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Philadelphia Sixers Huge Winners in Dwight Howard Trade

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Pau Gasol #16 and Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers react after losing 103-100 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 19 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Patrick BrittonAnalyst IAugust 14, 2012

While the Lakers were the one who landed Dwight Howard, a perennial All-Star and top five player, the Philadelphia 76ers were the real winners in the four-team trade that went down on August 10.

Although Andrew Bynum isn’t the most mature or consistent player in the league, he actually has the potential to be the best player in this deal. The young big man is still only 24, and averaged 18.7 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game despite playing inconsistent basketball the entire year.

For example, Bynum had some games last year where he looked like the most dominant player in the league, such as against the Golden State Warriors in April. He put up 31 points on just 14 shots and collected nine rebounds. However, the next game just two nights later, Bynum only put up 17 points and two rebounds in a loss to the Spurs.

If Bynum continues to play like he did with Los Angeles, this will end up being a good trade for the Sixers. However, if Bynum “brings it” every night and plays up to his potential this could be one of the biggest trades of the last twenty years. Bynum is just that good.

In addition to adding Bynum, the Sixers also let the Magic dump Jason Richardson on them, who is actually a very solid player himself. J-Rich struggled with the Magic last year, but still put of decent numbers, averaging 11.6 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game. Both those averages were career lows for Richardson, so if he can put up numbers similar to his career numbers—17.5 points per game and five rebounds per game—he could become a key starter for Philadelphia in 2012-13.

Clearly, parting with Andre Iguodala was not easy as the 6’6” small forward has clearly been the Sixers best player since Allen Iverson left Philadelphia. Iguodala was not the most gifted scorer, but he was an excellent on-ball defender and terrific facilitator and rebounder. His defense on the wing will be sorely missed, but the Sixers made the right move in trading him to get Bynum.

Philadelphia also lost their 2012 first-round draft pick Moe Harkless, along with their young center, Nikola Vucevic. Harkless could become a starter in the NBA but, more likely than not, he’ll just be a solid role player on a good team.  Harkless will be a solid defender, but it’s unlikely that he’ll ever be able to become a consistent scorer in the NBA.

Vucevic played well in limited minutes with the Sixers last year, posting 5.5 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game. The Orlando Magic lack depth up front, so Vucevic could step in and be the starting center from day one. While not the most athletic player in the league, Vucevic is a skilled scorer and could become a top 25 center in the NBA. However, he will never be close to what Bynum is.

While the Sixers lost some talent on the wing and up front, they still are a much better team than they were in July. Bynum would be smart to re-sign with the Sixers next summer, as he can get more money with Philadelphia than anywhere else. Overall, this trade gives a fringe playoff team the best center in the Eastern Conference and a talented scorer on the wing and should make them one of the best teams in the conference in 2012-13. 

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