The NBA trade deadline ended a few hours ago, with almost every team in the league scampering with last-ditch efforts to improve, salvage or prepare for the future. While some trades have been everyday drama for the past few weeks, a few others seemingly came out of the blue.
As teams sort through the debris of a crazy trade deadline, there are a few exchanges that stand out. Such deals could involve a superstar or a starter. However, the bottom line is they should help the team get closer to this season’s championship or any title aspirations down the line.
Here’s a ranking of the best exchanges since the wild trade deadline expired.
5 NBA trades that should benefit the team and the player
#5 Boston Celtics acquire Derrick White
The Boston Celtics sent Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford and a 2022 first-round pick for Derrick White. Brad Stevens engineered a not-so-glamorous move, one that should help the Celtics’ push for the playoffs and get them below the luxury tax.
White, along with first-time All-Star Dejounte Murray, formed part of the San Antonio Spurs’ exciting backcourt. The 27-year-old’s game does not stand out, but like most homegrown Spurs players, he is a pro’s pro. He is a proven leader who gets the job done on both ends of the floor.
The combo guard is one of the best in the NBA in drawing charges. He is also sneaky good on offense. His presence will make the Boston Celtics an even better defensive team.
White’s size and versatility will allow head coach Ime Udoka to play a small-ball lineup, with superstar Jayson Tatum playing power forward and White playing the two-guard.
Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart have played with White before while donning Team USA jerseys. The transition should be smooth, as the former Spurs star also played for Udoka previously.
#4 Milwaukee Bucks acquire Serge Ibaka
It is well-chronicled that the Milwaukee Bucks have been looking for a versatile big man who can handle both center and power forward spots. The Serge Ibaka trade nails it for them. While Ibaka is not the athlete and intimidating blocker he once was in his career, he remains a solid defender who can shoot from the outside.
Serge Ibaka returned this season after a lengthy stint on the injury list. In limited minutes with the LA Clippers this season, he has averaged 6.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and .7 blocks. He can spell both Bobby Portis and Giannis Antetokounmpo from time to time.
The 32-year-old forward/center is a proven winner in the NBA’s biggest stage, having played a significant role for the 2019 champion Toronto Raptors. He has played in 146 playoff games, with stellar averages of 11 points, 6.5 rebounds and two blocks.
#3 Brooklyn Nets acquire Seth Curry
The James Harden-Ben Simmons swap also included Seth Curry in the equation. Without Kyrie Irving in home games and with Kevin Durant still recovering from an injury, Curry’s outside shooting will be invaluable.
Joe Harris, the Brooklyn Nets’ three-point specialist, remains out and could be sidelined for an extended time. Curry could take that spot and give the Nets more options while waiting for Durant and Simmons to suit up.
The Brooklyn Nets ranked first in the NBA's three-point field goal percentage before Harris’ injury. Having Curry in the lineup will greatly help fill Brooklyn’s outside shooting vacuum after Harris injured his ankle.
The most interesting part will come when KD, Simmons and Irving are all available. Curry’s a 43.7% career three-point shooter and will get more than his fair share of open looks when his superstar teammates are around.
#2 Philadelphia 76ers acquire James Harden
The Philadelphia 76ers desperately wanted to maximize Joel Embiid’s championship window, so getting James Harden could get them over the top. As long as “The Beard” is healthy and engaged, the Sixers have one of the most devastating offensive weapons in the NBA.
Harden, though, is having a subpar campaign so far. While he has shown flashes of Houston Rockets Harden, he’s also still prone to head-shaking performances. The Philadelphia 76ers were willing to risk that rather than deal with the Ben Simmons standoff. For the Sixers, Harden’s up-and-down production is a better alternative than their previous point guard’s holdout.
If James Harden and Joel Embiid develop a solid two-man game, the Philadelphia 76ers will be a tough matchup for any team in the NBA playoffs.
Additionally, Philly still have their most significant contributors to help the superstar pairing of Embiid and Harden. They should be primed for another deep playoff run if they stay healthy.
#1 Brooklyn Nets acquire Ben Simmons
The NBA's most tenuous and well-chronicled saga ended when the James Harden-Ben Simmons exchange happened. Brooklyn traded a superstar who has had enough of the Nets drama and acquired a versatile former All-Star who would gladly play anywhere except in Philly.
Ben Simmons is only 24 and will be signed until the NBA 2024-25 season. Although his offense was the main reason for the whole Philly fiasco, it will be his defense and playmaking that could help the Nets capture their first-ever championship.
The Brooklyn Nets front office should be salivating at what Simmons can do on defense. He’s a legitimate DPOY contender who can take on different defensive assignments. There’s also the fact that he’s been one of the best facilitators in the game, particularly when surrounded by shooters.
Ben Simmons, surrounded by Patty Mills, Seth Curry, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (home games), will be a sight to see.
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