ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday night that the LA Clippers acquired 10-time All-Star guard James Harden in a blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. The veteran guard finally gets the trade he wanted since June after a very public fallout with Daryl Morey and the 76ers' front office. This is the fourth time Harden has been traded in his career. That's tied for the most by any former MVP in league history.
Harden and the NBA have managed to steal some of the trade deadline day spotlight from the NFL. All eyes are on Clippers coach Tyronn Lue as he figures out how to seamlessly integrate Harden into his team's scheme. The NBA is like a game of chess, and the pieces have never been more intriguing for the Clippers, who finally have a consistent point guard after struggling at that position during the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George era.
Since 2019, Los Angeles' starting point guards have ranked 28th in PPG and last in APG. Harden has averaged 28.4 PPG and 9.1 APG during that time frame. He's averaged at least 10 APG four times in his career which is the third-most among active players. It's possible Harden has his fifth playing with Leonard and George. The managers who selected him at a discount are smiling ear to ear, but so are the managers who drafted a certain 76ers player.
Fantasy winners in the deal
The biggest beneficiary of this trade is Tyrese Maxey. Last season, he averaged a career best 20.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 1.0 SPG. Maxey hasn't missed a beat so far and has little competition for minutes. Maxey also finds himself in a contract year and well positioned to finish as a top-40 player.
De'Anthony Melton is another beneficiary, even though he plays a secondary role offensively on a 76ers team that has Maxey and Joel Embiid. It's his ability to contribute to multiple statistical categories that makes him an asset in fantasy basketball. Last season, Melton averaged 10.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, and 1.6 SPG in 27.9 MPG. As Harden moves to Los Angeles, Melton has a good chance of replicating these per-game averages and finishing as a top 100 player. He's rostered in only17.1% of ESPN leagues.
Kenyon Martin Jr. finished in the top-200 last season with the Rockets and with the 76ers he now has a chance to compete for a role on the wing and improve his fantasy value. Martin Jr. is rostered in only 2.2% of ESPN leagues and will provide fantasy managers with points, rebounds and a few assists. It's also worth noting that he played in all 82 games last year.
Fantasy losers in the deal
Russell Westbrook is the biggest loser of this trade. He's long past his days of being a dynamo in fantasy hoops despite the name recognition. Westbrook's usage and minutes should decline significantly, which is not a combination that can coexist with poor free throw shooting and inefficiency.
Kelly Oubre Jr. was off to an excellent start this season averaging 19.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 2.0 SPG in 29.3 MPG. However, this trade has resulted in a ton of frontcourt depth for the 76ers, which could hurt Oubre's fantasy value after a very hot start to the season for the veteran swingman.