Kyrie Irving is again, and here is why historical past tells us that is really unhealthy information for the Brooklyn Nets

Kyrie Irving has returned from suspension. Ben Simmons has mustered three consecutive video games that echo his previous excellence. And Kevin Durant continues to be Kevin Durant, a transcendent scoring machine averaging greater than 30 factors per recreation who’s lastly freed from the pinnacle coach he tried to power out over the summer time.

Throw within the probability to beat a battered Philadelphia 76ers group Tuesday night time — and choose up its third straight win for the primary time this season — and good vibes are emanating from the Brooklyn Nets.

Don’t fall for any of it. This Nets group has nothing to supply however disappointment and drama.

Sure, the short-term sense of positivity, a Brooklyn Nets specialty, will certainly unfold if Simmons has one other superb outing in his return to Philly. Or if Irving, having performed solely 26 minutes after getting back from an eight-game suspension for selling an antisemetic video, has a breakout efficiency. 

Don’t get sucked in.

The phantasm could also be stronger, however the farce stays the identical: This talent-laden group is a timebomb — not a title contender. They’re all drama and no depth. They’re the glint with out a actual probability on the bling. 

Sure, as in all issues in sports activities, they might pull an upset. The Durant-Irving-Simmons trifecta would gel, in opposition to all odds and historical past, and see a regular-season parade of victories that offers solution to a playoff run worthy of all of the hype that is been churning in Brooklyn since Kyrie and KD teamed up.

But historical past, widespread sense and a slew of NBA leagues sources say what’s extra widespread is extra of the identical: Drama, the contender okey-dokey, and an inevitable grotesque meltdown that reminds us who they had been all alongside.

Star energy is a should for a championship run, however chemistry is the key sauce that has to accompany it. That’s one of many causes the Golden State Warriors, 12 months after 12 months, have dominated, with or with out Kevin Durant: That locker room is filled with actual leaders, and actual perception, and actual togetherness — or a minimum of it was till Draymond Green punched teammate Jordan Poole within the face earlier this season. 

This latest Los Angeles Lakers group tells the opposite aspect of the coin — expertise with out togetherness can flip into recrimination with out hope.

But LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis are a TED Talk on camaraderie and chemistry in comparison with this Nets squad.

Start with Irving, whose basketball presence in Brooklyn to date has fallen means wanting expectations. Irving is massively proficient within the excessive. But outdoors of taking part in with LeBron in LeBron’s prime — a serious asterisk — Irving has been a perennial damaging for nearly each single group he is been on. Literally.

This season, the Brooklyn Nets are 3-6 with their star level guard — and 5-3 with out him.

It could sound like a statistical anomaly pulled from a stupidly small pattern measurement, however dig slightly deeper. Look on the details, and the shortage of influence he is had in his time away from LeBron.

In the six seasons, together with this one, since Kyrie Irving compelled his means out of the Cleveland Cavaliers, his group has been higher by successful proportion with him on the ground versus with out him in solely a single season.


And that was 5 years in the past, in his first season in Boston.

The cold-hard comps on Kyrie’s groups within the common season with him versus with out him are placing:

So here is the scorecard wanting again on the earlier 5 seasons: He improved his group as soon as. There was one other, by successful proportion, that was a lifeless warmth. And then there have been three by which he was an albatross to success.

The unhealthy occasions have been extra widespread of late. In the three of the final 4 seasons, Kyrie’s presence on the ground turned his group right into a sub-.500 squad. That’s a pattern measurement of 83 video games over three seasons — principally an entire common season — by which Kyrie turns a very good group right into a loser.

So, no, Kyrie’s drama, finest and ugliest personified by the newest self-inflicted saga, is not the price of his greatness. It’s perception into the associated fee his supposed-greatness inflicts on his groups.

And simply Kyrie.

Take Simmons, who — and there’s no solution to put this kindly — instills the least quantity of confidence come massive moments of any participant maybe in NBA historical past. The passed-up dunk within the playoffs, and his then-head coach Doc Rivers throwing him below the bus afterward, could nicely have damaged him. 

Yes, he is performed nicely the previous couple of video games, and we should always all hope he thrives and proves doubters like me incorrect. No participant deserves to have a profession ruined by no matter mixture of the bodily and psychological accidents which have led him thus far. But life is not honest, as others like Markelle Fultz can attest.

If an enormous a part of your plan for NBA success is counting on Ben Simmons — in massive video games no much less, when the stress ratchets up and his reminiscences and frailties should really feel 1,000 occasions bigger — that plan is in massive bother.

The particular person requested to shepard this feast of fretfulness is Jacque Vaughn, who has three issues working in opposition to him: His profession document of 71-165. He’s by no means gained greater than 23 video games in a single season. And the actual fact he was clearly Durant’s permitted, second-choice candidate after the Nets backed away from hiring the suspended Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.

That’s not a shot at Vaughn. A Nobel Peace Prize winner may wrestle to carry this group collectively. But it is laborious to see a second-choice coach clearly endorsed by a single famous person discovering the key to this disturbing cocktail of grievances, stress and letdowns.

Into all of this stress steps Durant, whose skills are excessive even by historic requirements. But within the NBA we are likely to stare at stars, get blinded by what we see in them and have bother specializing in the small print that matter.

As with this Nets group as an entire, Durant is an enormous expertise who doesn’t have a monitor document — outdoors of operating with the loaded Warriors — of successful NBA championships. It’s laborious to see by his greatness, however Durant the star has shone so brightly we have missed his lack of a resume away from Stephen Curry & Co., a LeBron-like winner.

If final 12 months’s Golden State Warriors run did not persuade individuals of this, it is laborious to see what is going to, however: Curry was all the time the perfect and most necessary participant on these Warriors groups. That all the time made KD the second-best participant on the 2 championship groups on which KD performed.

You know what disproves that? Winning with out Curry, simply as Curry successful with out Durant proved his worth as a champion, an NBA Finals MVP, and an all-time nice capable of carry a group all the best way.

Durant has by no means accomplished that. And with this Nets group — with Kyrie Irving as a teammate, with Ben Simmons as a key piece who’ll be referred to as upon in pressure-packed moments — he by no means will.

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