Does James Harden turn the Brooklyn Nets into the top seed in the Eastern Conference?


With James Harden getting his wish and officially becoming a Net, he joins the best ‘Big Three’ in recent NBA history. Alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, they have a trio of guard and forward combinations who could conceivably hit 50-plus points a night – alone. Between them? On a good night all three could be hitting 30+. This is the kind of team that the NBA has been looking for in the East; a de facto super team to give the Western Conference the challenge it needs. But does this work? Here are some of the questions surrounding where this leaves Brooklyn.

Can the stars stay happy?

The first thing to note is that this is three excellent talents, but also three quite high maintenance stars. Kyrie is currently on his way back from a leave of absence which raises more questions than answers; Durant is performing incredibly after a season off with injury; and Harden has settled in quickly, posting a franchise-record 14 assists on debut.

But with all three used to be the big dog, can they handle being a cog as opposed to the wheel?

What about the other players?

The rest of the Brooklyn Nets have essentially being turned into passing lanes for the ‘big three’ to play from. Despite carrying some very talented players, not least the long-injured Spencer Dinwiddie, can we expect to see Brooklyn retain a happy camp?

Trying to do everything to fit the whims of three stars who have highly unpredictable personalities could be tough. Brooklyn’s role players might be happy to take the back seat, but how long will they be happy to be the guest stars in a three-piece show?

What about the future?

Brooklyn has a chance to win the whole NBA this year, that is almost a fact now. However, with Harden having an interesting history of play-off fluffs and Irving having done similar when in Boston, and KD untested at playoff level in his current post-injury state, this feels like a ‘one and done’ season.

All three of those stars will be a year closer to a free agency exit come the end of this season. If they fail, can they properly reinforce the team given how bare the cupboard is in terms of draft picks and other additions move into the next season?

What about the coach?

Lastly, how can rookie coach Steve Nash expect to handle three of the most quality yet intense personalities in US sport?

This is a tough one; if things aren’t going right, can he draw up plays and command enough respect to have his trio of stars listen to him and try what he asks? Or are they likely to take games on a ‘Big Three by committee’ approach and play within their own self-defined structure?

While compared to the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade of 2012, Brooklyn has a much greater chance of making this work than that infamous trade. As it stands, though, they need at least one NBA Finals appearance in the next two seasons to avoid the whole thing being an expensive long-term disaster. Can they do that?