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Brooklyn Nets

Fact or Fiction: The Brooklyn Nets are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference next season

The Brooklyn Nets 2019-20 season has come to an end at the hands of a four-game sweep from the Toronto Raptors.

With this season behind them, they can finally look forward to their 2020-21 campaign that will return their two superstars, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, to action. Durant missed the entire 2019-20 season rehabbing an Achilles injury suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals, while Irving only appeared in 10 games in his first season in Brooklyn due to a lingering shoulder injury.

Back at full strength, are the Nets the team to beat in the East? Our NBA.com staff discusses that among a couple other questions that need answers for Brooklyn this offseason.

Jacque Vaughn will be Brooklyn's head coach at the start of next season

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Fiction. It isn't even a knock on Vaughn, who made a strong case to keep his job with how he coached the Nets in the season restart. I just think the Nets are destined to make one of Ty Lue or Jason Kidd their next head coach, mostly to appease Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): Fiction. I'm with Scott on this one. It has nothing to do with the job that Vaughn did as the head coach in the bubble or the playoffs. In fact, I thought he did a fantastic job getting the most out of his players, especially given the roster and circumstances he was handed. I don't believe Vaughn will be the head coach of Brooklyn, but I do believe he coached well enough to get serious consideration from the other head coaching vacancies that open up around the league.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Fiction. Based on his body of work since taking over the Nets' head coaching post, I think Jacque Vaughn has proven to be a very very solid NBA coach but I think it ultimately comes down to Kyrie and KD. I think Brooklyn will go with a coach that has a closer connection to its superstar duo, who I think will have plenty of influence in the search process.

The Nets can't afford to lose Joe Harris

Rafferty: Fact. He's a dream fit next to Irving and Durant with his 3-point shooting, although it'll be interesting to see how much is too much for the Nets since they already have $140.3 million committed to their roster for next season. One of the best free agents available this offseason, there's a chance that Harris will be able to get a better offer from another team.

Irving: Fiction. Only because of the phrase "can't afford" - that's a bit extreme. The Nets would be just fine without Harris next season, but it sure would be a luxury to have him spotting up on the perimeter, ready to knock down 43% of his 3-point attempts when Durant or Irving kick out to him. He's been a part of this Nets rebuild from the start and I do think they should reward him for that by making an effort to re-sign him, but it won't completely make or break their season.

McGregor: Fact. Harris' ability as an elite shooter will open so much up for KD and Kyrie, I think it allows KD to be close to as efficient as he was in Golden State while Kyrie can continue to play his way. I don't think Harris is the key to unlocking things but I do think having him makes offence much easier for those two because he'll punish teams for overplaying on D.

The Nets need to trade one of Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert

Rafferty: Fact. I'm not convinced that Irving, Durant, Dinwiddie and LeVert can fit together because they're each at their best with the ball in their hands.

Irving: Fact. Strictly because of the return I think they could get for Dinwiddie or LeVert. Dinwiddie did a fantastic job keeping this team afloat all season and proved his worth as a starting guard or elite sixth man in the NBA. LeVert has proved he has the potential to be a lethal scorer in this league for years to come. Should they move one of the two, they could very easily find a player more suited to play alongside Durant and Irving in pursuit of a championship. But it is worth stating that I think they should only trade one of them, not both.

McGregor: Fact. It's simple math here for me. In his final season with Golden State, KD attempted 17.7 shots per game. Kyrie attempted 20.8 shots per game last season while Dinwiddie (16.0) and LeVert (16.3) took another 32.3 of their own, which was admittedly due to some injuries. Regardless, there's only one basketball, these guys are at their best when they can get a high volume of shots up and, as Kyle said, the Nets can get good value back by moving one of them.

The Nets are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference next season

Rafferty: Fiction. It's hard for me to say otherwise without knowing which version of Irving and Durant the Nets are going to get. Plus, there's a chance that the Bucks, Raptors, Celtics and Heat will enter next season with the same teams that they had this season - if not the exact same, mostly the same. I think they're more likely to have the "team to beat" label in 2021-22, not 2020-21.

Irving: Fiction. Remember what happened last time we crowned someone as "the team to beat in the Eastern Conference" before they earned it? Remember who one of the key players was on that team? Enough said.

McGregor: Fact. I'll be the contrarian here. He's Kevin Durant. You know who he is… Y'all know who he is.

If you've forgotten, I get the feeling you'll be reminded of that fairly quickly next season. Before KD went down, he was playing some of the best basketball we've ever seen - not from him, but from anyone. Because he didn't rush back from his injury, I fully believe he'll be back at that level once he steps back on the court and I also think Kyrie will be locked in.

Factor in the rest of the talent on the roster and the potential moves I anticipate them making, they're gonna be very scary.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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