TNT gathered three of their top three analysts in New York Thursday to talk the upcoming season. In that broad discussion, Brian Lewis got Reggie Miller, Candace Parker and the newest member of the crew, Jamal Crawford to talk Nets. They were as divided as Nets fans on Brooklyn’s prospects.
Like so many fans, other broadcasters and pundits around the league, no one is willing to commit on where Brooklyn will be at come the end of the season.
Reggie Miller said it best. No, he doesn’t see them as a top five contender, but he knows talent usually wins and the Nets have enough to scare any post-season opponent.
“They’re in that next level for me, and it goes to that parity and health. Can they stay healthy? Can Kevin Durant, Kyrie [Irving], Ben Simmons hasn’t bounced the basketball in a uniform for like 15 months. Joe Harris is coming back from ankle surgery. Seth Curry has had foot problems. So, can they stay healthy?
“On paper, if I’m looking at the roster I don’t want to see Kyrie! I don’t want to see KD! I don’t want to see a renewed Ben Simmons. So are they in that [top] category? In a seven-game series, I don’t want to see them if they’re balling. The question is — and I can make the same statement for the Lakers, for the Clippers with Kawhi [Leonard] and [Paul George] — health is going to play a factor.”
Parker pointed out that the Nets need to prove they can get beyond adversity, something they failed at last season. Durant, of course, mentioned the Nets 11-game losing streak at Media Day. With him out, Irving forced to sit out because of the vaccine mandate and James Harden wanting out, the Nets went from being the top seed in the East to a team that needed the play-in tournament to make the post-season, then collapsed in a first round sweep.
“We haven’t seen the Nets handle adversity last year. I’ll say the previous year, they were one shoe size in KD away from being in the Finals; we forget that. And that same year Kyrie was hurt. The series changed at the Bucks,” Parker said. “They were very close to putting them away even before the toe on the line. So we know what Brooklyn is capable of even facing injuries. It’s self-inflicted adversity.
“KD said it himself: Everything is great now, the vibes are great now, but what happens when we hit adversity? I think that’s what makes a team. Brooklyn is feast or famine. They could win the championship and set the record for the most amount of wins, or they could barely make the playoffs in my book.”
Crawford who finished his 20-year career with a five-minute stretch in the NBA “bubble” was the most optimistic.
“They could disappoint us or they can win the championship. I’m going to go with the latter. I really believe they have enough to win it,” Crawford said. “They look mentally recharged. I see Kyrie and Kevin working out together. I see Ben in a good place. He’s happy. He even tweeted joking about himself airballing. Think about what it took for him to get to that place mentally where he feels the support is there, I can airball and laugh about it because these guys have got my back.”
Part of his positive outlook, Crawford said, was based on what he saw Wednesday night when the Nets basically cruised over fellow Eastern Conference contender Milwaukee Bucks.
“I watched the game [Wednesday], and seeing him match up with Giannis [Antetokounmpo], I was shocked because it looked like a playoff-type setting. [I thought] you’d save that chip for later on. But maybe they want to play against him and put it in his mind early, ‘Look, it’s not going to be as sweet or easy as it’s been in the past. We have a guy who’s mentally ready to go against you.’
“So I really believe they actually this summer solidified why they got together, once the whole Kevin situation and the Kyrie situation was done. They look recharged.”
- TNT broadcasters have mixed outlooks on Nets squad: ‘In that next level’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post