All-Star Analysts

The impact of not having Kyrie Irving full-time

Published January 28, 2022, 10:00 AMDiego Dario
Diego Dario

It’s been tough for the Brooklyn Nets to stay consistent this season when they can’t use Kyrie Irving for half of their games.

The Brooklyn Nets have been on and off this season due to multiple reasons. They started the season without their star guard Kyrie Irving. James Harden looked like he was not in his best shape coming into this season. Then, a lot of players had to enter the league’s health and safety protocols. Despite all of the noise, they are still sitting in the 3rd spot in the Eastern Conference. 

It’s a crucial time for the Nets because it’s a close battle in the East compared to the Western Conference. For context, the fourth seed Milwaukee Bucks are just one game behind the top-seeded Miami Heat. In the West, the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks are 9.5 games behind the top-seeded Phoenix Suns. 

The Nets have been great and we still haven’t seen the real potential of their Big 3. Out of 113 possible games of playing together dating back to last season, Irving, Harden, and Kevin Durant have only played in 16 games together, with the Nets sporting an impressive 13-3 record. We saw a glimpse of what these three superstars can do together when they blew out the Chicago Bulls, another East contender, by 26 points. They are close to unstoppable when they are all healthy. 

But the Brooklyn Nets are two different teams now because of Irving’s stand on vaccination. The Nets, reeling with KD on the sidelines due to a knee injury, can only use the former NBA champion in road games since the state of New York mandates all participants in sporting events to be fully vaccinated.

When a player with an artist's temperament like Kyrie is playing for your team, there’s a different dynamic altogether. He is a playmaker, not in the sense that he will get 10 assists in a game, but in a hooper’s sense, that when he has the ball, he can make something happen. He can break down anyone in an iso situation. He can use ball screens and provide multiple options for your offense. He can even play off the ball together with James Harden, which can cause problems for the defense.

But with Kyrie out during home games, I’m just not sure how that will affect the team’s consistency, especially in the playoffs. The Nets are a better team with Kyrie Irving. He is currently averaging 23.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. No matter what people say, Kyrie will always be one of the best point guards to ever play the game. But imagine this situation in the playoffs when some of the guys on the bench play heavy minutes one game and then sit out the next. It’s tough and weird. We haven’t seen anything like it, but you’ll never really know what to expect this season, with all the COVID stuff going on. 

The only thing that would fix this concern is Kyrie finally getting the COVID-19 vaccine. But recently, he has been vocal on his stance that he will not be getting the jab. This is the same person that used to think that the earth is flat, but has since done his research and has taken it back.

Maybe the same thing could happen with his vaccine beliefs. Not that it’s a good comparison, but the fact remains that he can still change his stance. If he does change his mind and the Big 3 are healthy, the Nets are the clear favorites in the East, just like last season when they entered the playoffs with all three in the lineup.

If he doesn’t change his mind, though, the Nets might be the biggest what if in the long run. This is the third season the Nets have sunk into this experiment. James Harden's contract expires in the upcoming offseason, Durant is 33 years old while Kyrie turns 30 next season. Their windows as superstars are closing. For now, everything depends on Kyrie being a good point guard and putting his team first.

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