When the clock struck 3pm on Thursday, February 23,2017 no more trades could be done until the end of the season. Every year, the NBA Trade Deadline is one of the most exciting parts of the season and keeps fans of every NBA team on their toes, waiting to see if their team will make a move.
Its been a week since the Deadline, and while there were a couple of teams declared as definite winners, there are also a couple of under the radar teams that got better. So lets take a look at the biggest winners from the NBA Trade Deadline after a week has passed.
1. New Orleans Pelicans
Is this really a surprise? Was there any doubt who the biggest winners of this trade deadline were?
The answer to both of those questions is no.
The Pelicans robbed the Kings of the best player their franchise has had in years, and basically gave up Buddy Hield and a bag of chips. At first, everyone wondered why exactly the Kings did this, and then owner Vivec Ranadive came out and said he believes Buddy Hield is the next Stephen Curry.
Now of course, if Boogie Cousins doesn’t sign with the Pelicans in the offseason, they lost this trade, but why wouldn’t he? He’s on the best team he’s ever been on in his entire career, the Pelicans are a franchise on the rise, and he has a legitimate shot the make some noise in the playoffs with his frontcourt buddy Anthony Davis.
However, a week after the trade deadline, and things haven’t quite gone right for the Pelicans. Since Cousins has came to New Orleans, the Pelicans are 1-4, their only win coming against the Detroit Pistons, in a game where Demarcus Cousins was suspended for his 18th technical foul.
So the Pelicans have yet to win a game when Demarcus Cousins has played, which doesn’t bode well for them. The spacing on the floor just isn’t there for them, however, both Boogie and Davis have been getting their numbers. Its everyone else on the roster that has been hurt by the move. Throughout the 5 games, Anthony Davis is averaging 33.6 PPG, 10.6 RPG, and 1.2 BPG. Throughout Cousins’ 4 games, he’s averaging 22.3 PPG, 15.5 RPG, and 1 BPG.
However, their third best player, Jrue Holiday, has only scored more than 20 twice throughout the 5 games since Boogie has arrived. One of those performances coming in the game Demarcus didn’t play in, while the other came in a game where he took 27 shots.
Overall, its only been 5 games and theres still a good chance this experiment works out, it may just take a little longer to make that clear.
2. Toronto Raptors
Before the deadline, the Raptors were already a top four team in the Eastern Conference, pressuring the Cavaliers for that number one seed. However, the ship was sinking as they had lost 11 of their last 15 games leading up to the break.
A week after the deadline, the Raptors are sitting at fourth in the East, so did they get any better?
Yes, they without a doubt got better, they’ve just been extremely unfortunate to have their All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry go down for the rest of the regular season. The Raptors acquired Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker, both predominately defensive guys.
The biggest loser from this trade is Jonas Valanciunas, the Raptors’ starting center. Since Ibaka and Tucker have come to town, Jonas has not played more than 22 minutes due to the Raptors running a small defensive lineup with Tucker at the PF and Ibaka at the C.
While Lowry going down is ultimately a bad thing for the Raptors as a whole, one individual does benefit from that.
In Lowry’s absence, Derozan has had less than 30 points once, and it was the Raptors’ only loss. With Lowry gone, Demar is averaging 34.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 3.2 APG. Seeing as though Derozan has never made an All-NBA team, he’s making it extremely difficult for voters to leave him off this year.
Since the trade deadline, the Raptors have gone 4-1, two of those wins coming against teams ahead of them in the East, the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards. The Raptors have had this success all without their Point Guard and are one of the favorites to come out of the East come playoff time.
The biggest thing the Raptors gained from these 2 player acquisitions were defensive versatility. In the past, the Cavaliers’ spread offense, having Channing Frye and Kevin Love on the three point line caused problems for the Raptors’ bigs, as they just simply didn’t have the speed to close out in time.
However, now adding Ibaka and Tucker, the Raptors have addressed that issue, hopefully giving them the tools to finally beat LeBron and gain their franchise it’s first NBA Finals appearance.
3. Houston Rockets
Since the deadline, the Rockets have gone 3-1, with their first win coming against the New Orleans Pelicans in Demarcus Cousins’ debut.
