Power Rankings Notebook: How James Harden trade impacts all 4 teams
Breaking down the trade with stats, film and analysis on Brooklyn, Houston, Cleveland and Indiana.
Each week during the season, NBA.com writer John Schuhmann surveys the league to compile stats and notes for his in-depth Power Rankings. Before the next rankings drop on Monday, we’re taking a look at how Wednesday’s blockbuster James Harden deal impacts all four teams involved.
The James Harden situation in Houston escalated quickly, and less than 24 hours after saying “It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed,” Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a deal that was made official Thursday morning.
The trade pairs Harden with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on a Brooklyn team that traded two of the young players it has spent the last four seasons developing and sacrificed the next seven Drafts in an effort to win a championship now. For the Rockets, it’s a reset. And, they are reportedly re-routing Caris LeVert to Indiana in exchange for Victor Oladipo, a deal which will give Houston more financial flexibility going forward.
With the Rockets seemingly not interested in what the Nets had to offer themselves, the Cleveland Cavaliers got in on the deal and snagged a young talent to add to their core. Here are some notes and numbers regarding the teams and players involved in the two trades.
1. Brooklyn: All in!
Out: Jarrett Allen, Rodions Kurucs, Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince, 3 first-round picks, 4 pick swaps, rights to Aleksandar Vezenkov (57th pick in 2017)
In: James Harden, 1 second-round pick
The Draft picks are a huge sacrifice, but the Nets also lost depth, trading three rotation players for one. Harden obviously replaces LeVert as one of the primary ball-handlers, but Prince gave them versatility and Allen was their best true big.
The Nets have three roster spots open and they could certainly use another center behind the 32-year-old DeAndre Jordan. Allen (though it’s very possible that the Nets wouldn’t have been able to pay him this summer) will be missed. But hey, they now have two of the greatest scorers in NBA history.
Multiple seasons, a usage rate of 28%+, TS% of 60%+
|Player||Seasons||High Usg%||High TS%|
Usage rate = % of team’s possessions used (via FGA, TO & trips to the line) while on the floor
TS% = True shooting percentage = PTS / (2 * (FGA + (0.44 *FTA)))
5 numbers to know:
- There are four players this season who have scored better than a point per possession on at least five pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions per game and better than a point per possession on at least three isolation possessions per game, according to Synergy tracking. The Nets have three of the four: Irving (1.03 and 1.42), Kevin Durant (1.02 and 1.23) and Harden (1.19 and 1.02). (The fourth is CJ McCollum.)
- Though Durant has missed four games and Irving has missed six, the Nets have seen the league’s second biggest jump in offensive efficiency, scoring 114.1 points per 100 possessions (sixth in the league), up from 108.7 (22nd) last season.
- The Nets have outscored their opponents by 17.5 points per 100 possessions in 185 minutes with Irving and Durant on the floor together and by 15.7 points per 100 possessions in 168 total minutes with one of the two on the floor without the other. (They were outscored by 1.2 points per 100 possessions in 189 total minutes with LeVert on the floor without Irving or Durant.) Neither Durant (29.2% with Irving on the floor, 33.6% with Irving off) nor Irving (28.9% with Durant on the floor, 30.4% with Durant off the floor) has seen a big dip in usage rate while sharing the floor with the other.
- Harden’s isolation possessions have dropped from 14.1 (on which he scored 1.12 points per possession) last season to just 6.0 this season. His pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions are up from 5.6 to 7.1, and the 1.19 points per possession he’s scored as a pick-and-roll ball-hander rank third among 45 players who’ve averaged at least five ball-handler possessions per game.
- Harden’s assist ratio (30.0 per 100 possessions used) and assist-turnover ratio (2.44) are both the highest marks of his career.
A bit of film: Harden can be a brilliant passer …
2. Houston: There’s a team here
Out: James Harden, 2 second-round picks
In: Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, Victor Oladipo, 4 first-round picks, 4 pick swaps, 1 second-round pick
When a team trades a superstar, its most valuable picks are usually its own. The Rockets do sit in 14th place in the West after Wednesday, having lost four of their last five games. But they still have a group of eight or nine veterans that are capable of getting wins. This may not be last season’s Oklahoma City Thunder, who finished fifth in the West after trading Paul George and Russell Westbrook for a trove of picks, but it’s not necessarily a bad team, either.
Two questions remain. First, how quickly will this new group come together? Second, are more trades coming? Oladipo and P.J. Tucker are both on expiring contracts.
5 numbers to know:
- The Rockets rank in the bottom four in both ball movement (313 passes per 24 minutes of possession, 27th) and player movement (10.4 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession, 30th) for the fourth straight season, having seen a small jump in the former and a small drop in the latter from last season.
- The Rockets have allowed 18.9 fewer points per 100 possessions with Harden off the floor (98.1) than they have with Harden on the floor (117.0). But they’ve played just 28 minutes with John Wall, Tucker and Christian Wood on the floor without Harden, and have allowed 76 points on 56 defensive possessions (135.7 per 100) in those minutes.
