Brooklyn Nets Futures: Durant’s Itching For One Last Dance
The hottest team in the league right now is undoubtedly the Brooklyn Nets. Currently, on a ten-game winning streak, the Nets sit second in the Eastern Conference with a 23-12 record.
Head Coach Jacque Vaughn has done wonders for the squad since he took over for Steve Nash, and Kevin Durant looks happier than ever. He is playing the best basketball of his Nets career, averaging 30 points on 56% shooting, and is getting MVP shouts from across the league.
Is this the year that Durant and Kyrie Irving have been waiting for? Do they finally have the pieces they need for a title run?
2022 Record: 24-12 (2nd in East)
It’s crazy to think how close Brooklyn was to catastrophe just a few months ago. After an offseason in which Kevin Durant requested a trade and Kyrie Irving was off being an idiot (as per usual), the Nets stuttered to a 2-6 record to start the regular season. The team looked lost on the court, and Steve Nash wasn’t utilizing the talents of his players, ultimately causing him to lose his job on November 1.
Since then, Brooklyn has become a completely different team. Vaughn has made the offense explode, and the team has gone 22-6 ever since the coaching change. Ben Simmons is looking more like his old self, and the supporting cast of Seth Curry, Joe Harris, and T.J Warren are proving they can be vital role players to the squad. Their current 11-game winning streak is the longest of any team this season.
Atlantic Division Winner Odds (FanDuel)
- Boston Celtics -550
- Brooklyn Nets +550
- Philadelphia 76ers +1300
Although the Nets have been great against the Atlantic Division (5-2), that number is misleading. Four of those wins have come against the struggling Toronto Raptors, and both losses came against their only competitors for the division title. One of those losses was against a 76ers team that was missing both Joel Embiid and James Harden due to injury. Yikes.
The positive side is that both losses came earlier in the season before Brooklyn reached their top form. They’ll have three more games against both Boston and Philadelphia, and the Nets can be confident they can make ground on the league-leading Celtics.
+550 seems disrespectful to a team that possesses both KD and Kyrie – especially since Boston has shown signs of slowing down over the past month. The Nets are only two and a half games back from Boston, after all.
It’s worth teasing.
Eastern Conference Winner Odds (FanDuel)
- Boston Celtics +195
- Milwaukee Bucks +240
- Brooklyn Nets +410
- Philadelphia 76ers +900
- Cleveland Cavaliers +1000
Post-season pedigree has a lot to do with the current odds for who will win the East…and obviously, both Boston and Milwaukee have shown their playoff prowess in recent years. But let’s not forget who we’re dealing with in Brooklyn.
Both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have won multiple Conference titles, and they have made it clear they are hungry for more. This is the best Nets team they have been a part of, and realistically the clock is running short on this squad. It’s now or never.
Sure, the Nets have struggled in the playoffs lately, getting swept in the first round of two out of their past three appearances. However, this is nowhere near the same team. +410 is not a reflection of this version of Brooklyn, and they are surprisingly undervalued for once.
As things stand, they would avoid facing both Boston and Milwaukee in the first two rounds, opening up a clear path to the Conference Finals.
From there, it’s anyone’s game…
NBA Championship Winner Odds (FanDuel)
- Brooklyn Nets +800 (3rd Highest)
It’s been almost five years since Kevin Durant last lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy, and the 34-year-old is itching to get it back. Most importantly, he wants to prove the haters wrong and show that he can win a ring without Golden State.
Now, he has his best chance to do so, and the odds reflect that as Brooklyn is the third favorite to win it all. The East is expected to win the whole thing, and the surging Nets are the hottest team in the Conference right now.
I’m convinced this line will become even shorter as the season progresses and Brooklyn continues to dominate. They seem to have figured it out, and if Ben Simmons can improve his scoring, this team will be impossible to beat.
Brooklyn’s Upcoming Games
- Jan. 2 vs. San Antonio
- Jan. 4 vs. Chicago
Brooklyn has every opportunity to extend its win streak over their next two games as both opponents have sub-.500 records. In fact, over the month of January, they will only play five teams that are above .500. The Nets need as many wins from these games as possible to build even more momentum and make up some of the distance between them and Boston.
Most importantly, Brooklyn will have the opportunity this month to clean up their record against the Atlantic Division. They’ll play against the Celtics, the 76ers, and the Knicks over the next few weeks, which could prove pivotal to the overall standings.
I want to see Ben Simmons continue his stellar play of late, as he has had the third-best net rating in the entire league over Brooklyn’s win streak. The Nets would love to see him get more aggressive in the scoring department over this next month and build his confidence. He is averaging a career-low 8.3 points per game but is shooting the best FG % of his career at 60%.
Another player looking to step it up this month is T.J. Warren. Warren scored 20 points in a game just last week for the first time in over two years. If he can find even a glimpse of his scoring touch pre-injury, he can take a huge load off KD’s and Kyrie’s shoulders down the stretch. He could be the pivotal player in a title run.