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Star empowerment

NBA BUZZ - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - January 20, 2021 - 12:00am

He wanted it, he got it.  James Harden should be happy now that he got his wish granted and went to a team of his choice.  So happy that he had a 30-point triple double in his first game in a Brooklyn uniform.  The bearded one obviously had blended well with the other bearded teammates.  How long the bromance last remains to be seen.

Brooklyn, in a deal with three other teams to get Harden, gave up four rotation players in Jarret Allen, Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurocs, Taurean Prince and a handful of future draft picks.   They now seriously lack depth specially with Spencer Dinwiddie out for the season with a leg injury.

The Nets, with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Harden now have the most productive offensive trio in the league with a combined 83.4 points per game.  Add sharpshooter Joe Harris’ 14.6 ppg, that’s an impressive 98 points from four players alone.  Coach Steve Nash has the luxury of having at least one volume scorer for the entire game. 

But usually, great offense doesn’t translate into great defense.  Although Durant plays good defense, we can’t say the same for most of the team.  They lost their best defender and rebounder in Allen and DeAndre Jordan is now a shade of his LA Clipper days.

The three superstars instantly made Brooklyn a must-watch team and eventually will find harmony and rhythm in their offense, which make the Nets favorites, but I highly doubt if firepower alone can make them rule the East.  The Milwaukee Bucks still are, to me, the top seed but could yet find themselves again on the outside looking in come Finals time.

Not only will Nash have to tinker with his resources at hand, but he also must know how to handle the massive egos of his three super-duper stars.   Hopefully, the Nets won’t have to endure an extended losing streak which could fuel some kind of personality disorder among his terrific trio.

Houston had a huge sigh of relief in letting go of Harden and just like the OKC Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans, in effect had prepared for the future by having all of Brooklyn’s first-round draft picks available for the deal.   They got LeVert and Victor Oladipo from Indiana and could at least make the Rockets competitive this year.

The Cleveland Cavaliers only gave up Dante Exum for Allen and Prince.  Andre Drummond, a free agent next season, probably will find himself elsewhere and the Cavs can go with a young core of Allen, Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro and Collin Sexton plus Larry Nance, Jr. and Cedi Osman.

High-value players will now have frameworks for success and would ultimately force their way out of a bleak situation to play for a contending team.  Anthony Davis just had his first championship with the LA Lakers and if the reunion of Harden and Durant bears fruit in Brooklyn, we’ll soon be seeing empowered players insisting to be given new zip codes.

JAMES HARDEN
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