The former Nets ‘Big Three’ of James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant was nearly unstoppable. For the 16 games they did play, they had a record of 13-3. But they were top-heavy and often had to rely on wily veterans or inexperienced rookies to pick up the slack. This new Nets roster can legitimately run 8-10 players deep. Kyrie put the league on notice to look out for Brooklyn in the second half of the season.
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Kyrie Irving on New Look Nets: ‘Aint No Stopping Us’
“Just watch our squad after the break, just watch,” Irving said during an NBA 2K22 Twitch session on February 21. “Just watch, just watch this is great downtime right now before things start getting going again and I think it’s like 20 some odd games left but I’m telling ya’ll watch just watch, just watch. God willing if we stay healthy, [and] everything works out, ain’t no stopping us.”
In most cases, when a team loses a player of Harden’s caliber, they suffer a major falloff. After sending him to the Philadelphia 76ers at this year’s trade deadline, the Nets are looking to be the exception to the rule. While Harden is no doubt a superstar, the acquisitions of key role players such as Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and Goran Dragic have no doubt made them a formidable squad.
Ben Simmons Ready for Fresh Start in Brooklyn
Additionally, Nets’ newly acquired All-Star Ben Simmons will be a key part of their second-half push. Last season he averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in 58 games for the 76ers. The 3-time All-Star is excited for his new opportunity in Brooklyn.
“It’s just staying aggressive. Playing to my strengths — that’s being a playmaker and making the right plays, setting my guys up,” Simmons said of his fit with the Nets during his introductory press conference per SNY.
“And then defensively, obviously, locking down who I need to lockdown. So, I’m excited to get on the floor with these guys. Incredible team, incredible talent. So, super excited.”
Shelburne: Simmons ‘Weeks’ From Nets Debut
Simmons, however, has yet to play for the Nets as he has been inactive for the entire season and needs a ramp-up period before he can officially take the floor. ESPN Insider Ramona Shelburne says that Simmons is weeks away from his return.
“Ben Simmons, from what I’m told, is going to really ramp it up this week and see where he’s at the end of the week, but he’s getting close,” Shelburne said per NetsDaily. “I don’t think it’s going to–it’s going to be more like weeks rather than months.”
Simmons has not played an NBA game since the Sixers were eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks in last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals. But according to Shelburne, the star forward has remained in shape working with personal trainers during his time off.
“He has worked out separately with his own group of trainers, according to sources close to Simmons,” Shelburne continued. “He has organized his own runs with local players. He has lifted weights at a local fitness club that’s open to the general public.”
The Nets will have a tough road ahead to start the second half of the season as they await the returns of several key players. But once they are full strength again, they may be considered among the league’s best.