Updated NBA Championship Odds Post-NBA Trade Deadline
If the NBA season is a giant puzzle that we're all striving to put together, it's awfully difficult to complete it without first figuring out what all of the pieces are.
Now that the trade deadline has passed, we can truly identify all of them.
With a few players changing hands, none of which were particularly big names, the championship odds haven't changed too much since the All-Star break, but let's take a look at where we stand.
For some teams, hopes of the playoffs are long gone. Others are still fighting for their postseason lives, but won't stand much of a chance once the more competitive portion of the season beings.
Then there are the few teams that have emerged as true contenders. If you're a fan of one of those squads, count your lucky stars.
The Charlotte Bobcats enter the second half of the 2012-13 campaign only 13.5 games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
I could be wrong here, but I don't think Josh McRoberts is the guy who's going to push Michael Jordan's squad into the postseason. As good as McRoberts may be, that's a hell of a deficit to overcome in just a 28-game stretch.
Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist might be able to make some noise in the future, but this season is already a lost cause.
Championship Odds: 1,000/1
I might be in the minority here, but I actually like what general manager Rob Hennigan did at the trade deadline.
While he might not have been able to secure a first-round pick for his Orlando Magic, the GM did use J.J. Redick to bring in two more intriguing young players: Doron Lamb and Tobias Harris from the Milwaukee Bucks.
Between Arron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless, the two aforementioned young players, the rest of the guys in Orlando, plus the eventual lottery pick from the 2013 NBA draft, things might start to look up in the fall of 2013.
However, spring is coming, not fall.
Championship Odds: 600/1
I don't understand the Sacramento Kings.
If the season is already lost—and it is when you're 10.5 games back of the eighth seed after the All-Star break—why exactly would you trade the guy you drafted at No. 5 in this past draft?
No matter how poorly a player is performing, it's far too soon to label him a bust. This just didn't make any sense.
Then again, I'm not sure I understood the Kings before they dealt Thomas Robinson.
No wonder DeMarcus Cousins always looks frustrated.
Championship Odds: 550/1
I have no idea what was actually going on in John Wall's head at this moment, but I can safely assume he's made a similar face when considering just how much the Washington Wizards struggled without him.
It's all well and good that Washington has gone 10-9 since the return of the dynamic point guard, but that's not going to cut it when a 5-28 hole was already carved out.
Washington is over 10 games clear of a playoff spot, and swapping Jordan Crawford for Jason Collins and zero games of Leandro Barbosa's services isn't going to help overcome the deficit.
I'm thinking about the remainder of the Wizards' season, and one word keeps coming to mind. I'll give you a hint.
It starts with "t" and rhymes with "banking."
Championship Odds: 500/1
Only one thing can save the Phoenix Suns this season: the magical power that affects every member of an organization when two twins are reunited and get to wear the same jersey at the same time.
After Phoenix traded for Marcus Morris, allowing him to join Markieff in the desert, that power could soon come into play. A championship could soon be within their gras...
And I can't even bring myself to finish that sentence. In case you didn't realize it, I'm being a little bit sarcastic here.
Phoenix is fully embroiled in rebuilding mode and has a better chance of catching the Charlotte Bobcats for the bottom spot in the NBA landscape than ascending to the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
Championship Odds: 500/1
Kyrie Irving is a superstar.
He might only be in his second professional season and still can't legally drink.
However, he's undoubtedly a superstar. For evidence, look at the combination of his first-half performance, his incredible showing in Houston during All-Star Weekend and then his return to action in a 105-100 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
Despite Irving's presence in the wine-colored jerseys, the Cleveland Cavaliers just aren't ready to make the playoffs.
Quite frankly, it's not even close.
Next season might be different as Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson continue to develop, but Cleveland, don't get ahead of yourself here.
Championship Odds: 200/1
New Orleans Hornets
The New Orleans Hornets are not going to make the playoffs at the conclusion of the 2012-13 regular season.
Although, there are plenty of reasons for optimism for the future Pelicans.
With a healthy Eric Gordon in the rotation, the Hornets have pieced together a winning record.
Unfortunately for their fans, they just put themselves in a massive hole during the pre-Gordon portion of the year, one that they aren't going to be able to climb out of.
Anthony Davis also provides hope for the future, as does Greivis Vasquez—who has quickly become one of the better and more underrated point guards in the league.
Expect much better odds at the start of the 2013-14 campaign.
Championship Odds: 150/1
Jose Calderon can be a difference-maker for the Detroit Pistons, especially if Brandon Knight thrives as a 2-guard, but he's not enough for this squad to jump up into postseason contention.
