Patty Mills has begun his NBA spell with Brooklyn by scoring 21 points off the bench but his stellar performance was not enough to prevent an opening night 127-104 loss to reigning champions Milwaukee.
As every basketball fan would be aware, the Brooklyn Nets shook about the NBA landscape by acquiring James Harden in a massive four-team trade last week.
While this move involved Brooklyn giving up a lot of draft picks and some of their depth in Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, the Nets ultimately became the favourites in the East by adding one man. However, this one man is no ordinary player. The Beard is a freak of nature, capable of nailing 30+ and a triple-double against your team on any given night.
Adding him side-by-side with two of the best players in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving is both terrifying and questionable, as all three like to have the ball in their hands (especially when the game is on the line). After playing his first game for the team, Harden and the Nets may have answered some questions, but they’ve also left some unanswered.
The main question I, along with other fans, still have is whether this new look Nets team is better with Kyrie Irving or without him?
The Nets have not seen Kyrie in action in nearly two weeks, as the star has been MIA from Brooklyn’s past six games. While the Nets have been hit and miss during some of these games, Sunday’s match against the Orlando Magic showcased a different looking team. Harden was absolutely dominant in his debut, notching a triple-double in his first game as a Net and became the first player to have a 30-point triple-double in their first game on a new team in NBA history.
His stat line read 32 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds and while that is impressive, Harden also made his team better as a whole. He created wide-open shots for his teammates, particularly Jeff Green, Joe Harris and superstar teammate Kevin Durant, as the bearded superstar was thrilled to become a member of this Brooklyn team.
Durant looked the best he has all season, playing brilliantly off his former teammate as The Beard drew double teams and got the ball to the Slim Reaper. Meanwhile, Irving was out partying and has reportedly been a toxic teammate in every environment he has been in. There is no denying Irving’s talent, but is it worth keeping him if he clashes with the bigger fish in the sea?
Harden is a former MVP and has been there or thereabouts for numerous years. Irving’s attempt at leading a team in Boston was met with failure and a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. While Harden certainly did not go out the right way with Houston, you cannot blame him for all of that club’s problems. The team tried to cater to him and built the team around a one-man offence.
Harden has always needed a tall shooter he can work off and provide good looks for. Durant offers him that option as perhaps the best player to ever team with Harden (both on OKC and Brooklyn). The Nets cut their depth to acquire the star, and while Irving’s trade value may not be high, it could be worthwhile to ship him off for some depth and let Durant and Harden be the ultimate dynamic duo in Brooklyn.
While the trio could certainly work, should the Nets be open to trading the troubled star for a big man to help this offensive duo when it comes down to defending on the final play? Or should the Nets keep Irving and risk the locker room tension if it means having three guaranteed closers on the payroll?
How the situation plays out will all depend on Irving’s situation with the team, and whether he is willing to fix his locker room issues and drop the baggage he brings with him to every team he plays for.
The whole concept of getting Harden was obviously to pair him up with both Durant and Irving, but time will tell if it was the right move trading their depth to keep a star who does not even want to play at the moment.