Last season, the Brooklyn Nets were a team that had all of the offensive firepower in the world with two elite scorers in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant leading the charge. But during the KD and Kyrie era in Brooklyn, the Nets’ most glaring weakness has been on the defensive side of the ball.
After parting ways with their star center Jarrett Allen in the trade that landed All-Star guard James Harden in Brooklyn, the Nets have struggled to find any consistency in their front court. They have been able to plug and play different options such as Nicolas Claxton and Andre Drummond but have still failed to find a legit inside presence.
Ben Stinar of “Sports Illustrated” believes that future Hall of Famer Dwight Howard could be the answer to the Nets’ problems.
“Howard is one of greatest players in the history of the NBA; he’s an eight-time All-Star and also won the Defensive Player of The Year Award three different times,” Stinar writes.
“Last season, he played 60 games for the Lakers and averaged 6.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. At 36 years old, he won’t be relied upon for big minutes anymore, but he could help out a contender off the bench. In 2020, he helped the Lakers win the NBA Championship, which was the first of his career.”
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Stinar: Howard Would ‘Fit Right in’ With Nets
Howard is far from the player he was in his prime, but quite frankly, the Nets don’t need him to be. After signing Claxton to 2-year, $17.2 million extension this summer, he will likely be Brooklyn’s starting center.
Howard could hold value to the Nets as a backup big man. Though he is not putting up the numbers he used to, he still has athleticism on his side which would be a huge upgrade from the frontcourt reserves Brooklyn had last year in Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Stinar also notes that as a seasoned veteran, Howard would fit in seamlessly with the Nets.
“The Nets are a team loaded with stars and veterans, and Howard would fit right in. Last season, they had Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, who were also former All-Stars no longer in their prime. Both are currently free agents, so they are not on the Nets right now, and Howard would be a good replacement,” Stinar adds.
“This past season, they got swept in the first round of the NBA Playoffs by the Boston Celtics. Howard is someone who could be the perfect big-man off the bench to help them rebound and protect the rim on defense. The former superstar has career averages of 15.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game.”
David Duke Jr. Comes to Kyrie Irving’s Defense
One could argue the defining moment of the Nets 2022 season was Kyrie’s decision to not get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Nets sidelined Irving at the beginning of the season for his decision, but eventually brought him back on a part-time basis after injuries on their roster became a factor. Still, Irving was unable to play games at Barclays Center for most of the season and ended up playing just 29 games overall.
The decision to remain unvaccinated earned the Nets star a lot of criticism. However, Nets rising sophomore David Duke Jr. believes that the criticism that Irving received was unwarranted.
“I feel that all the hate he gets, all the scrutiny, like all the criticism is as if he is not a human being as well, you know what I mean like if your best friend says they don’t get vaccinated, you’re not going to go and call them everything in the book cause they don’t wanna get vaccinated,” Duke said during an appearance on the “Club Ambition” podcast.
” Like ’cause just he won’t, that’s crazy, just cause he don’t wanna get the vaccine or he wants to stand on a belief, I don’t believe he should be criticized at all. I love Ky, he’s one of the best human beings, and just that I know, he stands on what he believes in and super like humble, he’s very welcoming, he’s a nice dude like I don’t have any complaints about him.”
The Nets, despite all the turmoil they have faced this offseason, currently sit in a position to be contenders in 2023. It will be interesting to see if they can get it done.