Can the Brooklyn Nets win an NBA championship without Kyrie Irving?

Joshua Rogers October 12, 2021
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

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The Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving are at an impasse over the latter’s vaccination status. He is one of the league’s best talents, but can the Brooklyn Nets win an NBA championship without Kyrie Irving?

A few months ago the Brooklyn Nets were the prohibitive favorites heading into the 2021/2022 NBA regular season.

Since then, Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status has threatened to derail the Nets’ whole season.

As a significant member of the Nets Big 3, he could miss out on all home games this season.

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Local policies in New York City require home team players to have proof of vaccination in order to play in arenas.

If Kyrie isn’t vaccinated, he won’t be playing at Barclays Center all season (including the playoffs).

Having your star point guard playing a maximum of 39 games in the regular season is less than ideal.

More detrimentally, it could also put a serious dent in the Nets’ championships aspirations.

Having said that, the Nets could still feasibly win it all without Irving.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Big 3s are overrated

Recent NBA seasons have got us all carried away with the notion of the ‘Big 3’.

Sure, it worked for the 08′ Celtics, LeBron’s Miami Heat, and the Durant/Curry/Klay Warriors. However, that doesn’t mean to say a team has to have three superstars to win a title.

Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks, LeBron and AD the year before, and Kawhi in Toronto, all proved that one or two superstars surrounded by a bunch of excellent role players is more than enough to win a title.

The Nets already have a great roster

The Nets would obviously benefit from having Kyrie.

But even without him they still have one of the best rosters in the league.

Along with KD and Harden, they have former All-Stars Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Paul Millsap.

Then there’s Joe Harris, who’s one of the most has accurate 3-point shooters in the league.

There’s also the likes of Patty Mills, who has much-needed championship experience.

Combine that with youngsters such as Cam Thomas, who was the no.27 in the 2021 NBA Draft, and the Nets have more than enough to win a title.

Steve Nash has already experimented with putting Harden at the point, Harris at the 2, and Bruce Brown as the small forward, and that could be a lineup we see more of moving forward.

Even Shaquille O’Neal thinks the Nets can win a championship with Kevin Durant, James Harden and a strong supporting cast.

“I would go upstairs and say, ‘Get him up out of here,” Shaq said. “We can win with a two-punch and a great shooter and some rebounders like we got,” he recently said.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Durant and Harden still form formidable two-punch combo

While obvious, in Kevin Durant and James Harden, the Nets have two of the most lethal scorers in NBA history.

Of course, the loss of Kyrie Irving would be felt on any NBA team, but the Nets can comfortably cover his output with the sheer offensive firepower of KD and Harden.

If, and it’s a big if, they can both stay healthy, the Nets could easily win it all.

Harden’s already been a point guard for a contender. During his time with the Houston Rockets he was the primary ballhandler in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system.

It was there where he won his MVP award.

Harden has proven himself to be an elite level scorer and facilitator – the only difference in Brooklyn is that he has Kevin Durant to ease the workload.

Durant is unrivalled in terms of getting off his own shot. But, if the ball does stay in Harden’s hands, who better to feed assist after assist to than Kevin Durant?

Whether Durant becomes more of a catch and shoot guy remains to be seen. However, it’s likely each will take turns running the Nets’ offense.

Watching KD and Harden in full flow together will be mesmerising, and both stars are easily capable of getting 30 a night each.

Plus, in the absence of another ball-dominate player like Kyrie Irving, there will be more space on the floor for others to get involved.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With or without Kyrie, the Nets are looking good

Needless to say, Kyrie is one of the most gifted and talented guards the league has ever seen.

His ability to knock down big shots, in clutch moments, would be a huge loss to the Nets should he leave.

Plus, if something does happen to KD or Harden, having Irving to come in would ensure no drop-off in quality.

However, if the Nets’ front office does decide to cut ties with Irving over his vaccination status, it’s clear the team is still in prime position to win a championship.

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.