Updated Odds to Win the 2013 NBA Title, Post-James Harden Trade
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Rockets will receive Harden in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and future draft picks. Houston will also receive Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward and Daequan Cook.
This vastly changes the outlook of Oklahoma City's season, while the Rockets finally have someone to play alongside Lin. There is no doubt that Houston plans to make Harden its franchise star.
OKC just fell a peg or two from title contention with the loss of Harden, despite adding for the future in this trade.
Can Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook lead this club back to the NBA Finals? It's going to be a long road. Ahead, we'll analyze the title odds for the league's 30 teams, taking into account this big-time trade.
30. Charlotte Bobcats: 1,000,000:1
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Charlotte Bobcats won seven games last season.
Drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was great, and Jeff Taylor should turn out to be a steal as a second-round pick, but this is a franchise that still needs help at every position.
Byron Mullens is a great career revival story, and Kemba Walker should be much improved, but it would be a miracle if this group eclipsed 25 wins.
29. Orlando Magic: 750,000:1
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
There isn't a lot to like about the Orlando roster in the post-Dwight Howard era.
Orlando is making Arron Afflalo its franchise player in 2012-13. No disrespect to Afflalo, but that isn't exactly going to get the Amway Center bumping when fans fill the building to see their new-look Magic.
I'm still waiting for an explanation as to why Jameer Nelson was re-signed to a contract worth more than $20 million, and to say that this roster is a tough sell would be an understatement.
At least new general manager Rob Hennigan isn't hiding that this will be a rebuilding project.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers: 750,000:1
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Kyrie Irving is already a star at the point guard position, so to call him a future superstar certainly isn't a stretch, but the problem for Irving is the talent around him in Cleveland.
Dion Waiters was a horrid reach at fourth overall in the 2012 draft class, Tristan Thompson needs to live up to his billing as the fourth pick from 2011, and the second unit will contend for the worst bench attack in all of basketball.
Future financial flexibility is great, but pairing Irving with another star sooner rather than later would be better so the fine fans in Cleveland don't have to torment themselves in the era after LeBron.
27. Washington Wizards: 500,000:1
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
"Waiting for John Wall" sounds like it should be the name of a song, and that's awfully appropriate as it's going to be the theme of Washington's season to begin the year.
Until Wall gets back, the Wizards are likely going to do a whole lot of nothing, and even after he returns, it's going to take more than this point guard prodigy to turn fortunes around.
There is some likable young talent on the roster in guys like Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker, but Washington still doesn't seem to have an identity yet, and that's not a new problem.
26. Detroit Pistons: 150,000:1
Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE
It looks like Andre Drummond is going to be the real deal for the Pistons, but that alone isn't going to propel this team to new heights.
Greg Monroe is a phenomenal building block and Brandon Knight has put in a ton of work to become a better point guard, but those two along with Drummond are the only three things one can celebrate about how the Pistons look on paper.
It feels as if Detroit has 178 small forwards on the roster, but perhaps GM Joe Dumars will soon figure out how to make decisions that improve his club as the Pistons will once again fail to sniff the postseason.
25. Sacramento Kings: 100,000:1
Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE
Maybe I'm all alone in saying this, but don't be surprised when DeMarcus Cousins finishes the 2012-13 season as the second-best center in the NBA behind Dwight Howard.
And before anyone goes nuts about that bold declaration, Cousins isn't getting the Kings to evolve on his own accord.
Tyreke Evans needs a big season, Isaiah Thomas must prove that he's capable of repeating his surprising rookie numbers and the defense has to improve, but the Kings should be a fun team to watch throughout the season.
Despite the praise for Cousins and the fact that the Kings will be fun to watch, it would be nothing short of shocking to see this team play more than 82 regular-season games.
24. Phoenix Suns: 75,000:1
Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
Goran Dragic is going to help to fill the Steve Nash void, but that's simply not a one man job.
Fortunately for the Suns, the front office understood the need to hit the reset button and did so emphatically with the additions of Dragic, Michael Beasley and Luis Scola.
However, when a franchise enters into this stage, if often means that the playoffs are very far away and the chance to contend for a title is not even a thought.
There is simply not enough talent on this team to make a legitimate push for a postseason spot.
23. New Orleans Hornets: 75,000:1
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
The Hornets won't be as bad as so many are projecting, but much of New Orleans' potential success will rest on Anthony Davis' shoulders.
Eric Gordon's (knee) health will be critical, and it goes without saying that the team will need an unexpected member or two to step up, but all eyes will be on Davis in his rookie season as the kid has drawn regular comparisons to living legends Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.
