Irving out means little to Nets odds

Brooklyn+Nets+Kevin+Durant+plays+during+a+preseason+NBA+basketball+game%2C+Monday%2C+Oct.+11%2C+2021%2C+in+Philadelphia.

AP Photo | Matt Slocum

Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant plays during a preseason NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, in Philadelphia.

Davione Barrow, Sports Reporter

The Brooklyn Nets are the favorites to win the NBA Championship, but former NBA champion and seven-time All-Star guard Kyrie Irving is not expected to play until he gets vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Irving went live on Instagram earlier this week to talk about his decision.

“It’s about choosing what’s best for you,” Irving said on Instagram Live. “You think I really want to lose money? You think I really want to give up on my dream to go after a championship? You think I really just want to give up my job?”

Irving averaged 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists last season, being an essential piece to the Nets deep playoff run last season before getting injured in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. 

Many basketball fans are questioning if the Nets will still be able to win the title, with Kyrie still unclear on whether he will be active for them in the first game of the season. The regular season kicks off Tuesday with the Nets facing the Milwaukee Bucks in a second round rematch. 

The Nets are prepared and ready to play without Irving in home or away games due to the NBA’s and NYC COVID-19 policy.

The Nets still have two of the most dynamic all-around scores in the NBA in guard James Harden and forward Kevin Durant. The combination of Harden, Durant and Irving only played 14 games together last season, including the playoffs, and somehow the Nets were still able to make a deep playoff push. 

Despite the Nets losing in the second round, Durant finished the playoffs averaging 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.6 blocks, 1.5 steals, shot 50% overall from the field, and 40.2% from 3-point range. 

Harden played 36 games last season, averaging 24.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 10.9 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks. 

Having two elite-level players instead of all three does hurt, but the job will still be able to get done with them at the forefront leading this roster full of youth, experience, and talent. 

In the offseason, the Nets signed rookie guard Cam Thomas, former champion guard Patty Mills, veteran forward Paul Milsap and five-time NBA All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge. The Nets also re-signed six-time All-Star Blake Griffin. 

The Nets have arguably added better pieces to build around their returning core, having more perimeter shooting, size, and athleticism on their roster than in the previous year.

Having Irving gives the Nets a much larger opportunity to win a championship. Yet without Irving, the Nets are no scrubs. Brooklyn is loaded with talent up and down the roster and still pose a threat to any team standing in their way.