The Brooklyn Nets made the most noise in Day 1 of free agency after hijacking the New York Knicks of the services of not one, but two superstars that were linked heavily to a summer move to the Knicks. So much praise was sent over to Nets general manager Sean Marks, head coach Kenny Atkinson, and the rest of the team’s front office — and rightfully so — for their tremendous work in Brooklyn over the past few years, culminating in the signing of both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant — all in one day.
However, after such a high-profile summer, it is without question that the Nets will now be playing under a microscope. From the league’s laughing stock some years ago, to now a legitimate contender for the title, the media will definitely be keeping a close eye on anything and everything that goes on within and around the organization. Below, we highlight three significant storylines that will take center stage for the Nets this coming 2019-20 campaign.
KD’s Achilles Heel
We all know how Durant suffered a potentially career-changing Achilles injury in the Finals last season. There was no doubt that this would result in a lengthy spell on the sidelines. However, this did not discourage the Nets one bit from going all out to sign the 10-time All-Star. The question now is, will this move pay off as much as they had hoped for?
At this point, the Nets are characteristically mum about a possible return to the court for Durant this season. Nonetheless, they have not ruled it out, which means that there is indeed a possibility. However, assuming that the former MVP is indeed able to make a full recovery this term, a comeback this season will be highly dependent on how the Nets perform during the first half of the season. Simply put, if Brooklyn is able to prove that they are indeed a side that will be capable of challenging for the title, then perhaps Durant’s return towards the tail end of the season would be a tremendous boost. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense to force the 6-foot-9 forward back.
We also need to take into account that Durant will be 31 this season, and that this is an Achilles injury we’re talking about here. Expect to hear and read about these narratives in the next few months.
Kyrie the Talisman
Speaking of remaining highly competitive even without the services of Durant, Kyrie Irving will definitely be playing a pivotal role in this respect. Without KD, Irving will be the lone superstar in Brooklyn, and there will be a lot of pressure on him to lead this very promising team.
While Irving will be surrounded by an above average set of teammates this coming season, Brooklyn’s current active roster is not as formidable (and experienced) as what Kyrie had with the Boston Celtics or the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is the first time in a long time that Irving will be the only All-Star caliber player on his team, so it remains to be seen how he will emerge from this daunting challenge. Throw in the fact that he will need time to adjust to a new system, coupled with the pressure of having to redeem himself from a rather forgettable time with the Celtics, then you definitely have a storyline than can easily take either direction.
Postseason or Bust
Even without Durant, the Nets are still expected to make the playoffs this coming season. They did it last year with pretty much the same squad, except for swapping D’Angelo Russell with Kyrie Irving (a definite upgrade, right?), so what’s stopping them from doing the same this term? Kawhi Leonard has also gone out West, opening up the Eastern Conference even more, so Brooklyn should definitely make it to the playoffs, right?
Well, following this rather oversimplified, yet pretty common thought process, then it does seem that it’s going to be postseason or bust for the Nets this term. Again, Kyrie will be on the spotlight here, as he will very likely be the easy scapegoat should some doubt begin to creep in at any point in the season.
The Brooklyn Nets are definitely going to make a lot of headlines next season, and for the first time in a long time, all eyes will be on them. Surely, a lot of other narratives will pop up between now and next summer, but you can be sure that all three above will constantly remain as prevailing storylines that will pretty much make or break Brooklyn’s campaign next season. It’s going to be a very important year ahead for the Nets, and how they fare in the short-term will definitely have a significant impact on their future moving forward.