Daryl Morey, after what feels like a decade, finally brought James Harden home. “The Beard” as fans like to call him, touched down in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon. Daryl Morey was the first to display this information as he did so on his Instagram story.
The Harden-Morey reunion was a beautiful thing to see for Sixers fans everywhere. Unfortunately, the James Harden trade didn’t come without some heartbreak. While Sixers fans were relieved to get Ben Simmons off of the team, they lost 2 very solid role players in Seth Curry and Andre Drummond. For Curry especially, it was very hard for Sixers fans to say goodbye. Even so, as I said before, they’re just role players.
While they may have been very solid, they are also very replaceable.
Not to mention the possibility of getting them back after their contracts expire. The full package that the 76ers sent the Brooklyn Nets was Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and 2 first-round picks. In return, Brooklyn sent them back James Harden and Paul Millsap. It may seem like the Sixers gave up a lot, but that’s not exactly the case. That being said, lets take a look at who really won the trade.
Breaking Down the Trade for the Nets
From a Nets fans’ perspective, you could say the Nets 100% won the trade. Looking at a roster now consisting of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond, you would be very excited. Even from a Sixers fans’ standpoint, you have every right to be excited. With a player like Ben Simmons that brings defense and playmaking, he could be a great addition to the Durant-Irving duo.
The Nets will be looking to turnaround their 10-game losing streak as they add Simmons, Curry, and Drummond to the lineup. As of right now, the Nets are currently sitting at the 8th seed in the East. The assumption amongst most NBA fans, including myself, is that these additions will put an end to their recent struggles.
If the Nets manage to turnaround their losing streak, the league should be scared once Kevin Durant returns. That is at least what a biased Nets fan might say. If you take a real, hard look at the Nets roster, it isn’t that scary after all.
Come playoff time, there are a good 4 teams that could beat them in a 7-game series. Kyrie Irving, as of right now, can only play in away games. This will keep Irving out of at least 2 games in every playoff series. Then we have newly added Ben Simmons, who is infamously known for passing up an open dunk in a game 7.
The ONLY player that you should completely trust this season is Kevin Durant. We still have no idea how Ben is going to play once he returns, even in the regular season. I will admit, Playoff KD is a different human, so they’ll be able to win at least one or two series. But once it comes to the ECF, the Nets will be in trouble.
Breaking Down the Trade for the Sixers
Let’s look at the trade from a Sixers fans’ standpoint, as I’m sure most of you are. It really is unfortunate that they lost Seth and Andre. These were two guys that really showed energy and gave their all in a season that didn’t look promising for the Sixers. To cheer you Sixers fans up, let’s look at it like this: They practically turned two role players, this year’s first-round pick, and someone has hasn’t played a single minute this year into James Harden.
Before you say anything about Ben Simmons, he had absolutely ZERO value to the Sixers. It wasn’t a crazy big package when you look at it from that perspective.
Now, enough of what we gave up, what exactly did the Sixers get back in James Harden?
For starters, Harden is nearly averaging a 23 point triple-double in an “off” year. Everything that the Sixers lost in Ben Simmons’ playmaking, they got back with Harden. Harden is currently 2nd in the league in APG, with 10.2. While Harden may not be as efficient, he certainly makes up for the shooting that the Sixers lost in Seth Curry. Finally, at the point guard position, Harden is averaging 8 rebounds a game which makes up for the loss in boards.
James Harden has an aspect of his game that helps EVERY Sixers starter in someway or another. With 4 players in the Sixers starting lineup now averaging over 16 PPG, it’s no secret that we’ll be a problem on offense. Some may have concerns about defense, but we could have two top-10 defenders in our starting lineup in Thybulle and Embiid. These two will be very important when it comes to a 7-game series vs. Brooklyn.
We looked at the disadvantages in the playoffs for the Nets already, so let’s see how the Sixers can take advantage and win.
In what would be a very intense series, Kyrie Irving is likely out for 2 or 3 games. That gives the Sixers 2 or 3 opportunities to beat the Simmons-Durant duo. In terms of matchups, you could put Mattise Thybulle on either KD or Kyrie, and let the other try to play hero ball. Joel Embiid would likely be in the paint as much as possible while guarding the Nets’ bigs. Tyrese Maxey would almost definitely be tasked with guarding Seth Curry leaving just Tobias Harris left.
If Matisse were put on Kyrie, Harden would be assigned to Simmons, and Harris would have the challenge of dealing with Durant. If Matisse were assigned to Durant, Harris would likely guard Simmons instead. With those matchups, the games are all winnable. When you take into consideration that the Sixers could get 2-3 “free” wins with Irving out, a Sixers win in that series looks very probable.
Admittedly, I am a Sixers fan and I could be biased, but I think the Sixers ever so slightly won the trade.
When you’re able to get rid of Ben Simmons for a superstar, it should be an undeniable success. Brooklyn however, did get better as a result of the trade as well. This is a clear win-win trade that fans of both teams should like. Even for fans across the NBA, it’ll be interesting to see how these teams play for the remainder of the season. We could have a very interesting ECF matchup this summer.