Why Kevin Durant’s Nets questions are legit

Kevin Durant lamented that the Nets’ subpar season value them appreciate all over the NBA.

Listening to opposing gamers and exterior executives underscores simply how a lot.

“I feel like we don’t have any respect out there on the court,” Durant mentioned. “And that’s what I would like for us: appreciate among the NBA neighborhood as a crew on how we play on each ends of the ground, from GMs all of the means right down to the apparatus supervisor.

“I want that respect, and you do that by how you work every single day. We skipped some steps in how we worked throughout the year last year because of the circumstances — vaccine mandates, people disgruntled, injuries. We could’ve kept pressing forward, and that’s what I try to do as a player. I’m not preaching something I don’t practice. I come in here, every rep matters to me, so I want everybody to feel the same way.”

Durant plunged the Nets into chaos together with his industry request this summer season, however few can query his ability. The Nets had been 36-19 when Durant performed remaining season, a cast 54-win tempo befitting a contender, even supposing their paintings behavior had been mentioned to be unbefitting a champion. But the Nets totally capitulated in Durant’s absence — going simply 8-19, a feeble 24-win tempo — and that’s when many started to doubt their toughness, each psychological and bodily.

Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry (7) drives to the basket against Brooklyn Nets forward Markieff Morris (13) during an NBA preseason game on October 6, 2022.
Nets ahead Markieff Morris described the crew as “soft” from the opponent’s standpoint remaining season.

“I agree with what he said: They [were] soft. Just point blank, period,” mentioned summer season acquisition Markieff Morris, who spent remaining season with the Heat, of the Nets’ popularity across the league. “When we played up against them, they were soft. Just go right up in their chest. And that’s what we did.”

The frailties Durant cited even have been on show within the early a part of the preseason. The Nets had been outmuscled and outworked in Thursday’s 109-80 loss to the Heat. Durant had 22 issues on 8-of-12 capturing; his teammates blended for 58 issues on 21-of-61 capturing.

The NBA’s annual common supervisor survey drives house how a long way critiques at the Nets have fallen. The similar executives who fawned over the Nets a 12 months in the past voted them this 12 months because the league absolute best in only one class: being unpredictable.

After getting a staggering 72 p.c of the votes because the projected 2022 NBA champion, this 12 months the Nets didn’t even crack the highest 5. Last season, 83 p.c of common managers tabbed them to win the Eastern Conference; for 2022-23, that determine fell to seven p.c, and the plurality of respondents (31 p.c) picked them to complete fourth.

Even Nets GM Sean Marks, in talking with a TV community in his local New Zealand, stated, “Our window…[is] getting smaller and smaller and smaller.”

Doubt about it

Durant is ready the one factor that stayed consistent from remaining 12 months’s GM survey: He once more used to be voted as the most efficient small ahead within the league. But whilst his talent is unheard of, many concern concerning the spindly famous person’s well being or long-term dedication to Brooklyn.

Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets puts up a shot as Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat defends in the first half at Barclays Center, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022.
The Nets have post the document of an elite crew when Kevin Durant is within the lineup.
Corey Sipkin

After sitting out all of 2019-20 rehabbing a ruptured Achilles, Durant ignored 23 directly video games in 2020-21 on account of hamstring problems and 27 extra remaining season, together with 21 in a row because of a knee harm.

The means the Nets performed in going 5-16 whilst Durant used to be sidelined because of the sprained MCL sowed doubts within the famous person’s thoughts. He has mentioned the loss of collective struggle they confirmed all over that point ended in his industry request and a next ultimatum — since rescinded — that the crew hearth Marks and head trainer Steve Nash.

Durant’s questions are well-founded. Does Nash be able to call for a tradition of responsibility? Can the Nets stay Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons at the ground in combination sufficient to construct chemistry?

Irving described the new scenario across the Nets as a “clusterf–k.”

“There was a level of uncertainty in this building, not just for last year, but for the last few years,” Irving mentioned. “And that responsibility [Durant] requested for must be to be had and available all the time. We must have that form of setting. So I echo the similar sentiments, and I felt the similar means. I simply felt the awkwardness.

Kevin Durant #7 and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets speak with Ben Simmons #10 on the sideline during an NBA preseason game at Barclays Center, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022.
Will this change into a routine sight for the Nets: a minimum of one member in their Big 3 of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons in side road garments?
Corey Sipkin

“It’s going to be a long journey ahead of us because there are those obstacles. Questions on health. The [healthiest] team wins every single year … In order to be healthy, it can’t just be physically. It has to be mentally, it has to be emotionally, and we have to have synergy as a team where we understand our highs and lows, strengths and weaknesses. … We don’t know what this team is going to paint on this canvas this year as of yet.”

‘Not trying to look too far ahead’

Irving isn’t unsuitable about availability being a very powerful talent. Irving’s and James Harden’s accidents ended in the Nets’ second-round loss to the eventual champion Bucks within the 2021 playoffs, the similar means the Bucks are satisfied now not having Khris Middleton proved pricey within the convention finals in opposition to the Celtics remaining season.

And Irving’s refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine restricted him to simply 29 video games remaining season. Though the New York COVID-19 vaccine mandates were lifted, Irving all the time has been injury-prone. Having misplaced out on an absolutely assured four-year, $182 million contract extension and opted in to the general 12 months of his deal, it’ll be interesting to look whether or not enjoying for optimum cash in a freelance 12 months can inspire the person who’s performed in simply 103 of 226 regular-season video games as a Net to stick at the court docket night-in and night-out.

Can Simmons — who ignored all of remaining season because of psychological well being problems and a herniated disk in his again — give the Nets constant play? And, most likely most significantly, can the Nets as an entire get again to having a day-in, day-out paintings ethic, now not taking observe or the early season flippantly and presuming a deep playoff run is their proper merely on account of the assembled ability and massive names?

Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts on the court during an NBA preseason game against the Miami Heat on October 6, 2022.
The well being of Ben Simmons after he ignored all of remaining season is likely one of the giant questions dealing with the Nets.
Corey Sipkin

“We’re not looking as far ahead,” Joe Harris mentioned. “Last season, we had such high expectations for ourselves that we looked to the playoffs a lot even in the very beginning of the season. It felt like even in some of the games early on where we’d win, [we] felt like we weren’t winning by enough or we weren’t at the championship caliber that we had the expectation for ourselves. So a lot of the stuff now is just being as attentive and focused just on the day-to-day stuff and not trying to look too far ahead.”

Harris, who used to be restricted to simply 14 appearances remaining season because of an ankle harm, stated Durant’s statement that the Nets started to skip steps at observe. It used to be probably the most former MVP’s greatest lawsuits in the back of closed doorways, and has change into some degree of emphasis.

“When you think about championship teams, if you come in and you watch practice a lot of times, you can feel it because you know how attentive guys are, how focused they are, locked in every practice — you feel the importance of that every day,” Harris mentioned. “Not that we weren’t doing that remaining 12 months, but it surely used to be a bit of little bit of having a look down the street, feeling the loss from the prior 12 months within the playoffs and short of to get again to that time, and having a look previous one of the most video games that we had within the early season as a substitute of paying attention and centered at the provide.

“It’s a cliché, but it’s…a lot harder to do than you realize. So it’s something that we’re trying to be really cognizant of. … We’re having a good [camp]. Then tomorrow we’ll have another good day, and we just keep having these building blocks that we’ll build off of. …We’re not going to take these preseason games for granted regardless of how much time guys are playing. The whole focus is just: ‘Alright, how do we get better today?’ And then just building off of that.”

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