James Harden’s much-publicized and troubled relationship with the Houston Rockets eventually played out to an inevitable end – with a trade deal to the Brooklyn Nets that has tipped futures betting markets for the NBA title on their head.
Harden, the league’s MVP in 2018, was sent to the Nets two weeks back. With the Nets already one of the NBA’s most talented teams with both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on their team list, they added in Harden a player who averaged 29.6 points per game over his nine seasons with the Houston Rockets.
The Nets let go a stockpile of draft picks and players to get their man in Harden.
Nets Championship Odds Slashed
According to leading New Jersey betting site, FanDuel Sportsbook, the Brooklyn Nets were at +500 to win the NBA Championship this season behind a bundle of teams prior to the Harden trade. However, following Harden’s trade to Brooklyn, those odds immediately almost halved to +300, the current available odds with FanDuel and 888Sport, and second only to LaBron James’ L.A. Lakers at +250.
As far as taking out the Eastern Conference is concerned, the Nets are now top of the pile at +140 ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks at +320, the Philadelphia 76ers at +650 and the Boston Celtics at +700. (Odds are identical with FanDuel and 888Sport).
NBA Championship Odds (with FanDuel)
- A Lakers at +250
- Brooklyn Nets at +300
- A. Clippers at +550
- Milwaukee Bucks at +600
- Philadelphia 76ers at +1600
- Boston Celtics at +1800
- Denver Nuggets at +2000
- Miami Heat at +2000
- Dallas Mavericks at +2200
- Utah Jazz at +2500
- Indiana Pacers at +4000
NBA Eastern Conference Odds (with FanDuel)
- Brooklyn Nets at +140
- Milwaukee Bucks at +320
- Philadelphia 76ers at +650
- Boston Celtics at +700
- Miami Heat at +700
- Indiana Pacers at +1600
- Toronto Raptors at +2000
- Atlanta Hawks at +5000
Harden Minutes Up, Points Down since trade
Since his trade to Brooklyn was completed, James Harden has been getting more playing time, averaging more than 40 minutes per game, up from just over 36 minutes per game at Houston this season. It feels like a deliberate ploy from Nets coach, Steve Nash, to get Harden back to full match fitness in giving him more game time. What’s more, while Harden’s points output is down slightly from 24.8 points per game with the Rockets to 23 points per game with the Nets this season, he is dishing off to teammates more often. Averaging more than 11 assists per game following the trade, Harden is allowing more space for fellow superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to do their thing and it appears that the chemistry is beginning to take effect.
While his points output is down since Kyrie Irving’s return, Harden did something that no other Nets player has done for a while recently. In the Brooklyn Nets’ January 24, 128-124 win over the Miami Heat, with his 12-point, 11-rebound performance, Harden became the first Nets player to post a points-assists double-double in five straight games since Deron Williams achieved the feat in the 2010-11 season. Those are the sort of numbers that will have opposing teams and coaches trembling. With Harden creating space for Kyrie Irving to knock down jumpers at will is precisely where a championship can be won.
Critics of the move point to the fact that the Nets lost good defensive players in Allen, Price and LeVert in the trade to get Harden, and will now potentially give up more points. However, with both Harden and Irving now in the line-up, points scored is way up and fans are loving the Nets attacking basketball. Remember, it doesn’t matter how many the opposition score if you score more.