A recent blockbuster trade in the NBA saw the Brooklyn Nets receive Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and draft picks; in exchange for James Harden and Paul Millsap, who they sent to the Philadelphia 76ers. So who got the better deal?
I haven’t seen a trade potentially as beneficial for both parties like this one in recent years. Two teams that haven’t won an NBA championship since 1983 finally recognized that their current situations were not working.
Brooklyn Breaks Up the Big Three
Looking at the Nets first, a team desperate for a championship, they addressed their main weakness here fantastically. An idea that came to fruition and sparked unprecedented excitement throughout the league was the acquisition of the big three Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Harden.
Three of the most gifted scorers of this generation teamed up, which ultimately was the problem. Not that having offensive personnel like that is flawed at all; however, going all out on one side of the court left them highly vulnerable on the other.
The Nets were very unlucky in last year’s NBA playoffs with injuries, and we never really got to see the big three play for an extended time together. In the games that they did start together, they earned themselves a 13-3 record, reflecting how good they really could have been.
On the defensive side, in 2020 and midway through the 2021 NBA season, they rank in the bottom third of the league in points per game allowed.
Having a defense that poor can’t get you a championship; however, trading for Simmons is a step in the right direction.
Irving and Durant are two players that you can rely on to score the basketball; Simmons and Drummond will now provide massive support on the defensive end. Curry is an excellent piece for shooting, rounding out the Nets starting five nicely.
A much more balanced roster now that Ben Simmons can especially thrive in, as his offensive skills won’t be required as much as they were in Philadelphia.
Philly Gets The Beard
The 76ers, a team built around Joel Embiid, have slowly worked their way into being a top team in the NBA and a consistent competitor. However, when your number one option is a center, a second option that can create their own shots is essential.
Simmons was expected to fill this role; however, abysmal shooting has prohibited him from doing so.
Harden will embrace this second option role at the 76ers and alleviate a lot of pressure put on Embiid. This duo can do a lot of damage in the league, and it will be exciting to see if they can make it to the next level.
Embiid is having an MVP caliber season again, and getting a star like James Harden to play with him while he’s at the top of his game is a significant move by the 76ers front office.
Brooklyn With a Slight Edge
I love this trade for both teams for different reasons; however, I have to give the edge to Brooklyn. Getting a young Ben Simmons, arguably a top-three defender in the league, along with draft picks, suddenly gives me hope for the Nets’ future. They have remarkably strengthened their interior defense and depth and exploited Simmons’ unrest in Philadelphia.
The 76ers strengthened their roster as well, and it’s impressive that they were able to get such a high-caliber player like Harden for a negative locker room presence.
The East just got a lot scarier, and the rest of the league must look out for these new-look rosters.