The Brooklyn Nets have been NBA favorites all season long, and that hasn’t changed because of the team’s latest issues. Amid an eight-game losing streak, Kevin Durant’s injury and rumors that James Harden could be traded, the Nets still have the best odds to claim this year’s championship
Brooklyn is a +300 favorite to win the 2022 NBA Finals, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Nets have the league’s best championship odds by a good margin, ahead of the Golden State Warriors (+450), Phoenix Suns (+450) and Milwaukee Bucks (+700).
Golden State and Phoenix have the NBA’s best records. The Bucks are the reigning champions and only a half-game out of the East’s No. 1 seed. After 53 games, the Nets have a worse record than 12 NBA teams. Brooklyn isn’t even in the latest playoff picture.
The Nets (29-24) are currently the East’s No. 7 seed. That means Brooklyn would be forced to earn a postseason berth in the play-in tournament if the regular season ended today.
A knee injury is expected to keep Durant sidelined until at least the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 20. Without their best player, the Nets have lost eight straight games. Harden has missed four of those games with injuries, and there’s speculation that his immediate future with the team is uncertain.
On Jan. 11, the Nets rebuffed the Philadelphia 76ers’ attempt to trade for Harden, ESPN reports. Brooklyn is considered unlikely to send Harden to Philadelphia by Thursday’s trade deadline, but The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that the Nets are believed to be open to discussing a deal.
Philadelphia is expected to present Brooklyn with an offer for Harden that centers around Ben Simmons. Seth Curry, Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle could also be involved in the trade talks.
Harden has told the Nets that he’s committed to winning with the team. The former MVP is set to become a free agent this summer and has declined Brooklyn’s offer of a contract extension.
Harden has been frustrated with his role in Brooklyn, according to The Athletic, forced to carry much of the burden on offense because of Durant’s injuries and Kyrie Irving’s status as a part-time player. Irving isn’t allowed to play in home games because he remains unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Brooklyn might be the league’s best team when healthy, which is why it still has the best odds to win the title. The Nets had the best record in the East on New Year’s Eve, before Irving had made his season debut.
Durant’s 29.3 points per game would tie Joel Embiid for the league lead if he played enough games to qualify for the scoring title. Harden’s 10.2 assists per game are second in the NBA. Irving is averaging 23.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.
Brooklyn pushed Milwaukee to overtime in Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals with Harden and Irving battling injuries because Durant was so dominant.
The Nets are only percentage points behind the No. 6 seed Toronto Raptors and three games behind the No. 5 seed 76ers. The No. 1 seed Miami Heat have four fewer losses than Brooklyn.
The Nets are 4.5 games ahead of the Washington Wizards, which are the first team out of the play-in tournament.
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