The 2018-2019 Brooklyn Nets were the picture of what a team could do when the players work together to overachieve. Almost every player on last year’s team had a career year and a ragtag group of mismatched socks defied the odds, won 42 games and made the playoffs.
In the offseason, the team went out and signed 2 superstars – Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant – to bolster the club. So with a core on the rise and the addition of not one, but two franchise players, you would think that a 44 win total for a team that just won 42 is an EZ over.
2018-2019 Boston Celtics
The 18-19 Celtics had Kyrie Irving; so do the 19-20 Nets. No one can question Kyrie’s ability to create and score. Also, no one can question that the people he plays with hate him. He pounds the air out of the ball on the court and pounds the life out of his teammates in the locker room. Kyrie’s adverse effect on the Celtics was reflected in their record last year: when Kyrie was in the line-up they went 37-30, and when Kyrie was on the shelf they went 12-3.
The 18-19 Celtics had a superstar player returning from a horrific injury, the 19-20 Nets might have a superstar player returning from injury. Gordon Hayward destroyed his ankle at the start of the 17-18 season and after much work returned at the start of last season. He wasn’t fully ready; players were pissed about losing playing time and were in a constant state of flux as to what the rotation was.
2019-2020 Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have KD returning from his horrific injury. They don’t know when he’ll be back, so the specter of that question will hang over this team until he actually does. Whenever he does come back, someone is going to lose minutes and shots to a guy that is basically using this season as a glorified rehab.
These two things are not the formula for good chemistry or a good season. I expect a major regression for the 19-20 Nets, just like the regression we saw in the 18-19 Celtics.
The Celtics went to the conference finals in 2018 without Kyrie. In 2019 with Irving, they flamed out to the Bucks in the second round with an embarrassing disjointed effort. When the buzzer sounded to end the series the team looked like they couldn’t wait for the season to end and for Kyrie to go house shopping.
The Nets’ chemistry this year will be severely tested by the addition of Kyrie “The Chemistry Killer” and the mystery of KD’s calf. I don’t think it will take long for the fabric of the Nets season to begin to fray, as they go on a five-game west coast road trip starting November 1st and there are no obvious W’s on the schedule. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that on the plane trip home Kyrie will be sitting alone, headphones on, wondering what the hell is wrong with his teammates.
With a B for personal and an F for chemistry. I love Under 44 on the Nets. 3 units.