The State of the Brooklyn Nets


Kyrie Irving and the Nets have established themselves as legitimate contenders in 2023. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Anthony Ballas, Contributing Writer

Following an offseason of much uncertainty and doubt, the Brooklyn Nets seem to have a sense of tranquility for the first time in what feels like years. As we’re just weeks away from All-Star Weekend for the 2022-23 season, the Nets sit at fourth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 28-17. Following issues from within the organization itself such as reported tension between the players and former head coach Steve Nash, drama surrounding the James Harden trade, as well as off-court antics from Kyrie Irving, things finally appear to be clicking for the Brooklyn based team.

Since taking over the head coaching position, Jacque Vaughn has led the Nets to a 26-12 record, just fresh off a 12-game winning streak while being the seventh best defense in the league holding teams to 111 PPG as well as possessing the ninth best offense. Although star forward Kevin Durant recently suffered a right knee injury, the Nets are still 1.5 games behind the second seed.

Vaughn expressed his feelings on the injury and how it affects his team, saying, “Not giving this group a chance to make excuses. Here to play. Here to win. Here to compete. Doesn’t change.”

Their two superstars, Durant and Irving, are both playing some of the best basketball of their careers. Durant is averaging 29.7 points per game on 56% from the field to go along with 6.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists, while Irving has put up 25.6 points per game on 48% from the field with 4.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists

They’ve also had solid contributions from role players such as Nic Claxton, who is averaging a career high 12 points per night and shooting an astounding 73% from the field. Yuta Watanabe is shooting 50% from behind the arc off the bench, as well as TJ Warren and Royce O’Neale who have become solid offseason pickups for the Nets organization.

The James Harden trade that sent Ben Simmons to Brooklyn seems to finally be paying off. Although he’s not been an all-star level player like many hoped, he’s been an important defensive piece while also helping out the playmaking and rebounding front. Playing his first NBA games in almost a year and a half, many are hopeful that Simmons will continue to improve so the Nets can have another valuable piece come playoff time.

In the current state of the league, almost every team in playoff contention is just a few games apart from each other. Although there are early favorites like the Celtics or the Nuggets, no team has pulled within just a few games from the others. Durant and Irving being two of the best scorers in the league, and arguably, the best isolation players the game has ever seen, means they always have a chance at doing something special.

With the amount of talent the Nets have clicking on all cylinders, it is fair to assume they have as good a chance as anyone to take home the Larry O’Brien trophy this year.