Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets saw their title odds improve with the addition of Aaron Gordon (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
- It was a hectic NBA trade deadline with numerous contenders making moves
- The Denver Nuggets adding Aaron Gordon dramatically shortened their title odds
- Which teams changed their title chances most significantly? See updated odds below
The NBA trade deadline was a busy one. The Orlando Magic’s sell-off headlined the action, while the Houston Rockets waited until the final seconds to finally trade Victor Oladipo.
A drawn out Kyle Lowry saga resulted in the All-Star point guard remaining with the Raptors, leaving the Lakers without a deadline day addition.
Teams atop the NBA Championship odds had a quiet day. Those looking to break into the inner-circle of title contenders were busier, however, with the Nuggets, Blazers and Heat all making sizeable additions.
2021 NBA Championship Odds
|Los Angeles Lakers||+300|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+550|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+8500|
|Golden State Warriors||+15000|
Odds taken on March 25th and all teams available at FanDuel
Contenders Stick With What They’ve Got
Rumors were everywhere, but the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets ultimately stuck with their current rosters. The Lakers were in the midst of Kyle Lowry trade rumors. There were murmurings of the Nets using Spencer Dinwiddie’s contract. Neither got a deal over the line, however, and it’s resulted in the odds staying exactly where they were.
This is the strange thing about what was ultimately an eventful trade deadline. Of all the big moves, no team has done enough to shift the picture at the top of the league. The Nets and Lakers are still comfortably the two favorites to win it all, and that’s unlikely to change before the playoffs.
Both teams will expect to pick up a player or two more on the buyout market. Andre Drummond could provide either of the title favorites with depth at the five.
The Lakers missing out on Lowry and the Nets not adding another rotation piece for Dinwiddie’s contract leaves these teams exactly where they were. They are still the two best teams in the league when healthy, but their challengers will be delighted neither added another key player.
Rondo Arrival Has No Impact
The Clippers’ search for a point guard led them to Rajon Rondo. It would be kind to call it a difficult season for Rondo, who has been a massive disappointment with the Atlanta Hawks. The Clippers are banking on the former Celtic regaining his best form come playoff time, just as he did with the Lakers last season.
As yet, Rondo’s arrival has not changed the Clippers’ position. They are still at +550.
He’s unlikely to be a major difference maker in the regular season, and it remains to be seen how much he can offer in the postseason. This is a gamble on Playoff Rondo returning – it’s not going to get bettors throwing money on the Clippers to win it all.
Here Come the Nuggets
Denver landed JaVale McGee and Aaron Gordon on Thursday. This was arguably the most impactful trade deadline of any team. The Nuggets addressed their issue in non-Jokic minutes by adding McGee, and in Gordon, they brought in a versatile defender, a decent shooter and yet another above-average passer.
The Nuggets updated starting lineup:
Michael Porter Jr.
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) March 25, 2021
Having missed Jerami Grant at points this season, the Nuggets have acquired Gordon to partner Michael Porter Jr. in the forward spots. There’s no question the Nuggets improved on deadline day. Perhaps most importantly, they now have an elite defensive wing to throw at Kawhi Leonard, Paul George or LeBron James in the postseason.
Given their run in the bubble, the Nuggets look a great price at +2600. Nikola Jokic and co. will be unafraid of the Jazz. The Clippers will dread facing them again. The Lakers matchup is still tough for them, but Gordon gives them a massive boost on the defensive end.
Blazers Add Yet More Firepower
Portland are +8500 with FanDuel to win a first title since 1977. With CJ McCollum back and Jusuf Nurkic returning, Damian Lillard has also received a boost ahead of the deadline. The Blazers acquired Norman Powell for Gary Trent Jr and Rodney Hood.
Norm Powell’s last ever made 3 for the Raptors sure was pretty pic.twitter.com/gfeI2pHGD4
— Leigh Ellis (@LeighEllis) March 25, 2021
Powell has been among the hottest players in the league this season, shooting lights out from everywhere. He’s an odd addition for these Blazers, though, who are never short of scoring punch and desperately need defense. Powell does little to address their weaknesses.
Swapping out Trent and Hood for the former Raptor hits their wing depth, too. Nassir Little’s role will likely increase.
Powell will help the bench unit, but his arrival is puzzling. Gordon would have been an ideal player to slot alongside the star backcourt, Nurkic and Robert Covington. There’s more skill overlap with Powell, and it’s hard to tell if he will actually make them a better postseason team.
I feel like Gary Trent Jr. going to Toronto is going to be one of those ‘I can’t believe they got him’ type of moves someday.
— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) March 25, 2021
With the notable step forward made by Denver, and Dallas adding more shooting, Portland’s already slim title chances might have taken a hit on Thursday.
Miami Goes Big
Everything was pointing to Miami and Kyle Lowry for most of the day. When the Sixers picked up George Hill, the Heat looked set to pair Lowry with his close friend, Jimmy Butler. Lowry ultimately stayed with the Raptors, of course, and the Heat had to settle for a former All-Star backup plan in Victor Oladipo.
The Miami Heat essentially got Jimmy Butler and Victor Oladipo for Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley and some relatively minor pick compensation. @5ReasonsSports
— Ethan J. Skolnick of @5ReasonsSports (@EthanJSkolnick) March 25, 2021
Signing Nemanja Bjelica earlier in the day had set the deal up. Bjelica coming from the Kings made it easier to trade Kelly Olynyk. Olynyk’s salary was required to get either Lowry or Oladipo, and just as the deadline approached, it became clear Oladipo was finally heading to Miami.
Oladipo is a difficult player to judge. He’s not been able to stitch together a string of productive performances for a while, but there are occasional sightings of the player who earned All-NBA honors. The Heat’s ceiling is higher with him on the roster, though this isn’t enough to force them towards the East’s big three.
Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.