With the Brooklyn Nets losing 3 of their last 5 games, the Chicago Bulls have started to take control of the first seed in the East. There is still plenty of season to go, but many NBA fans are starting to believe that there is a new #1 in the East. With Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan putting together MVP caliber seasons, it’s hard to see them slowing down. But, the Nets just got their PG back, and things are going to get that much scarier.
How it all went down
All the drama between Kyrie Irving and the vaccine never found an end point, but the Nets wouldn’t give up on him for the rest of the season. It got so serious that fans began to protest outside of the Barclays Center after the news came out that Irving would not be playing for the foreseeable future.
Rumors then began to swirl that Irving would be traded to a team within a state that allowed him to play. This rumor eventually continued to grow bigger, until the Nets spoke out about how they may be able to bring Kyrie back. A few weeks later, after there wasn’t much buzz around Kyrie, he posted a video of himself lacing up. We all began to get excited, and the Nets then confirmed that Kyrie was back.
Then, just a day after returning to practice, he gets placed into health and safety protocols. The memes started circulating the internet as Kyrie sat at home. He recently returned to practice a couple days ago, and is scheduled to make his season debut on January 5th.
Just how much will the Nets improve?
When looking at the lineup now that Kyrie is back, the only major difference in playing time would be Patty Mills. Mills has been outstanding for Brooklyn this season, shooting a career high 43.6% from beyond the arc. Averaging 14.2 points per game, he will more than likely become the 6th man for this team, with his need obviously being to give the team a boost when starters are resting.
The last time we saw Irving play was the second round of last year’s playoff against the Bucks. He sprained his right ankle early in the series, and had to watch his team fall in 7 from the sidelines. Last season, we saw Brooklyn’s Big Three thrive late, easily becoming the title favorites. James Harden was able to distribute the ball and shoot at a high level, while Irving, averaging 26.9 a game, continued to rip apart defenders with his ball handling skills. And, do we even need to talk about KD?
To answer the question, the Nets will improve drastically. As a team, adding Kyrie immediately adds even more power to their offense, not to mention chemistry. All of Brooklyn’s last four losses have come in single digits. With Kyrie, opposing defenses have yet another clutch shooter to defend with KD and Harden. Taking the pressure off of those two late in the fourth will help the Nets win many more games, especially come playoff time.
Does Kyrie now make Brooklyn THE team in the East?
To be fair, the Nets have been the best team in the East leading up to Christmas, it has just been recently that Chicago has looked more complete, even without Lonzo Ball. A couple DeMar DeRozan buzzer-beating game winners have given the Bulls a one game lead over the Nets in the East, and all is looking well for them. While they may be able to sustain their dominance for a little bit, I don’t think they will be as consistent as Brooklyn heading down the stretch. Now with Kyrie, there’s just too much talent for the Nets not to be winning at least 7 out of ten games. We’ve seen what their big three is capable of doing. The Bulls are still a tremendous team, don’t get me wrong, but there’s just something about the Nets that tell me that they are ready to take control over the NBA with Kyrie back. Maybe the team that finishes with the better record will have their main star win MVP? We will see, but one thing is for sure. These ain’t the same Bulls we’ve been seeing for the last few years.
Top Photo: AP Photo