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When the Brooklyn Nets arrived at coaching camp final season, the group was hopeful it had gotten past a deluge of turmoil and could be competing for an NBA championship.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are plying their trade elsewhere, and these Nets will go into the 2023-24 season merely hoping to compete for a playoff berth.
Mikal Bridges is now the franchise face after being the centerpiece of the trade that despatched Durant to Phoenix, and it remains to be seen what he can do with a full season’s worth of duty.
The Nets don’t have any incentive to tank, either, with the Houston Rockets owning their first-round choose. So much like they did within the aftermath of the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce period, Brooklyn will be pressured to retool and rebuild through savvy strikes and mid-tier draft picks.
2023-24 Nets Schedule Details
Season Opener: vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Championship Odds: +100000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Full Schedule: NBA.com
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The blame for the Nets’ aborted dynasty falls largely on Irving, whose consistent disruptions created the fissure that in the end led to the group parting methods with both All-Stars.
In Irving’s three-plus seasons with the Nets, he missed 62 video games due injury in 2019-20, took a midseason sabbatical to celebration during a pandemic and obtained injured in the playoffs in 2020-21, missed 53 games over his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021-22 and was suspended eight games for peddling an antisemitic movie on social media in 2022-23.
It was quite literally inconceivable for the Nets to have any type of organizational cohesion with Irving causing constant chaos. Brooklyn might have accomplished some things higher to clean over issues, but in the end the blame rests largely with Irving.
Expect the Nets crowd to let Irving know exactly what they thought of his tenure when Mavericks go to Brooklyn this season.
The sport itself will not have a very strong amount of intrigue, as it’s a non-conference matchup between two wholly middling teams, but the pregame vitriol must be enough to get individuals to tune in.
Provided, in fact, Ben Simmons is actually on the floor.
There is less than zero love remaining between Simmons and Philadelphia after their ugly divorce, even two years later. Simmons is probably probably the most profound disappointment of the Process Era, if only as a end result of he showed celebrity promise and by no means lived up to his co-star billing with Joel Embiid. (Other process casualties, like Jahlil Okafor and Markelle Fultz, by no means enticed as much as Simmons regardless of disappointing in their own means.)
The anger will doubtless be much less palpable than Simmons’ two appearances in Philadelphia last season, as time tends to heal wounds and the three-time All-Star’s descent to irrelevance makes him more durable to dislike from a fan perspective.
That mentioned, expect him to hear important jeering each time he touches the ball.
The Nets are going to fade into the background and become an also-ran Eastern Conference group but not one dangerous enough to compete to win the lottery.
Think of them as something akin to the recent Washington Wizards, who had one star (Bradley Beal) and a gaggle of rotating and forgettable veterans round him. Brooklyn’s best-case situation is hanging someplace in the play-in picture whereas Bridges turns himself right into a Most Improved Player candidate and Simmons resembles a useful basketball player.
But this may be a staff within the midst of a heavy retooling, and nearly each member of the roster save for Bridges could be traded at any second. Spencer Dinwiddie specifically seems like a virtual certainty to wind up playing elsewhere sooner or later this season, offered the Nets can land acceptable draft compensation in return.
Expect nothing greater than a .500 record to come out of Barclays Center.
Record Prediction: 37-45