The NBA trade deadline has come and gone. And the NBA championship chase is a more competitive one for it.
It once looked like some Western Conference team would emerge from a parity-filled group only to be a sizable underdog to an Eastern powerhouse. Now, perhaps the best team in the league resides in Phoenix, following an all-in trade that sees three (well, one former) superstars team up.
Let’s take a look at how the NBA trade deadline altered the NBA finals odds.
Suns, Mavericks Among Big Risers After NBA Trade Deadline
Phoenix Suns ():
Obviously, acquiring Kevin Durant is going to move the needle for any team. After a bit of a down season that saw him unceremoniously bounced by Jayson Tatum and the Celtics in a sweep, Durant returned with a vengeance in 2022-23.
He vastly increased his efficiency (per Cleaning The Glass), as his points per shot attempt rocketed from 1.28 to 1.37. The former was his second-worst number since 2011-12. The latter represents the best mark of his career.
Devin Booker just returned from injury. Deandre Ayton remains a well above-average center. Both are playoff-tested. The fifth starter will probably be either Torrey Craig or the newly-acquired TJ Warren.
The lingering question is how much gas Chris Paul has left in the tank. After a small dip last season, his efficiency has plummeted this season, an especially sore sight considering the offensive environment. He’s down to just 43% from the field and he’s both shooting and scoring at a career-low level.
While the future crash is potentially massive, for right now, the market is very, very bullish on the Suns. They’re now the second favorites — tops in the West — and roughly tripled their championship equity.
Dallas Mavericks ()
I covered this angle more in-depth in our article on the Kyrie Irving trade.
Initially, the Mavericks roughly doubled their championship equity by acquiring Irving. However, those numbers have obviously taken a small dip with the ascension of the Suns.
Philadelphia 76ers ()
Sneaky winners of the NBA trade deadline, the 76ers made headway on two fronts.
First and most obviously, a potentially large roadblock was cleared with the Nets now a title non-factor. It’s easy to forget that despite the turmoil, Kevin Durant’s brilliance had the Nets in clear contention for a top-three seed. That could have potentially left the 76ers facing two series against East elites, both on the road, if they wanted to reach the NBA finals.
That may still happen, especially with the Sixers dropping a crucial game to Boston on Wednesday. But they have a fighting chance for either the No. 1 seed — likely facing the Cavs in the second round instead of the Bucks or Celtics — or at least hosting one of those powerhouses.
Additionally, they nabbed 6-foot-10 combo forward Jalen McDaniels from Charlotte, dealing away little-used defensive ace Matisse Thybulle, who was down to just 12 minutes per game. McDaniels was actually contributing, playing 26.7 MPG with a 10.8/4.8/2 slash line. He’s a better and far more willing shooter than Thybulle, making 34.2% of his career 3s (versus 32.5) while jacking at triple the volume this season.
NBA Trade Deadline Losers
Rest Of The West
Phoenix rising to the top as fairly clear market favorites has had a natural knock-on effect on the the other presumed top Western Conference contenders.
Compared to about a month ago, Golden State (), Memphis () and New Orleans () have seen their odds dip considerably, although all are also dealing with factors like losing skids and injuries. None of these teams added significant pieces at the deadline.
Portland () and Minnesota () were two fringier contenders whose odds have plummeted. The Blazers opted to sell off some minor pieces and get a look at younger players and restock the second-rounder shelves. The Wolves did the opposite, getting older by exchanging D’Angelo Russell for Mike Conley, also netting some picks.
Interestingly, Denver () and the Clippers () seemed immune to Phoenix’s rise. The Clips shored up their rotation/bench with Eric Gordon and Bones Hyland (from the Nuggets). Denver treaded water, exchanging Hyland’s shot creation and poor defense for a similarly challenged defender in Thomas Bryant, who can serve as the backup for MVP front-runner Nikola Jokic. That position has been rough this year with DeAndre Jordan soaking up most of those minutes.
Brooklyn Nets () And Utah Jazz ()
These teams are only “losers” in the immediate sense.
If one takes at face value that Kyrie Irving was not playing for the Nets again this year, then selling him off for a solid haul was a must. Moving off of Durant to restock the pick cupboard — emptied in the ill-fated James Harden acquisition — and acquire a bevy of solid players was a natural follow-up. The Nets are worse off and now have near-zero title equity, but the future is at least not completely bleak.
Utah opted to probably punt on a play-in chase and continue to stockpile assets. The emergence of Lauri Markkanen gives them a solid No. 2 or No. 3 option to build around as they try to acquire a young star in the draft.
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