Photo from: PBA Images as seen on Foxsports.ph
By: Bong Paredes
Known for some of the most ludicrous and lopsided trades in the history of basketball, the PBA for once gave its fans as fair a trade as you’ll ever see. Ironically, the two players that were traded for each other were both part of the most ridiculous trades in recent years.
In 2015, Moala Tautuaa was drafted 1st overall by Talk ‘N Text after being acquired through a three team trade with sister team NLEX and Blackwater Elite. At the time, the can’t miss blue chip prospect that played in the ABL for the last 2 seasons as an ASEAN Import was made available to the Tropang Texters in exchange for good old Larry Rodriguez. Yup, that reliable role player from Coach Yeng’s Rain or Shine teams in the early 2010’s who’s currently playing in the MPBL.
Mo was so good at the time that he was even Gilas’ reserve naturalized player in case Andray Blatche gets hurt while preparing for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships. After a couple of years of mediocre basketball with TNT, Mo was traded to Northport for super scorer Terrence Romeo (now a teammate with SMB) where he slowly worked his way to relevance while shedding the label of a bust at the same time.
Christian Standhardinger’s path was pretty similar. He initially came to the consciousness of local hoops fans in 2017 where he joined the Jones Cup bound Gilas Pilipinas of Coach Chot Reyes where he instantly endeared himself to Filipino fans with his boundless energy and effective and efficient game, albeit an unconventional one aesthetically.
Instead of joining the PBA after the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 and the SEA Games, Standhardinger chose to start his Asian pro career with the ABL where he averaged an astounding 22.5 ppg (at a 51% clip), 11.8 rpg and 2.4 apg for Hong Kong Eastern while playing with and against big and talented imports.
Like Tautuaa, Standhardinger was selected first overall in the PBA draft (2017 edition) and was acquired by SMB for three players that weren’t even part of the rotation at the time in a trade with Columbian Dyip.
The career trajectory of these two players are at polar opposites with Tautuaa starting to emerge as one of the premiere big men despite the lack of team success and Standhardinger winning championships while languishing on a bench that can put some of the other PBA teams’ starters to shame. Now that we’re here, it’s time to ask, who will end up winning this trade?
Mo Tautuaa with SMB
Before Standhardinger joined the Beermen, they were already a formidable team. So adding Mo Tautuaa to a team with no glaring weakness spells trouble for the rest of the league. Mo is a much better fit with SMB than Standhardinger will ever be because of two reasons.
First, Tautuaa will be at his best when he is playing off the ball and with another post player that draws more attention than him. We all know no one attracts more attention that the 50-time (Lol!) league MVP Junemar Fajardo. When Mo was in the ABL, what allowed him to dunk on people on a nightly basis is the fact that he can roam on the weak side undeterred because he was a third option on offense at best.
Second, and what makes him a bigger threat this time around is his ability to hit the perimeter jumper with range reaching out to the three-point line. He’s also more poised and patient in picking his spots when he gets the ball in the mid-range or in the paint. A trait he didn’t have when he was in TNT. Mo can also play alongside Arwind as a center or he can be a stretch 4 with Junemar at center and Chris McCullough at the 3 when he comes back.
Though willing and able on the defensive end, this is where Standhardinger was better and will be missed. On the other end, guards like Lassiter, Ross and Cabagnot will have more space to operate with since Mo is more of a pick and pop or a pick and get out of the way player as opposed to Standhardinger who works hard to get a return pass. A lot of times, he does that by getting in the way of Cabagnot or Ross’ driving lane.
Trade Grade: A
Christian Standhardinger with Northport
As good as Tautuaa was for this team, Northport fans will finally know what it’s like to have a beast of a frontcourt player with Christian Standhardinger. Provided that the plays as he’s still a no show for Northport as of this writing.
The only thing that can hamper Christian Standhardinger’s productivity is playing on a team with a dominant inside player that almost always stays in the paint exclusively and that’s exactly the type of player Junemar Fajardo is. Now that he’s with Northport, fans will finally see how good a player Standhardinger truly is. Let’s take a look at the times where Christian was dominant and where he struggled.
When he was in the ABL, Standhardinger was dominant even against imports bigger than him because he has space to work with. His frontcourt partner with HK Eastern, import Ryan Moss was more of a defensive player and was a secondary option in the paint to Standhardinger. His other teammates, Tyler Lamb and import Marcus Elliott were both phenomenal scorers that are great on a pick and roll. Something he will have with Robert Bolick.
His Gilas stint is also quite telling. In the recent FIBA Asia qualifiers, there were two versions of him. The first was a dominant version that we saw in a loss against Iran where he scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds (without Junemar). The second one was a mediocre version that scored 17 points and 8 rebounds playing alongside Fajardo.
Christian was also very effective in his stint in the Asian Games where he was a perfect complement for the dream backcourt tandem of Stanley Pringle and Jordan Clarkson. I’m not saying Robert Bolick is as good or will be as good as Pringle or Clarkson, but he’s definitely the type of player that will get more scoring opportunities with Standhardinger’s bone crushing picks that creates a lot of driving, passing and scoring angles.
Trade Grade: A+
The last time I saw a trade where both teams got equal value was in 2012 when the LA Lakers traded Kwame Brown, Aaron Mckie, Javaris Crittenton and the rights to Marc Gasol to the Memphis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. Granted that it looked preposterous at the time of the trade, in hindsight both teams got better because of it.
Pau was the missing piece that allowed the Lakers to win 2 titles, which is what SMB will be like with Tautuaa. While Marc became the offensive and defensive anchor that made the Grizzlies a perennial playoff team for a number of years, essentially what I’m projecting Northport’s fate in the coming years with Standhardinger’s presence.