Image courtesy of Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports.
By: Robbie Stratakos
The 2020-21 NBA season will be the first time Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving suit up together for the Brooklyn Nets. Furthermore, it will be year one of Steve Nash’s reign as head coach. The first-time NBA head coach’s relationship with his star point guard, Irving, will be a pivotal factor in a successful first season for the Nets.
A head coach’s relationship with their star player is crucial to the well-being of any championship contender. That said, this is a unique situation, as the Nets have two prominent scorers and a head coach who was a Hall-of-Fame floor general.
Nash played with a bevy of high-profile players throughout his illustrious NBA career including Dirk Nowitzki, Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion in their primes and Shaquillie O’Neal and Grant Hill on the back nine of their respective careers. Meanwhile, Irving played alongside LeBron James and Kevin Love with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Irving and Nash are/were each ball-dominant point guards. Albeit they have different skill sets, they’re two of the best ball-handlers in NBA history. Nash was a great passer and shooter with savvy quickness attacking the rack. Irving is an efficient shooter, a premier scorer and has dazzling handles. These two should be able to connect.
Irving has developed a reputation for being a hassle. Last season he and Durant essentially got Kenny Atkinson fired despite citing him as part of the reason why they signed with the Nets. Before inking a max deal with Brooklyn, Irving publicly criticized his teammates on the Boston Celtics and appeared to struggle to be himself. Of course, there was also his tumultuous departure from the Cavaliers in 2017.
The Nets have the talent to win an NBA championship. With Irving, Durant, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and others present, they have depth, a group of diverse skill sets and individuals with extensive playoff experience. It’s a matter of Nash getting everyone on the same page and trusting him.
By trusting Nash’s words, which likely include being told to move the ball and let Durant and LeVert take their fair share of shots, Irving will be highly effective; an unpredictable star playmaker is a nightmare for defenses.
Nash was previously a consultant for the Golden State Warriors, but he has never held down a head-coaching or lead assistant gig. He’ll have his hands full this season.