Especially with Andre Drummond out for an extended period of time, Detroit is going to be in for yet another season of picking in the lottery.
While the Pistons are technically only 5.5 games out of the postseason in the Eastern Conference and have gone 5-5 during their past 10 games.
The talent gap is just too large between themselves and the teams actually in the current playoff picture.
Championship Odds: 150/1
It's going to be hard for the Dallas Mavericks to make the playoffs.
After failing to make any sort of meaningful move at the trade deadline, the biggest reason for optimism comes with Dirk Nowitzki.
The superstar hasn't played like the Dirk we've come to know and love (or hate, depending on your rooting affiliations).
He should continue to improve throughout the second half of the campaign, although there's no guarantee that the aging seven-footer gets back to his dominant form.
Plus, he has to build chemistry with O.J. Mayo, who has cooled off significantly after doing everything right at the start of his first season with the Mavericks.
Dallas trails the Houston Rockets for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference by 4.5 games, and the Mavericks will also have to jump the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers to ascend to that coveted spot.
Championship Odds: 105/1
Portland Trail Blazers
If the newly acquired Eric Maynor can play at least adequately behind Damian Lillard, then the Portland Trail Blazers will have made a trade that fortifies their weakest area. Maynor was stuck in purgatory at the end of the Oklahoma City Thunder bench, but he'll get a chance to make a significant impact now that he's a part of one of the league's worst second units.
Perhaps more importantly, the Blazers' starting five remained intact.
Portland is four games back of the Houston Rockets in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot, but the Blazers will have to jump past Los Angeles as well if they're going to match up with the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
No matter how well Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Co. could play in that hypothetical matchup, though, they'd still be nothing more than a sacrificial lamb.
Championship Odds: 100/1
This was supposed to be a big season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that was before we knew that every single player on their roster (at least that's how it seems) would get injured at some point during the 2012-13 campaign.
With Ricky Rubio rounding into his pre-injury form and Kevin Love eventually returning during the second half of the season, things are looking up for the Wolves.
However, it's a classic case of "too little, too late."
Minnesota is 7.5 games shy of a playoff spot going into the post-All-Star-break portion of the season, and it'll have to jump four teams to make it into the postseason.
That's simply not going to happen this year.
Championship Odds: 85/1
As good as Jrue Holiday has been for the Philadelphia 76ers, this squad isn't going to make it to the postseason if Andrew Bynum doesn't return quickly and make an immediate contribution.
There's a glaring void in the post on both ends of the court, and Philly isn't overcoming that 3.5-game deficit in the Eastern Conference-playoff race if it isn't filled quite soon.
Of course, without making the playoffs it's awfully difficult to win a championship.
Andrew Bynum—and his bizarre hair—has promised that he'll return by the end of the 2012-13 season, but that's not nearly specific enough for me to have any confidence in this squad earning the No. 8 seed.
Championship Odds: 85/1
Color me among those surprised that the Utah Jazz didn't swoop in and make a last-second deal that would have cleared up some of the frontcourt log-jam.
Instead, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will all remain on the roster.
This is a deep and talented team, but the upside is fairly limited.
While Utah seems like a near lock to hold off the group of teams directly below it in the Western Conference standings—it doesn't have nearly enough firepower to hang with the big guns.
The Jazz's situation is the exact opposite of the one the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in, essentially.
Championship Odds: 80/1
With the way things have been going ever since the pre-deadline blockbuster that sent Rudy Gay from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Toronto Raptors, the NBA's lone Canadian representatives could possibly overtake the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Raptors sit five games back, but they've gone 6-3 since the wing player arrived north of the border. Gay has also been a much-improved player since he switched squads.
During the Toronto portion of his season, he's averaged 20.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.7 blocks and 2.6 steals per game. His percentages are horrible, but he's making a sizable impact in just about every facet of the game.
With Gay on board, Toronto has significantly more potential to hang with the big guns in the East. He and his teammates just have to make it to the postseason first.
Championship Odds: 80/1
The Milwaukee Bucks might not have been able to land Josh Smith, but they did grab J.J. Redick without giving up too much right before the trade deadline.
All in all, the Bucks sent Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb for Redick, Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith.
Milwaukee might not have gotten the star it wanted, but Redick will provide some nice depth off the bench and Ayon could be a viable rotation big man.
With a 3.5-game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers and the rest of the Eastern Conference lottery teams, Milwaukee already has a head start for the second half of the 2012-13 campaign.
