Should the Nets Trade Kyrie Irving?
The Brooklyn Nets defensive is not good enough to win the title
Trading Kyrie Irving may be the best way to improve their defense
The newest big three in the NBA was recently formed when the Brooklyn Nets traded for James Harden. There has not been a time in the NBA where a team had three players that could score on this level. However, should the Nets keep this trio together? If they want to win a title, probably not.
First, let's look at past NBA champions. Below is a graph of the offensive ratings of the last 10 NBA champions. Offensive ratings is how many points a team scores per 100 possessions.
NBA champions tend to have an offensive rating of at least 110, with only one team having a rating outside below 110. So, can the Nets achieve this offensive rating without Kyrie? Let's look at the offensive ratings of KD's and Harden's past teams.
Since 2011, KD has never been on a team with an offensive rating below 110. Harden has been on two teams below this number, 2015 and 2016, but Harden did not have a teammate close to as talented as Durant. Thus, I believe that without Kyrie, the Nets could still have an effective enough offensive to win a championship. So the issue becomes defensive. Do the Nets have a good enough defensive to win it all? Let's look at the defensive ratings of the past 10 title winners. Defensive rating is the number of points allowed per 100 possessions.
The above defensive ratings range from 100 - 108 (remember, lower is better.) The Brooklyn Nets currently have a defensive rating of 113. This is not good enough to beat a team like the Lakers who have a defensive rating of 106.
How can the Nets improve their defense? Trading Kyrie for defensive help may be the answer. Kyrie is not a good defender. In his career, his team has had a better defensive rating when he has been off the floor. See below.
In conclusion, it's pretty simple, the Nets would have a championship caliber offensive without Kyrie, and their defense is not good enough. Factor in the unreliability of Kyrie Irving, and trading him makes sense. Now it comes down to what trade can the Nets make. They won't get a James Harden level haul for Kyrie, due to his previously mentioned unreliability and injury history. Is Avery Bradley and Andre Iguodala from the Miami Heat enough of a defensive upgrade? Probably not, but it's not as bad as it seems. What about Myles Turner and Justin Holiday from the Pacers? I like this trade as Turner is an excellent rim protector, which the Nets desperately need, and Holiday is a solid perimeter defender. One last trade idea is Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe from the Pelicans. This gives the the Nets two excellent perimeter defenders that can both be on the floor together when KD is playing power forward. All of these trades make sense and are something the Nets need to consider. We'll see what happens.
Stats from: pbpstats.com and basketballreference.com