The Brooklyn Nets ended one of the most talked about stories of the entire 2022 NBA offseason this morning. Kevin Durant’s trade request off the Nets had captivated the entire league, as everyone wanted to know where Durant would go next if he got traded. Turns out the team he played for last season will be the same one he plays for next season.
The Nets released an announcement this morning saying that Durant had rescinded his trade request and would be staying put in Brooklyn for the upcoming season. It was a shocking turn of events given everything that we had seen happen regarding Durant and his trade request this offseason, and it figures to change the landscape of the NBA for the upcoming season.
One big way that it changes things is that the Nets went from facing a potential rebuild to being a title contender atop the Eastern Conference yet again. With Durant back onboard, let’s look at three reasons why the Nets will win the 2023 Finals next season.
3 reasons the Brooklyn Nets will win the 2023 NBA Finals
3. They will be getting some key players back from injury
The squad the Nets were rolling out against the Boston Celtics in their first-round series last season was far from 100 percent healthy. They were missing some key pieces of their rotation, and despite Durant and Kyrie Irving’s best efforts, they ended up getting swept by the C’s. Heading into the 2022-23 season, the Nets should be fully healthy for the first time in awhile.
One of the players Brooklyn was without for most of the 2021-22 season was Joe Harris. Harris has become one of the deadliest sharpshooters in the league, and is a perfect complement alongside Durant and Irving. Harris also can hold his own on defense, and the Nets clearly missed him against the Celtics when Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown ran riot on Brooklyn’s run-down defense.
They also should get their prized possession from the James Harden trade in Ben Simmons back from injury as well. Simmons didn’t suit up for the Nets after he was traded off of the Philadelphia 76ers midway through last season, and he could end up being a huge difference maker for Brooklyn next season. Getting these two guys back will be a huge help for the Nets next season.
2. Their bench is much stronger
As a result of missing some key pieces, the Nets were forced to run out a bench unit that wasn’t up to par for long stretches last season. Getting Simmons and Harris back will help, but the Nets made a couple of under-the-radar moves this offseason that should help them significantly now that Durant is back in the fold.
The Nets moved quickly to replace Bruce Brown, who left for the Denver Nuggets in free agency, with Royce O’Neale in a trade with the Utah Jazz. O’Neale is a fairly similar player to Brown, although he’s a bit more consistent of a three-point shooter than Brown, which should help the Nets offense out.
Brooklyn also made a sneaky good signing in T.J. Warren during free agency, and he could end up being a fantastic bench scorer as he looks to make his way back from a couple of injury-filled campaigns. These two guys, combined with the returns of Simmons and Harris, give the Nets one of the more formidable rotations in the entire league.
1. They have two of the best scorers in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving
All the depth pieces are nice all, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t have stars to lead the way. And Brooklyn once again has two of them in Durant and Irving (maybe even three if Simmons finds his form again). Durant and Irving instantly make Brooklyn a threat to win anytime they take the court together, and now that they are back together in Brooklyn, the Nets have to be considered a serious threat to win it all next season.
We saw last season that Durant and Irving aren’t enough to beat the best teams in the league, though. Boston did a very good job of containing Durant and Irving in their first-round series last season, proving that elite defenses can in fact shut them down.
The difference between now and then is that Brooklyn has completely revamped their secondary players behind Durant and Irving. That should help take the burden off of them during the regular season, and give them the space to succeed in the postseason. The Nets appeared to be headed towards a rebuild; now, they may just be the favorites to win it all next season, and for good reason.