With Kevin Durant as a common thread between the two teams, fans are increasingly making parallels between this year's Nets and the infamous Warriors.
In the summer of 2016, Kevin Durant had a very important decision to make. As a free agent, he had a plethora of options available to him, including the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Golden State Warriors. After coming off of a 73-9 season, no one ever suspected that KD would want to join what was already being considered as a superteam. Well, in the end, Durant went with the most shocking option and his Warriors-inspired Players Tribune cover became the stuff of meme legend.
From that moment on, the Warriors became an unstoppable monster that boasted four of the best players in the entire NBA: Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. In three seasons together, the Warriors won two straight championships and made it to a third Finals. Had it not been for injuries to Thompson and Durant, it's safe to say that they would have won three in a row.
Regardless, their time together was special, filled with the kind of offensive basketball one could only dream about. The Warriors were draining threes at a stupendous rate all while opposing teams couldn't dare to keep up. When KD won his championships, he defeated the Cavs in 5 in 2017 and then beat them again in 4 in 2018. It goes to show that the team was way too overpowered for its own good, and the league ultimately paid a price for it.
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Now, KD finds himself in a similar position, this time on the Brooklyn Nets. When it was revealed in 2019 that KD and Kyrie Irving would be teaming up in Brooklyn, it seemed obvious that the franchise would immediately become championship contenders. After all, KD is one of the league's most effective offensive players, while Kyrie Irving has some of the best handles of his generation. He is godly at the Point Guard position and while his time in Boston was disappointing, there was no doubt that he would reach a new level alongside a similarly motivated superstar.
At the start of the season, Irving and KD were a dynamic duo that had chemistry right out of the gate. In fact, it seemed like the two had played their whole lives together. Just a few games into the season, it was clear that the Nets were championship favorites, and fans were ready to see them shine over 72 games. That's when James Harden showed up. The former MVP was able to get himself out of Houston and on a plane to Brooklyn, where he turned the Nets into an overpowered superteam virtually overnight. Much like KD, Harden is believed to be one of the best offensive players that the league has ever seen, so it's no surprise that his addition to the Nets came as a shock to fans and teams alike.
Throughout the course of the season, the Nets big three experienced numerous injuries which put a hold on any semblance of chemistry. Instead, the Nets had to work with what they had available, which was already pretty damn good. In the end, the Nets finished the regular season in second place in the Eastern Conference, and are currently up 2-1 against the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs. With the way the Nets are playing, it almost seems like a foregone conclusion that they are going to win the championship, and it has brought up the debate as to whether or not this current Nets team could beat the 2017 Warriors in a seven-game series.
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Starting with the big three, you have Curry, KD, and Thompson up against Kyrie, KD, and Harden. Right away, comparing these two sets of players is almost an impossible task. Of course, KD cancels himself out on each roster, leaving us comparing Curry and Thompson to Kyrie and Harden. While Curry is easily the strongest player from an overall point of view, one could make the argument that Harden is second, Kyrie is third, and Thompson is fourth. Much like Curry, Thompson is one of the best shooters in the NBA, although his game lives and dies by the jump shot. If wide-open looks are taken away, Klay is rendered way less effective.
Meanwhile, Harden and Kyrie are much more versatile while out on the court, which ends up giving them an edge if Curry and Thompson start to go cold from beyond the arc. Not to mention, in just one season in Brooklyn, it looks like KD's chemistry with Kyrie and Harden is ahead of what it was with Curry and Thompson. While he certainly made things work in Golden State, it feels like the flow of the game is much more natural with his Nets teammates. With this in mind, the Nets get a slight nod when it comes to the big three aspect.
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As for the rest of the roster, it's hard to bet against the Warriors and their depth. That 2017 roster had Green, Shaun Livingston, JaVale McGee, Andre Iguodala, Matt Barnes, and even Zaza Pachulia who was known for his aggressive style of play. The Warriors had a solid cast of bench players who not only added scoring to the team but a healthy dose of size as well. These are all players who had a ton of experience at the time, and they knew how to seize up opposing teams on the defensive end.
When comparing this to the Nets roster, you can see how the Warriors would have an immediate edge. While Blake Griffin and Joe Harris are solid options, their point totals are incredibly inconsistent and on any given night, you're not sure what you're going to get from them. The same can be said about players like Bruce Brown and Mike James who will have solid games here and there, but rarely keep those numbers up consistently. Needless to say, if you need a bench unit to win you the game, you would probably want to go with the Warriors -- although it would certainly be close, most likely coming down to whoever gets the last stop on defense.
If you were to clone KD and have these two rosters go up against each other, the ensuing seven-game series would be a whole lot of fun. In fact, it's safe to say that it would even go the distance. With Curry and Thompson's three-point mastery and the Nets' chemistry, the matchup would turn into an offensive grudge match that would have more back and forth moments than a game of pong. Having seen the splash brothers in action, it is truly difficult to bet against them and when they're hot, they are easily the best backcourt in NBA history. Even with the Nets' depth of firepower, KD, Thompson, and Curry would still prove to be almost impossible to knock off. Having said all of that, the 2017 Warriors remain the better team, however, that isn't to say it's not close. Realistically, it could go either way -- although the Warriors' resume speaks for itself.
Which roster do you think is better? Let us know, in the comments below.