On a team stacked with superstars, both past and present, the 21-year-old Nicolas Claxton would seem to hold limited importance to the Brooklyn Nets' immediate title hopes—maybe even their overarching future. He might also be, as it turns out, the player who nudges them over the top, a talent who at the very least papers over some of their biggest voids.
That is, if Brooklyn allows it.
Star power monopolizes attention in #thisleague. On the court, off the court, it doesn't matter. Their play takes precedence. Their futures dominate discourse. They are revered when their teams win, reviled when they lose. Their performance, from success to failure to anywhere in between, isn't just the principal focus. It is absolute.
Put enough star power under one room, though, and the dynamic begins to shift.
Big names not only cannibalize consideration from one another, but they sponge up team resources. It takes assets to trade for them and, for players off their rookie deals, max pay grades to keep them. That opportunity cost is well worth the formation of a superteam and all its benefits, but it increases the urgency to win the moves on the margins—on making the most out of scant flexibility and mining gems wherever possible.
The Nets live a more convenient existence. Acquiring Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving liquidated their future assets but far from drained their tangible equity. They still have Joe Harris and, though injured and headed for free agency, Spencer Dinwiddie. And they have supplemented roster spots with former stars and recently bought-out vets, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin, finding second winds.
And yet, despite the position of power the Nets hold leading into Saturday night's tilt with the Los Angeles Lakers, atop the Eastern Conference, they are subjected to real concerns. The collective health of their Big Three is chief among them.