Grading the NBA Trade Deadline: Which Teams Are Set Up For A Postseason Run?

Grading the NBA Trade Deadline: Which Teams Are Set Up For A Postseason Run?

Tyler Vaysman
2 years ago
3 min read
The newly acquired Pelicans guard CJ McCollum drives the basketball against the Spurs' Doug McDermott in a February 12th game at the Smoothie King Center

The NBA trade deadline recently passed, and there were no shortage of intriguing deals that could shape up the landscape of the league. Which teams are set up for a postseason run?

Brooklyn Nets: B+

The writing was clearly on the wall with James Harden’s tenure on the Brooklyn Nets, as he was clearly unhappy with his overall situation there.

Harden has shown an unprecedented decline this season, as he doesn’t look as sharp on drives to the rim, isn’t shooting the three as well as he’s proven he can shoot, and has shown a lack of effort and hustle many times throughout the season.

But with Harden still having some value around the league, the Nets cut bait at the right time and were able to land Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks.

People can clown on Simmons all they want for his inability to shoot, but in Brooklyn, he doesn’t need to shoot. All he needs to do is fill in the open lanes that the spacing of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will open up with the gravity they attract on the perimeters and be willing to embrace a “point-forward” role like Draymond Green has done with the Golden State Warriors.

Defensively, Simmons is a swiss army knife, as he can switch onto pretty much any position and provide an excellent on-ball defense. There’s a reason he was in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation just last season.

Curry is there to stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting, and Drummond gives them the interior presence on the boards that they so desperately needed.

There are still a lot of questions how the Nets can put this new team together, but if Simmons embraces his new role, then this will set the Nets up to be serious championship contenders for the next few seasons.

Philadelphia 76ers: B

The Sixers were able to get their man in James Harden, as they traded their disgruntled star who wasn’t playing anyway as the centerpiece of this deal.

Harden has declined a bit this season, but maybe a new situation could rejuvenate him a little bit.

Even a declined version of Harden would help this team, as Harden can set Joel Embiid up for some easy looks inside.

Embiid isn’t the type of big Harden has played with in the past, as Harden has played with bigs who go in for big-time dunks instead of playing with the finesse Embiid does.

It may take a while for the two guys to gain chemistry, but the Sixers landed a superstar player not far removed from his best days of playing in the league. 

This move makes Philadelphia a big threat come playoff time.

Sacramento Kings: B

The Kings added Domantas Sabonis, who is a tremendous all-around player with his ability to score, pass and rebound.

However, they gave up what could become the best player in the deal in a few years in Tyrese Haliburton, which was met with lots of criticism. Haliburton was quoted in the Indianapolis Star and Sacramento Bee as saying "They didn’t want me, they went a different direction and it’s part of the business, so it happens. I’m just excited to be here, excited to get going."

But in the short term, they made a move that could perhaps get them into the play-in game, as the combination of De’Aaron Fox and Sabonis gives this team a nice duo to build around for the next few seasons.

New Orleans Pelicans: B

The Pelicans added CJ McCollum, an excellent mid-range and 3-point shooter, while giving away assets that weren’t really going to help them win anyway.

The Pelicans are in a good position to be in the play-in tournament this season, but what this move could do is entice Zion Williamson to stay and try and build something special with McCollum and Brandon Ingram in the picture, especially if the Pelicans can improve this roster even further in the offseason.

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