It's a lead it'll likely hold, but Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings won't be able to do enough to get the Bucks out of the first round.
Championship Odds: 70/1
Los Angeles Lakers
It's not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will. And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone -- Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver ... whoever. I have zero nervousness about that...
....But I'm not talking about just me. Us as a group. We will make the playoffs. And we will compete. And part of the reason I have that confidence is the Miami game [a 107-97 loss in Miami on Feb. 10]. We had control of the game. That was no fluke. We were playing very, very well. We were reading the defense, making the extra pass. OK, they have two great players [LeBron James and Dwayne Wade] who scored eight straight buckets and took control of the game. But we were right there. We can do it.
Despite the supreme confidence in his team's abilities, there are quite a few reasons to be skeptical.
The Lakers haven't exactly shown many flashes of consistency, and they sit behind eight teams in the Western Conference.
Additionally, the Portland Trail Blazers got better and the Dallas Mavericks should be strong competitors throughout the remainder of the season.
However, if this team does end up making the postseason, there's always the potential that everyone could suddenly put it all together.
That's why its championships odds are better than most other teams with a similar record.
Championship Odds: 50/1
Is Jordan Crawford really going to be the difference-maker for the Celtics now that he's been traded for Jason Collins and an injured Leandro Barbosa?
Without Rajon Rondo in the lineup, no, probably not.
The Celtics have shown that they're a cohesive-enough squad to make a run into the postseason, but it's hard to envision them making any noise once they get there.
Even with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett both surviving the trade-deadline festivities, Boston doesn't have the firepower to take down one of the top teams in the conference in a seven-game series.
Championship Odds: 50/1
The trade deadline has come and gone, and Josh Smith is still a member of the Atlanta Hawks.
It's safe to say that not many people saw that one coming.
Smoove's enduring presence in the Highlight Factory will help out the Hawks for this season, but it'll be interesting to see how the situation develops once the 2012-13 campaign draws to a close.
That's an issue for another time, though.
With Smith, Al Horford and a surging Jeff Teague, the Hawks have a solid-enough core to lock up a playoff spot and advance past the first round of the postseason. That's about where the season will end, as there isn't enough firepower to hang with the true contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Championship Odds: 50/1
As long as James Harden has a beard, the Houston Rockets are going to be a threat to take down any team in the NBA.
His scoring potential is seemingly unlimited.
Acquiring Thomas Robinson, the reigning No. 5 pick in the draft, might end up helping down the road as well, but only if Robinson can start to live up to his potential. At least he's escaped a toxic environment and will have an opportunity to shine.
Here's the problem, though.
This team is ridiculously dependent on Harden's offense. Can he live up to the challenge throughout a seven-game series against one of the better defense teams in the Western Conference?
Championship Odds: 40/1
Golden State Warriors
What's up with the Golden State Warriors lately?
After starting the season out in sparkling fashion and convincing the NBA world that they were set up to succeed throughout the year, they have fallen back to earth.
Golden State is only 4-6 over its past 10 games.
With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson still in the fold for Mark Jackson's squad and Andrew Bogut getting healthier by the day, Golden State is bound to break out of the slump before too long.
However, the stretch of poor play has allowed doubt to enter back into the equation.
Championship Odds: 35/1
The Brooklyn Nets have cooled off considerably since their scorching start under the supervision of P.J. Carlesimo.
But it's still clear this is one of the better squads in the Eastern Conference.
With Deron Williams trending upward and Brook Lopez continuing to play like an All-Star during the second half of the season, the Nets were already dangerous enough.
If Joe Johnson, fresh off hitting two daggers in a single game, can regain his Atlanta form, they'll only be a tougher matchup once we get to the postseason.
Iso-Joe can be a dangerous habit to get into, but a confident Johnson could help push this team over the top.
Championship Odds: 30/1
The Chicago Bulls' season still rides on the shoulders of the man you see smiling back at you in this picture.
For those of you who have forgotten, that's Derrick Rose.
You know, the former MVP who tore his ACL and slowed his ascent to the top of the point-guard totem pole.
If Rose can return to his old form and join Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and the rest of this Chicago squad in a timely fashion, the Bulls have championship potential. But if he doesn't return, or if he does and isn't his old self, then Chicago is set for an early-round exit from the playoffs.
The Bulls might trail the Brooklyn Nets in the standings and possess slightly lower odds to make the postseason, but still, both teams are practically locks this early in the campaign.
If Rose returns, that will increase their championship odds.
Championship Odds: 25/1
It amazes me how difficult it is for some NBA fans to accept just how good Marc Gasol is at basketball.
