O’Donoghue: The Philadelphia 76ers might be impending Champions
Dylan O’Donoghue | Thursday, February 17, 2022
It happened. The heavily anticipated trade between the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers finally happened. It certainly lived up to the hype. Former league MVP James Harden, along with veteran power forward Paul Millsap, have been sent to Philadelphia in exchange for 3-time All-Star Ben Simmons, sharpshooter Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round draft picks.
Some Sixers fans are unhappy with the blockbuster trade. They feel that their team gave up too much to land Harden. However, if I were a man compelled to bet, which I may or may not be, I would confidently place a large sum of money on the Sixers to emerge victorious out of the Eastern Conference and potentially even the NBA Finals.
As a lifelong James Harden fan, one who has tried to emulate his swagger both on and off the court — albeit to no avail — this change of scenery is extremely refreshing. Although the superteam of Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant allowed the Nets to become relevant once again, Harden was unable to unlock his full potential.
As seen in his MVP-caliber years on the Houston Rockets, Harden is capable of scoring 35+ points on a nightly basis, while simultaneously spoon-feeding his teammates with pinpoint passes. Pairing this type of player with center Joel Embiid, the current MVP favorite averaging just under 30 points per game, is a scary sight for the rest of the league. Harden is also reunited with former Rockets and current Sixers general manager, Daryl Morey. Hopefully, the two can continue their success from Houston in which the pair made two Western Conference Finals appearances together.
Yes, I do acknowledge that the Sixers made some questionable concessions in order to acquire Harden. However, historically speaking, the team that receives the best player tends to win the trade. A few recent examples come to mind. Anthony Davis, who was traded to the Lakers for a promising young core, brought a championship to Los Angeles with LeBron James during his very first season with the team in 2020.
Similarly, consider superstar Kawhi Leonard. The San Antonio Spurs traded Leonard to the Raptors in 2018 for a number of players including five-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan. To close the season, though, Leonard held up the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy in front of Toronto, bringing the city its first championship. These players have cemented their legacies as legends in the NBA and one can only wonder if Harden will do the same in Philadelphia in the foreseeable future.
Although my first, somewhat biased instinct is to believe that the Philadelphia 76ers clearly won this trade, only time will tell. But if (and when) James Harden is worshipped in the streets of Philadelphia after defeating the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference finals and bringing the city its fourth championship, just remember this: I told you so.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.