Predicting Brooklyn Nets playoff rotation post-Ben Simmons trade

Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant (Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)
Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant (Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Jan 10, 2022; Portland, Oregon, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) and forward Kevin Durant (7) make their way on the court against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center, Predicting Brooklyn Nets playoff rotation post-Ben Simmons trade. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports). /

After pulling off a blockbuster trade at the deadline, Steve Nash and the Brooklyn Nets have to make sense of their rotation ahead of the NBA Playoffs.

In most scenarios, teams scrap to assemble a competent playoff rotation, but the Nets have the inverse problem. With a deep roster recently bolstered by a three-player return for James Harden, crafting a rotation that compliments the star talent of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will be Brooklyn’s top question to answer through the end of the regular season.

So which players are an absolutely lock to start for Brooklyn in the playoffs?

Predicting Brooklyn Nets playoff rotation post-Ben Simmons trade: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are a lock for 35+ minutes per game.

Let’s remove the elephant from the room – Durant and Irving will shoulder a heavy load in the looming playoffs. Holding a two-game lead on the Charlotte Hornets for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn is projected to be a hellish first-round matchup for whichever team draws their assignment (assuming the Nets make it through the play-in tournament).

Shortly removed from a disastrous injury, 33-year-old Durant arguably remains the best basketball player in the world. With scoring ability from every spot on the floor and the basketball IQ to match, Durant is genuinely unguardable. He operates as the primary engine for Brooklyn’s offense, and therefore, its playoff aspirations.

Meanwhile, Irving and the Nets must hold out hope that New York City’s vaccine rules will be phased out as the COVID-19 pandemic settles from the Omicron surge. Should they lift the requirements that force him out of home games, Irving will resume the hoops Master Class he’s sustained since signing with the Nets in the 2019 offseason.

Individually, both of these players are a powerhouse, but together, they surpass all expectations. Brooklyn’s net rating is 14.6 points per 100 possessions better with Durant and Irving on the floor – though injuries and the powers that be have forced them to play just six games together.