Kevin Durant is the alpha on the Brooklyn Nets. Let’s take a look at how the rest of the team’s wings stack up.
But he’s back with a brand-new contract extension and the Nets have high hopes for this upcoming season. Although Durant will spend time at the four and five, he is a small forward at heart.
That’s why we are including him with the wings in the second installment of our four-part 2021-22 Brooklyn Nets season preview.
Check out the first part of our Nets preview where we break down the backcourt.
Alpha: Kevin Durant
On a team with three guys who could be top options, Durant is the clear No. 1. James Harden is happy to fall back and facilitate. Kyrie Irving needs the ball in his hands, but he’s dangerous off the ball as well.
Durant is the guy the Nets turn to when they need a bucket most. When Irving was lost to injury and Harden was playing on one leg, Durant answered the call. He dropped 49 and 48 in Games 5 and 7, respectively, against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Nets fell short, but it wasn’t because of Durant. Nothing will change in 2021-22 when it comes to who is the alpha on this team. It’s still Kevin Durant. You know who he is.
X-Factor: Joe Harris
Speaking of that Milwaukee series, Joe Harris was non-existent. During the regular season, Harris is one of the best role players in the NBA. After all, he has led the league in three-point shooting in two of the last three seasons.
We know he is a superstar role player in the regular season, but he needs to show up in the playoffs. If Harris can knock down threes at the same rate he does in the regular season, it’s going to be impossible to stop the Nets from scoring in the playoffs.
Brooklyn did pick up a little insurance on the three-point shooting front by adding Patty Mills in the offseason. Presumably, if Harris is struggling in the playoffs, Mills will be the top option for a three-point threat.
Swiss-Army Knife: Bruce Brown
Is Bruce Brown a wing? Maybe, but he might be a guard. No, wait, he’s actually a 6-foot-4 center. It’s impossible to fit Brown into a box. Nets coach Steve Nash will use Brown in a variety of different ways at multiple positions.
He’s the type of high-energy, scrappy bench player top-heavy teams like the Nets need. Although he doesn’t offer a ton of upside offensively, he knows how to cut and can guard multiple positions. Those are valuable traits to have when you are playing with Harden, Irving, and Durant.
Break Glass in Case of Emergency: James Johnson, DeAndre’ Bembry
One could make a case that both of these guys should be in different categories. James Johnson has played the three, four, and even the five during his long career. He’s a wily veteran who adds depth to the roster. If there is an injury to anyone on the Nets, Johnson can be an option to step in and play.
DeAndre’ Bembry, on the other hand, probably won’t be in Brooklyn for very long. His current deal is only partially guaranteed and the Nets are still looking to clear a roster spot. Bembry might be the odd man out here. If not, he will be a depth piece for Brooklyn in case of emergency.