Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Ahead of the most anticipated season in Brooklyn Nets history, here are five bold predictions that will come true in 2021.

Danny Small

The long wait is over for Brooklyn Nets fans. The fully-loaded version of the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving-led Nets are tipping off for the first time. They face off against Durant’s old team — the Golden State Warriors.

Over the last 18 months, the world has debated and speculated about whether or not Durant would look like the player who won back-to-back Finals MVPs not so long ago. Through two games in the preseason, Durant looked like the pre-injury version of himself. His return, a potential James Harden trade, and the team’s possible rotation are all major storylines to watch this season.

With so much on the line in year one for these Nets, here are five bold predictions for the 2020-21 season.

The Nets Don’t Trade For James Harden

If the Brooklyn Nets want to trade for James Harden, they have the pieces to do it. It might require parting with a few draft picks and looping in a third team to make it work, but it’s doable.

However, the Nets are going to want to give this current group a look before they make a blockbuster trade like that. As Harden’s situation deteriorates in Houston, it’s clear that he’s going to be traded sooner rather than later. If the Nets start the season hot, they might be inclined to hold onto the guys they have and let someone else make the move for the disgruntled star.

This might not be the boldest prediction ever, but this is only the beginning.

DeAndre Jordan Starts The Entire Season

Again, not the boldest prediction, but this is one that might drive some fans crazy. Jarrett Allen is a dynamic rim-running center who continues to improve year after year. Meanwhile, DeAndre Jordan is not the All-Star player he once was.

Still, even if Allen supplants Jordan as the best center on the team, the veteran will be the season-long starter. Durant, Irving, and Jordan decided as a group to come play for the Nets.

And Allen might be better utilized off the bench anyway. He can join Caris LeVert on the second unit (more on him in a moment) and form one of the best bench groups in the NBA. He will play major minutes and has the potential to put up huge numbers.

If Jordan is a disaster, Allen could supplant him in the starting lineup, but we don’t expect that to happen.

Caris LeVert Wins Sixth Man of the Year

Now we are heating up. Caris LeVert is poised to have a big year. He is one of those guys who has been on the cusp of a breakout for two seasons in a row. Injuries have taken their toll on the young guard, but this might finally be the year where LeVert brings home some hardware.

Incoming head coach Steve Nash is sticking LeVert on the second unit. Although plenty of people get caught up in who starts, the first guard off the bench is one of the most important roles on a team. LeVert is capable of dominating second units, especially if he’s playing alongside guys like Allen, Landry Shamet, and Taurean Prince.

Technically, LeVert received some league-wide recognition when he made the NBA’s All-Bubble second team. His head coach lost plenty of playoff battles to a guy that LeVert could emulate — Manu Ginobili. The Spurs do not win all those titles without Ginobili as their anchor on the second unit.

Manu Ginobili won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2008. Look for LeVert to match him in 2021.

Kyrie Irving Has A Boring Season

A “boring season” would not be a bad thing for Irving. For better or worse, the mercurial point guard is a lightning rod for media attention. Whether or not he brings it on himself is in the eye of the beholder.

But his talent is undisputed. Irving’s play on the court will do most of the talking for him this season and that’s why he’s going to have a “boring season.” He’s two years removed from the media frenzy that took place since his departure from Boston. His old teammates don’t seem to be holding any grudges. Hopefully, the media will move on as well.

Let’s be real, the media will always be laser-focused for any slip-up from Irving. It comes with the territory of being one of the biggest stars in the NBA. Of course, those stories will be easy to drown out if Irving and the Nets are playing well on the court.

Kevin Durant Wins The Scoring Title & MVP

Let’s talk about a bold prediction. Achilles injuries can be a death sentence for players, but not this one.

Although it’s always unwise to put too much stock into preseason games, Durant looks fully healthy. If that’s the case, he has the potential to be the best player on the planet.

This wouldn’t be unprecedented for KD. He won both the scoring title (32.0 PPG) and MVP in the 2013-14 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant’s scoring averages dipped slightly after he made the move to the Golden State Warriors, but remember, he was sharing shots with two of the greatest shooters of all-time — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Durant finished third on the Warriors in shot attempts last season. Outside of possibly Irving, no one on the Nets will end up taking more shots than the two-time Finals MVP.

End-of-season awards are largely narrative-driven. An all-time great returning from one of the worst basketball injuries and leading the league in scoring? That sounds like it’s straight out of a Hollywood script. Maybe it is, but don’t count out Durant or the Nets this year.