The Brooklyn Nets were surging and playing very good basketball in December and early January, going on a 12-game winning streak and winning 18 of 20 games.
But now they will be without superstar Kevin Durant, who has been sidelined with a sprained MCL.
With Durant in street clothes, the Nets are on a four-game losing streak and have struggled offensively, as they have failed to reach 100 points in two of their last four contests.
On Thursday against the shorthanded Phoenix Suns, they were offensively anemic through three quarters and fell behind by as many as 24 points, and despite a fourth-quarter flurry by Kyrie Irving, they fell 117-112.
Charles Barkley of “Inside The NBA” said he doesn’t think the Nets will win a single game as long as Durant is out.
— 𝐓𝐚𝐥𝐤𝐢𝐧' 𝐍𝐁𝐀 (@_Talkin_NBA) January 20, 2023
Although Brooklyn has improved defensively, (it came into Thursday’s game ranked sixth in defensive rating), a good amount of its recent success had come because it had figured out how to be potent on the offensive end.
But without Durant, who is averaging 29.7 points a game while shooting 55.9 percent from the field this season, they’re offensively challenged.
Irving is really their only other offensive threat who can consistently get his own shot, and some of their other players have seemingly regressed.
Guard Seth Curry‘s minutes and scoring are down this season, and as recently as last season, when Brooklyn acquired him in the Ben Simmons trade, he had become a semi-consistent scoring threat for the squad.
Speaking of Simmons, he is scoring just 7.5 points and taking 6.0 shots a game, both of which are career-lows – by far, and it’s not like he has stepped it up in Durant’s absence.
He had seven points versus the Suns, 10 points on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs and zero – that’s right, zero – points in 26 minutes during the Nets’ January 12 loss to the Boston Celtics.
Depending on how long Durant is out and how they do without him, the Nets could end up having yet another disappointing season.
If they do, it will be interesting to see what happens this summer, especially as Irving becomes a free agent.