Next Stage for Brooklyn Nets Meshes James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving

After sterling start for Harden with Durant, Nets look forward to Irving's return

The Brooklyn Nets’ 122-115 win over the Orlando Magic on Saturday was in some ways a prologue, the trailer that gets everybody hyped up for the big premiere. James Harden went for a triple-double in his Nets debut — 32 points, 14 assists, 12 rebounds. Kevin Durant scored a season-high 42 points. When the game swung in Brooklyn’s favor late in the third quarter and the start of the fourth, it was a Durant & Harden takeover.

And now, what’s next? What’s next when this scene-stealing Big Two becomes a Big Three with the return of Kyrie Irving? That’s what everybody wants to know, and wants to see.

“I think we’re going to have to continually find how it all works to its best level, to the most effective and efficient standard,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash after Saturday’s game. “But throwing Kyrie in the mix makes us better. It’s a good problem to have, trying to figure out where they can coexist to their highest level, standard. So I think it takes time. I think it’s going to be an adjustment for everyone. But it’s an incredible problem to have and something I think we’ll relish trying to decipher.”

In Durant, Harden, and Irving, the Nets will attempt to mesh together three elite scorers. Durant and Harden hold two of the top 11 scoring averages in NBA history with

Durant averaging 27.0 points and Harden 24.2, while Irving is averaging 27.7 since joining the Nets. With that, they have three of the top seven usage rates among active players.

Harden has led the league in assists and averaged at least 7.0 per game for each of the last six seasons. Irving averages 5.7 for his career and Durant 4.1.

“I can’t wait until we have our full team together and seeing how we can create shots for shooters, seeing how we can get our bigs some easy points in the paint,” said Durant. “But it’s gonna be tough for anybody to double us especially out at the 3-point line. Teams may trap us in the pick-and-roll but we’ve got guys that can make good plays on that back end.”

Durant, Harden, and Irving are all versatile scorers, shooting from 3-point range, the mid-range, and driving to the rim. Durant and Harden also get to the line at high rates. Mixed in with their skill and willingness to pass, surrounded by shooters like Joe Harris and Landry Shamet, a rim-roller like DeAndre Jordan, they see limitless possibilities for themselves as defenses face the inverse.

“Once we go through every scenario, and it’s only maybe four or five that teams can really do against us, and throughout the course of the year that’s going to happen, once we figure out, OK, they’re doing this tonight, this is how we attack it, or they’re doing this tonight, this is how we attack it, once we get that, it’s basically up to us,” said Harden. “I’m so excited for Ky to get back. He’s a key piece to what we’re trying to do. The chemistry, the sooner we can build that, the sooner we can be on the court together, it’s going to be scary.”

Durant, an elite shooter at 6-foot-10, is one of the most unique superstars in NBA history. He also brings a experience to what the Nets will be working with, having been part of a similar grouping in Golden State with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

“I think Kevin’s the most adaptable because of his versatility,” said Nash. “He can pretty much play anywhere on the floor. He can play without the ball, he can play with the ball. He can play in the post, elbow, nail, out handling, so I think for Kevin it’s the easiest transition in that he’s quite happy to move around and play different roles and he also has that Golden State experience so having played with other great players and that ability to share with the betterment of the group. We’ll lean on Kevin for that. He handled it with incredible success.”

Ultimately, making it work, maximizing the strength of having all three together in the same unit, may be as simple as each of them deciding it works.

“Chemistry. Sacrifice and, like you said, we're all elite,” said Harden. “So, depending on the game and depending on what is going on throughout the course of the game, that is going to determine who gets the ball and who makes the plays. We're all unselfish. We're all willing passers. And we play basketball the right way, and that's all that matters.”

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