Injuries have played a big part, particularly in Durant’s case, in why they’ve only donned the Nets jersey a limited number of times. Should one of them get injured, David Aldridge, on “The Athletic NBA Show,” named the player the Nets will find a harder time to replace:
“I don’t think they can replace Kyrie. It sounds crazy, I think they can more easily replace KD than they can replace Kyrie, 'cause nobody does what Kyrie does!”
The Nets’ win-loss slate, however, doesn’t support the veteran NBA insider’s contention.
Without Irving, the Nets were 30-23 last season, after going 12-6 during the 2020-21 season and 27-25 in 2019-20. Three winning records in each year without “Uncle Drew” suggests that Brooklyn has been able to do relatively well minus the mercurial point guard.
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The Nets are not as successful without Durant based on their record. Last season, they were a miserable 8-19. During the 2020-21 season, they were surprisingly good with a 25-12 record. But without KD for all of 2019-20, they were only 35-37.
In one stretch bridging January and February last season, the Nets mostly had Irving and James Harden but were without Kevin Durant. Brooklyn slumped to an 11-game losing streak.
Irving’s otherworldly skills are irreplaceable, but they’ve managed to play reasonably well in his absence. Not having Durant, however, could mean not even sniffing the postseason, especially in the loaded Eastern Conference.
Durant is arguably the ultimate mismatch in today’s NBA. It’s nearly impossible to find someone who can match his combination of skills, size, experience and scoring brilliance. The Nets looked competitive last season without Irving but looked lost without the former MVP.
The Brooklyn Nets will need Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to be healthy to contend in the East
Donovan Mitchell’s arrival in Cleveland may add another elite team that will be tough to play against in the East. The Brooklyn Nets will need a healthy and engaged Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons to come out of their conference.
The Boston Celtics are probably the deepest and most complete team in the East, while the Miami Heat will always be contenders. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the retooled Milwaukee Bucks could be inexplicably underrated.
The Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks round out the top teams in the East. If Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant are out for whatever reason against any of these teams, Brooklyn could be in for another huge disappointment.