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5 keys for the Nets entering the 2021-22 NBA season

Patty Mills of the Nets reacts after after

Patty Mills of the Nets reacts after after a basket during the first half against the Bucks at Barclays Center on Friday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

1. How do the Nets replace Kyrie Irving’s production?

James Harden sacrificed scoring for playmaking last season, but he must resume role as a volume scorer. Joe Harris can slide to two-guard and fill it up from three-point range. Bruce Brown and Jevon Carter are capable guards, who have improved their shooting, and rookie Cam Thomas is a dynamic scorer who must learn the ropes.

2. Can Nets rely on frontcourt vets for improved rebounding and defense?

It was clear GM Sean Marks addressed the Nets’ problems with rebounding and defense during the offseason. Not only did he bring back veteran former All-Stars Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, but he added another former All-Star forward in Paul Millsap plus defensive stalwarts James Johnson and Deandre’ Bembry.

3. Can Patty Mills make a major impact in terms of bench firepower?

Free agent Patty Mills is 33 years old, but he’s averaged 10.3 points over the past five seasons on 38.7% three-point shooting. The Nets need him to lead a second unit that might include his former Spurs teammate Aldridge as well as Carter, Bembry and Millsap and make it productive.

4. Will maturity of roster allow Nets to handle ongoing distractions?

No doubt, questions about Irving’s status will persist, but Durant said, "We’re pros, we know [reporters] have got a job to do, so it is on us to focus on our job and answer the questions. I anticipate it happening throughout the season." The Nets’ veteran maturity should help them navigate uncertain times.

5. How will coach Steve Nash juggle lineups to keep Nets on track?

Nash has made it clear the Nets will be far from a finished product until well into the season while he experiments with a variety of starting lineups and rotations. He said lineups will change game-to-game based on matchups, and players must be patient and "commit to something bigger than themselves."

New York Sports