The City that Never Sleeps? Or, the City of Basketball Greatness? By, Josh Fromowitz
(Pictured is Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets share a laugh courtside)
The 2020-2021 NBA season is in its early days, and New York Basketball fans have a lot to be excited about. Both the Knicks and the Nets have exciting new pieces that will bring joy and hope to New York Basketball that we have so desperately waited so long for. The Nets addition of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in the 2019 off season shocked the world. Durant missed the entire 2019-2020 season due to a ruptured Achilles, and Kyrie Irving missed most of the season with Right Shoulder injury. The Knicks are in a complete rebuild, not having made the playoffs in 8 years. But they have a lot of young talent that excited Knick fans. R.J Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, as well as their two first round picks from this year’s draft, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin. Both have different aspirations for the season, but there is plenty of excitement in the big apple this season.
The Nets snuck into the playoffs last year, and got swept by the Toronto Raptors in the bubble playoffs. But those Nets that played for the most part, aren’t apart of this team. 8 guys (including injured Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving) did not participate in the playoffs, forcing the Nets to fill those spots. Of the guys who were on that playoff roster, only 4 of them remain on the Nets active roster for opening night. Guys like Caris LeVert and Jarret Allen saw big minutes, and will look to be key contributors this season, whatever their role may be. Head Coach at the time, Jacque Vaughn, was hired to be one of the Nets top assistant coach this past offseason. The Nets spent little time after the bubble figuring out who would fill that missing piece. And they named Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash head coach. He added former teammate and former coach from his Phoenix Suns days, big man Amr’e Stoudemire and coach Mike D’antoni as assistant coaches to the Nets staff. While Nash lacks experience in coaching, he has two former head coaches in Vaughn and D’antoni, and a big man coach in Stoudemire to develop the Nets young big men.
(Pictured is Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving getting coached up by new head coach, Steve Nash)
One of the Nets priorities this offseason was resigning Joe Harris, one of the league’s best 3- point shooters. In his 4 years with the team, he has improved each year, and constantly shot above 40% from the 3 point line. They weren’t too active this offseason signing big names like they were last offseason, but they did acquire role players who will look to have immediate impacts on the team like, Landry Shamet from the LA Clippers and Jeff Green from the Houston Rockets. Both these guys have playoff experience, Shamet a young guard who can guard anyone on the perimeter and Green is an older Forward, teams back up with KD. They were teammates with the Seattle Supersonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder). Nash has a lot of weapons from stars to role players, it’ll be fun to see them in action and how the rest of the Eastern Conference stacks up against them.
(Pictured is Knicks Rookie Obi Toppin showing off a flashy dunk during his senior year at Dayton)
The Knicks on the other hand, have been constantly at the bottom. But the past couple of drafts and off seasons, have definitely had Knick fans excited for the future. Tom Thibodaux comes in as the newest head coach, and he has experience brining a young team to the playoffs. He coached the Chicago Bulls from 2010-2015, when they had the youngest MVP in league history in Derrick Rose, they were a playoff team. The Knicks have a lot of young talent in R.J Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley. Toppin and Quickley were selected in the NBA Draft this past November. Toppin was the NCAA Player of the year at Dayton. Quickley was a flashy guard at Kentucky, but was not as hyped as other players out of college like Toppin was. But Quickley in the Pre-Season impressed Knick fans and NBA fans. He showed his scoring ability, quick hands on the defensive side and his ability to pass the ball well. The Knicks also added veterans to their young roster, adding Austin Rivers and Nerlens Noel. Rivers is a guard that played with the Rockets the past couple season under Mike D’Antoni and can shoot the ball and provide a spark of energy off the bench. Nerlens Noel, the former first top 10 pick, gives the Knicks rim protection off the bench. He is a key bench piece and backup to Mitchell Robinson. Only downside to both of those big men are that neither one can shoot the ball. The big men nowadays are transitioning more to shooting from outside and moving away from playing with their backs to the baskets. Will either of them adjust to the constantly evolving game?
After multiple forgetful years during the past decade for both the Knicks and the Nets, and a not so promising start to the 2020’s that both teams hoped for, 2021 and the future looks very bright for both teams. A mix of young talent and elite players led by a young mind for the Nets and a young dynamic Knicks team led by an experienced coach. In a time where fans cannot attend games, the big apple will be anxiously awaiting returning to root for their home teams.
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