The trade deadline is one of the most exciting times of the year for fans, players, and franchises alike, as many teams see major roster shakeups surrounding the deadline. The wide-open Eastern Conference has seen contenders such as the 76ers, Raptors, and Bucks make moves to win now, while the top-heavy West had some bottom feeders such as the Grizzlies and Pelicans looking to move players in a rebuilding effort. It is clear that some teams such as the Mavericks who added Porzingis and the 76ers who added Tobias Harris look like immediate winners, but I am only taking deadline day deals into consideration.
One of the biggest winners of this seasons trade deadline appears to be the Milwaukee Bucks. The addition of Nikola Mirotic is one that looks to be a major improvement for the Bucks, despite Mirotic not suiting up for the team yet. The Bucks are a team that has great playmakers such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe, and Malcolm Brogdon, which means shooting is a necessity. They have Middleton, Tony Snell, and Brook Lopez who all play significant minutes and are great shooters. They even have George Hill and Ersan Ilyasova who are great shooters off the bench but have been struggling a bit this season from beyond the arc. The addition of Mirotic, however, adds another stretch big man for the Bucks playmakers to dish out to, and he can share time with Ilyasova when necessary. Overall, the team style and personal play style of Mirotic are a perfect match, and this is one of the few trades that I think the Bucks could have made to improve upon what they already had. The best part for Milwaukee is that they only had to give up Jason Smith, the recently acquired Stanley Johnson, and a few second-round picks.
Another winner of this years trade deadline is Markelle Fultz. There is no doubting that Fultz needed a change of scenery, and moving from Philly to Orlando should provide that for him. Fultz entered the league with lofty expectations, being selected #1 overall in 2017, ahead of Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox, Donovan Mitchell, and many other players that are outperforming him thus far. In Fultz’s 2 years in Philly, he scored 7.7 ppg, shot 41% from the floor, 27% from 3, 53% from the FT line, played 20 mpg, and only played in 33 games. Even more startling, in only 3 playoff games, he only played 7 mpg, meaning he got benched during the playoffs. As a great scorer in college and #1 overall pick, it is clear that something went wrong to cause this sudden drop in production, which was his devastating (but hidden up) shoulder injury, which led to a drastic change in shooting form. Since Fultz had such lofty expectations in Philly and failed miserably by the expectations set forth by NBA fans, this change of scenery is going to be great for him. Being sent from a contender with plenty of media coverage, to a rebuilding team with hardly any is a good start for him. The spotlight will be taken off him, he won’t be considered a bust in Orlando, and he will have new coaches and teammates to help him develop his skills.
In my opinion, the Toronto Raptors are the biggest loser this season, as they took a step backward in my mind. Marc Gasol is a great pickup as he can shoot, pass, and play strong and smart defense, but this deal has its downsides as well. To start, the rationalization is that Gasol can help guard Joel Embiid if they meet in the playoffs, but there are two issues here. One, what if the Raptors and 76ers never meet in the postseason? Two, Marc Gasol is 7’1, 255 pounds, while Jonas Valaunciunas, who they traded away, is 7’0, 245 pounds. I understand that Gasol is a little bit bigger and better at defense, but he is 34 years old while Valanciunas is only 26. This move doesn’t bode well beyond this year in my opinion. I also think that the Raptors compromised some of their depth in this trade. The way I see it, Gasol and Valanciunas are very close to canceling out in this deal, while the Raptors also gave up Delon Wright, CJ Miles, and a draft pick in this deal. With Wright being a playmaker and Miles being a good shooter, they gave up two key aspects to any NBA team, and have left their roster very thin in depth. I hope they can prove me wrong, but right now I don’t see the Raptors improving as a result of this trade.
It is obvious that there is no such thing as a winner and loser immediately after a trade because the players still need to produce before those conclusions can be reached. With that said, these were my predictions for how these trades will end up working out. Leave a comment letting me know if you agree or disagree.