We are a few days left to the restart of the 2019-2020 NBA season in Orlando, with only 22 teams eligible to compete amongst each other to determine their positions at the end of the regular season. There is a lot at stake, especially with the focus on the stiff competition between the teams fighting for the remaining playoff spots. One team that currently occupies one of the playoffs spots and will be looking to navigate the restart and make the playoffs on an excellent note is Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets are currently comfortable in the 7th spot of the Eastern Conference and 4th in the Atlantic Division with a 30-34 win-loss record and a .469 win percentage. However, the Nets’ position looks to be in jeopardy even before the restart of the season. Ahead of the restart, the Nets are in a crisis at the moment, which could ultimately derail their playoff ambitions. With the restart of the season closer than ever, we take a look at some of the questions surrounding the Nets and their preparations for the remainder of the season.
Can Brooklyn Nets cope without most of their numerous absentees for the remainder of the season?
Heading into the restart, the Nets find themselves in a difficult position. Despite their numerous successes, injuries have been a recurring theme in Brooklyn Nets’ team.
The Nets will be without eight first-team players due to injuries, coronavirus, and personal reasons for the restart of the season. Small Forward Kevin Durant, Point Guard Kyrie Irving, center DeAndre Jordan, Power Forward Nicolas Claxton, Small Forward Wilson Chandler, Point Guard Spencer Dinwiddie, Power Forward Taurean Prince, and Small Forward Michael Beasley will all be absent for the Nets in their quest to cement their playoff spot at the end of the regular season. The absence of these players will present a big blow for Head Coach Jacque Vaughn, who replaced Kenny Atkinson on an interim basis earlier this year who will be without a lot of options for the remaining games of the season.
With the absence of the eight players, Brooklyn Nets will miss a lot of quality and experience on the roster. Without Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, and DeAndre Jordan, the Nets wouldn’t be where they are at the moment. Their performances have been vital to the Nets’ successes this season.
Throughout the season, Kyrie Irving has battled his several injuries, which have limited his number of appearances to just 20 games for the Nets in his first season with them. The 6-time NBA All-Star and One-time NBA Champion, Kyrie has been on the sidelines since February after undergoing season-ending surgery on his injured shoulder. Despite his injuries, Kyrie was a prominent figure for the Nets in the early part of the season, especially in the absence of Kevin Durant. He hasn’t played for the Nets since signing last year because of a severe injury.
In the 20 games he has played, Kyrie Irving managed to average 27.4 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game plus 6.4 assists per game.
Dinwiddie has also had a decent season. He has averaged 20.6 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game and 6.8 assists per game in 64 games. DeAndre Jordan has also contributed 8.3 points per game, 10.0 rebounds per game plus 1.9 assists per game from 56 games (6 starts).
These players bring a lot to the Nets team, and it will be hard to replace on the Nets’ roster for the rest of the campaign. At the moment, Coach Vaughn has no choice but to rely on with some of the players from the G-League team and only 14 healthy first-team players to navigate the remaining games of the season. However, there isn’t enough time left to get these players to gel with each other and maintain their fitness before the restart.
Is the future of Head Coach Jacque Vaughn at Brooklyn Nets on the line?
For Coach Vaughn, the restart presents him with more than just eight games for his team to qualify for the playoffs. The restart will also come as an audition for him to prove himself to the Nets’ hierarchy and possibly nail down his job as Head Coach of Brooklyn Nets permanently. Following his elevation from the role of Assistant Coach to Head Coach, Coach Vaughn began his tenure with two straight wins from two games before the suspension of the season. Those two victories came at home against Chicago Bulls and on the road at Western Conference table-toppers Los Angeles Lakers.
In those two games, the Nets played as a collective team with full confidence, which hasn’t been the case for most parts of the season. Vaughn also made a bold decision by replacing Jarrett Allen with DeAndre Jordan. It could be early days yet, but he deserves credit for some of his choices at the start of his tenure. However, the challenge ahead of him after the restart is tough and could decide if he keeps the job or not.
In his previous Head Coach role at Orlando Magic, Vaughn managed to post a disappointing 58-158 record after three seasons. At the moment, he currently has a better team than that of the Magic rebuilding team he managed. However, there is a lot of pressure on him to continue his impressive start in the remaining eight games since his team is in pole position to qualify for the playoffs. If he manages to get the team over the finish line, he will undoubtedly become the next permanent coach of the Nets.