Just under a year ago, on April 13th, 2019, the 6th seeded Brooklyn Nets beat the 3rd seeded Philadelphia 76ers 111-102 in game 1 of their first-round playoff series. D’Angelo Russell led the Nets with 26 points, helping shock the 76ers, who were expected to get my the upstart Nets with ease. As we all know, the 76ers ended up winning the series in 5 games, but almost every game was competitive, showing that this Nets team would be a force to reckon with in the future. They were lead by a young core of Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris Levert, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen, and were only going to improve from here.
Now obviously, the team is slightly different this year, due to the incredible crop of free agents this past offseason. The team unloaded D’Angelo Russell, to acquire Kevin Durant, and were also able to sign Kyrie Irving and Deandre Jordan. However, the rest of the core apart from Russell is still intact. This year had been disappointing up to this point, due to Kyrie’s and KD’s injuries and potential chemistry issues. However, this nucleus needs to stay together and be given a healthy season to try and compete in the East, rather than sacrificing more depth for a 3rd star.
First of all, the Nets are still trending in the right direction, and have been for the last few years. After the Paul Pierce and KG trade that doomed the Nets for years, sacrificing their future, they can not make the same mistake again. Their front office has done a phenomenal job making them relevant again, drafting right and taking a risk with the original trade for Russell. Now that they have struck gold in free agency, due to the optimism surrounding the team, they need to keep the team together as well as they can.
Secondly, the trade ideas being thrown around would either not substantially improve the team or would result in losing too much depth for one other star player. Out of the names that have been suggested, two specific trades seem pointless. Lamarcus Aldridge is the first, who is past his prime and would stagnate Brooklyn’s potentially potent offense. Buddy Hield is the other, who does not seem like a significant upgrade over guards like Dinwiddie or Levert. On the other hand, some trades for true superstar level players would cost too much depth and too many picks. Players like Beal, Mccollum, and Embiid have been mentioned, but to acquire any of the three would cost multiple young players and multiple picks, taking away depth and leaving the nets potentially in the same spot they were just a few years ago.
Finally, with Lebron obviously out of the Eastern Conference, this current Nets team has a great chance to challenge for a championship. The Raptors, Bucks and Celtics are all great, but a healthy Nets team, with KD, Kyrie and their supporting cast has a good a chance as anyone. KD and Kyrie are still two of the premier scorers and players in the game, and their teammates all bring something special to the table. Deandre Jordan and Jarrett Allen are both elite rebounders and rim protectors. Caris Levert was averaging a career high 17.7 pts per game, and had a 51 pt game this season. Spencer Dinwiddie was in the all-star conversation with 20.6 ppg, and Joe Harris is an elite shooter, shooting 41% from 3 this year. This team has so much potential, and with a wide-open East, needs to be given a chance to compete when fully healthy.