It's a good thing that Davis got a chance to taste success in the Olympics by winning a gold medal, because it's going to be a while again before he's playing beyond the regular season.
22. Milwaukee Bucks : 50,000:1
Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
The Milwaukee Bucks front office must have watched the Golden State Warriors struggle to balance the Stephen Curry-Monta Ellis backcourt and figured it was a great idea.
Bringing in Ellis last season to play alongside Brandon Jennings is still a head-scratcher, and while Ersan Ilyasova is an underrated stud on the floor, the Bucks just don't have the tools necessary to prove to anyone that they're going to be for real.
The Bucks remain committed to mediocrity. Anything other than that is seemingly unacceptable, even if it is to the peril of their long-term outlook.
21. Toronto Raptors: 30,000:1
Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
Toronto's acquisition of Kyle Lowry was one of the most underrated moves of the 2012 offseason, and although the Raptors overpaid for Landry Fields in an attempt to land Steve Nash, the Raptors are a better team than last season.
A starting five including prized rookie Jonas Valanciunas has fans thrilled, and rightfully so, but that doesn't mean success is on the immediate horizon.
DeMar DeRozan should take a big step forward in a contract season, and Lowry's presence at the point will undoubtedly provide an element that hasn't been present, but this is a club contending for an eighth seed.
20. Portland Trail Blazers: 5,000:1
Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE
It's a tad surprising that the Blazers don't get talked about with more regularity considering the improvement in the starting lineup, and those who don't think Damian Lillard is for real should get their popcorn ready.
Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge will make sweet pick-and-roll music all day, Nicolas Batum is ready for a full-fledged breakout season, and a healthy Wes Matthews is a headache from the perimeter for the opposing defense.
Depth is an obvious concern with this young team, and Terry Stotts has his work cut out for him in a big way in his first season as head coach of this group.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves: 1,000:1
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio will both be out to begin the season, and that's not exactly how Minnesota sought to set the tone.
The Timberwolves made a statement in the offseason by signing free agents Andrei Kirilenko and Brandon Roy, but it's going to be an extraordinary challenge for this Timberwolves team to stay relevant while waiting for its two stars.
Even if Love only misses 10 to 15 games, that's a significant chunk of the regular season, and we already know that Rubio will be out for much longer than that.
The depth is improved, and the names on the team resonate a little bit more with the casual fanbase, but it's not time for the T-Wolves to take the next step just yet.
18. Houston Rockets: 1,000:1
Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE
Seeing Jeremy Lin and James Harden in the starting lineup for the Houston Rockets was something absolutely nobody expected entering the 2012-13 season, but that's exactly where we are.
With Harden now on the team, the Rockets just became a much more intriguing favorite on NBA League Pass for fans around the globe, and Houston finally has what it has been looking for forever in Harden: a star.
There will be a lot of excitement among the fanbase, but the Rockets still have several big questions. Some of the most pressing concerns won't be addressed by Lin or Harden.
If nothing else, the Rockets will be a team we all talk about a lot more moving forward.
17. Golden State Warriors: 1,000:1
Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Andrew Bogut's health is going to define the success of Golden State's season, and after last year with Stephen Curry's ankle issues, fans may not be able to handle another year of ankle uncertainty.
Bogut has never been a harbinger of health throughout his career, but without the big man in the middle, the Warriors would have to rely on rookie Festus Ezeli and the disappointing Andris Biedrins to patrol the paint.
Curry (assuming he's healthy) and Klay Thompson is a nice scoring backcourt, David Lee is a remarkably consistent performer and the bench should be solid, but this team is only going to go as far as Bogut's ankle can take it.
16. Atlanta Hawks: 1,000:1
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Josh Smith and Al Horford are two immensely talented players, but are they good enough to be the two most talented stars on a championship-contending team?
The short answer is no.
Some expect the Hawks to be absolutely miserable with Joe Johnson now in Brooklyn with the Nets, but this team has added shooters and has a very intriguing three-headed monster in the backcourt in Jeff Teague, Devin Harris and Lou Williams.
This will be one team that fans want to watch run a fast break, but they won't be running their way to a push in the playoffs any time soon.
15. Dallas Mavericks: 750:1
Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
Dirk Nowitzki's knee surgery took everyone by surprise, but Dallas should actually be thankful that the big man took care of this sooner rather than later so it wasn't an issue all season.
