The Brooklyn Nets have made the playoffs 27 times in a combined 53 National Basketball Association (NBA) and American Basketball Association seasons since its inception in 1967. In 2018-19, the Nets qualified for the postseason for the first time in four years following a 42-win campaign.
As of December 3, 2019, the team had a win-loss record of 10-10 and sat in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The team is looking to build upon last year’s playoff appearance. Sustained regular season success and recent free agent signings Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are expected to help significantly in that regard.
Below is a closer look at five key players on the Nets:
1. Kyrie Irving
Brooklyn made a pair of franchise-altering moves on July 7, 2019. The team signed free agent guard Kyrie Irving to a four-year, $141 million contract and acquired Kevin Durant from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for guards Shabazz Napier and D’Angelo Russell and forward Treveon Graham. Durant subsequently signed a four-year, $161-million contract with the Warriors.
A native of West Orange, New Jersey, Irving grew up cheering for the Nets when the franchise was based in New Jersey. He later played at Duke University. He was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2011 NBA Draft and won a championship with the team in 2016. The six-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year spent the past two seasons with the Boston Celtics. Through 11 games with the Nets, Irving had averaged a career-best 28.5 points and 7.2 assists per game.
“Kyrie is one of the NBA’s elite guards and has won at the highest level,” said Nets General Manager Sean Marks upon signing Irving in July. “His championship pedigree, coupled with his gifted scoring and playmaking abilities, will make him an outstanding addition to our team.”
2. Kevin Durant
Durant isn’t expected to play during the 2019-20 NBA season, but the 31-year-old Washington, DC, native is nonetheless the franchise’s most valued player. This is evidenced by the fact that he has the seventh-highest salary in the league. Durant will earn $37 million in 2019-20.
Selected second overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2007 NBA Draft, Durant was named Rookie of the Year in 2007-08 and has continued to compile accolades. He is a 10-time All-Star, four-time Scoring Champion, and has won two championships with the Golden State Warriors.
He was also named MVP while playing with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2013-14. During this time, Durant averaged a league-best 32 points in addition to 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. Through 849 regular season games he averaged 27 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game on 49.3 percent field goal shooting.
Durant was recovering from an injury during last year’s NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors when he decided to come back in Game 5. He ruptured his right Achilles tendon in that game and is rehabbing after successful surgery. He is expected to be healthy for the 2020-21 season.
3. Spencer Dinwiddie
In the absence of Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie is in the midst of a career-best season. Through 20 games, the 26-year-old Los Angeles, California, native averaged a career-high in points per game (20.7). He also had the second-highest assists per game (5.9) in his six-year career.
Following Brooklyn’s 112-107 victory over the Boston Celtics on November 29, in which Dinwiddie had 32 points and 11 assists, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said the 6-foot-5 guard was “playing as good as any player in the NBA.”
Selected by the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft, Dinwiddie played sparingly in his first two seasons with Detroit and was dealt to the Chicago Bulls in June 2016. He was waived by Chicago in October before playing a single game with the team, but signed with the Nets in December.
He has consistently improved his points per game average in each of the past three seasons. Since joining the Nets, he averaged 13.2 points, 5 assists, and 2.8 rebounds through 227 regular season games.
4. DeAndre Jordan
Durant and Irving weren’t the only two players of significance signed by Brooklyn during the off-season. The team also signed veteran center DeAndre Jordan to a four-year, $40-million contract. A 6-foot-11 native of Houston, Texas, Jordan was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft.
He has since developed into one of the league’s premier rebounders. He led the league in rebounds in 2013-14 and 2014-15 and is a two-time All-Defensive team member. Prior to the start of the 2019-20 campaign, he averaged at least 11 rebounds per game in eight consecutive seasons.
5. Caris LeVert
Michigan product Caris LeVert was selected by the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft. He was traded later that summer along with a future second-round pick to the Nets in exchange for Thaddeus Young.
Like Dinwiddie, LeVert has shown gradual improvement as a scorer since entering the league. Through nine games in 2019-20, he averaged a career-best 16.8 points per game on 42.1 percent field goal shooting. He averaged 13.7 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game last season and was rewarded in August with a three-year, $52.5-million contract extension.