James Harden Could Have Been a Raptor, Would You Have Pulled the Trigger?

Brad LeClair@beerad87Correspondent IApril 19, 2013

Fear the Beard
Fear the BeardScott Halleran/Getty Images

James Harden, one of the NBA's most explosive scorers, could have been a Toronto Raptor had the Raptors parted with a valuable long-term piece to the puzzle.

According to Chris Broussard and Bill Simmons, both of ESPN, inside sources believe general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder Sam Presti was shopping Harden and immediately called the Raptors and inquired about the availability of rookie center Jonas Valanciunas.

The deal would have been centered around Valanciunas, an expiring Jose Calderon and likely Terrence Ross or DeMar DeRozan.

Unlike DeRozan, who excels more at a motion, off-ball screen type of game, Harden excels at the Dwane Casey offensive special, the pick and roll.

An underrated playmaker, wonderful ball handler and deadly shooter, Harden's game, from an outside perspective looking in, probably fits the Raptors better than a guy like DeRozan's game does. Harden's ability to drain a shot from anywhere on the floor could've made the Raptors even harder to defend.

It's not just his ability to shoot it from anywhere that makes me froth at the mouth; it's Harden's efficiency that makes me rabid. He finishes near the rim at 70 percent, shoots threes at a near 40 percent clip and draws free throws at a rate similar to Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

Sadly for some, the Raptors and GM Bryan Colangelo "quickly" dismissed the proposal.

But remember, the Harden deal was made in October, after the draft had concluded.

In hindsight, if the Raptors could have discussed a deal back before the draft, they could have pulled the trigger on this deal then drafted Andre Drummond with the eighth pick instead of Ross.

But in reality, that didn't happen. The Raptors also would of needed to sign Harden to that massive extension.

Look at it this way. The deal would likely have involved Valanciunas, Ross and Calderon.

The roster would have looked like this

Lowry/Lucas III

Harden/Anderson

DeRozan/Fields

Bargnani/Davis/Acy

Johnson/Gray

 

A much different, and I feel a worse, team than they have now.

Because Colangelo didn't pull the trigger, the deal that didn't happen allowed the Raptors to not only keep both Valanciunas and Ross, but also allowed them to flip Calderon and promising big Ed Davis to the Memphis Grizzlies for Rudy Gay.

Now, after Valanciunas ended the season averaging 15 PPG and 7 RPG, playing highly efficient, I'm glad the Raptors balked at the deal.

The long-term health of the organization is in much better hands now by keeping Valanciunas.

Courtesy of theScore's Joseph Casciaro.

The table below which includes the per-36 minute stats and advanced stats for the rookie seasons of two big men.

Player PTS/36min REB/36min BLK/36min FG% TS% RebRate BLK% PER
PLAYER A 13.5 9.0 1.9 55.6 .618 14.9 4.2 15.62
PLAYER B 12.3 8.0 1.5 45.9 .513 12.8 3.1 15.24

Player A is a rookie named Jonas Valanciunas in 2012-13.

Player B was a rookie named Chris Bosh in 2003-04

 

Share your thoughts on this potential blockbuster that eventually got swept under the rug.

Would you have pulled the trigger?

Are you happy the trigger happy Colangelo decided to put the trade gun down?

Thanks for reading.

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