The Nets’ three big stars Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden are only beginning to reveal themselves


Kyrie Irving is back. James Harden has three games in his tenure with the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant defines his career every time like a top 3 player.

And so what, exactly, do we now know about this new-look, high-powered, completely attractive Brooklyn Nets team?

Not a damn

Playing their first game together with the net – KD-Beard-Kai trio – with a two-time overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night – tells us absolutely nothing. The same for the last two games, including Harden and Durant winning games, including a very big win against the Milwaukee Bucks, as Irving was out for personal reasons.

If, reasonably, you believe that the Nets’ Big Three is too talented to doubt much, then there is much to reinforce your position. Harden and KD started 2–0 together, with Kairi returning and all the wrinkles still having to do two-overtime off clay, and all three (mostly) together were unprecedented.

Durant was 12-for-25, 12 rebounds and eight assists for 38 points. Irving dropped 37. Harden won another triple-double, entering the night 21-10-12.

They have 96 points between them. Scary things.

But if, like me, you are more skeptical than confident how this brew of stars will finally blend together, you can squeeze your eyes and still see what concerns you. Harden missed some big shots on cue due to a stretch. That trio, especially Kyrie, play basketball one-on-one at times like there were without two other world-winners – effectively thought it could be, a sign of a possible fissure to come. And, of course, the loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers team with a fraction of the Nets’ talent.

Brooklyn is the most attractive team in the NBA, and what it will eventually become – and how it will ultimately be judged – remains a Rorsuch test in the playoff months from now. Harden’s three games in Brooklyn tenure (2-1), one game in Irving’s return (0-1), and the Nets are still pretty much what you thought they were a week ago when the trade went down.

Their combined talent is beyond any doubt. Occasionally, watching KD and Harden, KD and Irving, KD and Irving and Harden – all possible combinations – were mesmerizing basketball featuring a breathtakingly talented collection of stars. And yet the Nets’ defense, toughness, and ability to win the game are open questions, especially on Wednesday night as the Undertaker overtook former Nate Jarrett Allen recently with a 147–135 loss. Allen’s 12-11 double-double does not tell the full story. He hit big shots, pulled down significant rebounds, and for the bulk of the fourth quarter and on this side of those overtimes Colin Sexton was the most timely and important player on the floor.

He also underlined that just in the frontcourt, net scoring can be an effective part of what the Nets need outside of the threesome.

It is a long and arduous process for a single team to fold into multiple superstars, a fact reinforced when being in the middle of a season – especially one of those stars who had an ugly divorce from his former team The medium exits, and the other one departs for a lengthy stretch for vague personal reasons that certainly involve open dissatisfaction towards his coach.

Take the heat for 2010-11. When LeBron James and Chris Bosh arrived to join Dwayne Wade that year, the Big Three — perhaps the best comparative talent for this Big Three — started 9-8. I covered that team, and it was nothing but anger, turmoil and disappointment for a huge part of that season. And yet all three ended successfully in the coming years.

The beginning can be misleading. both directions. Take Hardik’s history with the stars he insisted on playing with.

In 2017, he wanted to keep Chris Paul with him in Houston, and as was almost always the case with the Rockets, he got exactly what he wanted. His debut was amazing. They won their first 14 games together. They were running away and scared. But the story did not end in glory, and it did not end harmoniously.

So Harden got what he wanted again: CP3 out, old friend and fellow ex-MVP Russell Westbrook. Again, a great start: this time the start of 11–3 and a prudence in which everyone doubts, two high-using rate stars can successfully coexist, their thinking needs to be read. Nevertheless, the story ended, in a very bad way, and very much.

so here we are. Harden again has what he wants. He, KD and Irving are the most talented NBA trios since Miami’s Big Three, at least on paper, and with a number of things in the NBA the will of a few games now amounts to some degree of certainty.

Losing for Cleveland is not proof we know this version of the Brooklyn Nets about what we are talking about. But, once they go on a hard tear of victory – and they will – this fact definitely doesn’t have to be the best to come in the playoffs.

The Nets are talented. The Nets are full of stars who struggle to get along, or be happy, or win – often all three – with other stars. The Nets are the most interesting team in basketball but the biggest question mark. And the Nets, which appear in a few weeks and months, are only beginning to reveal themselves.

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