NBA Finals Odds Shaken Up by Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant Trades

  • Westbrook was traded Wednesday evening and Durant early Thursday morning
  • The Lakers never found a way to mesh with Westbrook and even benched him
  • L.A. went from +3000 to +2500 to win the NBA Finals at BetMGM sportsbook
  • The Suns jumped from +1900 to +460 at FanDuel after acquiring Durant
Russell Westbrook
The Lakers and Suns jumped in NBA Finals futures odds after making trades ahead of the Thursday deadline. [Image: / Erik Drost]

NBA Finals odds get a facelift 

NBA Finals future odds were put through the wringer ahead of the trade deadline thanks to high-profile trades of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and others.

The Westbrook domino was the first to fall of the two. News broke Wednesday night that the Lakers had finally moved off of their controversial point guard, ending a one-and-a-half-year tenure on the West Coast.

Both the Lakers and Suns have better championship odds since making their respective moves.

Durant then got his move to the Phoenix Suns in the very early hours of Thursday morning, roughly 14 hours before the trade deadline. Both the Lakers and Suns have better championship odds since making their respective moves.

No more Russ in L.A.

The Westbrook deal saw him moved to the Utah Jazz in a three-team trade that sent D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to Los Angeles. The Lakers’ finals odds moved from +3000 to +2500 in the immediate aftermath, according to BetMGM.

The Lakers had been sitting on a move seemingly since the offseason, with numerous scenarios and targets on the table. They remained mostly steadfast throughout the season, one that saw them fall to 25-30 on Tuesday night when LeBron James set the all-time scoring record.

Russell and Beasley bring much-needed shooting to the team. They rank seventh and 12th in total three-pointers made, respectively, both of which are far ahead of the Lakers’ leader, LeBron, who is 53rd. LeBron also works best with shooters around him, and the Lakers’ next-highest-ranking shooter is Lonnie Walker IV (116).

Westbrook is the second-worst three-point shooter in the league

There’s also an element of addition by subtraction at play. Westbrook is the second-worst three-point shooter in the league among qualified players and tied for the most turnovers per 36 minutes. Plus, Beasley and Russell are both much more comfortable and impactful playing without the ball than is Westbrook.

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, adds much-needed interior defensive presence, versatility, and intensity. The 23-year-old is also under contract through next season and will make less than $4.7m, which is a great price for a player that could slide in alongside Anthony Davis in the starting lineup.

Durant back in the West

The Suns are in full-on championship-or-bust mode after trading for Durant. They sent Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Cam Johnson, and four unprotected first-round draft picks to Brooklyn in exchange for the two-time Finals champion and forward T.J. Warren.

Durant requested a trade from the Nets in the offseason, but was met with little enthusiasm from the front office. However, the early-week trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks sent Brooklyn into full-on rebuild mode, a deal that was compounded with the latest trade.

Phoenix’s title odds catapulted from +1900 to +460, the third-best in the league, on FanDuel. 

Phoenix made the Finals two years ago and earned the top seed in the West last season

Durant will now team up with Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton in the desert. Phoenix made the Finals two years ago and earned the top seed in the West last season and now has the most talented player in the franchise’s history. 

As much as the move brings Phoenix into immediate title contention, it also brings Durant’s legacy further into question. He left the Golden State Warriors despite winning two titles to prove that he could build a championship-winning team on his own, then could not deliver with one of the most talented “super teams” (with Irving and James Harden) in NBA history. And now he is heading back to a ready-made contender that achieved success without him.

The Western Conference was wide open before the Durant trade. Now, Phoenix looks like the outright alpha, while teams such as the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, and Mavericks are filing in behind. Perhaps the Lakers can join these ranks as well if their move pans out.

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