Expectations For the Brooklyn Nets With Kevin Durant Back

After holding the rest of the NBA hostage for the better two months, the Brooklyn Nets and Kevin Durant have agreed to move forward together for the 2022-23 season. Opinions are swirling around how these trade demands have impacted the league. This piece will focus on the future of the Nets now that their two leading players are back on board. 

Expectations For the Brooklyn Nets With Kevin Durant Back

Offseason in Review

After a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the Boston Celtics, the Nets entered the offseason needing to make upgrades to accomplish their ultimate goal of an NBA championship. After an uneventful NBA draft, the Nets would reach an ‘impasse’ with star guard Kyrie Irving on June 20th, 2022. Three days later, issues escalated as Durant was reportedly ‘considering his options.’ The four-time scoring champion formally requested a trade a week after those reports. 

On that same day, June 30th, to be precise, the Nets acquired Royce O’Neal from the Utah Jazz for a 2023 first-round pick. This move seemed questionable to some at the time, fearing that Brooklyn would soon be in rebuild mode. This move looks much better now that Durant and Irving appear ready to go, but we’ll get back to that momentarily. 

The Nets let Bruce Brown walk without an offer, allowing him to sign with the Denver Nuggets. They did make a great move by signing TJ Warren to a one-year deal. Although Warren has been battling injury since 2020, those that remember what he accomplished in the 2020 bubble know that the forward has incredible potential. Warren and O’Neal will help strengthen the Nets bench, a major weakness last season. 

Potential Additions

Several names have been linked to the Nets to fill the final roster spots. Former All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard have been rumored targets, along with former champions Tristan Thompson and Markieff Morris. Anthony could be a great fit with this roster. He averaged 13.3 points in his 26 minutes per game for Los Angeles last year. Thompson won’t offer much on the offensive side, but his rebounding ability could be helpful for a team that struggled in that area last year. The team will look forward to regaining the shooting touch of Joe Harris, who missed most of last season with an ankle injury. 

Nets 2022-23 Outlook

As we close in on the start of the season, the Nets are looking to be in a similar position as last year. Current oddsmakers have Brooklyn behind Golden State and Boston in 2023 title odds, while recent power rankings have the Durant Nets near the top ten in the league. 

Brooklyn has addressed the bulk of their bench concerns, adding Warren for scoring and O’Neal to fill the defensive void left by Brown’s departure. Seth Curry, Patty Mills, and Nic Claxton round out a solid support unit. 

With Durant and Irving content, for the time being, the biggest question in Brooklyn is now the physical and mental health of Ben Simmons. Acquired in last year’s blockbuster for James Harden, Simmons hasn’t seen the floor in a full season. If he returns to the level that had him in contention for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, this team could be a top team in the eastern conference. If he is a no-show this year, we could see the Nets again struggle to obtain a high playoff seed.

Brooklyn is a playoff team as long as Irving and Durant are willing to play. If that changes, all bets are off.