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What the James Harden trade means for the Nets’ championship odds

How much can James Harden affect Brooklyn’s title odds? We take a look.

James Harden of the Houston Rockets looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on January 12, 2021 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images

The Eastern Conference just got a lot more interesting. The Brooklyn Nets agreed to part with Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and four future first-round picks in a four-team trade on Wednesday to acquire James Harden from the Houston Rockets, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. There were rumblings about a potential Harden trade when he and Russell Westbrook voiced their concerns about Houston ahead of the season. Westbrook was sent to the Washington Wizards soon after he spoke out about his discomfort and now Harden will follow suit.

This move is sure to affect the Nets’ title odds ahead in a major way, as Brooklyn now has a big three composed of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Harden. Let’s take a look at how the Nets’ odds could be affected moving forward.

How do the Nets stack up against the Atlantic Division?

Brooklyn is 6-6 on the year and sits just two games back from the Boston Celtics in the Atlantics Division. They’re trailed by the surprisingly solid New York Knicks and the struggling Toronto Raptors. The Nets trail the Philadelphia 76ers, who reworked their team to add shooting around Ben Simmons over the offseason. Philadelphia has looked very good at times but barely managed to edge out the Miami Heat without Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo earlier this week. Irving, Durant, and Harden are All-NBA talents and they should finish at least second in the division if all three can stay healthy. Boston’s Big 3 is incomplete with Kemba Walker recovering from the knee operation he had following last season and will need to be at full strength to hold off Brooklyn with three superstars.

What’s the ceiling for the Nets?

People started to believe that the Nets were a title contender when they kicked off the year with blowout wins over the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, but they went on to drop back-to-back games to the Charlotte Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies before splitting a two-game series with the Atlanta Hawks.

Brooklyn can score with the best of them. All three of its stars can go for 25 or more points on any given night, but the defense could be a concern. The Nets lost a valuable rim protector in Allen and their new center rotation could have to be built around DeAndre Jordan, Jeff Green, and Durant. I don’t think any team in the Eastern Conference comes close to matching Brooklyn’s offensive potential and that should carry them to the conference finals in my mind.

How will Brooklyn’s title odds be affected?

The Nets had the third-best odds to win it all on DraftKings Sportsbook just ahead of their season opener at +600 in late December with 17 percent of the handle on championship wagers. That figure dropped Spencer Dinwiddie suffered a season-ending knee injury and Brooklyn lost games to inferior teams. Draftkings Sportsbook has taken their title odds down to adjust for the James Harden trade and there will likely be a major influx of Nets championship bets placed once they return to the spotlight. I can’t speculate on what Brooklyn’s odds will look like, it should receive a significant bump.

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