Deadspin’s 2020-21 NBA Preview — The Atlantic Division: All or nothin’ for a bunch of win-now contenders


Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving
Illustration: AP/Getty

COVID Response: Kevin Durant was one of four Nets who tested positive for COVID in the spring, and the disease also kept Spencer Dinwiddie from entering the bubble entirely. Nets CEO Joe Tsai and his wife Clara Wu were among those who made hefty donations to New York City during the pandemic’s initial apex in the northeast. This included 2.6 million masks and 170,000 goggles.

Staying Away: New York guidelines won’t allow fans in arenas yet. DeAndre Jordan also spoke in the same ESPN story as Smart about those challenges.

“Coming to practice is very strange,” he said. “It’s something that we haven’t had to deal with before in any other season. We get to practice. You take one test. You take another test, then you wait in the car until you’re hopefully negative, and then you can go up with your mask on and do your individual work and lift and shoot and you go home. And you do the same thing again the next day. I think we’ve done a great job of staying as safe as we possibly can and taking this thing as seriously as it needs to be taken.”

Oh, He’s Here Now? Alongside Kyrie Irving, Durant signed in June 2019, but he still hasn’t played his first regular-season game, thus, counting as an acquisition in some respect. Otherwise, Brooklyn acquired Pistons swingman Bruce Brown in exchange for Dzanan Musa before the draft. They added Landry Shamet in a draft night trade, securing a career 40 percent three-point shooter to pair with their polarizing stars. They also signed former Durant rookie teammate and Seattle Sonics O.G. Jeff Green, and brought in 57th overall pick Reggie Perry in the draft. Oh, and there’s also a coaching staff led by Steve Nash in his first year, who also brought in Mike D’Antoni, Amar’e Stoudemire, Ime Udoka, and Royal Ivy.

Where’d He Go?Garrett Temple signed with the Bulls, leaving behind an essential veteran presence from Brooklyn last season. Justin Anderson left for the Sixers, and former head coach Kenny Atkinson is now a Clippers’ top assistant.

What To Expect: Who knows? Between Irving, Durant, Jordan, Nash, D’Antoni, Amar’e, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Tsai, Mr. Whammy, COVID, injury histories, tiring personalities, pawns, rooks, kings, queens, Coogi unis, Malcolm X references, media session preferences, boardrooms, dreams, nightmares, and vaccines: Who fucking knows? They’re pegged as one of the odds-on favorites to make it to the NBA Finals, if not win outright. They might trade for James Harden, but probably shouldn’t. On paper, their talent suggests they should win the East, but paper doesn’t play. A myriad of issues could dramatically swing the Nets season in either direction. Let’s simply say: If they’re healthy, they could win the title, and if they’re not, be it mentally and or physically, they could flop early in the playoffs.

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