Brooklyn Nets: Missing Leadership to Contend in 2020

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving not returning whenever the NBA returns, the Nets will be without some of their on-court leadership.

With there being no reason for Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving to return to the Brooklyn Nets once the season returns, the Nets won’t be in their best position to contend in the 2020 playoffs.

The Nets have made it clear since last summer that they are more focused on the long-term health of the players and reaffirmed that when Irving faced surgery. These injuries highlight issues that exist within the Nets organization; a team that lacks reliable leadership.

There were already plenty of questions over the type of leaders that Irving and Durant had shown themselves to be before their time with the Nets. Durant had been called out and labeled as soft for joining Golden State (all-time best 73-9 regular season record in the 2015-16 season) after he blew a 3-1 lead to them in the 2016 Western Conference Finals.

Irving was rumored to not be interested in playing a sidekick role to LeBron James when he was in Cleveland but didn’t seem to handle being number one in Boston very well, the Celtics actually played better basketball without him. Considering he’s a very skilled hooper with probably the best handles in the game, critics and Boston fans alike pointed to his leading questions.

With all this being said, leadership would be at the forefront of the Nets question marks coming into the postseason if they started immediately during a season continuation regardless of if the two best Nets were healthy and available.

Now, the Nets are even in more disarray. They essentially have to bank on the team emulating the Celtics teams that Kyrie played for in the past, and rising above how good they were without the two-time All-NBA player. The reason that can’t be counted on or expected is that the Nets obviously didn’t sign Irving with that in mind.

Irving was signed to be a major force for the team, and management catered the way they built their roster to the strengths of the six-time NBA All-Star. Now, it seems like Brooklyn doesn’t even have much upside.

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Last year, they looked up to forward Jared Dudley‘s leadership in the playoffs and he did a great job as a leader, but realistically, it was going to be tough to ride it all the way to a playoff series win against the three-seed Philadelphia 76ers. Things won’t be easier for Brooklyn this year, as they’ll be playing the second seed if the playoffs are played normally.

If the playoffs began immediately, the Nets would be going up against the defending World Champion Toronto Raptors, as long as the NBA doesn’t change the format this season. Also, the Nets don’t necessarily deserve a playoff spot, as they have a disappointing 30-34 record, last year they were at least over .500 at 42-40.

This year they’d have to look to DeAndre Jordan for leadership, and he doesn’t have much success in this league as the lone leader of a franchise. He has plenty of league experience, but not enough in these situations to expect a realistic chance to beat the Raptors in a playoff series.

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The Nets have a young team and missing the veteran presence of Irving and Durant results in the youth turning to a weakness as opposed to something that began as a strength.