Brooklyn Nets season-opener exposes 3 glaring issues

New Orleans Pelicans big Zion Williamson & Brooklyn Nets stars Ben Simmons & Kevin Durant (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
New Orleans Pelicans big Zion Williamson & Brooklyn Nets stars Ben Simmons & Kevin Durant (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Brooklyn Nets opened their season at home against the New Orleans Pelicans. At the end of four quarters, the victory went to the visitors as they left the Barclays Center with a 130-108 win. Although the Nets are obvious contenders to win a championship, they were overwhelmed by the Pelicans and failed to gain a single lead throughout the game.

While the season is just getting started, the first game exposed some of Brooklyn’s liabilities and highlighted the keys for them to succeed.

1. Brooklyn Nets season opener exposes the lack of a true big man.

It was evident in the opening minutes that the Nets miss having a big body like Andre Drummond on the paint. Nic Claxton immediately had no answer for Jonas Valanciunas and looked like a rag doll on the post. Day’Ron Sharpe did not make much of a difference when he filled in and Ben Simmons got bullied by Zion Williamson each time they met in the paint.

As much as the NBA has become a shooter-dominant league, you still can’t deny the importance of big men. What will the Nets do when Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Draymond Green, and Rudy Gobert are in the opposition? It might be time to look for answers.

2. The Brooklyn Nets seriously need backup from Seth Curry and Joe Harris.

The Pelicans shot decently from three while the Nets built a brick wall at the Barclays Center. While Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Patty Mills are all able to shoot from range, the Nets felt the absence of Seth Curry and Joe Harris, who are both out due to injuries. The Nets had a hard time responding when CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram had the hot hand from distance.

Shooters are extremely important in today’s game, so expect the Nets to be more effective in the offense once Harris and Curry are healthy.

3. If the Brooklyn Nets are to be taken seriously, the big three must step up.

Despite the Nets collectively struggling in the first quarter, Durant found his stroke in the second period and finished the half with 21 points, keeping the Nets on the surface at halftime. However, for the Nets to succeed, Irving and Simmons need to play their best as well. Durant finished the game with 32 points while Irving and Simmons had 13 and 4 respectively.

While the Pelicans are far from a bad team, on paper, the Nets were supposed to win this game. The Nets’ big three simply cannot afford to have nights off. They can be great and they have to be great on a nightly basis if they want to change the narrative in Brooklyn.

This game serves as an early wake-up call for the Nets. However, we should not use one game as an indicator of things to come. As earlier mentioned, not having Curry and Harris affects the Nets in a big way. But at the same time, the Nets have to be more responsible with their possessions and shot selection. At multiple points, they were clumsy and absent-minded, turning the ball over, passing to a teammate yet to cross center court, and forcing hard shots.

On the bright side, Ben Simmons looks like he could still be an All-Star-level player if he gets going. Irving will be available all season if healthy. And not to mention, the Nets got a good deal in acquiring Royce O’Neale as he showed his overall ability on both ends tonight.

When you have a team as great as the Nets, pressure is inevitable, even more so after losing their first game of the season. Brooklyn returns to action against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, followed by consecutive games against Memphis, Milwaukee, and Dallas throughout the following week.

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While the roster is incomplete, they need to figure out a way to start winning sooner than later.