Dallas has to take advantage of its schedule at the beginning of the year with Nowitzki sidelined, and after striking out on both Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, the Mavs wound up with some nice "consolation" prizes in guys like O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Elton Brand.
This team looks different than last season, but will that translate into better results? In a stacked Western Conference, it's going to take everything they've got to show that they're still in the title conversation—and even that won't be enough.
14. Utah Jazz: 750:1
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will be a dynamic frontcourt pairing when the All Jefferson-Paul Millsap tenure concludes in Utah, but the Jazz need more than that.
Mo Williams is a short-term answer at point guard, and Marvin Williams will benefit from a change in scenery, but let's be realistic—the ceiling of this team is easy to see.
They're scrappy, and they could go on some impressive streaks during the season, but Utah isn't built for long-term success over a sustained period of time. That's why they won't be in the playoffs for very long.
13. New York Knicks: 100:1
Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
The New York Knicks are the most overrated team in all of basketball entering the new season.
Amar'e Stoudemire (knee) won't be ready to begin the season, Rasheed Wallace is still getting into shape after two years out of the league, and the team replaced Jeremy Lin with Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd while all eyes will be firmly fixated on Carmelo Anthony.
We didn't even talk about Iman Shumpert (knee surgery) still being sidelined, nor did we mention that the offense is still very much a work in progress for this group.
If Melo fails to deliver this season for the Knicks, how long until the Madison Square Garden faithful show their true colors?
We shouldn't have to wait long to find out.
12. Brooklyn Nets: 90:1
Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
There is a lot of hype surrounding the Brooklyn Nets, and some of that is justified, but a lot of it is fluff from an excited fanbase that will be meaningless once we're 20 games into the season.
The last time Joe Johnson had a point guard of Deron Williams' caliber, it turned J.J. into an All-Star. A healthy Brook Lopez is a vastly underrated center, and the Nets have impressive depth, but the main concern with this team? Defense, defense, defense.
Avery Johnson will preach it from the get-go, and if the Nets don't listen, they'll be the second team in New York that fails to meet expectations.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: 80:1
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
If Andrew Bynum can't get on the floor—and I mean soon—the Sixers are going to fall from this spot with a swift motion that would make the speed of sound look slow.
Bynum's knee is going to be the storyline of the Sixers' season, and that's rather unfortunate, because instead we should be talking about the year ahead for both Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner.
Holiday is playing for a massive new contract, while Turner is looking to prove that he isn't a draft bust. If either fails to live up to expectations, the Sixers will be exposed as title pretenders in a season when everyone expected drastic improvement.
10. Chicago Bulls: 70:1
Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE
Some fans might see the Bulls listed this high and wonder exactly why that's the case, but the absence of Derrick Rose isn't going to hurt this team as much as one might imagine.
Rose only played in 39 regular-season games last season, yet the Bulls still managed a 50-16 record, tying the San Antonio Spurs for the best mark in the league.
Luol Deng is a far more talented player than he gets credit for, Carlos Boozer should be motivated by amnesty clause chatter, and Taj Gibson will be this team's X-factor in a contract season.
And if Rose is healthy and back on the court by March?
This team might just make playoff magic.
9. Memphis Grizzlies: 60:1
Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
Rudy Gay needs to play like a max-contract star for the Memphis Grizzlies to fulfill lofty title aspirations.
Mike Conley is entering a critical season, Marc Gasol will look to show that he's among the league's elite centers, and Zach Randolph will remind us all why he got a huge extension to stay in Memphis, but if Gay doesn't do what the team so desperately needs from him, it's not going to be a different ending for the Grizz in 2012-13.
Unfortunately for this group, the current core has the feel of one that's "close, but just not quite good enough" to really contend to win it all, and that's a shame because the foursome of Gay, Conley, Gasol and Z-Bo are collecting a ton of money.
8. Los Angeles Clippers: 50:1
Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
The Clippers were praised for their depth throughout the offseason, but it's not easy to see why the "other" team in Los Angeles is routinely overlooked by fans who only pay attention to the Lakers.
DeAndre Jordan—making more than $40 million—had his fourth-quarter minutes taken away from him last season, Vinny Del Negro is in over his head at times as coach, and the new "depth" on this team is the kind that only looks good on paper.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin: two names that get a ton of hype around the NBA, but only one of those guys is a true superstar at his position.
(Hint: It's Chris Paul.)
Don't take it the wrong way. This isn't a knock on Griffin, but some fans have an affinity for painting him as something he's not, and we need to remember that the young fella has a long way to go in rounding out his game.
He's still a work in progress on defense, his foul shooting remains horrid, and his offensive attack could use some expanding.
