Because of his vaccine stance, Irving has been sidelined and hasn’t played a single game – or participated in any practices – with his squad.
No Irving means that a vital part of this super team is missing but the Nets are trying to carry on without him and make the adjustments necessary to win even in his absence.
So far, it has been working well because Brooklyn is currently the number one seed in the East with a record of 16-7, although it hasn’t come easy.
How has the team tweaked their lineup and style to fill the void left by Irving?
More Harden, For Better Or Worse
Irving playing alongside James Harden never made a lot of sense because both of them are such dominant ball-handlers.
However, with Irving gone, the team has been relying on Harden a lot more.
In fact, Harden leads many of the plays for Brooklyn and is now an even more vital part of the lineup.
Yet, this hasn’t been a fully successful change.
Harden has had a rocky season, to put it gently, and was having a slew of issues with missed shots and – even worse – turnovers.
Nets fans booed after James Harden's 7th turnover of the night. pic.twitter.com/iaaF39OAVn
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 28, 2021
He has improved from that point though and now maintains an average of 20.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 9.5 assists.
That’s an improvement from where he was a few weeks ago so there is hope that he is really starting to find his place.
He will need to keep improving because the team is relying on him now more than ever without Irving.
This Is Durant’s Team Now
One of the bright spots of this year’s Nets is Kevin Durant, who is playing excellently once again.
Durant is creating an average of 28.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists a game – all career-highs for him.
With a field-goal percentage of 53.3 percent, Durant is shooting like never before.
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) December 4, 2021
You won’t be surprised to hear that the Nets and coach Steve Nash are passing to Durant a lot and relying on him for many more deep twos, threes, and drives to the basket.
Durant is answering the call and has definitely claimed the crown in Brooklyn, making the Nets 100 percent his team.
LaMarcus Aldridge Steps Up
Another wonderful asset to the Nets right now is their stellar bench, which has been rising to the occasion without Irving.
LaMarcus Aldridge, for example, has come alive again in the last few weeks, with an average of 15.2 points and 6.2 rebounds a game.
Meanwhile, Patty Mills has been delivering 15.4 points a game with a three-point percentage of 43.9.
These explosions in productivity from Aldridge and Mills are great news for Brooklyn because it allows points inside the paint in Aldridge’s case and from beyond the arc in Mills’.
In their own ways, both of these players are filling voids left by Irving, who was known to be able to make points on a drive or from the backcourt.
It’s a long season so Aldridge, Mills, and the rest of the supporting cast with the Nets will need to stay consistent and only improve their games in the weeks and months ahead since there is no sign of Irving returning.
From Harden’s struggles to Durant’s dominance to the step-up mentality of other players once overlooked, the Nets are finding their way and are proving they can be a commanding and championship-caliber team without Irving.NEXT: Blake Griffin Adjusting To New Role With The Nets