The NBA scene is witnessing significant shifts as blockbuster trades and roster revamps are shaking up championship odds. This article delves into the various moves, especially focusing on the Phoenix Suns’ standing after the monumental Damian Lillard trade to the Bucks. 

The Lillard and Bucks Union: Impact on Championship Odds

After 11 seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard has found a new home with the Milwaukee Bucks. Partnering with former NBA MVP and NBA champion, Giannis Antetokounmpo, this union has significantly shaken up the NBA’s 2024 championship odds boards.  

From Porzingis to Holiday: Celtics’ Response  

In response to the Lillard move, the Boston Celtics made a massive statement by trading for Jrue Holiday. This comes after they had already fortified their squad by acquiring Kristaps Porzingis earlier this offseason. As a result, both Boston and Milwaukee now share the limelight as the co-favorites to clinch the 2024 NBA title, boasting +380 odds each.

Phoenix Suns: Trades and Odds  

The Phoenix Suns, despite their grand moves, have found themselves third on the odds boards at +550. This placement comes after they acquired Kevin Durant last season and made a significant trade for Bradley Beal this year, in a move that saw Chris Paul leave The Valley. Interestingly, their odds stood at +670 after the Bradley Beal acquisition.

The Phoenix Suns Gorilla, the dean of NBA mascots, has been entertaining Suns fans since 1980 and is now a worldwide ambassador for the Suns and the NBA. (File photo)

The Suns’ Roster Overhaul: Ayton Out, Nurkic In  

The Suns’ decision to trade Deandre Ayton the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, for Jusuf Nurkic has caused quite a stir among NBA analysts and fans. Ayton showcased incredible athleticism that matched the dynamic roster the Suns had been building throughout the summer. On the contrary, Nurkic, while being a seasoned player at age 29, possesses a very different playstyle.

Nurkic’s Value to the Suns

While Nurkic might not have the agility and youthful energy of Ayton, he brings a raw, physical presence to the Suns’ lineup. As a bruising big man, Nurkic relies on his size and weight to dominate and overwhelm opposing centers. 

This gives the Suns a unique advantage, especially when it comes to rebounding opportunities and setting screens, something they hope will benefit them in their quest for Western Conference dominance.

Nurkic’s Defensive Prowess

Defensively, Nurkic is a force to be reckoned with. He poses a significant shot-blocking threat, often challenging players who drive towards the rim. This aggressive defensive stance does come with its risks, as Nurkic’s willingness to contest might land him in foul trouble. 

However, the Suns might see this as a trade-off. The team would benefit from Nurkic’s imposing physicality in the paint, an attribute they couldn’t consistently derive from Ayton.

The Heat’s Decline in Odds: Missed Opportunities and the Lillard Effect

Miami Heat, initially being the primary contender to land Lillard, experienced a hit in their championship odds. The odds plummeted from a promising +1000 to a rather disappointing +3000 after the Lillard trade. 

Comparing the Odds: Teams Ahead of The Heat  

The decline of the Miami Heat is evident when considering teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Philadelphia 76ers now boast better odds, with the Heat failing to capitalize on their prime position in the Lillard sweepstakes.

Denver Nuggets: From Favorites to Contenders: The Opening Odds  

Recalling the initial odds from Vegas, the Denver Nuggets opened as the outright favorites to achieve back-to-back championships. With the same championship core and the lethal combination of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, their dominance was unquestionable. However, while they kept most of last year’s roster, other teams leveled up.

Miami Heat: Free Agency Woes: Losses in Key Positions

Miami, in their quest to make the most significant offseason move, ended up losing two pivotal members from their 2023 Finals team: Gabe Vincent to the Lakers and Max Struss to the Cavaliers.

The Evolution of NBA Team Building: Drafting Stars vs. Trading for Championships  

Ever since the creation of the “Big Three” in Boston, when Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen joined forces to win a championship in 2008, the NBA has given teams two ways to go: either trade for a championship and mortgage your future or go the Golden State Warriors way or the New Orleans Pelicans way, drafting most of the starts of the team. The Pels are given +5000 odds to win the 2024 NBA Finals according to the 100% legal BetMGM Louisiana sportsbook.

Conclusion: The Awaited 2024 NBA Season

The upcoming NBA season is eagerly anticipated, with the Suns looking for redemption and the Bucks and Celtics aiming for the title. The Lillard trade has shifted the dynamics and set the stage for an unpredictable and thrilling 2024 season.

With Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal leading the way, the Suns enough offensive firepower to go shot for shot with any team in the league and challenge the Nuggets in the West. Phoenix also added Eric Gordon and Grayson Allen, and both players improve the team’s depth significantly, as they can provide a scoring punch off the bench while their stars rest. 

However, health, how Booker, Durant and Beal distribute their shots and defense are big concerns heading into the new season, which is why the Bucks and Celtics are seen as better bets to win the NBA Championship. Durant, Beal and Nurkic have been injury-prone in recent years and the Suns don’t have many players known for their defensive prowess on the roster. 

That said, offense is the best defense and if everyone is healthy for the playoffs and Jusuf Nurkic lives up to the expectations placed on him, particularly on the defensive end of the court, the Suns can reach the NBA Finals and put up a fight and possibly beat any team from the Eastern Conference.