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Winners and losers of the James Harden blockbuster trade

With the dust settled, we are listing three players with an improved fantasy outlook, and four that stand to lose some value

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

On Wednesday afternoon, basketball got the news of a blockbuster deal that ended up involving four franchises, several players, and loooots of draft picks.

Here is how everyone did on the trade, courtesy of ESPN:

TO NETS: James Harden (from Rockets), 2024 second-round pick from the Cavaliers

PLAYERS TO ROCKETS: Victor Oladipo (from Pacers), Dante Exum (from Cavs), Rodions Kurucs (from Nets)

PICKS TO ROCKETS: Brooklyn’s three unprotected first-round draft picks — 2022, 2024 and 2026 — in the deal, plus pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. Also, Cleveland’s 2022 first-round pick, via the Milwaukee Bucks.

TO PACERS: Caris LeVert (from Rockets via Nets); 2023 second-round pick from the Rockets

TO CAVALIERS: Jarrett Allen (from Nets), Taurean Prince (from Nets)

Let’s see who are the fantasy basketball winners and losers of this megadeal.

Winner: James Harden

Harden is a clear winner in the deal. He got his wish, which was getting traded to a contender, and Brooklyn was high at his list. From this point on, everything will go up for him: he will have motivation, and his game and stats will likely improve as he gets in better shape.

It’s not all roses, though as he will have to share one ball with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (when he returns.) Steve Nash will have to get creative or apply for the league to let them play with more balls. Just kidding... or not?

Anyway, Harden will get his numbers in Brooklyn anyway despite the presence of two other ball hogs. Maybe not +34 points per game like last year, but around 30, and his assists could remain in the 9-10 per-contest range.

Loser: Jarrett Allen

For Allen, it will be like starting all over. He began the season in a timeshare with veteran DeAndre Jordan, and with work and good games, was beginning to earn significantly more minutes than the veteran.

Now, however, he is going to a Cleveland team that has Andre Drummond on its roster. As you know, Drummond is averaging 31.5 minutes per night with lots of big man stats. From a fantasy perspective the two players are extremely similar: low points (although Drummond is at 18 per contest, which is not bad at all) extraordinary rebounds and blocks outputs, great percentage from the field, and not-so-great from the line.

I’m afraid both players will, at least in the short-term (we can’t dismiss the possibility of a Drummond trade) cancel each other’s value.

Winner: Caris LeVert

Sure, LeVert was playing a lot (and well) as of late in Brooklyn, but keep in mind that Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving missed some of those games. On January 7th and 8th, for example, they BOTH were out, and LeVert naturally thrived. We all know that the 30.6 usage rate he has in the 2020/2021 season isn’t sustainable when the two previously mentioned starts are locked and loaded.

Now, LeVert is going to a Pacers team that has its fair share of weapons, but some of its best players are unselfish and can share the rock. Domantas Sabonis averages 5.8 assists per game, and Malcolm Brogdon has 7.5.

He can become a focal point of a good offense, and will likely have more minutes and touches in Indiana than what he had gotten in Brooklyn with Durant and Irving healthy.

Loser: Kyrie Irving/Kevin Durant

For Nets fans, James Harden is obviously a huge get. For the franchise, it was costly (they surrendered multiple draft selections and swaps) but if they want to maximize their win-now window, it could be very well worth it.

However, for the fantasy value of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Harden’s arrival will mean a slight hit. All three will remain highly effective assets (well, all two, for now at least, as we don’t know when Irving will be playing again) but if they are all together on the same basketball court, they will have to defer some touches.

Winner: DeAndre Jordan

His ceiling is not super high, but now that Jordan doesn’t have clear competition for minutes at the center position for the Nets, he could offer some low-end value, especially contributing in boards and blocks.

In the first game without Jarrett Allen, Jordan had nine points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 29 minutes. He didn’t miss from the field (4-for-4.) He hadn’t played 20 minutes in a game in a while.

Loser: Andre Drummond

As explained above, Drummond can’t possibly play 31.5 minutes per game with Jarrett Allen and JaVale McGee in the roster. His playing time is about to take a hit. How hard of a hit? We don’t know for sure, and we will find out soon enough.

It’s reasonable to expect, at least, a slight downgrade from the 18 points, 15.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.5 blocks he is currently averaging per game.

Of course, it could all change if the Cavs trade him to the right situation. But we are working with what we have right now.

Neutral: Victor Oladipo

Oladipo was having a good season for the Pacers, with 20 points per night, a career-high 5.7 boards, 4.2 assists, 1.7 steals, 2.8 threes, 2.0 turnovers, and decent percentages.

His move to Houston will likely result in a similar output: there will be no James Harden with a sky-high usage rate, but on the other hand, the Rockets have a crowded backcourt with lots of shooters, like Dipo.

In any case, he should get something close to the 33.2 minutes per night he was handling in Indiana, and he will be a reliable source of point, boards, assists, steals, and threes from the SG spot.