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The NBA just gets more exciting with the recent James Harden trade.
Former NBA MVP James Harden has been traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster trade that will help shape the Eastern Conference for the foreseeable future.
I love NBA basketball because of the entertainment value and drama it brings. The story surrounding Harden was the height of NBA drama this offseason.The drama with James Harden hit a climax with his own coach not to let him practice with the team this week.
The tactics utilized by NBA superstars to force trades would less impact in the NFL or other professional sports. However, this is part of what makes basketball interesting for fans. Superstars in the NBA have unparalleled power that other players don't enjoy in other sports.
However, the current behavior exhibited by many NBA superstars may have long lasting impacts on future NBA players. For example, NBA teams in the future may be hesitant to give stars such lucrative contracts. It is completely unappealing for fans to watch their team's best players force a trade.
As a result of the deal, the top five NBA players are either in New York City or Los Angeles. Every player who has won a Finals MVP in the last five seasons now plays for a team in Los Angeles or New York. Furthermore, every player who has led the NBA in points for the regular season or playoffs in the past three seasons now plays for a team based in New York or Los Angeles. Similarly, every Win Shares leader for the playoffs in the past ten seasons plays for a team in California or New York.
The situation with Harden could have been predicted. When Coach Mike D’Antoni left Houston, the Rockets were inevitably going to have to trade Harden. D’Antoni is responsible for discovering and developing Harden as a superstar. Similar to when Michael Jordan near the end of his career would only play for legendary coach Phil Jackson.
The pairing of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving forms an unprecedented pairing of superstars.
There are not any comparable teams in NBA history to what the Nets are featuring for the 2020-21 seasons. However, the same praise could be said of other legendary duos like Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. There will never be another Shooting Guard and Center duo as effective as Kobe and Shaq. The same will likely be said of Harden and Durant.
The blockbuster trade has the potential to be one of the most consequential trades in NBA history. The Nets could end up winning 3 NBA championships. And will form arguably the best “big three” in NBA history.
From an offensive point of view, it's a near perfect combination of three NBA stars. Durant and Harden form the only pairing of NBA stars that include two players who have won at least three scoring titles.
To my knowledge, there have only been 28 players in NBA history that have either lead the league in scoring during regular season or playoffs for multiple seasons. This equates to roughly 1 in 200 players drafted or 1 player in 3 draft classes.
Similarly, there have only been 15 players that either lead the league in scoring during regular season or playoffs for at least three seasons. This equates to roughly 1 in 300 players drafted or 1 player in 5 draft classes.
There have only been 2 players to lead both the regular season and playoffs in scoring for at least three seasons: Jordan and George Mikan.
From a skill perspective, both Harden and Kyrie could function as a traditional point-guard. Harden led the league in assists in the 2016-17 season as well.
No other "big three" blends such strong scorers who can pass well. As many NBA fans would agree, Klay Thompson, Durant, and Stephen Curry formed the best shooting "big three" ever. However, Brooklyn this season will be much more consistent with scoring the basketball.
Despite the concerns about their performance this season, Harden and Kyrie are playing well this season. Harden has averaged over 10 APG and 24 PPG in first 8 games with the Rockets. Kyrie has averaged over 27 PPG in his first 7 games this season and is 40-50-90 from the floor.
If Kyrie and Harden continue to perform at their current level of play, the Nets will be almost impossible to beat in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Durant is averaging over 29 PPG and nearly 40-50-90 from the floor as well.
Harden had given the Rockets everything he could with his basketball play, and it's great that the organization had returned the favor and put him in a position to win the NBA championship.
The trade will likely benefit all the parities involved.
The specifics of the trade are complex and include four NBA teams. While the Nets will receive Harden, they gave up a significant number of basketball assets. Moreover, the Nets will also receive a 2nd round pick in return as well.
The Rockets while losing Harden will get Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, 4 first round picks, and 4 pick swaps. Oladipo is in the last year of his contract and this will give Houston significant cap flexibility in the future.
Ultimately, this deal puts the Rockets in a position to compete in the Western Conference in the short term while starting the rebuilding process as well. The Rockets will certainly challenge for a playoff spot this season and be a contender in the future. The Rockets were able to win the first game without Harden.
Houston now has the ability to build around Christian Wood, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, and Eric Gordon. For the first 10 games of the Rockets, players outside Harden were able to average 91.3 PPG. In many respects, the 2020-21 Rockets were the most talented roster that Harden played with during his time with Houston. All 15 players on the roster were talented.
The Indiana Pacers will benefit from the trade by getting Caris LeVert and two 2nd round picks. Oladpio was rumored to want to leave Indiana, and it appears the Pacers didn't want to give him a new deal. This will give LeVert the opportunity to have his own franchise and to be the cornerstone of an NBA team.
The Pacers should benefit greatly from the addition of LeVert to their roster. The Pacers are one of the best teams at cultivating talent. This is the perfect position for LeVert.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to get Jarrett Allen and the Taurean Prince. And Cleveland had to give up the first round pick and Dante Exum in exchange. Cleveland needs Allen to be part of their rebuilding. It will also give Allen the chance to be the cornerstone of the NBA franchise. This is an outstanding combination with Cleveland's young guard talent. Cleveland can very much compete for a playoff spot for the 2020-21 season.
LeVert and Allen both have the potential to be All-Stars in the future. LeVert is averaging over 30 points per 100 possessions this season.
The success of any NBA team is largely based on talent. Player growth is not typically prioritized over winning in the immediate future. The Nets have obviously prioritized winning a championship this season.
Harden is expected to start performing at a high level as a result of the trade. The Nets also have Mike D’Antoni as an assistant coach. This will help get the most out of James Harden.
Will the Nets regret the acquisition of James Harden? No, definitely not. In addition, it is possible that all the teams involved in the trade will benefit. There is minimal risk for the Nets.
The Nets now have the two best scorers in basketball. Durant and Harden have won a combined seven scoring titles.
The Nets should thank Irving for the trade. There was so much doubt surrounding Kyrie this season. The Nets had to get Durant some help for this season.
Are the latest nets the greatest team ever to be assembled? Perhaps. I'm going to take Harden and Kyrie over Curry and Thompson. The Nets now have unparalleled depth and talent in their roster. Fans are expected to get ready for the Los Angeles Lakers and Nets NBA finals.
However, the success of the Nets will still largely rely on Irving. The Milwaukee Bucks, Lakers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Clippers are tremendous teams. It's still not going to be an easy path for the Nets to the NBA Championship.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Michael Mannen