• Mpho Mutloane

Brooklyn, We Go Hard-en!

Brooklyn went hard, very hard in this trade that has shaken the landscape of the NBA. A Blockbuster 4 team trade that includes the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers outside of the 2 protagonists in Brooklyn and Houston. We will debate until 2027 on who won this trade but lets talk about who got what from a tactical perspective.

The Trade happened as follows:

- Brooklyn Nets get James Harden (Houston)

- Houston gets: Victor Oladipo (Indiana), Dante Exum (Brooklyn), Rodions Kurucs (Brooklyn), 3 Brooklyn 1st Round Picks, 1 Milwaukee 1st Round pick from Cleveland and 4 1st round pick swaps

- Pacers get: Caris LeVert and a 2nd round pick

- Cavaliers get Jarrett Allen (Brooklyn), Taurean Prince (Brooklyn).

Brooklyn Nets get their man a perennial MVP candidate and NBA scoring great. They turn the Big 2 into a Big 3 in a league filled with duos. A Big 3 to rival Boston’s Big 3 in the late 2000s, Miami and Golden State’s Big 3. This will probably be the best offensive team we have ever seen but it comes with questions especially with the quantum they let go.

This Nets Big 3 is an offensive juggernaut but the first question for Steve Nash is how he shares the ball amongst his 3 key pieces who average above 30% in usage over their last two seasons. Usage is the percentage a player is used to score points in a game. We know Durant is the main man in Brooklyn and he will be the highest usage rate. The big question is how you handle Kyrie and James and who runs the floor with the 2nd Unit. To succeed they Kyrie and Harden will have to lower their usage to allow Durant to thrive and keep the harmony.

Defensively they are exposed especially with their Death Line up. Letting go of Jarrett Allen who is 22 and quite frankly their best Centre they have little to no rim protection. De Andre Jordan will struggle against other centres in the league. Having a Big 3 also requires your stars to play defence. Golden State had such a strong defensive identity and if you look at this Brooklyn team one is not sure if 2 of Kyrie, Durant and Harden will put in the effort on defence. What this shows is that Brooklyn will be in a lot of shoot outs, but can they improve it in the playoffs where they will be targeted more by their opponents?

I am also not sure if Brooklyn are better after this trade. They lost their key bench players in Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen who made them and intriguingly deep team that was better defensively. They traded their depth this season and future flexibility for a win now approach. I am not sure with the defensive questions that they are a lock for the Eastern Conference Championship or even the NBA Championship.

This trade was supposed to elevate them to championship lock, but I suspect it has left first time coach Steve Nash with a massive headache to solve defensively in addition to the potential off-court drama. The plus is they have 3 roster spots to fill plus the $5.7m exemption from Dinwiddie’s injury to trade for defensive help around the Brooklyn Big 3. If this results in a championship, then it was all worth it!

Houston finally let go of the bad apple in the bunch. The situation with Harden was untenable and they received a haul of 4 1st round picks and Victor Oladipo who is in his final year of the contract. They will be a team hanging around the play-in spots in losing Harden however they have a potentially exciting all-star guard in Oladipo who does not constrain them contractually. Dante Exum and Rodin Kurucs are good rotational players. At the end of it all Houston will be happy going into next season with cap space to build around John wall.

Cleveland and Indiana were surprise teams to be added to this trade and they won the lottery. The Pacers get Caris LeVert who is a starter across the NBA and was not getting the minutes this season in Brooklyn. Adding him with Brogdon in that back court is an intriguing match up that could help them. Caris has incredible upside and now he is in a place where he can thrive.

The Cavaliers in getting Jarrett Allen have one of the best young centres in the league in a city where not many NBA free agents go. They already have a young core in Colin Sexton, Darius Garland, Larry Nance Jr, and Isaac Okoro who with vets like Andre Drummond and Kevin Love make them an even better team on both ends. In Jarrett Allen they have a big rebounder and rim protector. Cleveland also gets Taurean Prince who is a good rotational player. Cleveland have now become a Playoff team with this trade.

Brooklyn followed their motto in going Hard in this trade but only time will tell if it was all worth it. Right now, it is Championship or Bust for them.

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