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The Brooklyn Nets have managed to land a white whale in a commercial market. With the arrival of James Harden, the Nets are clearly a candidate to win the Eastern Conference and challenge the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA championship. Still, the Houston Rockets did not go home empty-handed. Their package prepared the franchise for a future rebuild that could help the team compete in the mid-1920s.
Rockets have a one-year window this season. Former All-Star Victor Oladipo, who has one year left on his contract, was part of the deal, while former All-Star John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins could round out the Big Three’s potential this year. Needless to say, the first game between these two teams with their new pieces will be a must win.
Superteam versusRecovery Squad.
Comparing the superstars of the two teams, it’s pretty easy to say who will win this argument. The Nets have two players who have won five top scorer titles, including the reigning championship in the last three years. Over the past three seasons, Harden has averaged more than 30 points per game. He was unstoppable in the first two games and even became the first player to score a triple-double in his debut for the team. Associated with Kyrie Irving, who seems to be back and ready to play basketball, and Kevin Durant, these three greats are unstoppable.
ICYMI: JHarden13 joined @YESNetwork after becoming the first player in NBA history with a 30-point triple-double in his debut: pic.twitter.com/TbhV97BqEF
– Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 17, 2021
You’ll have to make a donation when he gets back. Let’s just assume that these three players have similar career averages. That’s almost 80-90 production points for just three players. Mike D’Antoni, the net’s assistant coach known for his high-level offense, must be laughing at the endless possibilities in the war room.
The Rockets have three great players who have been weakened by injuries over the past two seasons. Wall missed everything last year with a torn Achilles tendon. Cousins suffered a torn Achilles tendon and ACL, while Oladipo suffered a torn quadriceps tendon last year. The Houston Big Three looked great on paper about three seasons ago.
Irving, Durant and Harden will take the top three spots. DeAndre Jordan started under center, but the Nets mostly used Jarrett Allen to close out games. The team now expects more from Jordan. Minor striker Joe Harris will complete the starting lineup. On paper, it’s a great starting team.
Harris has to be one of the luckiest players in the league. He is one of the best three-point shooters in the league. He’s already had a season and is shooting 51.1% from three-point range. Thanks to Irving and Harden’s ability to make spectacular passes, all Harris has to do is hang at the three-point line and wait for the pass.
For the Rockets, Wall and Oladipo are the team’s backyard. Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and Christian Wood fill the rest of the top eleven. In eight games, Gordon made one of his best debuts of the season. He shot over 50% from the field and averaged 15.1 points per game. Tucker makes up for Gordon’s defensive incompetence and is one of the top scorers in the league with three starts. Woods is having a close season for the All-Stars, averaging 23.8 points and 10.7 rebounds.
LeBron knows Christian Wood is a contender for the pic.twitter.com/lZ1PINxibh
– Cleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 15, 2021
If Irving and Harden were compared to Wall and Oladipo, the Nets would have the advantage. Durant and Harris would have beaten both Gordon and Tucker. Given the quality of Wood’s game, he’ll have to get past Jordan. So the Nets leave with a score of 4-1.
Nets Bank: Bruce Brown, Chris Chiozza, Spencer Dinwiddie, Landry Shamet, Tyler Johnson, Timothy Luwau-Cabarrot, Reggie Perry, Jeff Green, Nicholas Claxton.
Rocket Bank: Dante Exum, Chris Clemons, David Nwaba, Sterling Brown, Mason Jones, Broderick Thomas, Ben McLemore, Je Shan Tate, KJ Martin, Rodions Kurucs, DeMarcus Cousins.
When the Nets traded Harden to the Rockets, the franchise decimated its bench. The Rockets inherited Caris LeVert, who they sold to the Indiana Pacers for Oladipo. Jarrett Allen was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both players were good enough to start on other teams. LeVert averaged 18.5 points per game, while Allen averaged 11.2 points and 10.4 rebounds. There’s a lot of production to lose.
The Nets are now an eight-man team at best. Spencer Dinwiddie tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season. Tyler Johnson did not play and is injured. Bruce Brown, Landry Shamet and Jeff Green are the main sponsors. On paper, it’s a tough test bed.
As for the Rockets, it seems nice to have cousins off the bench, but it doesn’t produce at a high level. Cousins averaged 6.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in 14.2 minutes per game. When healthy, Dante Exum is an average backup defender. Jae Shan Tate and Mason Jones are unconfirmed players who have been forced to play major minutes due to injuries.
The missiles are planning their reconstruction, which is very good. However, because the team couldn’t keep Lever or Allen in the company, the bench didn’t get much better. If Gordon starts, both banks are as bad as each other.
Advantage: See also
Trainer: Steve Nash versus Steven Silas
In a battle of recruits, head coach Steve Nash proved he was the right choice to lead the Nets. The Nets are 9-7, although Irving has missed seven games for personal reasons. It’s not easy dealing with personalities like Durrant and Irving, but Nash makes sure the Nets play basketball.
The Nets recently defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 125-123. Harden and Durant combined for 64 points in this game. Harden has gone from an average overweight basketball player, averaging about 17.0 points per game, to his former status. Nash allowed Irving to be himself and deal with his personal affairs. We don’t know, but someone backstage must have told him about his return. Nash is expected to be the favorite for NBA Coach of the Year at this point.
In his first year as a head coach, Steve Nash is an incredible ego breaker who he needs to massage somehow…. I still think the Bucks are the favorites in the East.@ClayTravis reacts to commercial photos of James Harden pic.twitter.com/fK49V93uuh
– FOX Bet Live (@FOXBetLive) January 14, 2021
As for Silas, it’s not his fault the Rockets suck. Harden had a good relationship with GM Daryl Morey and former head coach Mike D’Antoni, who is now an assistant with the Nets. As a result, Harden was unable to lead the team to the NBA Finals. He went by Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. They couldn’t get the job done.
Today, Silas looks like an interim coach who will see the team rebuild in a few years and be done with it when the team is competitive. This is not how he envisioned his first game as a coach.
Finally, the combination of Irving, Harden and Durant is too strong compared to what the Rockets have to offer. While Wood has been a surprise this season and should get All-Star honors, the Rockets don’t have a superstar talent that comes close to the level of the Nets. Even if Irving doesn’t return, the tandem of Durant and Harden is much better than the duo of Wall and Oladipo.
What if these teams had been built three years ago, before Wall, Cousins and Oladipo suffered their respective injuries? Even then, the Nets would have a better team. Even though the Rockets had two players like Wall and Cousins in their prime, it’s not uncommon to have two 30-pointers who can hit double digits on any given night. The Nets are a better team, at least this season and next. But after 2022, it’s all up in the air.
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