Basketball is still one of the top sports to follow in the United States and a proud member of the ‘Big 4’. Of course, for fans of basketball, it is THE best sport to follow and one that never fails to deliver. The 2021-22 NBA season is no exception, and we are deep into the heart of the action now, as the regular season begins to look towards its April 2022 finish.
It is not only the on-court drama that keeps fans entertained throughout the season though. The trade deadline is also a big deal each year and it recently closed in February 2022. This resulted in some NBA teams making interesting player moves which could lead to them suddenly being favorites to be contenders for an NBA Finals win.
But which teams came out of the trade window well and could make a serious run at the Larry O’Brien trophy?
What do the sportsbooks say?
We all know the teams who have been doing well this year in the NBA and who show up at the top of most NBA Championship odds and predictions The Brooklyn Nets for example still rank highly, while teams such as the Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, and Golden State Warriors are also favorites with most bookies. However, there does seem to be a few teams cropping up in the betting who have seemingly done well enough with trade deals to become contenders.
The Philadelphia 76ers for example is now at just +650 with most bookies to win the NBA Championship. Even teams at longish odds have moved up in the betting after trade deadline day, with the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers being prime examples. But why have these three teams suddenly been elevated as real contenders?
The team from Philly arguably pulled off THE trade of the 2021-22 NBA season. This had them pack an unhappy Ben Simmons off to the Nets and welcome elite baller James Harden into their locker room. This really was a big win for the 76ers because it means they no longer have the damaging impact on team morale that the whole Ben Simmons saga brought.
In addition, Harden should use his explosive talent to full effect in Philly and could be the spark for a run to the Finals. Sitting in the upper reaches of the Eastern Conference at present, you could see this trade having a galvanizing effect on the whole 76ers setup. With Harden and current Sixer Joel Embiid both being on the list of Top 20 NBA players right now, this could be an exciting partnership to watch.
The Celtics have been building up a head of steam in recent weeks and are nicely positioned in the Eastern Conference. Expectations for a championship run though have taken off after the trade for Derrick White before the trade window shut. White’s trade might have been costly in some ways, but his elite-level versatility could push them all the way. Able to play at either guard position, he is a true NBA star and a beast in defense. With White now able to add his considerable skills to what players like Tatum, Smart, and Brown bring, seeing the Celtics emerge as real contenders is no surprise.
Currently sitting high in the Eastern Conference, the Cavs have enjoyed a better first part of the season than most probably thought. While they might not have been pegged as genuine title contenders before, the Cavs trade deal for Caris LeVert might change that. The deal for LeVert shows that the team is trying to make the most of their decent year so far and could push on for even better things. It is hoped he can use his playmaking skills, creativity, and perimeter attacks to boost the team’s offense even further. If he can gel with players like Evan Mobley, expect to see the Cavs eyeing up a Finals spot.
NBA trade window shut for another year
With all the hype around the trade window, it always seems a shame to see it shut. This has happened for another year though and this now gives us a chance to see what impact that moves made by NBA teams have had. While the old favorites remain as many bettors’ picks to win the championship (although Harden’s move to the 76ers could weaken the Nets), there are a few teams whose trade deals have people suddenly believing they can seriously contend for the trophy. While it is hard to say what will happen for certain, it is sure to be a thrilling ride moving forward.