When healthy, loaded with all their star power, the current iteration of the Brooklyn Nets will have arguably the best offense of all time.
This is in no small part because they have three of the best isolation scorers in league history, which is particularly interesting because it goes against recent NBA trends. For a variety of reasons, isolation basketball has fallen out of favor in the NBA, especially since the illegal defense rule was changed in 2001.
The Nets, however, have zigged where others have zagged and created a team that can be absolutely deadly in this type of offense. James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are all exceptional self-creators and can each manage a bucket for themselves no matter who defends them.
You can see how much more efficient Brooklyn has gotten on these looks so far this season compared to previous campaigns:
With the game on the line, when the ball handler has to make a play for themselves and score, these are three of the best in the business. But how does this group stack up against the league’s most prolific and lethal scorers when playing iso ball.?
The basic methodology that we followed to reach these results was fairly simple. First, we looked at Synergy Sports and scraped all of the data for points scored in isolation since they began tracking as much in 2004-05.
Because we are spanning different eras of the NBA, we had to adjust for pace. For this, we looked at PBP Stats to determine the total possessions each player has played in this span. We then divided the points scored in isolation by the total possessions played to measure one-on-one effectiveness.
We adjusted for playing time, so we multiplied that number by 75, which is approximately how many possessions stars are involved with per game.
When filtering out all of the players who have not recorded any points when matching up against defenders one-on-one this season, per Synergy, we have some fascinating results: among the five players who grade out the best with these qualifications, the Nets currently have three in their starting lineup.
Harden (8.04) ranks first by a wide margin, which makes sense considering that he has led all NBA players in total isolation scoring in each season since 2014-15.
The Brooklyn superstar has won three consecutive scoring titles so it makes sense that beating his man one-on-one comes easy for him. This has been a pillar for his game for as long as he has been in the league.
Durant (4.48) and Irving (4.47), meanwhile, are ahead of all players in the league except for just LeBron James (5.71) and Carmelo Anthony (5.39).
Those also appearing among the leaders who are not on the Nets include Russell Westbrook (4.21), Luka Doncic (4.12), Damian Lillard (3.77), Chris Paul (3.72) and John Wall (3.40).
For some historical context, we have also provided how the Brooklyn players match up with the other elite iso-based scorers in recent history.
Harden trails just Kobe Bryant in this regard, showing how amazing the MVP candidate is at one-on-one scoring. Durant and Irving, however, aren’t too shabby either. When it comes time for the playoffs and the game is on the line, Brooklyn has three amazing options to close it out.