It’s that time of year when NBA trade rumors flood social media, and all basketball fans have their Twitter notifications on for Adrian Wojnarowski, waiting for him to drop one of his signature “Woj bombs” announcing a blockbuster trade. One deal that has gotten a lot of attention and speculation is James Harden getting traded from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets.
Nothing official has happened yet as of the time of writing, but there have been a lot of rumors of Harden apparently wanting out of Houston to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. Obviously, the Rockets will be very hesitant to trade their star player, but if they did, reports are that the return would have to be “substantial,” including the likes of at least two out of Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince and Jarrett Allen, plus a haul of future first-round picks (probably at least five).
First, let me go on record by saying I hate this deal for the Nets if it happens. Yes, it will create a super team on paper and a “Big Three” that barely any team could match. However, it would be the most flawed big three in history, and the Nets would be forfeiting their next decade in return. I don’t believe this deal would bring the Nets any closer to a title than they would be with the team they have right now. This deal is fool’s gold, and let me tell you why.
Harden is a superstar in this league, there’s no doubt about that. He’s a former MVP who has led the league in scoring each of the last three years. However, it’s important to note how he scores. Over that three-year span, he attempted over 22 shots per game while making under 10 of them. Not factored into that is the fact that he also shot almost 11 free throws per game in that time, while scoring about 10 of his 34 points per game at the free throw line.
So while Harden is a great scorer, he’s not really an efficient one. He gets his points from high-volume shooting and getting fouled a lot. And that’s fine. It’s not a style of basketball that many people enjoy, but it works for him, especially in the situation he was in with Houston, where he was the guy.
In Brooklyn, he wouldn’t be the guy. He would be just one of three guys, and probably the second best out of those three. However, he and Irving just wouldn’t work together in my opinion. Their games overlap too much. They are both ball-dominant guards who want to take a lot of shots. Harden is the better of the two, but Irving probably doesn’t think that, and as the true point guard of the team, he would probably try to match Harden’s shot totals, but he also isn’t that efficient of a scorer.
Durant is by far the best player of the three, and if he’s completely healthy, he’s probably the best overall player in the league right now. He will thrive in any situation. We saw it in Oklahoma City when he was the main guy. We saw it in Golden State when he was surrounded by two other elite players. However, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are not Harden and Irving. They’re unselfish players who understood that Durant was the best player on the court, and especially in the playoffs, they let him be the main guy.
I don’t see Harden and Irving doing that. They will take shots away from Durant instead, and that will be the downfall of the team. Now, if it is just Irving and Durant or just Harden and Durant, I’m fine with it, because then you have a supporting star for KD. But when you add a second high-volume shooting guard, it will inevitably cap Durant’s production when in reality, Durant should be the guy taking the most shots on the team.
So I really don’t like this deal for Brooklyn, and I hope it doesn’t happen for their sake. Harden is a great player, but he’s not a guy who makes any team better. He would be in an all-out war with Irving for who would be Robin to Durant’s Batman, and I think it could get ugly. Neither one has a particularly great reputation as a good teammate, and with a rookie head coach in Steve Nash, I’m not sure this team even sniffs a championship.
In my opinion, the Nets should leave well enough alone and see how KD and Irving play together, since they haven’t even had a chance to yet. But if they really want Harden, I think they need to get rid of Irving in that deal or else the Nets will be an underachieving mess.