The Brooklyn Nets shocked the NBA world when they acquired James Harden from the Houston Rockets, forming one of the best big three’s in NBA history. The Nets were already one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, but acquiring a superstar talent like James Harden makes them clear favorites to win the Eastern Conference.
Does it make them clear favorites to win the NBA title?
Let’s dive in a little deeper.
The Los Angeles Lakers have to be the favorites to win the Western Conference for 2021. Last season’s champions somehow have gotten better since last year.
Adding Dennis Schroder and Marc Gasol has paid dividends for the Lakers early on, and the emergence of Talen Horton-Tucker has made the Lakers one of the deepest teams in the West as well.
LeBron and Anthony Davis remains the best duo in the NBA, but can they compete with a dynamic trio?
The Brooklyn Nets have set themselves up to have the most talented roster in the NBA. Their starting lineup consists of the three best isolation players in the NBA.
Whether the ball is in the hands of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, or James Harden, the Nets are almost always in a position to score the ball.
The Nets supporting cast also consists of some nice complementary pieces.
Joe Harris is one of the league’s best sharpshooters and will space the floor for the Nets which will be crucial. When isolation play from any of the Nets superstars attracts a double team, Harris’ shooting on the perimeter will be increasingly important to this team’s success.
DeAndre Jordan is still an elite rebounder and good rim protector. He’ll be critical in pick and roll offense for Brooklyn.
Bench pieces including Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Jeff Green, Landry Shamet, and Nic Claxton are serviceable enough and should be productive with at least one of the Nets superstars on the floor.
Do they have the edge on the Lakers yet?
Let’s look at this by position:
Kyrie Irving vs Dennis Schroder
Schroder is a good player, but is nowhere near all-star caliber. Superstar guard Kyrie Irving gives you much more on the offensive end and almost always requires a second defender.
James Harden vs Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
KCP was solid for the Lakers in their playoff run last year, but James Harden blows him out of the water. Harden’s elite offensive talent as a scorer or a playmaker makes him one of the most unstoppable players in the NBA. This one isn’t particularly close either.
Joe Harris vs LeBron James
Joe Harris may be an elite shooter, but it would be foolish to compare him to one of the best players ever to play. LeBron by a landslide.
Kevin Durant vs Anthony Davis
Advantage: Nobody, it’s a tie.
The battle of the heavyweights is at the power forward position. Both KD and AD bring so much to the table on both ends, it’s hard to say who is more of an impact player. Both are top five players in the league fully healthy, and both can take over games.
DeAndre Jordan vs Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol was a solid pickup for the Lakers, but the aging Spaniard seems like he’s out of sorts on offense and is unable to keep up. The slow, lumbering, Center can’t play in transition and will have trouble matching up against faster, more athletic players like Jordan.
The Nets had to move some key bench pieces in order to acquire Harden, the Lakers run about 9-10 deep. Even players deep in the Lakers rotation like Talen Horton-Tucker have more to offer than some of the Nets’ top bench players. The Lakers’ depth is significantly better.
That makes it 3-2 for the Nets, but it still isn’t clear that they’re the better team.
Even when it’s broken down by category, these two teams are pretty even.
Playmaking/Ball Movement: Lakers
Offensive firepower: Nets
Superstar talent: Nets
With all of the signs pointing to these teams being evenly matched, NBA fans know that superstar talent is what ultimately wins championships.
Although depth and team basketball are important, superstars taking over in the playoffs is what really wins.
It would be shocking if the Brooklyn Nets are not the NBA Title favorites after acquiring James Harden.
The Brooklyn Nets are now the team to beat.