The big man can simply do it all, whether we're talking about scoring, passing, playing defense or rebounding.
As long as he's manning the paint for the Memphis Grizzlies, their potential to be a dominant team in the West still exists. Even without Rudy Gay—whose contributions for the Grizz were entirely overrated due to his gaudy scoring average.
Memphis has the necessary tools in place.
It's pretty clear that the Grizzlies aren't a top-three team in their conference—their plus-3.7 point differential on the season is a testament to that—but that fourth seed is entirely within their reach.
Championship Odds: 20/1
New York Knicks
Things haven't been quite as smooth for Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the New York Knicks during recent weeks.
This is still one of the truly elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
Anthony is playing at an MVP level—well, at least what would be an MVP level if LeBron James and Kevin Durant didn't exist.
That, coupled with Tyson Chandler's elite defense and the three-point shooting of this team, is enough to help New York compete with just about any team in the league on a nightly basis.
Getting massacred by the Indiana Pacers to start the second half isn't a good look, but it's not like New York will consistently drop games at any point during the season.
Championship Odds: 20/1
Everything is starting to come together for the Denver Nuggets, who clearly aren't going to settle for a bottom seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They're gunning for that fourth spot or better, although the top three in the conference are probably out of reach at this point.
Everyone in Denver is starting to play better.
Andre Iguodala, Kenneth Faried, Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari are especially playing with more and more confidence as the season progresses, and it isn't the irrational type of confidence.
Since the start of 2013, the Nuggets are 17-6. That's not exactly a record to sneeze at.
This squad is fully capable of competing for a championship.
Championship Odds: 15/1
The Indiana Pacers always play the Miami Heat tough, and they're setting themselves up nicely for a potential Eastern Conference Finals showdown with the reigning champions.
If that matchup actually ends up happening, you won't want to miss it.
This team still boasts an incredible defense, and the offense is only getting better. If Danny Granger fits in with the current parts...
Plus, Indiana lays claim to the services of some guy named Paul George.
Last I checked, he was playing pretty darn well.
Championship Odds: 8/1
Los Angeles Clippers
After Thursday night's fiasco against the San Antonio Spurs, it's quite clear that Los Angeles Clippers aren't the best team in the Western Conference.
In fact, they'll be competing with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second-best conference record throughout the year.
But, as long as Chris Paul is suiting up, they'll be able to beat any team on any given night.
With Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill returning to the lineup, the Tribe Called Bench has only gotten deeper. That's surely going to help this powerhouse as the grind of the NBA season continues to take its toll.
The Clippers have the potential to go all the way—but they're not alone.
Championship Odds: 7/1
San Antonio Spurs
After sprinting out to the best record in the NBA—by winning 42 of their first 54 games, the San Antonio Spurs picked up right where they left off after the All-Star break.
Following up a six-point win over the Sacramento Kings with a resounding demolition of the Los Angeles Clippers is a nice way to send a message to the rest of the league.
At this point, you might be crazy if you don't think Tony Parker is one of the top candidates for MVP.
San Antonio has a fairly relaxed schedule throughout the second half of the season, and it'll need it to keep the stars in shape for the inevitable postseason run.
The Spurs are already on everyone's radar, so they aren't catching anyone by surprise this time around.
Championship Odds: 4/1
Oklahoma City Thunder
I'll give you two reasons why the Oklahoma City Thunder are still one of two favorites to win the Western Conference.
The first is Kevin Durant is leading the league in scoring behind his much-ballyhooed efficiency numbers from all areas on the court—and it's not like he's slowing down.
In fact, Durant is only getting better, especially when it comes to his passing and his defense.
The second is Russell Westbrook.
As much grief as he gets when he's off, the point guard is absolutely incredible when he's feeling it. It's tough to overcome the Thunder when both Westbrook and Durant are hot.
While the Thunder trail the Spurs in the West standings, this is a younger team that has already proved itself against a slightly different iteration of San Antonio in last year's playoffs.
Championship Odds: 3/1
The Miami Heat are currently putting the rest of the NBA on notice.
With nine wins in a row, the reigning champions have made it quite clear that it would be foolish to bet against Miami at this point in the season.
Sure, other contenders could eventually dethrone LeBron James and the rest of the Heat, but the smart money is still on Miami.
James is on quite the tear, as he's essentially decided that he's never missing again unless he starts screwing around. Although, he might miss if he's granted a wide-open dunk.
With the best player in the world and an incredible supporting cast, Miami is going to be a force to be reckoned with both in the regular season and the postseason.
Championship Odds: 2/1
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