Who won the Ben Simmons for James Harden trade one year later?

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

It has been a full year since the blockbuster trade between the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers that sent Ben Simmons to New York and James Harden to Philly. One year later, let’s take a look at how this trade is looking for both sides and who seems to have won.

First, it is important to note that the trade was not a straight-up one-for-one swap; there were other players and picks involved in the trade.

Brooklyn Nets received: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, 2022 and 2027 unprotected first-round picks.

Philadelphia 76ers received: James Harden and Paul Milsap.

For purposes of this discussion, Drummond and Milsap are washes as they were both role players with expiring contracts and neither is on the respective teams that traded for them. The Nets also flipped the 2022 first-round pick for Royce O’Neal, a forward from the Utah Jazz.

With that in mind, and as the 2027 pick is far in the future, the trade currently stands as Harden for Simmons, Curry, and O’Neal.

While he’s not in his prime, Harden is still thriving

When the trade happened, Philly fans hoped that Harden might return to his Houston Rockets form, where he was one of the most unstoppable offensive players in the history of the NBA. Even though that has not happened, there has been a significant improvement in Harden’s game and chemistry with this roster when compared to last season.

Harden is averaging 21.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and a league-leading 11.1 assists per game. Due to games played though, he is currently not eligible for this official classification. However, it is worth noting the next closest player to him is Tyrese Halliburton with 10.2 assists per game.

For Brooklyn, O’Neal is playing his role next to superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. O’Neal is playing almost 35 minutes a game, but only contributing 9.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, nothing special.

Simmons, the main asset the Nets expected to be receiving in the trade, is averaging a measly 7.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game in just over 27 minutes of playing. His offensive contributions continue to be embarrassing for a player of his size and skill and his defensive play, still, a benefit to the Nets has fallen off from his DPOY level a couple of years ago.

Lastly, that brings us to Curry. He is a knockdown bucket and is top fifteen in the league in 3-point shooting percentage with 41.8%. That’s not far off the percentage of his much more famous brother, Steph.

Who won the trade between the 76ers and Nets?

The Nets received more assets, and we can’t completely ignore the 2027 first-round pick, but right now, I think it is pretty clear that the 76ers won this trade.

Curry and O’Neal are nice players, but NBA Championships are not won with role players they are won with All-Stars, something Harden and Simmons were both anticipated to be at the time of this trade.

I have always subscribed to the notion that in the NBA, the team that wins a trade is the team that receives the best player in the deal. Historically, that has proven to be true and in this trade, Harden is unquestionably the best player. Will this trade help the 76ers win the NBA Championship? That is yet to be seen. But for now, the team is in a much better position than they were a year ago, and I can say that for certain.