They acquired Lou Williams from the Lakers in exchange for Corey Brewer and their 2017 first round pick. Corey Brewer wasn’t doing much for the Rockets, other than playing defense for a bench, which according to hoopstats.com , was already in the bottom half of the league in defensive efficiency.
What they lacked in defense, they made up for in offense, as Houston’s bench is ranked 7th in PPG. They already had Eric Gordon coming off the bench, and adding Lou Williams, who leads the entire league in scoring off the bench, takes them over the top. They own the 2 leaders in bench scoring, and the two runaway candidates for Sixth Man of The Year.
The problem with the Rockets is that Harden has to do it all. According to nba.com he has played the most minutes in the entire league with 2,263 and averages 36.5 minutes per game. Not only that, but he has the most total touches in the league with 99.8.
Basically, Harden never comes off the floor, he barely gets a chance to rest and thats where Lou Williams’ value really lies. When Harden comes off the floor, he gets more rest because Lou Will and Eric Gordon can offensively provide enough for the Rockets when Harden sits.
While Eric Gordon is much more of a spot up shooter, Lou Will can run the pick and roll, dish to the open man, create his own shot, and draw fouls almost as good as Harden.
The Rockets needed some help for Harden, and thats what they went out and got.
Even Coach Mike D’Antoni said ” He’s exactly what we needed.”
Now, the only thing standing in between Harden and that NBA Finals trophy, is the Golden State Warriors.
4. Washington Wizards
Since the deadline, the Wiz have gone 2-3. At first glance, that record doesn’t showcase exactly why they’re winners of the Trade Deadline, but when you take a closer look it certainly does.
The Wizards’ two wins have come against the Warriors and the Raptors. One team being who most people consider the best team in the league, and the other being one of their Eastern Conference rivals.
The Wizards are considered winners of the trade deadline because they addressed their needs. They didn’t trade for any superstars or young players, they kept the core of their team and simply added to it.
The problem for the Wizards was their bench. One of their two stars, John Wall and Bradley Beal, have to stay on the court at all times in order for the Wizards to stay in games because their bench was horrific. The Wizards’ bench was ranked last in defensive efficiency and 29th in points.
When Wall and Beal came out, any lead the Wizards had would evaporate. So they added Bojan Bogdanovic from the Brooklyn Nets. He doesn’t do anything fancy, he’s not a great passer or rebounder, but he scores the basketball.
Since his arrival, Bojan has only scored less than 15 points twice out of the 5 games he’s played, both of those games being losses. The Wizards also added Brandon Jennings, not via trade, but the Knicks bought him out and the Wizards picked him up off the buy-out market.
The Wizards deficiencies were on clear display, and through this trade deadline, they did nothing to get worse and added 2 players that directly help fix their needs.
5.Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are 0-4 since the trade deadline, traded their leading scorer and had a major front office shakeup.
So how are they winners of this deadline?
Its simple, the Lakers took a major step in a direction they had been hesitant to take for 2 years now.
Unleashing their young players.
A big part of the Lakers future relies on keeping their top-3 protected pick this year. If it falls outside of three, it is conveyed to the Philadelphia 76ers, and their 2019 first rounder is conveyed to the Orlando Magic.
The Lakers really had no choice but to “tank” this year. Not purposely lose games, but let their young players decide whether or not they win or lose. Lou Williams had been single handedly keeping the Lakers in games, and taking time away from their 21 year old point guard D’Angelo Russell.
Lou Williams is in no way apart of the Lakers long-term plans, Russell is though. Allowing Russell to play in the fourth quarter only gains him experience and time with his other young teammates. The often referred to “young core” of the Lakers refers to D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr, Jordan Clarkson, and Ivica Zubac.
Trading Lou Williams does nothing but give those guys more playing time together as well as the ability to gain valuable chemistry that is sorely lacking between them. The results have already begun to show, since the break, D’Angelo Russell is averaging 21.8 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 3.3 RPG.
The absence of Lou Williams allows the Lakers to properly evaluate the talent they have and decide whether or not they want to stick with them, or package them for an actual superstar.
While the Lakers didn’t immediately get better from this trade deadline, their future got much brighter because of it. Finally allowing the Lakers to give their young players the keys to the franchise, and see if they can properly drive it.