Three reasons why Kyrie Irving’s return is a tremendous boost for the Nets
As the Brooklyn Nets played their last two games, they had numerous players exceed their normal playing minutes because the rest of the roster is in health and safety protocols. Many of these individuals are performing at an incredible level, but the majority of the scoring and leadership roles are tasked to one of the best scorers ever Kevin Durant. As it seems unsustainable for Durant to play this amount of minutes for the rest of the season, the Nets have adjusted their stance as they have allowed Kyrie Irving to suit up for eligible away games.
With Irving’s pending return, it will lessen the load on Durant and possibly cut down his minutes for the foreseeable future. Moreover, when their other players are cleared from health and safety protocols, the presence and production of Irving possibly makes the Nets the prohibitive favorite in the Eastern Conference.
Kyrie Irving Nets Return Positives
Increased motivation for James Harden
Before James Harden’s extended absence, his performance has been subpar compared to the best seasons of his career. His aggressiveness and assertiveness as the second star alongside Durant has been lacking for some critical games, forcing Durant to score more than his usual average. Moreover, Harden has not been great, either, as his long-range marksmanship percentage has dropped to 33.7%.
Having Irving as the combo guard with Harden in the backcourt gives him a more comfortable role of dishing it to Irving or others for wide-open threes and opening up the driving lanes as well. Even with the limited number of games last season, it was obvious that the big three of Durant, Harden, and Irving was sensational because of the multitude of skills they possess as a trio.
As Irving intends to don the Nets jersey soon, it will likely raise the production and impact of Harden as well.
Lessens the load on Durant
The aforementioned increased responsibilities for Durant have been remarkable as one could argue that he has overtaken Stephen Curry already in the MVP race. He is leading the league in scoring at 29.7 points per game on a phenomenal 52.3% from the field. Additionally, he has already played over 40 minutes five times this season, which is not ideal for an athlete that has recently sustained a torn Achilles injury.
When Irving is on the floor, it would decrease the usage rate of Durant because Irving is one of the most skilled players in the league. He could break down any sort of defense thrown at him because of his excellent handles and incredible shooting prowess. Thus, it mitigates the risk of Durant sustaining any soft tissue injuries throughout the season if Irving can supplement him in manufacturing the offense for Brooklyn.
Freeing up opportunities for others
Brooklyn added numerous role players in the offseason, such as Paul Millsap, Jevon Carter, and LaMarcus Aldridge, but they have not been able to live up to expectations. Even holdovers like Joe Harris, Blake Griffin, and Bruce Brown have been abysmal, but Irving’s return to the floor likely raises their confidence because of the increased open opportunities.
Ever since the playoffs last season, Harris has not been a reliable outside sniper, which is an integral asset to their success. For their big men to flourish with their strengths, the big 3 must be able to tally their normal production as defenses would tend to help off their other role players. For instance, Griffin and Nicolas Claxton have been instrumental to their last two victories, which could help bolster their production for the most critical games in the playoffs.
It was plausible for Irving to return at some point this season as this news is a delightful sight for the Nets entering the new year. They sit atop the Eastern Conference with a comfortable 2.5 game lead over the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. With Irving joining them toward the end of the month, it is the moment for Brooklyn to continually widen the gap with the other serious contenders in the East.