 million over the next four years. This would guarantee the former MVP at least $198 million by the 2025-2026 season. Durant will be age 38 by then and a free agent. Safe to say he’s in Brooklyn for some time.
Irving did not come to terms on a contract extension and therefore he will have a player option this offseason either opt-out and seek a bigger extension from Brooklyn or go elsewhere in his NBA career. Kyrie says he’s not heading anywhere else however in the most recent answer to his future.
The BEST accomplishment for this Nets team? A second-round exit in the 2020-2021 season to the eventual Champions Milwaukee Bucks. Isn’t it a shame that last year we didn’t even talk about the Nets becoming a dynasty out of the final four teams in the 2021 NBA Playoffs?
A reminder of how we got here
Here is a reminder for those forgetful folks. In the 2019-2020 season, Durant did not play as he was recovering from an Achilles injury. Irving played in only 20 games despite the season being delayed due to the pandemic. Neither of the two would be healthy enough to suit up in the Orlando bubble and finish the season in rare circumstances.
Throughout the past few seasons, we saw Joe Harris, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Caris LeVert, Andre Drummond, James Harden, and Ben Simmons in Brooklyn. Let’s not point our fingers too much at Simmons who has yet to even play a game for the Nets since joining the team this season.
Just last week Tracy McGrady had the sports media world crushing over their favorite “most skilled duo” in the history of the NBA. T-Mac’s nod was to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Apparently, LeBron James agreed too.
- 2019-2020 season – Nets finish 35-27 in the regular season. Kenny Atkinson was fired and Jacque Vaughn takes over the interim role as Head Coach. Nets lose to Raptors 4-0 in the First Round of the 2020 Playoffs.
- 2020-2021 season – Steve Nash hired as Head Coach. Nets finish 48-24 in the regular season. Acquired James Harden from the Houston Rockets on January 14, 2021. Brooklyn loses to the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 Conference Semifinals
- 2021-2022 season – Nets finish 44-38 in the regular season. Acquired guard/forward Ben Simmons, guard Seth Curry, center Andre Drummond and two future first-round draft picks from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for guard James Harden and forward Paul Millsap Nets lose to the Boston Celtics 4-0 in the First Round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
Let’s get to the point here. A Brooklyn Nets Dynasty was expected. In Brooklyn, the media is larger, the expectation to win is larger, and paring some of the “most skilled duos” to make a ballclub win a championship not just once but multiple times has not been successful.
Kenny Atkinson lost his privileges to coach this team in 2020. With Durant and Irving expected back full-time in the 2020-2021 season the Nets hired Steve Nash as the Head Coach to lead the drama-filled locker room. Nash was hired as a Player Development Consultant for the Golden State Warriors prior to taking on the Brooklyn job. Hence, the healthy relationship between Durant and Nash.
Mentioned above are ingredients that all have to work for even the most skilled players to succeed at a high level. However, the chief complaint coming into the 2021-2022 season is that the Nets big three (prior to the season) only had 202 minutes played together in 2020-2021. Just give them more time to play together they said!
There have been too many moving parts in a short time that just hasn’t worked out for the Nets to be a dominant Championship level team. To be fair, you have to omit one of the four years since Irving and Durant couldn’t play together in 2019-2020. To some, this feels like wasted time.
A window that can close quick
The window for Brooklyn’s dynasty to even begin in the middle of a thriving NBA has to be a concern. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are the current NBA defending Champions and the Greek Freak seems to be arguably the most dominant player in today’s NBA.
Ja Morant is the league’s 2020-2021 Rookie of the Year and the 2021-2022 Most Improved Player. His Grizzlies finished with 56 wins this season. Eventually, the trio of Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry wouldn’t just lie down to become mediocre when all healthy.
Best case scenario?
At the end of the day, the Nets still secured Kevin Durant for the next four years. If the relationship with Irving extends him for another four years as well the Nets still have one of the most modern skilled duos in the NBA overall.
Brooklyn will have to take some of the player development skill Nash brings, combine it with Irving and Durant’s greatness, and expect that their competition doesn’t beef up more than they are.
Depending on where you stand with the Nets if you want to see this duo succeed there is light at the end of the tunnel. The end of the tunnel reads this “play more minutes together in the regular season Brooklyn Nets core”.
Take a look at the core duos that started the regular season together in 2021-2022. Durant and Irving are among the lowest compared to some of the top teams in the league in total minutes played in the regular season.
|Duo||Team||2021-2022 Total Regular Season Minutes Played||2021-2022 Team Record|
|Chris Paul & Devin Booker||Phoenix Suns||4,484||64-18|
|Ja Morant & Desmond Bane||Memphis Grizzlies||4,155||56-26|
|Jayson Tatum & Jaylen Brown||Boston Celtics||4,951||51-31|
& Khris Middleton
|Jimmy Butler & Tyler Herro||Miami Heat||4,082||53-29|
|Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson||Golden State Warriors||3,152||53-29|
|Kevin Durant & Kyrie Irving||Brooklyn Nets||3,138||44-38|
For now, the modern-day Brooklyn Nets are one ugly stain in NBA history. A failed dynasty.