After a preseason dominated by talk of Kyrie Irving‘s vaccination status, the Brooklyn Nets haven’t gotten off the start that many expected they would. Through five games, the Nets are 2-3 and appear to be lacking the firepower that they did last year.
That’s because, quite literally, they are. Irving remains away from the team after refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine and amidst a New York City mandate that requires all NBA players in the city to be vaccinated in order to play in home games. The Nets opted to sit Irving entirely after his refusal to abide by the mandate.
The Nets offense has taken a huge step back without him in a small sample size. Brooklyn ranks 25th in the league in points per game (102.0 PPG), 22nd in true shooting percentage (53.4 percent) and 21st in offensive efficiency so far this year.
Not having Irving makes for a huge drop-off in the team’s rotation and it’s difficult not to notice. Nets star Kevin Durant has obviously recognized his teammate’s absence and addressed the elephant in the room after Brooklyn’s 106-93 loss to the Miami Heat.
“I know what you want me to say… Yeah we do miss Kyrie,” Durant joked in a response to a question about what the Nets’ offense has been missing this season. “We do, he’s a part of our team.
Durant pivoted for the second part of his answer, explaining that the Nets have generated open looks, but just haven’t been able to cash in. He thinks that’ll even out as the year goes on.
“But for the most part, like I said, we’ve been generating great shots we’ve been getting into the paint,” Durant added. “It’s just a matter of us knocking them down. I think that’ll come.”
After being asked about the difference between the teams offense last season as compared this season, Kevin Durant jokingly says "Yeah, we do miss Kyrie"
He adds "It's just a matter of us knocking them down, I think it'll come" pic.twitter.com/UhLFbBSlCG
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) October 28, 2021
The Nets have clearly missed Irving’s presence, but could also benefit from some steadier production from James Harden. The three-time scoring champ has had a bit of a rocky start to the campaign, which hasn’t helped ease Brooklyn’s offensive concerns.
Kevin Durant has been the sole consistent contributor through the first five games, scoring 29.8 points per contest on 54.8 percent shooting. So long as he continues to produce at such a high clip, the Nets should be just fine.
Brooklyn still has 77 games to turn things around and they’ll attempt to do so as early as this Friday against the Indiana Pacers.