Well now that the frenzy of the final weeks leading up to the NBA trade deadline is over, we can all get back to our regularly scheduled programming and move on with our lives (some more than others of course).
It’s worth noting that this year’s final few weeks were different than ones of recent years. That being because 6x All-Star Pelicans Forward Anthony Davis set the NBA world ablaze when he requested a trade just 10 days before this year’s deadline. That kick-started the frenzy, and even though he ended up staying put, that started the excitement a little bit early.
So like with any NBA trade deadline there were winners and losers, but since it’s still early in the year let’s keep the positivity train chugging along and focus on the winners. In particular there were three trades that went down that clearly were wins. Let’s dig in.
- Tobias Harris to the Sixers
This reverse Fresh Prince move was a big deal for the Philadelphia 76ers, who currently sit at 5th in the East at 34-20. A lot of experts had them coming out of the East this year to go up against whoever comes out of the West in the NBA Finals. However, this season has not lived up to its expectations for the most part.
They’ve been in the middle of the pack in a sense. Granted, this is partially because of the Jimmy Butler trade and the team getting accustomed to playing with Butler and without Covington & Saric, but it’s safe to say they didn’t look like they could run with the Warriors come June.
Now, with a potential starting lineup of Simmons, Redick, Butler, Harris and Embiid that presents a lot of versatility. That versatility doesn’t stop there though. It extends to the bench with guys such as T.J. McConnell and newly acquired Jonathan Simmons. Even though Simmons is working his way back from an abdominal strain when he gets back he’ll provide much needed help at the wing position for the Sixers.
Not to mention this definitely was a surprise trade, on behalf of the Los Angeles Clippers, who have exceeded expectations this season. They currently sit at the 8th seed in the West, but started off the better part of the beginning of the season between the 1st, 2nd and 3rd seed. Many had them not even making the playoffs since they seemed to be rebuilding once they traded Blake Griffin to the Pistons last season.
Before the deadline the Clippers also traded Avery Bradley, who was one of their best defensive players, so maybe perhaps they are rebuilding.
Harris is averaging 20.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG while shooting 49.6% FG this season.
- Marc Gasol to the Raptors
For obvious reasons this is a big trade. Both Gasol and Conley were put on the trading block a few weeks ago despite both of them having good seasons. However it’s understandable since the Grizzlies have been on the decline in recent years. For a while they were always right there in the conversation of title contention, but last year they had one of their worst seasons finishing at 22-60 and 14th in the West. It was clear that a change was needed.
Gasol is averaging 15.7 PPG, 8.6 RPG and 4.7 APG this season and will be able to make an immediate contribution to the already thriving Toronto Raptors. Although Kawhi may be playing on a “rental season,” him and his team up north have been making quite a bit of noise staying within the top three seeds in the East, and at one point having the best record in the NBA.
The Raptors are currently the 8th ranked offense and the 8th ranked defense in the league. They also are ranked 7th in PPG and 18th in RPG.
The best part about this trade is that the Raptors didn’t have to give away too much to make this trade happen. They gave up Jonas Valanciunas, C.J. Miles, Delon Wright and a 2024 draft pick.
Both the centerpieces of this trade (Gasol & Valanciunas) have another year left on their contract before they’re an unrestricted free agent. Therefore in essence it’s an even swap, except Gasol is slightly a better rebounder with a better jump shot.
Now, with a potential starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol is definitely going to be a team to reckon with, come playoffs. Not to mention their talented bench, that is ranked 15th in the league in scoring.
- Iman Shumpert to the Rockets
This is one of the low key significant pickups in recent days. It’s worth noting that throughout the eight years Shumpert has been in the league he has never averaged double digits in scoring, but that’s okay. The Rockets are currently 10th in the league in scoring and 1st in the league in 3PM (15.4).
We all know the glaring problem with the Houston Rockets is their defense. As a matter of fact they might have the largest discrepancy in the league between their offense and defense. They’re ranked 3rd in the former and 25th in the latter.
Granted, the team is still trying to make up for their offseason subtractions of Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza when it comes to defense. Yes, you’re probably tired of hearing those names from the sports shows on ESPN and Fox Sports all day whenever the Rockets come up in conversation. However, those names might be brought up for good reason, just a season ago the Rockets were ranked 6th in the league in defense.
Although James Harden has been on a hot streak averaging at least 30 PPG for almost 30 games now and at least 40 in the month of January, you have to applaud the Rockets for having the wherewithal to know that that’s not the only thing they can have going for them going into the offseason, which is a little over two months away.
Just last season despite being one win away from the NBA Finals, the team did have a drop in production by the time the playoffs rolled around. They went from averaging 112.4 PPG to 104.9 PPG. They also went from 15.3 3PM to 13.4 3PM. That may not seem like a big deal, but for a team that lives and dies by the three, it is. After all one of the main reasons that they didn’t make it to the Finals is because they missed 27 straight threes in game 7 against the Warriors and only made three of their final 30 attempts.
One can only hope that the Rockets have learned their lesson and now will have a backup approach should they go cold from behind the arc again when it counts most. However, the point is that they wouldn’t even have gotten that close to the Finals if they didn’t play good defense.
That’s why pickups like Iman Shumpert are huge; a guy that may not fill up the stat sheet, but will make it difficult for the other team to score against you. Take into account Shumpert, the recent acquisition of Kenneth Faried, as well as other defensive guys already on the roster, this team is more than ready for another deep playoff run.
As the deadline has finally passed, and Adrian Wojnarowski can know what it’s like to sleep again, make no mistake about it, some teams clearly made moves with the future in mind and others made moves with the goal of winning right now.
All three of the aforementioned moves are without a doubt for winning right now. They were such good moves in fact that you almost want to fast forward to mid-April when the playoffs start.
To be fair that’s what a lot of people hope for these days since from Media day to June there’s so much emphasis on who’s winning it all this year, but these moves give you, the average fan, or even the above average fan, reason to believe that in fact anything is possible.
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