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Joe Harris: Nets Landed Irving, Durant, Harden Because They Had 'Best Culture'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 10, 2021

Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris said Saturday the team established the NBA's "best culture," which is why the franchise has been able to acquire a growing list of stars, led by Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Harris told reporters the "culture has stayed the same" but the talent level has improved, which has transformed the Nets into a top contender for the 2020-21 NBA title.

Durant hinted toward Brooklyn's foundation being an important part of his decision-making process as a free agent two years ago, a choice made in coordination with Irving and DeAndre Jordan.

"We know basketball pretty well, and it’s really easy to see what these guys brought to the table," Durant said in September 2019. "It’s not like I had to do any deep analysis of any player here. Just watching games and playing against them and seeing the continuity throughout the last couple of years, it was pretty easy to figure out what kind of team and what kind of organization this place is."

The 11-time All-Star missed his entire first season with the Nets while recovering from a ruptured Achilles suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors, but he returned for the start of the 2020-21 season to begin his partnership with Irving.

It's been a snowball effect from there. That tandem made the Nets an attractive option for Harden as he sought as escape from the Houston Rockets, and then having such an elite trio atop the roster made it a preferred landing spot for Griffin and Aldridge following their buyouts.

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Although the group hasn't been able to reach full strength, with Harden sidelined by a hamstring injury one game before Durant returned from his own hamstring injury this week, the roster's upside is incredible at full strength.

Along with the high-end star power, Brooklyn also possesses plenty of depth in the likes of Harris, Jeff Green, Bruce Brown and Landry Shamet.

Despite the pretty consistent injury concerns throughout the campaign, the Nets still sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 36-16 record, one game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers (35-17).

There is no shortage of legitimate title hopefuls this year, especially in the loaded Western Conference, but Brooklyn may be the team to beat once the postseason arrives given the unmatched pressure it can put on opposing defenses.