Brooklyn Nets: 3 Takeaways From the Win Over the Wizards
On Sunday night, the long-awaited debut of this Brooklyn Nets team came to fruition as they defeated a depleted Washington Wizards squad, 119 – 114. With one preseason game from this new-look squad in the books, let’s take a look at three takeaways for Brooklyn moving forward.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving Impress from the Jump
It took 532 days, but Kevin Durant and made his debut alongside Kyrie Irving as Brooklyn Nets. And, boy, did they show-out. In twenty-four minutes, Durant went for fifteen points on 5-12 shooting from the floor along with 5-6 from the line. He was effective in the midrange and consistently drew contact as he overpowered Washington’s defenders. If nothing else, Durant looked smooth in his first game in 552 days as there don’t appear to be any lingering effects of his Achilles injury from 2019.
Despite only playing seventeen minutes in total and not at all in the second half, Irving led the Nets in scoring with eighteen points on 7-9 shooting from the field and 2-3 from deep, along with four assists.
As expected, both Durant and Irving were used heavily in isolation, and both were impressive off the dribble.
The way Durant utilizes his length and high release can be mesmerizing when he’s hitting, and Irving’s penchant for knocking down fadeaway jumpers over defenders was on full display against Washington. He even converted on two mid-post touches in the first quarter with two of those pure fall-aways.
Both of these performances are encouraging for the Nets’ two stars this season. The lack of any noticeable decline from Durant after such a serious injury is most notable. But, this was also a game against a poor Washington Wizards team who were missing stars Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook along with key rotational pieces, David Bertans, and Jerome Robinson. Ideally, we’ll see similar play from Irving and Durant later this week in their second and final preseason contest against the Boston Celtics.
The Team’s New Additions Look Promising
Along with Durant’s debut, Brooklyn was treated to nice outings from newcomers Landry Shamet, Reggie Perry, and Jeff Green. The Nets’ acquisition after trading their first-round pick in the 2020 Draft, Shamet finished with thirteen points in twenty-four minutes as he was finished third in scoring and hit three of his five looks from behind the arc. He is going to be a critical contributor off the bench for this team.
In sixteen minutes, second-round pick Perry also impressed with five points and seven rebounds. He looked comfortable and as he belonged out there next to NBA talent. Getting any type of contribution from Perry this season would be a win for the Nets. While it’s unlikely he sees any significant minutes, he’ll be a nice prospect for the future of this team.
Green was nothing spectacular but his versatility as a frontcourt player on both sides of the ball is a nice complement alongside Deandre Jordan and Jarrett Allen. He scored seven points against the Wizards in seventeen minutes. One notable absence against Washington was Bruce Brown who came to Brooklyn from Detroit via trade. His lack of playing time is indicative of the Brooklyn Nets’ depth in the backcourt, even without likely starter Caris Levert.
Spencer Dinwiddie Off of the Bench is Dangerous
While Levert missing the game likely pushed Spencer Dinwiddie into the starting lineup, the Nets’ point guard did play and succeed in extended minutes with the bench unit of Taurean Prince, Shamet, and Green. Dinwiddie’s ability to penetrate the defense, and find shooters on the outside or punish interior help by feeding the big fits perfectly with this squad’s second group.
Dinwiddie finished with ten points and a team-high seven assists in twenty-five minutes.
Taurean Prince came out hot, knocking down three of his four three-pointers and finishing with eleven points and a team-high +17 in twenty-two minutes off of the bench. He should see an improved campaign than last year as he fits into a more complementary role off the bench rather than being relied on as heavily as he was on both ends of the court last season.
Head coach Steve Nash has mentioned the potential of using Caris Levert in a Manu Ginobili-esque, sixth-man role off of the bench this year. But Dinwiddie’s ability as a leader and a distributor is enticing as he can effectively incorporate second-unit guys like Prince and Shamet into the game more than others. And utilizing LeVert’s scoring off of the bench isn’t a bad strategy either.
Either way, it’s apparent that Nash has several attractive options. All in all, this was just a preseason game against a bad Washington Wizards team that was sitting three of their starting five. But the Brooklyn Nets have been waiting for this day for nearly two years. There’s no shame in being excited about this team.