They say the grass is always greener. Especially when “they” are up north in December.
But in the aftermath of the Sixers’ biggest blockbuster trade since the Chris Webber experiment, is it really greenest in Orlando?
When conducting a roll call of the biggest names involved in their massive summer transaction, one can quickly rattle off the likes of Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. The third marquee name, Andre Iguodala, was the seemingly biggest chip Philly cashed in to consummate the deal.
But there’s another player, a rookie in fact, who may actually be the one who comes back to haunt the team.
Whoa, whoa, whoa—stop the clock, you say. Moe Harkless, who scored a whole bunch of nothing in 15 minutes for the lowly Magic on Wednesday? The one who’s put up a total of four points in his past three outings?
Yup, that Moe Harkless.
Harkless is just 19 years old, an age that, for a mid-first-round draft pick, usually results in an extended hibernation on the bench or extended obscurity in the Development League. But the former St. John’s star has already shown enough, this early in the season, to warrant a look as a starter.
And frankly, it’s his defense that’s opening a lot of eyes.
Looking beyond the previous numbers, the 6’9″ Harkless is shooting close to 50 percent from the field, and is averaging over 11 rebounds, two blocks and nearly two steals over a 48-minute-per-game clip. He even showed glimpses of what could be to come with a ten-point, seven-rebound, four-block performance against the Knicks earlier this season. Some scouts have even favorably compared him to Rudy Gay or Paul George.
And remember, he is probably still shaking off the effects of a groin injury. That hampered his preseason and is notoriously an ailment that lingers and is…well, a pain in the groin.
Just picture the young stat-stuffer in the small forward position for the Sixers, with the similarly-skilled but more polished Evan Turner moved to a more natural shooting guard spot. Hell, throw in second-year center Nikola Vucevic, who’s nearly averaging a double-double, and it’s enough to understand how buyer’s remorse may begin to creep in.
Steady veteran Jason Richardson continues to do yeoman’s work with his new employers. But, frankly, if the aforementioned youngsters continue to develop and improve, it completely rests on a healthy, rejuvenated, effective Bynum (with a contract extension to boot) to justify the trade.
Harkless could very well turn out to be just another meddling forward with more potential than production. Vucevic could come back down to earth, settle back at the perimeter and lack the toughness which eventually made him expendable in Philly. And Bynum could come back with a vengeance and lead the Sixers to the Promised Land for the first time since Moses.
But boy, at least for a Sixers fan, the grass sure looks pretty green in Orlando right about now.
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