The NBA trade deadline historically has a reputation for being a little underwhelming, but not this year. There were major deals across the league in the days leading up to the deadline, with the long-rumored blockbuster between the Nets and 76ers going down in the final hours. If this wasn’t the biggest trade deadline in recent memory, it’s certainly in the class picture.
The James Harden for Ben Simmons swap will be the headline deal of the deadline, and there’s no doubt it shakes up the championship outlook. Many of the other title contenders around the league made more subtle moves, be it the Phoenix Suns re-acquiring Torrey Craig for more defensive nastiness or the Milwaukee Bucks adding front court depth with Serge Ibaka. Teams in the East playoff picture were particularly aggressive in jockeying for position outside of one or two powers.
The reality of the trade deadline is some teams get better by making moves, and some teams get worse by doing nothing as their rivals improve. Here’s a look which teams should feel better and which teams should feel worse about their chances the day after the deadline.
Teams that got better at the trade deadline
1. Philadelphia 76ers
There are legitimate concerns about how James Harden will age on his next mega contract, and if he and Joel Embiid will be a seamless fit. What isn’t up for debate is that by trading Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and an inactive player in Ben Simmons for Harden, the Sixers massively increased their title chances this year.
The Sixers were not good enough to win the championship before this trade. Now they are. Of course, the East is loaded and it’s possible the Sixers arrive at the same destination as last season — a second round exit — but their title odds increased massively by adding a second superstar to the mix.
The fact that Philly kept Tyrese Maxey (and to a much lesser extent, Matisse Thybulle) is pretty remarkable. There’s a pretty strong case that the Sixers are the most talented team in the East right now even if the Bucks are a safer choice to come out of the conference. The biggest winner of the trade…