The Nets made the playoffs the past two seasons, but as they approach the preseason opener against the Wizards Sunday at Barclays Center, they find themselves in a totally different situation. Now that Kevin Durant has recovered from Achilles tendon surgery after signing with them 17 months ago, the Nets suddenly are the second favorite to win the NBA title behind only the defending champion Lakers.
"The vibe I’m getting from practice is everybody is ready," Jarrett Allen said on Saturday. "We had [Kyrie Irving] and [Durant] sitting out for a lot of these games last year, and finally, to have them back, we’re ready to do big things with them and we’re excited."
Irving only played 20 games last season before undergoing shoulder surgery, so, this is the first time he and Durant will share the court as teammates since signing together as free agents.
"Two All-Stars, two most likely going to be Hall of Famers," Allen said of the experience of learning to play with Durant and Irving. "Watching them growing up, seeing them, playing against them, playing with them and finally going to be on an actual NBA court [with them], it’s going to be an experience.
"I never thought I’d be in this position, but I’m ready to take advantage of it and soak it all in."
Neither Durant nor Irving was available for media interviews on Saturday, but forward Taurean Prince expressed his appreciation not only for those two superstars but for an incredibly deep Nets roster.
"There’s so much talent in the gym," Prince said. "Obviously, Kev and Ky, those guys are wow factors daily. But there’s a lot of talent in the gym, a lot of guys who do a lot of different things than other guys. That’s what makes our team great is the versatility. I think we’re playing together, and we’re playing super hard. That’s all you can ask for in the beginning stages."