Paul might be calling the Clippers title contenders, and while some are drinking his Kool-Aid, I prefer an alternate flavor.
7. Indiana Pacers: 40:1
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Paul George could very easily win the Most Improved Player of the Year award, but it's going to take more than that for the Pacers to exceed expectations this season as there will be no surprises.
After looking like they were capable of beating the Miami Heat in last season's playoffs, the bar is set extremely high for Indiana this time around, and those increased expectations begin with Roy Hibbert after the first-time All-Star signed a max contract to stay with the Pacers in the offseason.
The additions of D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green are fantastic value pickups for the second unit, and perhaps this is finally the season the Pacers explore a trade for Danny Granger in an effort to move on from a player who shouldn't be in the long-term plans.
6. San Antonio Spurs: 35:1
Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE
Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are still a "Big Three" that strikes fear in the opposition around the league, but the trio doesn't have the same impact it once did.
Duncan is coming off his second straight season in which he did not average a double-double, Ginobili missed 32 regular-season games last season and is only getting older, while Parker is coming off an eye injury suffered during the offseason.
Kawhi Leonard looks to be a budding star for the Spurs, and while guys like Danny Green and Tiago Splitter are nice complementary players, it's hard to envision this team as one with a ton of potential.
We know what we're getting with the Spurs, and that includes all of the nasty we can handle from Gregg Popovich.
Unfortunately for San Antonio, it won't be nasty enough to win another championship.
5. Denver Nuggets: 30:1
Harry How/Getty Images
The Denver Nuggets might not be synonymous with the phrase "title contender" heading into 2012-13, but this isn't a team folks will be sleeping on for long.
Adding Andre Iguodala in the offseason was nothing short of a coup for this club. The veteran is an ideal fit in George Karl's system and should thrive from day one.
Ty Lawson is a budding star at the point guard position, Danilo Gallinari is only getting better, and what's not to like about Kenneth Faried as he enters his sophomore season?
This is a team that pushed the Lakers to seven games in the 2012 postseason and got better in the offseason.
It's going to be incredibly tough to beat this club when it's running up and down the floor at its desired pace.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: 25:1
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
It's pretty unfathomable that general manager Sam Presti would make such a bold move just days before the 2012-13 season begins, but James Harden is no longer a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The team will now be without its star reserve, and there is no question that Harden's absence will have an impact on the team. However, it's not like this is a club that is without talent.
After all, the team didn't exactly get nothing in return for Harden. Acquiring both Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb will undoubtedly help to fill the void left by the bearded one.
That said, this is not a trade that makes the Thunder better this season, and for that reason, OKC is outside the top three following the Harden trade.
3. Boston Celtics: 15:1
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Despite the Boston Celtics not receiving a lot of hype in the preseason, this is a team that's clearly loading up for at least one more push to the NBA Finals.
With Rajon Rondo leading the charge, Paul Pierce still delivering the truth and Kevin Garnett on a mission after re-signing with the C's, Boston undoubtedly remembers just how close it was to going back to the biggest stage in basketball just last season.
The way the Celtics have constructed the roster to stack up with the Miami Heat demonstrates that they're focused on beating the champs, and this Boston bunch isn't going to go down without a fight.
Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and a healthy Jeff Green gives the second unit an unbelievable boost, but if this group is going to make a serious push, it's going to come on the backs of the starting five.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: 5:1
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
The Lakers' 0-8 preseason wasn't what fans had been expecting to see, but those results are misleading and not a proper metric on what to expect from Los Angeles.
With Howard coming off of back surgery, Kobe battling a nagging foot injury and Nash still adjusting to life outside of Phoenix, there are legitimate questions about how this team will come together.
Motivation shouldn't be an issue with Howard and Nash chasing their first championship rings, and if everyone buys into the philosophies of the Princeton offense, the execution will be championship or bust—and Mitch Kupchak knows it.
1. Miami Heat: 3:1
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
You know the old saying: "You don't go against the champs until you beat 'em."
Well, nobody has knocked off the Miami Heat just yet.
LeBron James is the best player in the game today, Dwyane Wade is becoming criminally underrated, and Chris Bosh's embracing the center position full-time should yield fruitful results for both CB and the entire Heat team.
Now Ray Allen has entered the picture to be the star of the second unit, and this is a team that has gotten better less than a year after winning the title.
And when the great ones like LeBron get their first taste of what a title feels like?
You can bet he'll want another, especially now that he's got a new nickname to live up to as the "King of Rings."