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NBA season update: Trade deals reshape championship battle

The All-Star break took place last weekend so there are still a few more days off before the regular season NBA action resumes.

We've now entered a crucial period in the season as teams battle for the seeding spots in their respective Conferences and some teams bid to keep their postseason hopes alive.

The trade deadline proved to be dramatic with some huge moves taking place, potentially reshaping the championship battle, and now is an ideal time to provide a season update ahead of the resumption of the action on Thursday.

Brooklyn look out of contention in the East

Just over a year ago Brooklyn Nets had arguably the most feared big three in the league, but that team has now been completely dismantled.

James Harden departed for Philadelphia 76ers last year and, after months of speculation, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have now left the Nets as well.

Irving has joined Dallas Mavericks and Durant has linked up with Chris Paul and Devin Booker at Phoenix Suns.

The duo both requested trades over the summer, but no team was able to put together a suitable package.

For a while, it appeared as if the Nets might get another full season out of the wantaway superstars, but in the end they were allowed to move on and any hopes Brooklyn had of securing the championship have probably left with them.

The Nets remain well-placed in fifth spot in the East, but in truth it is hard to see them holding on to a top-six seed.

The East now appears to be down to a three-way battle between Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia.

Boston are rated at 11/4 to lift the championship after losing out in the Finals Series last year, the Bucks are 11/2 and the Sixers are very much the outsiders at 11/1 - but with MVP contender Joel Embiid and Harden on their roster they clearly have a real chance of taking the top prize.

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Suns the new team to beat in the West

Denver Nuggets lead the way in the West, but that Conference is packed with quality teams and even the Los Angeles Lakers - who sit in 13th place as it stands - could still be considered championship hopefuls given the star quality on their roster.

The Suns reached the Finals Series in 2021, but disappointed in the playoffs last season.

The arrival of Durant from Brooklyn has instantly transformed them into perhaps the new favourites to go all the way, as the franchise seeks a first-ever championship, despite the fact he is yet to suit up for his new team due to injury.

Dallas have also gone from outsiders to serious contenders after snaring Irving from the Nets. The Mavs did have to give up quite a bit to bring in the guard, but Irving's arrival does give them another star to partner Luka Doncic and they can no longer be considered a one-man team.

The new arrivals in Dallas and Phoenix have clearly dented both Denver's and Memphis Grizzlies' own title aspirations, but they will both still feel they have a real chance this year.

Denver have an exceptional home record and look locked in for top seed in the West as they boast a five-game lead over closes rivals Memphis, who are four-and-a-half clear of the Suns and a further game ahead of Dallas.

It would take a big shift to knock Denver and Memphis out of those top two spots so those teams should have home advantage in the postseason in the West - and those small margins can make all the difference in the playoffs.

The Suns are 4/1 to win the championship, Dallas are 16/1 with Denver and Memphis priced at 15/2 and 16/1 respectively.

Champions playing catch-up

Golden State Warriors are the current champions but they find themselves almost out of the championship conversation entirely as they sit in ninth in the West with a 29-29 overall record.

The Dubs do have a habit of raising their levels in the postseason, however, and will still feel they are able to successfully defend their title.

There are a few other outsiders worth keeping an eye on as well as Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat can potentially profit from the breakdown of Brooklyn's team in the East.

The Sacramento Kings remain well placed in the West, while if the likes of the LA Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans can get their key players fit in time for the playoffs they may prove to be the surprise packages, as it still remains to be seen just how effective both Irving and, particularly, Durant will be at their new teams.

Golden State are 14/1 to win the championship outright, while the Heat can be backed at 50/1 and the Cavs are 25/1.

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