A New NBA Super Team?


Photo Credit: Michael Tipton

Tarun Senthil Kumar, Writer

With James Harden’s recent trade, the Brooklyn Nets have been labeled the NBA’s next super team, a team consisting of three or more stars acquired through free agency and trades. This definition excludes squads like the 2000s Spurs, whose stars were all drafted, and identifies squads like the ’17-’19 Warriors, who signed Kevin Durant after their historic season. The Nets, a team formed by collusion via Durant and Kyrie Irving’s shady joint free agency as well as Harden’s forced trade, are certainly a super team. Looking back, there have been nine NBA super teams: ’68-’72 Lakers, ’96-’99 Rock- ets, ’04 Lakers, ’07-’12 Celtics, ’10-’14 Heat, ’13 Lakers, ’14 Nets, ’15-’17 Cavs, and ’17-’19 Warriors. Fans complain about a “lack of competition” this past decade due to super teams. Kevin Durant seems guilty of this as he joined a 73-9 team, but looking deeper, the true culprit had already struck. In 2014, the NBA announced a nine-year $24 billion TV deal with ESPN. A portion of this revenue was to be gradually allocated to salary caps; however, LeBron James, the Players Union VP, ensured that the money was allocated all at once, causing a $20 million salary cap spike. This gifted every team a tax-free bill to create “equal opportunity,” but it allowed the best teams to add even more talent, upsetting league parity all thanks to LeBron. Though they seem unfair, super teams are good for the NBA so long as there is no clear champion. For example, the Miami Big 3, who boosted the NBA brand, still lost to small-market Dallas in the Finals, but the ’17-’19 Warriors made it impossible for anyone else to win, causing ratings to plummet. The NBA is a unique league. There are less than ten superstars, meaning that every small market cannot be competitive, whereas in the NFL, teams like Kansas City and Seattle contend regularly. Frankly, it is impossible to create “equal opportunity” for teams like Indiana in free agency, and small markets will always be forced to build through the draft or trades.

This four-team trade marks a momentous event in NBA history. The NBA has seen many super teams, but none quite as unprecedented as these Nets. The offensive firepower this team possesses is spectacular, and under the guidance of two-time MVP Coach Steve Nash and revolutionary-minded Assistant Coach Mike D’Antoni, Brooklyn could score 150 points every game. As great as this sounds, there is only one ball to go around. Durant developed into a great off-ball player in Golden State, but Kyrie and Harden are primarily isolation scorers. Nash can use this to his advantage by featuring three-point specialist Joe Harris, the most important player to Brooklyn. The Nets’ defense, however, will be a major problem. With Spencer Dinwiddie’s ACL injury, the Nets’ depth poses another weakness. Brooklyn’s expectations are championship or bust, and if this super team implodes, they have no future. In conclusion, due to the manipulation of the salary cap, the Brooklyn Nets, featuring Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, are the latest in a line of inevitable super teams.