Why Stephen A. Smith thinks Celtics are title favorites over Durant's Suns


The 2023 NBA trade deadline came and went with a bang.

We saw a ton of moves made across the league, including two blockbuster deals involving Brooklyn Nets superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving being traded to the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks, respectively. 

Durant joined a Suns roster that already featured superstar guard Devin Booker, future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul and a very good starting center in DeAndre Ayton.

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Should we view the new-look Suns as the favorites to win the 2023 NBA Finals? Not so fast, says ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.

Smith was on the set of ESPN "NBA Countdown" before Thursday night's game between the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets at TD Garden. He explained why the Celtics should still be considered the title favorites despite the Suns acquiring Durant.

Check out Smith's explanation in the video below:

Most oddsmakers agree with Smith. 

The Celtics are the favorites at DraftKings Sportbook with +350 odds to win the 2023 championship. The Suns are next on that list at +425. 

It's hard to match the Suns' star talent. However, their depth is far worse after this trade now that Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Jae Crowder (who hasn't played yet this season) are all gone.


Durability is a concern for Phoenix, too. Booker has battled injury and missed a bunch of games this season. We know Paul isn't the most durable player, and Durant has missed a ton of games in recent years due to injuries as well. The Western Conference also is very competitive this season, with the third place and 12th place teams separated by just 4.5 games in the standings. 

The race for the Larry O'Brien Trophy is as wide open as it's ever been. You could make a case for almost eight to 10 teams having a realistic chance to win the NBA Finals. The Celtics and Suns are the favorites in their respective conferences, but their roads to the Finals will be quite difficult.