What if Kyrie Irving, who has requested a trade, gets his wish and is traded to a new team in exchange for a package of draught picks and veterans on expiring contracts?
That would indicate to me that the Nets have decided to start over. As a result, the next step would be to trade superstar Kevin Durant, who is currently injured, for another package of picks and assets to kick-start the rebuild.
In our game of “What If,” we don’t know who the Nets would bring back in one or more trades, but while we wait to see how the Nets front office will play their hand, there’s young talent already on the team worth looking at.
Ben Simmons has never fully recovered from his on-court prowess prior to his fallout with the 76ers almost two years ago. He sat out the entire season last year, first for mental health reasons and then, allegedly, for back issues. His back problems have persisted this season, but he has also clearly lost confidence in his ability to score. His 5.9 FGA would be a career low, roughly half of his career average.
But, if Kyrie and Durant were gone and the Nets had no expectations in a rebuild, could he rediscover his groove? Simmons averaged 14.9 PPG, 10.4 FGA, 6.7 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 0.5 BPG in his final 40 regular season games for the 76ers in 2021. He scored 42 points on 26 field goal attempts in one game while Joel Embiid was out! That Simmons hasn’t been seen in years, but in this world of “What If,” he could make a cameo.
Nic Claxton is the other young starter with the most potential. He’s already begun to realise it, with an eight-game stretch in January in which he averaged 20.1 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 3.1 BPG, and 2.1 APG in 34.5 MPG, with seven double-doubles and five 20-point performances. Claxton is only 23 years old, is a viable Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and has upside regardless of the Nets’ future moves.
Cam Thomas is the team’s third young, promising player. Thomas is in his second season and has yet to see significant rotation minutes in the NBA. However, he has outright dominated the NBA summer league for two consecutive summers, displaying a flair for the dramatic.scoring that should play in the NBA. In his last two games, Thomas has averaged 20.0 PPG in 23.5 MPG, has four 15-point scoring efforts in his last seven games, and set a career high with 33 points in 29 minutes on Dec. 10. If he is thrust into the starting lineup in a key role, he has the potential to make a significant impact after the All-Star break.
Simmons is rostered in 81.3% of ESPN leagues, which means he’s available for free agency in roughly one out of every five leagues. His asking price in a trade is also on the floor right now. If you have a team that is either buttoned up and looking for depth with upside, or if your team is looking for depth with upside,If your team is struggling and you want to win the lottery, Simmons might be worth acquiring if you can do so on the cheap.
Claxton is currently rostered in 86.8% of leagues and, as previously stated, has been playing well recently, so he is likely just a good trade target in general. I’d try to get him as part of a package deal to reduce risk while also allowing you to ask for him as a secondary player to avoid driving up his trade price further.
Thomas is only in the deepest leagues, so you could add him now and see what happens. He was just added to one of my rosters.