The Brooklyn Nets may finally sigh with relief after a season filled with doubts and questions about their future.
It’s not enjoyable to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. But after everything that the team has been through, including an early coaching change, the saga with a disgruntled and controversy-filled star, and another franchise player wanting out, just making it into the postseason seems like an accomplishment in and of itself.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are no longer members of the club, and what was once a viable championship contender in the Eastern Conference is now left to pick up the pieces after a year filled with ups and downs. The Nets can build on the core assets that they already possess. The hope of bringing home a championship to Brooklyn will have to be put on hold for a little while longer as the club rethinks its strategy for the future.
Mikal Bridges is the driving force behind Brooklyn’s bright and imminent future. After establishing himself as a defensive stalwart and a dangerous presence on the perimeter, he evolved into a shot-creator for the Nets. Could he make the All-Star team? Where does he set his limit? Should we plan on him being a secondary star for a contender, or do we anticipate that he will develop into something else?
Bridges went from averaging 17.1 points per game with the Phoenix Suns at the beginning of the season to 26.1 points in 27 games with the Brooklyn Nets. While he continued to be a threat on the defensive end, he increased his attempts both from the field and from the line. Is this some Kawhi Leonard v2.0 we’re looking at here? Before he started working on his jump shot, Kawhi Leonard was primarily known within the San Antonio Spurs organization as a ferocious defender. This was a while ago. It is an ambitious aim for him to become the next Kawhi Leonard, but he can serve as Brooklyn’s primary option.
The fact that the Philadelphia 76ers were able to sweep the Brooklyn Nets in the first round proves that the Nets still have a lot of flaws in their game, but a whole summer and training camp with this new roster has the potential to achieve miracles. They have a strong group consisting of Cam Johnson, Royce O’Neale, Dorian Finney-Smith, Seth Curry, Nic Claxton, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Bridges. Will it be enough to keep up with the competition in the East? Maybe. Before the squad creates waves in a conference with a lot of competition, they need to improve their ability to make plays, their shooting, and their presence in the middle.
Herein is the problem with Ben Simmons. As was previously noted, the Nets may look ahead to the future with optimism due to the presence of a youthful and talented core. The next issue that has to be answered for them is Simmons’s potential role in the future. The three-time NBA All-Star has appeared in only 42 games throughout the last two seasons combined. The next season is the perfect time for Simmons to return to form if he wants to start again without pressure or expectations. Will it be enough for the Nets to get over the hump even if he can play like the old version of himself?
The Nets have a few assets, including two first-round selections in this year’s draft. Those picks are among their most valuable possessions. It would be interesting if they wanted to shake things up and fish for a new star because it would give them more options. They would have to part with a few key members of their developing core, which would also need them to get experience negotiating with an additional star player. The New Jersey Nets have played their hearts out for the previous four seasons with the expectation of capturing an NBA title. In the end, all they ended up with was a finish in the Conference Semifinals in 2021, along with a great deal of stress and trade negotiations.
Will the Nets take things slowly and continue to develop the players they already have, or will they take a chance to acquire a new star player and risk losing everything?