Who Benefits Most From the James Harden-Ben Simmons Trade Deadline Deal?

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden ended up only playing 16 games with both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden ended up only playing 16 games with both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Oh what could have been for the Brooklyn Nets.

After bringing in James Harden via trade from the Houston Rockets last season, their Big 3 of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving played together a grand total of... wait for it... 16 times. Their overall record was 13-3; 8-2 during the season and 5-1 in the postseason.

The same could be said about Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia. Despite an early exit to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the talented duo led the 76ers to the top seed in the East.

Now, neither team has anything to show for it, but are hoping that a swap can be what helps turn both seasons around.

According to now multiple reports, the Nets acquired Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first round picks in exchange for James Harden and Paul Millsap.

The Nets, despite a nine-game losing streak and falling to eighth in the Eastern Conference remained the favorites to win the NBA Finals at +375 odds at WynnBET before lines were taken down. The Sixers, who are currently in the No. 5 spot in the East, were at 9/1 odds at WynnBET to win the Finals.

Now that the long-discussed deal is finally complete, let's discuss who benefits the most from it, as well as who is most likely to suffer.

Biggest Winners from the James Harden for Ben Simmons Trade

Philadelphia 76ers

Daryl Morey did what nobody thought he could do in trading a disgruntled player at his absolute rock bottom and still getting a star back in return.

Harden has one year left on his $15 million deal, and just picked up his $47 million option for next season. Now, Philly won't have to worry when the summer comes about if they traded everything for Harden, only to see him leave for nothing in return.

Ultimately, getting Harden for a player that refused to return makes Philly the biggest winner of all.

The Players

If there wasn't already an understanding that the NBA is a players-driven league, today's trade is a direct result of them calling the shots.

From the moment Simmons said he wasn't coming back to Philadelphia, the Sixers had no leverage other than to find a team that was the most needy to try and acquire him. When Harden indicated to management that he didn't want to be in Brooklyn anymore, they immediately had to react.

Today's move for both teams only improves their respective rosters because both players wanted to be dealt from their previous teams.

Biggest Losers from the James Harden for Ben Simmons Trade

Eastern Conference Contenders (Bulls, Bucks, Cavaliers, Heat)

With the Nets floundering, this seemed like a golden opportunity for the top-heavy East to be as competitive as ever. Miami remains in the top spot followed by Milwaukee, Chicago and Cleveland, all just a game out of the No. 1 seed. Factor in the Sixers in the five-spot, Toronto just a game or so behind, and a late push by the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks, the Eastern Conference appeared to be wide open.

That's no longer the case, as it now seems that either the Sixers, Nets or Bucks are almost guaranteed to come out of the conference, with perhaps the Heat being a dark horse team. Simmons immediately shores up a major hole in Brooklyn's lackluster defense and will create open opportunities for everyone else around him. As for Philly, Harden gets to be the star on the wing again, as Doc Rivers will give him opportunities to play pick and roll with the frontrunner for MVP in Joel Embiid.

Nets Fans

Sure, Harden didn't want to be in Brooklyn any longer, but the Nets window is right now to win a championship, and Harden on the court with Irving and Durant was the most straight-forward path to a championship.

Simmons in the mix remains intriguing, but Nets fans had been amped for the past two seasons about these three players together, and now they'll never know if it would have worked out.

Follow all of Ben Heisler's betting picks in real-time HERE!