I think it’s safe to say that “The Process” is officially over in Philadelphia.
The 76ers cashed in a lot of their remaining assets to trade for Tobias Harris, shipping away Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, Landry Shamet and two first-round draft picks. In addition to Harris, they also received backup center/Internet cult hero Boban Marjanovic.
Vegas responded by moving the Sixers’ title odds from +1600 to +1000 following the trade.
It cost the 76ers quite a bit — the unprotected 2021 Miami Heat first-round pick is particularly juicy — but they now boast a quartet of superstars that rivals any team residing outside of Oakland.
This trade brings up a lot of questions. Are the 76ers good enough to win the East? Can they re-sign Harris and Jimmy Butler this offseason? And are the Clippers planning on making a run at Anthony Davis?
While those are all very important questions, I’m looking to to answer a different one: What are the fantasy implications of this trade?
Let’s break it down for both teams.
What Does the Tobias Harris Trade Mean for the 76ers?
Harris seems like a perfect addition to the 76ers system. The one element that they were really missing is a lethal shooter, and Harris ranks in the 95th-percentile in terms of spot up shooting this season. He’s shooting 49.6% from the field and 43.4% from 3-point range, which are both the best marks of his career.
Harris will fit nicely on the perimeter next to guys like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, both of whom prefer to do their damage in the paint.
That said, Harris will need the ball much more than the guys he’s replacing. Shamet, Muscala and Chandler respectively rank 12th, 13th and 17th on the 76ers in terms of usage rate this season, while Harris has posted the highest usage rate of his career this season. Unless they’re going to relegate him to being solely a spot-up shooter — which would be foolish for a multitude of reasons — someone is going to have to give up some touches to fit him into the offense.
It seems unlikely that Joel Embiid will be that player. He only saw a slight dip in usage with the addition of Butler and remains the team’s best offensive weapon. He’s been outstanding since the beginning of January, averaging 58.55 DraftKings points per game and a +6.34 Plus/Minus (per the Trends tool). More spacing on the perimeter should only help him continue to dominant opponents in the paint.
The more likely candidates are Simmons and Butler. Butler is already on pace to post his lowest usage rate since the 2014-15 season, which was the first season that he earned an All-Star appearance. His average of 35.45 DraftKings points per game is also his lowest mark since that season. Butler has managed an average Plus/Minus of just +0.17 through his first 32 games with the 76ers, and it’s possible his fantasy stock could get even lower moving forward.
Simmons’ situation is a little more complicated. He needs the ball in his hands to be effective, but he’s not nearly as reliant on scoring as Butler from a fantasy perspective. Simmons ranks first on the team in assist rate, third in rebound rate and fourth in both blocks and steals per game, so he should be able to retain most of his fantasy value even if he loses a few shots per game.
Simmons’ role didn’t diminish at all after the addition of Butler — he averaged 38.96 DraftKings points per game pre-trade and 41.99 DraftKings points per game post-trade — so it seems pretty safe following the Harris trade as well.
One area where Butler and Harris might be able to salvage their fantasy value is by playing more minutes with the bench units. The 76ers’ absolutely decimated their depth with trade, and it would make sense for head coach Brett Brown to stagger the minutes so that one of Butler or Harris is on the court at all times. Butler has increased his fantasy production from 0.93 DraftKings points per minute with Simmons and Embiid on the court to 1.10 DraftKings points per minute with both players off the court.
If one of Butler or Harris becomes the anchor for the bench units, that player could become the more desirable asset from a fantasy perspective.
As for the bench players, T.J. McConnell will likely become a more prominent member of the rotation, while Corey Brewer might get an opportunity to sign a contract for the rest of the season. Expect the 76ers to also be active in the buy out market once veteran players start getting released after the trade deadline.
The big X-factor here is Markelle Fultz. No one really knows if he’ll play again this season, and the 76ers might be able to find someone who is willing to take a shot on him. They’re already basically all-in on this season following this trade, so moving Fultz would not be a huge surprise.
What Does the Tobias Harris Trade Mean for the Clippers?
This trade was mainly about cap space for the Clippers. They know that they’re not really contending this season and have their eyes set on a bigger prize than Harris during the offseason. They could also theoretically put together a really appealing package for Davis, who has left the Pelicans with very little outs given his unwillingness to sign an extension with Boston.
That said, someone is going to have to fill Harris’ shoes until that happens.
Lou Williams has led the Clippers in usage this season and has come on recently after a slow start to the season. He’s averaged 35.59 DraftKings points per game since the start of December, resulting in an average Plus/Minus of +5.20. He figures to be the biggest winner in this trade, as he’s seen a team-high usage bump of +3.1% with Harris off the court this season. Williams has averaged 1.40 DraftKings points per minute in that situation, and he could also see a bump in playing time as well.
Danilo Gallinari also figures to see a boost in value when he’s able to return from injury. He’s seen a usage bump of +2.5% with Harris off the court this season, resulting in an average of 0.87 DraftKings points per minute. He’s missed each of the Clippers’ past 10 games but appears to be nearing a return to the court.
Wilson Chandler could replace Harris in the starting lineup and could be an underrated winner in this trade. He’s sacrificed a lot of his offensive game to try and fit in with the 76ers this season, posting the lowest usage rate of his career at 11.2%. He was a guy who was routinely at 20% or greater when playing with the Knicks and Nuggets, so he could be poised to take on a bigger workload with the Clippers.
Montrezl Harrell has been awesome on a per-minute basis for the Clippers this season, and his playing time should be more secure following this trade. He’s been playing the majority of his minutes at center but can now slide in at the PF position from time-to-time. That’s also good news for Marcin Gortat, who has seen the biggest bump in fantasy production with Harris off the court this season. It’s over a small sample size, but Gortat has averaged 1.11 DraftKings points per minute in that situation. He will also no longer have to worry about Boban siphoning away his minutes.
Last but not least is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He’s gone through some growing pains recently, but the Harris trade should allow him more opportunities to develop his offensive game. He’s already seen a boost in value with Gallinari out of the lineup, averaging a Plus/Minus of +3.86 over his past 10 games on DraftKings, and removing Harris from the rotation should give him the opportunity to play more minutes on a more regular basis.
SGA is not on the fantasy radar quite yet, but he’s definitely someone to monitor moving forward.