National Basketball Association

Analyzing the Brooklyn Nets' performance with various members of the Big 3

May 8

Is it possible to have everything but nothing at the same time?

That is the question that the Brooklyn Nets are probably asking themselves as the playoffs quickly approach.

There is little denying that Brooklyn is home to the most talented roster in the NBA, one that features former MVPs James Harden and Kevin Durant, as well as NBA champion and perennial All-Star Kyrie Irving.

But the three have yet to play an extended amount of time on the court together this season due to health and safety protocols, injuries, and time spent away from the team for personal reasons, and the Nets are reeling, having lost four games in a row with Harden out of the lineup.

Currently sitting at third in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 43-24, let's take a look at how the Nets have fared with various members of their star trio in the lineup.

With Durant, Harden, and Irving: 5-2

Yes, the Nets' top three players have played just seven games together this season, but they have looked fairly dominant in that time on the court.

Irving leads them in scoring in these games, averaging 26.4 points, followed by Durant's 25.3 PPG, then Harden's 20.4.

When your top three guys are combining for 72.1 PPG you're going to be pretty hard to stop offensively.

With Durant and Irving, without Harden: 4-6

This tandem appeared to be pretty dominant since the Harden trade, even without Harden in the lineup, until their recent rough patch of four straight losses.

Three of those losses came to playoff teams, with back-to-back losses to the Milwaukee Bucks, followed by a loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Durant is averaging 25.3 PPG in these games, while Irving is averaging 24.6.

With Durant and Harden, without Irving: 2-0

With arguably the two best scorers in the league on the court together, it should come as no surprise that the Nets haven't lost a game with just Durant and Harden in the lineup out of their big three.

The two have chemistry going back to their time with the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2009-2012 and the 2012 Olympics.

Durant averaged 36 PPG while Harden averaged 33 PPG in these two contests.

With Harden and Irving, without Durant: 16-3

The duo of Harden and Irving has played the most games together of any combination of the Nets' top three players thanks to Durant missing extended periods of time for health and safety protocols and a nagging hamstring injury.

And this has proven to be the best backcourt in the NBA by a wide margin this season, as evidenced by their record together and their production.

Irving averaged 29.9 PPG playing off of the ball next to Harden, while Harden averaged 23.7 PPG.

How have they fared with just one of the Big 3 in the lineup?

The Nets' results with just one of their top three in the lineup is, as you'd expect, uneven.

With just Irving, the Nets are 3-4, with the guard averaging 25.6 PPG in those games.

In games with just Harden, the Nets are 4-2, with Harden averaging 33.7 PPG and looking like the player who reeled off three straight scoring titles from 2018-2020.

And when Durant is alone, the Nets are 2-0, with Durant averaging 26.5 PPG.

This brings their overall record with just one of their triplets in the lineup to 9-6.

Bottom line

The Nets have proven themselves to be one of the elite teams in the NBA this season even without the sum of all of their parts.

But it is clear that if they want to make a run at the NBA Finals and win a championship this season, they will need all hands on deck to reach that goal.

Whether that becomes their reality remains to be seen, but with the playoffs around the corner, the problem could be solved or left unsolved relatively soon.

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