Kyrie Irving is still one of the NBA’s most talented guards, but has struggled to be a nightly fixture in the Brooklyn Nets‘ lineup. Over the past three seasons, he has played in less than 30 games twice.
The seven-time All-Star missed the vast majority of last season. After refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, he was forced to sit out home games due to New York City mandates.
Despite both Irving and Kevin Durant wanting to be traded over the summer, the Nets managed to keep their core intact. With a loaded roster, Brooklyn is once again in the conversation of teams who can contend for a title this season.
However, if they wish to fulfill their championship aspirations, they will need Irving on a full-time basis.
During a recent episode of “Jalen & Jacoby,” ESPN’s Jalen Rose gave his thoughts on Kyrie Irving’s availability for the Nets this season. He expects “Uncle Drew” to be in the mix almost every night:
“I believe he’ll be available as possible this year. I look for Kyrie Irving to participate in about 70 games.
“Kevin Durant is going to be so very motivated this year between getting swept and watching the Warriors win and then the trade request. The key for me is gonna be Ben Simmons.”
The Brooklyn Nets need Kyrie Irving if they want to be true contenders
There is no denying that the Nets have the talent to make a run at the title, but it could all come down to availability. Over the last three seasons, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have struggled to be on the court together for long stretches.
KD is still one of the top players in the NBA and is capable of leading a team on a deep postseason run, but he cannot do it alone. If Brooklyn wants to compete against teams like the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, having both their stars in sync is essential.
When looking at the Nets as a whole, Irving could be the piece that makes or breaks their title chances. If he continues to miss games and draw attention off the court, the team may sink once again. However, if he returns to his All-Star ways, Brooklyn can go up against any team in the NBA.
Essentially playing on a one-year deal, it will be interesting to see how Irving responds after all the criticism he has copped during his time in Brooklyn.