What Does James Harden, Ben Simmons Trade Mean For 76ers, Nets Futures?

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on February 13, 2022
James Harden trade

The deal everyone has been anticipating for months finally came to fruition in the NBA. The Nets traded James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal that essentially saw one disgruntled star swapped for another — the Nets receive a package centered around Ben Simmons. Did the James Harden trade move the teams’ respective NBA futures markets?

It sure did. Read on to find out how.

Full Details Of James Harden Trade

First, let’s lay out the parameters of the trade, since it wasn’t a straight up swap:

  • Nets received Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, two future first-round picks (2022 or 2023 and 2027
  • Sixers received Harden and Paul Millsap

The Nets in particular got some extra help. Seth Curry looks like an easy plug-and-play into the role vacated by the injured Joe Harris. It sounds like Harris is having trouble returning from a foot injury and may miss the rest of the season. Curry’s elite 3-point shooting, like Harris’, makes him an ideal fit next to star ball-handlers Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

And Andre Drummond can provide some useful minutes at center for a team pretty starved on size.

Millsap was a very good player for a long time but hit a serious decline about four years ago. He was unhappy with lack of a role in Brooklyn. Freshly turned 37, it’s possible he still has a little left in the tank for short bursts of minutes, but he’s likely on his last NBA legs.

Market Gives Sixers Positive Review

The most immediate and striking consequence of the James Harden trade comes from the acquiring team, Philadelphia.

At the beginning of February, one could find prices around +2000 for the 76ers to win the NBA title. They’ve been surging of late behind the spectacular play of top-tier MVP candidate Joel Embiid and are challenging for the top seed in the East.

However, they lack the top-end talent of fellow contenders like Milwaukee, Miami and Brooklyn. The top seed didn’t help them much last year in a disappointing second-round exit to the upstart Hawks. Embiid clearly wore down as the series went on, taxed as he was playing elite defense and carrying the team on offense.

The new best price: . The price had already crept up closer to +1200 or so as trade rumors heated up, so it’s hard to say the exact value the market placed on the deal.

Harden’s arrival should help shore up the team’s non-Embiid minutes. They went from an 84th-percentile differential of +6.9 to a 41st-percentile differential of -1.7 when Embiid sat, per Cleaning The GlassAdditonally, a player like Tyrese Maxey should thrive in more of a secondary creation role rather than being asked to play a role too big for his current skill level.

Does Harden Trade Hurt The Nets?

It’s clear the Sixers deserve a bump in the markets. They were getting zero from the Ben Simmons roster spot, and a former MVP and multiple-time All-NBA player replaces him.

What’s less clear and perhaps more intriguing is what this means for the Nets. While ESPN expert Kevin Pelton awarded the Nets the better trade grade, that owes heavily to Simmons’ superior future value and the two first-round picks. The latter don’t help the team at all right now as they were unable to swing another trade and cash those in immediately.

On the court right now, the market thinks the Nets took a hit. After opening as championship favorites and then having basically nothing go right this season, the Nets had slipped out of the top spot in some sportsbooks. But, they were still around +300, among the favorites, in early February.

The Nets reopened around +450 in some shops. Prominent Las Vegas oddsmakers Westgate Superbook were even more bearish, hanging a +1000 line that quickly corrected over the next few hours. Now, you can find Brooklyn at .

FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook still have the Nets as favorites.

Nets optimists can get a clear source of hope from the team’s lineup data. Per CTG, the Nets have dominated with Durant and Irving on the court while Harden sits. This season, they have an elite +10.9 in very limited possessions. Last season, in a far more robust sample, they were +8.9 with a 98th-percentile offense.

The defense was below average, but Simmons coming into the fold might change that, potentially rounding the Nets into a more dangerous team. Even though they gave up the better player, we could see a more well-fitted Nets roster that can still contend for the title.

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Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

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