- The Rockets rank last in defensive rebounding percentage, having grabbed just 69.8% of available defensive boards.
- Oladipo’s effective field goal percentage of 38.3% on pull-up jumpers ranks 48th among 51 players who’ve attempted at least 50.
- Oladipo’s 4.6 deflections per 36 minutes rank fifth among 205 players who’ve played at least 200 total minutes this season. His 0.70 drawn charges per 36 are tied for second amongst that same group.
A bit of film: Oladipo is an aware defender who’s willing to sacrifice his body …
3. Indiana: More juice off the dribble
Out: Victor Oladipo, 1 second-round pick
In: Caris LeVert, 1 second-round pick
The Pacers have taken well to the changes that new coach Nate Bjorkgren has brought to both ends of the floor. Through Wednesday, they’re one of three teams — the Lakers and Bucks are the others — that rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Oladipo was averaging 20 ppg and looked better than he did last season, but still not as explosive as he did before his knee injury two years ago.
LeVert is two years younger than Oladipo and is under contract until 2022-23. Having dealt with injuries himself, he’s never had an extended run of production in his four seasons. But he gives the Pacers some more juice off the dribble, ranking 12th with 14.5 drives per game.
5 numbers to know:
- LeVert has seen a jump in usage rate each season he’s been in the league, from 16.1% as a rookie to 29.5% (13th among 205 players who’ve played at least 200 total minutes) this season.
- Last season, LeVert had a true shooting percentage of 51.4%, the lowest mark among 41 players with a usage rate of 25% or higher. His true shooting percentage of 51.6% this season ranks 38th among 43 players with a usage rate of 25% or higher.
- LeVert leads the league with 62 non-restricted area shots in the paint. His 41.9% on those shots ranks 33rd among 50 players who’ve attempted at least 30.
- The Pacers have seen the league’s biggest jump in the percentage of their shots that have come from the restricted area, from 33% (11th) last season to 41% (first) this season. They’ve also seen the league’s sixth-biggest jump in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range, from 31.7% (30th) last season to 37.2% (20th) this season.
- Myles Turner has defended 10.1 shots at the rim per game, most in the league by a healthy margin. The 43.2% that opponents have shot at the rim when Turner has been there to protect it is the second best rim-protection mark among 36 players who’ve defended at least 4.5 shots at the rim per game.
A bit of film: LeVert can drop a dime when he weaves his way into the paint …
4. Cleveland: Another center for the collection
Out: Dante Exum, 1 first-round pick, 1 second-round pick
In: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, rights to Aleksandar Vezenkov (57th pick in 2017)
The Cavs got a really good young player (Allen turns 23 in April) for a couple of picks, and the 2022 first rounder they traded was that of the Bucks, which lost value when Giannis Antetokounmpo signed his contract extension last month. The one issue with Allen is that he’s a restricted free agent this year, so he’ll need to get paid.
The Cavs have a very crowded frontcourt, even with Kevin Love (calf strain) on the shelf. They’ve played Andre Drummond, JaVale McGee and Larry Nance Jr. together for 14 total minutes this season. Drummond and McGee are only under contract for this season, but coach J.B. Bickerstaff will have trouble finding minutes for all his bigs in the short term.
5 numbers to know:
- The Cavs rank third defensively, having allowed 104.7 points per 100 possessions, after ranking 29th, 30th and 30th in the last three seasons. They’ve held their opponent under a point per possession in five of their 12 games, having done so in just six of their 65 games last season.
- With the league’s biggest drop in points allowed per 100 possessions, the Cavs have also seen the biggest drop in points scored per 100 possessions, from 106.9 (26th) last season to 99.8 (30th) this season. They’re the only team that ranks in the bottom five in three of the four factors on offense: 28th in effective field goal percentage, 27th in free throw rate, and 27th in turnover rate.
- Allen has seen a jump in rebounding percentage every year that he’s been in the league, from 12.7% as a rookie to 18.7% (eighth among 272 players who’ve averaged at least 15 minutes per game) this season. Drummond (23.7%) leads the league in rebounding percentage for the sixth time in the last eight seasons (having ranked third in 2014-15 and second in ’17-18).
- Allen has seen the biggest jump in free throw rate (from 58.1 to 93.8 attempts per 100 shots from the field) among 188 players with at least 500 field goal attempts last season & at least 50 this season. Prince has seen the third biggest jump (from 12.0 to 36.5).
- Prince’s effective field goal percentage of 47.7% over his one season-plus with the Nets was down from 52.7% in his last two seasons with Atlanta and ranks 161st among 174 players with at least 500 total field goal attempts since the start of last season. (Allen ranks third at 65.3%.)
A bit of film: Allen has added quite a bit of polish to his offensive game since he came into the league …
Check back on Monday for an updated NBA.com Power Rankings featuring stats and notes on all 30 teams.
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