By M. Goncalves
It is no secret that basketball is a sport that is always evolving, throughout the past couple years multiple records have been shattered. For instance, in 2018 Klay Thompson converted 14 three pointers in a game, breaking Stephen Curry’s record, who had just acquired it in 2016. Luka Doncic’s short tenure in the NBA has already resulted in him breaking Michael Jordan’s record for most games in a row with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. However, this is just the beginning, as the NBA is headed in a direction where multiple scoring records will be broken.
Before the beginning of this season, eight time All-Star, one time MVP and three-time scoring champion James Harden was explicit when he said he no longer wanted to play for the Houston Rockets. The disgruntled star claimed he had personal reasons to tend to and would therefore arrive late to training camp, however he was spotted going to parties instead, showing the world that frankly, he didn’t care about winning with the Rockets anymore. Harden played some games with the Rockets but after a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the superstar shooting guard had this to say, "I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can, I mean, this situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed." Newly acquired Rockets John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were irate by these comments and made the Rockets realize they had to make a move quickly. Weeks before these comments, Harden named multiple contenders as possible suitors, amongst them were the Brooklyn Nets. In the 2019 offseason, the Nets had already acquired both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, two generational type scorers. When Harden said he’d like to play in Brooklyn, all analysts, fans, reporters, and anyone who enjoys the sport went wild in their imagination trying to think how a team would defend such great players all together.
Eventually, the Nets managed to pull off a trade that involved four teams and acquired Harden. The Nets received Harden (via Houston Rockets) and a 2024 second round pick (via the Cleveland Cavaliers). The Cavaliers received Jarrett Allen (via Brooklyn Nets) and Taurean Prince (via Brooklyn Nets). The Indiana Pacers received Caris LeVert (via Brooklyn Nets). Also, the Houston Rockets received Victor Oladipo (via Indiana Pacers), Rodions Kurucs (via Brooklyn Nets) and Dante Exum (via Cleveland Cavaliers) in addition to 4 first round picks (3 from Brooklyn and 1 from Cleveland) and 4 pick swaps all from Brooklyn.
Essentially, the Nets gave up their entire future to create a trio of elite offensive players that surpass anything ever witnessed before. Despite, these superstars playing together, the Nets are not guaranteed a championship. They have three players who can easily score 30+ on a nightly basis, but as Irving said after a loss to the Washington Wizards “I couldn’t guard a stick” that unfortunately applies to every Nets player. Scoring will not be the problem for this team, on the 20th of January, Irving, Durant and Harden combined for 96 points but lost in double overtime to the Cleveland Cavaliers because they allowed Collin Sexton to score 42 points, 20 of which came in the last 10 minutes. For those of you those of you that don’t know, the Cavaliers are subpar at best.
Unless the Nets get some much-needed defense their games will always be extremely high scoring for both sides, all which comes to show that the James Harden trade impacts the NBA and sets it on a direction where teams will value offense the most. Every year more offensive specialists are used by teams in the NBA. Take Duncan Robinson for example; before last season, if you asked any NBA fan who Duncan Robinson was, they would likely say they had no idea, however last season Robinson became a pivotal part of the Miami Heat’s finals run due to his elite shooting, his below average defensive ability proves that teams are now trying to expand how many points they score per game rather than decrease how many points they allow. With Harden’s trade to the Nets, teams will try to get even more points to try and match the unprecedented scoring this recently assembled trio will score and will likely change the game forever.