- NBA writer for ESPN.com since 2008
- Former contributor and editor at NPR
THERE ARE FEW problems less onerous on the surface than designing a game plan with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving at your disposal. The Brooklyn Nets stars are natural scorers who can demoralize opposing defenders, even those who play textbook defense.
But a lineup featuring Durant, Harden and Irving poses an interesting question to Nets coach Steve Nash: Does he design a system around this talent, or is the talent simply the system?
“Ultimately, I think you have to have a bit of both,” Nash told ESPN.
This is true both offensively and defensively, and it’s a difficult tightrope to cross given the individual creativity and strong personalities involved. Curbing a superstar’s impulsiveness can be just as risky as restraining it when those impulses generate game-changing plays.
Yet even the most transcendent talents need some semblance of a plan in a seven-game series against worthy opponents. For all the firepower Brooklyn brings to a fight, the capacity of the three stars to figure out when structure yields to freelancing and when freelancing yields to structure could determine the balance of power in the NBA.
With the Nets entering their 11th game since Harden’s debut, here’s an inside look at how they’re answering these enormous questions.
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