After a surprising 2018-19 NBA campaign in which the Brooklyn Nets won 42 games and made the playoffs, the Nets entered a summer full of hope, and that hope turned into a reality, as the Nets landed both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency.
Of course, Durant will miss all of the 2019-20 season as he recovers from a torn Achilles, but the fact that Brooklyn was able to land both Durant and Irving represents a massive shift for a franchise that looked dead in the water two years ago.
With Durant set to sit out the year, the Nets aren’t yet ready to contend for a championship, but they will still almost certainly be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference and should be better than they were this past season.
So, with Brooklyn getting set to enter training camp, here are four burning questions for the club.
4. How will the DeAndre Jordan-Jarrett Allen Frontcourt Shake Out?
Jarrett Allen is one of the better young centers in the game, but the Nets signed DeAndre Jordan this offseason, which will almost certainly push Allen to the bench.
What does this mean for Allen’s minutes?
Because neither player can space the floor, it’s hard to imagine Jordan and Allen playing a whole lot together, and with Jordan likely being a priority, that means Allen’s playing time might get cut significantly, which is a shame.
Of course, depending on matchups, the Nets can play both guys together for stretches, but not for extended periods of time.
Managing the minutes between Jordan and Allen is going to be a difficult task for head coach Kenny Atkinson.
3. How Significant will Wilson Chandler’s Suspension Be?
Brooklyn picked up Wilson Chandler for some wing depth earlier this summer, but the veteran was recently suspended for 25 games for performance-enhancing drugs, leaving a rather big hole on the Nets’ bench.
We know that Brooklyn has Taurean Prince and Joe Harris in its starting lineup, but who will be the key to come off the bench and possess the ability to defend both 3s and 4s while also representing a scoring threat?
Rodions Kurucs seems to be the only option at the moment, and while the 21-year-old showed some promise this past year, I’m not sure you want to rely on him as your only player to fit this mold.
The Nets had Jared Dudley in this role during the 2018-19 campaign.
Now, it’s basically Kurucs and nobody else, which seems like a fairly significant problem.
2. Is Caris LeVert Ready to be a No. 2 Option?
Obviously, Irving will be the No. 1 guy for Brooklyn heading into 2019-20, but who will be the No. 2?
There is Spencer Dinwiddie off the bench, but you would probably prefer your No. 2 option to be a starter.
Enter Caris LeVert, who is yet to prove he can stay healthy over the course of an 82-game season but has shown flashes of impressive offensive talent when he has been on the floor.
LeVert has a lot to work on. He is not a consistent shooter, and he doesn’t make his free throws at the rate you would expect from a shooting guard. But he demonstrated in the playoffs that he has it in him to be a go-to guy for stretches and that he is completely fearless.
Right now, it seems like LeVert will end up being the Nets’ No. 2 option by default, and it’s debatable as to whether or not he is ready for that role.
1. Can Kyrie Irving Co-exist with the Young Players?
Irving’s biggest problem in Boston was that he simply could not find it inside himself to get along with the Celtics’ young players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier. Will he be able to do that in Brooklyn?
Now, it should be noted that the Nets don’t have any truly ball-dominant young players like the C’s did this past season. LeVert is hardly ball-dominant, and guys like Prince and Kurucs are certainly not go-to scorers.
So, there shouldn’t be any reason why Kyrie should clash with these youngsters, unless, of course, it’s just not in his personality to get along with certain groups of teammates.
Remember: Irving being a locker-room distraction was not exclusive to Boston, as he also caused some issues in Cleveland, so it remains to be seen whether or not he can change his ways with the Nets.
I will say that Irving seemed to really want to play for Brooklyn, because he grew up in New Jersey rooting for the Nets, so maybe being home will be the secret formula that Kyrie needs, but it’s difficult for a tiger to change its stripes.