As I sit here to write this, there are NBA front office executives who are having internal meetings and probably moments of solitary reflection about their teams. Within the next 2 weeks these teams will know who and what they have in the pieces that these same select group of men and women put together in November of 2020. My! How time flies?
On the other hand, there is the player. It must be insane to hear the whispers and the rumors about themselves. “I am rumored to be going where??” For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on 3, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Ben Simmons of the 76ers, and Bradley Beal of the Wizards. All three are in completely different situations and scouts definitely see them differently as well.
Our first star we will look at is Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, here are his stats for this year and career using 100 possessions.
The last 3 years for Beal were elite and would benefit any team looking to have championship aspirations. The problem is Bradley Beal is not fitting the time line of the other players. Forward Deni Avdija (19) and Forward Rui Hachimura (22) need time to develop and with Beal’s frustrations building to a point, his inner circle has started to Tweet out his displeasure on the direction of the franchise. I do not blame Beal at all, it is just a fact of NBA life. If you have a player that has developed under you to an all-star, the clock starts to tick on when the player is seeing his chance for a signature performance in the NBA Playoffs. By this time the talent has ascended to that lofty status and for one reason or another the pieces didn’t get worked or were injured. This is exactly where the Wizards are, their young pieces need time to grow and learn and Beal wants and needs to win. Here is what one scout said about Beal,” I feel good about Beal.” “He is a Pro’s pro.” “Beal can be a high usage guy for a struggling team, or move with more fluidity with a superior point guard on a winning team.” “Between Beal or Harden, give me Beal… 4 less years and a whole lot less baggage!”
That leads us to Rockets guard James Harden. Harden is a perennial all star and a 3 time scoring champ and with all his accolades, Harden is the one guy who feels like a “Misfit toy”. Seems weird for a guy who has and still does historic numbers. 40 point triple-doubles, 30 point quarters, three pointers made in a game, and 50 point borages. Here are Harden’s stats per 100 possessions.
The quandary with Harden is his approach to the game change surrounded with closer to equal talent, so far has not manifested itself at all. It is no coincidence that the Phoenix Suns point guard is flourishing with OKC Thunder and is now in Phoenix. Paul was a teammate of Harden. That relationship went south because of Chris Paul’s availability in the playoffs. James Harden goes to the owner of the Rockets and cooks up a deal for Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double fame for a season. That trade and the subsequent trades that followed to give Harden’s Rockets a fighting chance in the playoffs back fired and now we are here. Harden is watching his championship window close on him and I believe he has no desire to be considered in the same breath with Portland forward Carmelo Anthony, a prolific scorer but he could not lead his team to a championship. Now, you throw on the trips to Atlanta and Vegas for “training”! I am sure the ladies at the gentleman establishments were really helping Harden with his balance and flexibility. Here is what one scout told me,” I don’t know if I could trust him fully with my franchise.”
If you are Houston, letting him go is waving the white flag and saying it is time to concentrate on the next Rockets team. Finding value and picks are paramount to your variation of the Houston Rockets. If you are the executive bringing in Harden, you are making the push and gambling with the future, so you have to calculate right. Whomever does pull the trigger has to believe with every part of his/her body that Harden is the final piece and our culture is strong enough to curtail some of Harden’s off the court adventures.
Last but not least, I give to you Ben Simmons. Simmons and the 76ers have all said the right thing. Simmons states,” I am happy with Philly and Doc as coach, I have a good situation.” The 76ers executive Daryl Morey has given no indication he is inclined to trade his all-defensive player and the motor of his team. The old knock on Ben Simmons in today’s basketball is Simmons doesn’t attempt any three point shots! Hot Take alert! Simmons does not take threes… OK, we got it! The talented Simmons seems disinterested almost to the point of disgust about basketball philosophy in regards to him taking threes. Here are Simmons stats per 100 possessions.
Unless you are willing to put shooters all around him, the 3 point dilemma is always going to be there. So what does that really mean? 76ers would have to trade Joel Embid, star center for the 76ers. This is why Daryl Morey is getting paid the big dollars. Find a way to create cohesion between your two dynamic young stars or figure out which one is the one the 76ers need to keep? The problem is that both have been impressive, both have been injured, both have flaws, and now you have to decide between all of that. Here is what one scout said,” Simmons loves L.A. and the lifestyle if you know what I mean!” No this is not a ploy to get Simmons into a Lakers uniform. Simmons seems to lack that blood thirsty craving to be better, like Lebron, Steph, or Durant. He’d rather be cozied up next to some hot super model and enjoying life. Here is the worst part, Simmons is so naturally gifted that he could be an accidental triple-double guy for years. I mean 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists for a season for him is not far fetched. That is why Simmons is so frustrating to executives around the Association. If he had Kevin Durant paranoia, Simmons would be a monster.
All of this is to say, I have no idea what GM’s should do. That’s why we have a poll attached to this blog to see how you, the reader, thinks and who you would pull the trigger for on a deal for one of these extremely talented guys who all also have their baggage. Good luck to all the “arm-chair” GM’s out there.