How Did the Kevin Durant Saga Impact the 2023 NBA Championship Odds?

Kevin Durant Kyrie Irving NBA players
Kevin Durant #7 and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets look on in the final seconds of their 109-103 loss against the Boston Celtics during Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP.

After it was all said and done with the Kevin Durant trade request saga, the Boston Celtics remain this season’s title favorites in the 2023 NBA Championship odds. However, the Brooklyn Nets are back to making noise thanks to Durant’s presence.

The Trade That Never Happened

Kevin Durant will not be playing for the Boston Celtics this year. Okay, he still might – you never know what will happen in the NBA. But for now, Durant and his people have made nice with the Brooklyn Nets, extending their “partnership” for at least one more year. 
This is big news. Not only have the Nets regained their place near the top of the 2023 NBA odds list, they’ve also taken a bite out of the other title hopefuls who had eyes on Durant, including the reigning Eastern Conference champions

Celtics Still Favored to Win Title 

To see how the Durant news has affected the title race, let’s take a gander at the NBA title odds at some of the top sportsbooks as they stood on August 17, focusing on the top six favorites: 

  • • Boston Celtics: +400 
  • • Milwaukee Bucks: +550 
  • • Golden State Warriors: +700 
  • • Los Angeles Clippers: +750 
  • • Phoenix Suns: +1000 
  • • Brooklyn Nets: +1400 

Compare and contrast those odds to what was on the board at press time, following Tuesday morning’s announcement: 

  • • Boston Celtics: +500
  • • Milwaukee Bucks: +600 
  • • Golden State Warriors: +700 
  • • Brooklyn Nets: +750 
  • • Los Angeles Clippers: +750 
  • • Phoenix Suns: +1000 

That is some serious upward mobility from the Nets. It still remains to be seen what happens to Kyrie Irving and his trade demands, but with Durant back in the fold, Brooklyn’s title chances have improved considerably
The Celtics, on the other hand, have been taken down a notch. They were riding high after acquiring Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari during the offseason, without compromising the corps that won the East last year. 
Boston’s chances of actually landing Durant may never be known; their diminishing odds probably have more to do with how competitive the East will be now that Brooklyn have moved up – note the slight dip for the Bucks as well. 

Warriors Hanging on in West

Note as well that the three Western Conference teams in the top six have exactly the same odds they did before the Durant news came down the pipe. There was some scuttlebutt that Durant might rejoin the reigning champions in Golden State, but that wasn’t taken very seriously. 

Neither has the departure of all those bench players (Gary Payton II, Otto Porter, Nemanja Bjelica, Juan Toscano-Anderson) who helped the Warriors win the title. They’re counting on their blue-chip prospects to step up; Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody showed some flashes last year, while James Wiseman hopes his surgically-repaired right knee will hold up after missing all of 2021-22. 
The Clippers have someone even more important returning from a long injury layoff. Kawhi Leonard (torn ACL) may or may not be ready for the start of the 2022-23 regular season, but he’s close.

So, if L.A. can manage the workloads of both Leonard and Paul George, they’ll have every chance of overtaking Golden State in the West. Make your NBA picks accordingly. 

NBA Pick: Clippers To Win NBA Championship (+750) at Caesars Sportsbook