The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: 2020 NBA Trades

Although no superstar players switched teams this year, some trades had important implications for teams’ futures

At the midterm of every NBA season, there is a cutoff date, known as the trade deadline, for teams to make player rearrangements. It is a time when good teams try to become great by adding better players and the bad teams offload their good players to become worse in the hopes that they’ll get higher draft picks in the future. Teams are not limited to these two options, but they are the most common choices. While there were no superstars changing teams this year, here is a look into the more significant trades. 

To start, Andre Drummond (formerly of the Detroit Pistons) moved to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for John Henson, Brandon Knight and a 2023 second-round pick. To put it simply, this trade is a bad loss for everyone involved. Moving former all-star Drummond from Detroit for the equivalent of a couple of mediocre bench-warmers is absolutely insulting and has shown that Detroit really does not care about him. Drummond played his heart out in Detroit, averaging around 18 points per game and 16 rebounds per game. Those are fantastic numbers. With the addition of Blake Griffin to the Pistons roster, there was also a budding chemistry between the two players. But now, Griffin and Drummond will each waste their careers on trash teams. Drummond’s additional presence will not garner the Cavaliers any more wins, but it also won’t make the team tank any harder. There is a small benefit to Detroit for this trade — the team will likely be worse now. The possibility of a higher draft pick is not that likely, but it is higher than it was before. This trade was very frustrating.

On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum was the four-team mega-deal that hit last Tuesday. The Atlanta Hawks received Rockets players Clint Capela and Nene Hilario in exchange for Robert Covington, Jordan Bell and a 2024 second-round pick. The Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves were also involved, but the highlights are the Rockets’ and Hawks’ contributions. Frankly, this is an A+ trade for the Atlanta Hawks. Finally, All-Star point guard Trae Young will have another good player on the team. The pick-and-roll combination of Capela and Young is guaranteed to be deadly for opposing defenses. Capela’s offensive and rebounding contributions will also be a great addition. The only concern is that Capela is not a stony defender, and this is a huge weakness of the Hawks team. Adding another star that could help with good defense could really put Atlanta in a better position in the NBA. It’s critical now, and it seems that the Hawks’ organization understands this — they need to show their support to Young by making moves to get him help on the team. I don’t see the Hawks coming anywhere close to making the playoffs this year, but next year could be a different story. A year ago, the Sacramento Kings were the soon-to-be darling of the NBA, and now they have been replaced by the Memphis Grizzlies and the Atlanta Hawks. 

There were other big trades that could be covered, but it felt appropriate to analyze the two trades for the two centers — a symbolic reunion.