The NBA trade deadline has since come and gone, but not before a ton of players — and second round picks — were traded throughout the league. A lot of big time names were traded to Western Conference teams and it started over the weekend when the Dallas Mavericks acquired Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets.

The next wave of moves began yesterday when the Los Angeles Lakers acquired D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley in a three-team trade to hopefully bolster their chances of avoiding the play-in tournament.

Then came late last night when the Phoenix Suns acquired Kevin Durant from the Nets for a flurry of picks and young talent in Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. A lot of other teams in the West followed suit as the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers — most notably acquiring Bones Hyland — made a ton of moves to better their chances in the West.

All of those teams are currently chasing the Denver Nuggets at the top of the standings. The Nuggets chose to mostly stand pat the deadline, but did move on from Hyland for multiple second round picks, while also acquiring a backup big man from the Lakers in Thomas Bryant.

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Even though Denver did not make a splash move, did they really need too? The Nuggets record of 38-17 is 4.5 games clear of the Memphis Grizzlies for the best record in the conference and Denver is just a game behind the Boston Celtics for the best record in the league.

Championships obviously aren’t won in the regular season and that’s never been more true for Denver as they have fallen short of reaching the finals in each of their last four playoff appearances. Is this finally the year or will someone else in the West find a way to knock out the Nuggets come playoff time?

Following their trade last night to acquire Durant, the Suns have vaulted as the favorite to come out of the West. I say not so fast though as I still like the Nuggets matchup against the Suns even with the addition of Durant. It’s going to be pretty tough to completely slow Durant down, but having players at their disposal to try like Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is pretty important.

We also have no idea whether Durant will even mesh alongside Chris Paul, Devin Booker, or Deandre Ayton whenever they do take the floor together. Health is always a big concern when you are talking about guys like Durant and Booker as there’s no telling whether or not this deal will actually work out. It’s a gamble if you ask me and even though Durant is one of the best players in the game that’s only if he’s actually available.

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Phoenix is currently 8.5 games back of Denver for first place in the West as they occupy the fifth spot. Right now, the Nuggets and Suns would be on a collision course to meet in the second round, but with 27 games remaining there is still a lot to sort out. No matter which team you look at whether it’s Phoenix, Golden State, either Los Angeles team, Dallas, or even a team like the Memphis Grizzlies, no match up feels like a bad one for the Nuggets.

Denver still has the best player in the NBA in Nikola Jokic, who looks poised to win his third consecutive MVP. Not only do they have the league MVP on their team, but they also have a fully healthy Jamal Murray, who is starting to find his rhythm and play the best basketball of his career.

Then there is Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon, who have both bought into their roles alongside the Nuggets two stars in Jokic and Murray. Add in players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown, now Bryant, and even contributors like Vlatko Cancar and Christian Braun and it’s easy to see how — if the Nuggets stay healthy — it’s going to be tough for any team to beat them in a playoff series.

The Nuggets are ready to compete for a championship and their performance this season has proved that. Regardless of what teams have done around them, the Nuggets decision to stay the course could eventually pay off and how glorious that would be.