Wild trade-deadline moves shake up the NBA

Reshuffled league makes playoff picture interesting

Image by: Amna Rafiq
Fans are in for an unpredictable season. 

The 2022-23 NBA season has been nothing short of unpredictable, with many injuries and big-name players on the move. Less than a month away from the playoffs, many are speculating which team made the right acquisitions to contend for the Larry O’Brien trophy.

The collapse of the Brooklyn Nets super team consisting of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden has left fans across the league in shock. The once-favourites to win it all in 2021 have since traded all three stars to different teams across the league.

Harden was the first star to request a trade from the Nets in 2022, just a year after wanting out from the Houston Rockets. The Philadelphia 76ers traded for Harden in exchange for their disgruntled star Ben Simmons, who also yearned for a fresh start elsewhere.

It took some time for the Harden and Joel Embiid to get accustomed to one another, but now they are one of the league’s best duos and lead a Philadelphia 76ers team who are the dark horse candidate to win a championship this year.

The Sixers front office has done an excellent job of surrounding Harden and Embiid with three-point shooters. This maximizes the dynamic duo’s efficiency as Harden and Embiid lead the league in assists and points per game, respectively. The team’s chemistry has improved with each game as Harden seems to be having the most fun of his career.

The Sixers’ championship odds lean heavily on whether Harden can remain uninjured throughout each playoff series and shake his reputation of not performing at the highest level when it matters most. However, if all things click for the Sixers, it’s bound to be an exciting quest for Harden and Embiid’s first championship.

Fast forward to the 2023 trade deadline where Irving made a surprise trade request and ended up joining Luka Doncic on the Dallas Mavericks. It’s taken a little while for this new duo to get accustomed to one another, but they’ve shined after a few games together. However, the depth the Mavericks lost in this trade means a deep playoff run is unlikely.

Just days following Irving’s trade, Durant also requested a trade out of Brooklyn and was sent to the Phoenix Suns to team up with stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul. The Suns suddenly became championship favourites due to their sheer star-power and bench depth.

However, just after three games played for the Suns, a sprain to Durant’s ankle sidelined him for the rest of the regular season. The history of injuries to Durant, Paul, and Booker are all factors to consider, as their championship hopes depends on their ability to remain healthy. Their lack of playing time together will also create uncertainties for a championship run in Phoenix.

The Los Angeles Lakers face a similar situation as the Nets, as their ‘big three’ of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook failed to deliver in back-to-back seasons. The Lakers traded Westbrook at the 2023 deadline to re-acquire D’Angelo Russell and add depth in the form of Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley. The team has been since played exponentially better even in the absence of an injured James.

There are still several question marks for the Lakers as they battle for a spot in the play-in tournament qualifiers. Due to James’ greatness, many assume he will fit in perfectly with the new-look Lakers. However, due to the lack of time spent with his new teammates, this may not be the case. Still, despite the low odds, no one can truly know what James has up his sleeve as he tries to secure his fifth championship.

After reaching a buyout agreement with the Utah Jazz, Westbrook signed with the Los Angeles Clippers to join Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. This move is not considered significant as the Clippers neither got better or worse. It all depends on if they can perform in the playoffs and make shots when it matters most.

Overall, these trades and unfortunate injuries should make for an unpredictable 2023 playoff run.


Brooklyn Nets, Lebron James, NBA, trades

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