It wasn’t long ago that Kevin Durant joined a 73 win Warriors team and ruined the balance of power in the NBA. Two titles and three straight finals appearances later, he’s back at it again. Last year notwithstanding, we knew that KD and Kyrie would be a great duo. But the Nets weren’t satisfied with just having one of the five best duos in the league. Not only would the Brooklyn Nets trade for James Harden earlier this season, but now they’ve signed Blake Griffin.
OFFICIAL.— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 8, 2021
🚨 The Brooklyn Nets have signed six-time NBA All-Star Blake Griffin!!! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/sPR0IZZd14
The 31-year-old former number one overall pick hasn’t faired well this season. Griffin is averaging a career-low 12.3 points per game while shooting an abysmal 36% from the field. In other words, he looks like he needs to retire as soon as possible. But knowing that playing for the Pistons would zap the life-force from anybody, the Nets signed Griffin almost as soon as he was bought out. How much of a factor Griffin will be is entirely on him, but it’s fair to assume that playing for a real contender will reinvigorate the six-time All-Star.
In names alone, the Brooklyn Nets are a team to be feared. The Nets could potentially have a small-ball lineup of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Joe Harris, and Blake Griffin. Not to mention they’d have DeAndre Jordan, Jeff Green ( who spaces the floor), and Bruce Brown Jr. coming off the bench. The only team in the east that could remotely rival Nets players 1-8 are (probably) the Sixers. But as KD rests while the Nets continue to win, I can’t help but ask… HOW MUCH HELP DOES KD NEED!?
2020 Kevin Durant Out-did 2016 KD
Before Kevin Durant joined the Warriors, his lone finals appearance ended in a 4-1 gentlemen’s sweep via the 2012 Miami Heat. Following Golden State’s 2016 collapse, Draymond Green flat out begged Kevin Durant to join them. If anyone knew what it was like to get their head beat-in by LeBron, it was KD. In teaming up with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, it was a forgone conclusion no one was beating them in the finals. Many referred to KD’s decision as one of the weakest moves a superstar has ever made.
The closest LeBron came to beating the Warriors was when he *just* managed to take Golden State to five games; otherwise, both series were as lopsided as could be. Following the conclusion of the 2019 season, it was hard to imagine KD being in a better situation than with the Warriors. But sure enough, KD made us hold his beer and formed an even better team out east. When you think about it, it’s amazing what seems to happen to the league as soon as LeBron James wins a ring, isn’t it?
Post LeBron’s 2016 title, the Warriors formed a super-team. Now post LeBron’s 2020 title, the Nets have formed an even BETTER super-team. You could argue that teaming up with multiple stars is just the way of the NBA, but only one team in the league has a bonified big three. Only one team has four (arguably five) current Hall of Famers on it, and it’s the Nets. And in the end, it all seems to come back to LeBron James winning a ring.
Given that year 18 LeBron is ranked number one in defensive win shares, it’s understandable that KD would be scared. I’d be scared too.
Looking Ahead to the Finals
The top two betting favorites to win the 2021 NBA championship are the Lakers, followed by the Nets. Given how the Lakers have recently looked, the odds-makers must assume Anthony Davis will be healthy by the time the playoffs roll around. But even if AD were to return at 100 percent, the likelihood of them beating the Nets doesn’t look promising. If the Lakers hope to contend, they’ll need a player like Andre Drummond or Hassan Whiteside to be bought-out, AD to stay healthy, and Nets to get hit with COVID-19 protocols.
With that being said, congratulations to Kevin Durant. Not only did he shift the balance of power with the Warriors, but he’s done it with the Nets. The only thing that’s stopping the Nets from winning it all are themselves. If all the pieces are happy and healthy, they’ll cruise to a title, and KD will win his third ring. Some won’t give him credit like when he was with Golden State, some will, but in the end, we should all be aware that this all revolves around stopping the King.