Could a Russell & Irving pairing be the next Harden & Paul?
The Brooklyn Nets are interested in a Russell & Irving pairing. Here’s why the two guards could end up making an impact for their team like Harden & Paul.
Kyrie Irving has been linked to several different destinations this coming offseason, the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics to name a few. A new team just realistically joined the mix. The Brooklyn Nets expressed their interest in signing Kyrie Irving to pair him with D’Angelo Russell.
On first thought, I didn’t think this would be a good pairing. How can two ball dominant guards coexist in the same backcourt? On second thought, I thought back to when Chris Paul joined the Houston Rockets a couple years back. I remember thinking the exact same thing about how Chris Paul and James Harden would coexist.
In two seasons together, James Harden and Chris Paul have had a lot of success together as teammates. Last season, they were one game away from making it to the NBA Finals. This season didn’t go as well as last for the Rockets, but Harden and Paul were able to carry the Rockets to the second round of the playoffs, where they were able to win two games against the Warriors.
If you ask me, the acquisition of Chris Paul has absolutely been worth it for the Rockets. If the Rockets have had great success with two ball dominant guards, why wouldn’t the Nets be able to do the same thing with Russell and Irving?
Russell & Irving vs Harden & Paul
If Kyrie Irving was to join D’Angelo Russell on the Nets, both backcourts would feature a lot of similarities. The biggest similarity I see between these two backcourts, is their abilities to score. We all know James Harden can score almost at will. Chris Paul gets overshadowed by Harden on several occasions, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a great scoring guard. Paul has averaged 18.5 points over the course of his career.
Just as Harden & Paul are both great scorers, so are D’Angelo Russell & Kyrie Irving. Kyrie Irving has hit some big time shots during his NBA career. We know he can score, especially during the biggest moments. D’Angelo Russell is still a very young player, but he had a breakout season this year and should only become a better scorer as time goes on. A guard who averaged 23.8 points (Irving) and another who averaged 21.1 points per game (Russell) would be very difficult to stop.
James Harden and Chris Paul are both great scoring guards, but they’re also both great passers. We may not think of Russell & Irving as great passers, but they averaged 7.0 and 6.9 assists last season. That’s not much worse than Harden and Paul. Russell and Irving are more than capable of scoring the basketball, but also using their scoring ability to create open shots for their teammates.
The biggest problem I can see with Russell and Irving being in the backcourt together, is figuring out who’s going to take control of the ball at what times. It’s pretty clear that Chris Paul has taken a back seat to James Harden when it comes to handling the basketball. Would Kyrie Irving be willing to take a back seat to D’Angelo Russell? Or would Russell being willing to take a back seat to Irving?
If both guys are competing for the ball, things won’t work out well. However, if these two can share the ball equally and let the hot hand take over when needed, this backcourt combo of Russell and Irving could work out nicely.
Russell & Irving would elevate Nets
I’m not going to predict that if Irving joins forces with Russell, they’ll make it to the NBA Finals. However, I will predict that their combo in the backcourt would take this team further than they’ve been. I think they’d have a legit chance at competing in the Eastern Conference. Mark my words, if Russell and Irving come together on the Nets, they’ll be a one of the better teams in the East.