NBA Free Agency: Even With Big Moves In East, West is Top Conference
Yes, this free agency period has been wild thus far. Although not many main players have switched teams as of yet, some people have suggested that the Eastern Conference has now overtaken the Western Conference as the superior one in the NBA.
Who can really say this in good conscience? The West has won eight of the last 11 championships and that dominance has shown no signs of slowing down.
Let's look at some other good reasons why the West is still the best.
The Lakers Are the NBA's Best
It's obvious to me, as it should be to everyone, that the Los Angeles Lakers are still the best team in the NBA (it might not be close).
Some may argue that the new Heat team could challenge the Lakers, but the duo of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol is probably even better than the Wade-Bosh combo and there is no debating who has the better supporting cast.
Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and Derek Fisher are very good players in the NBA, and the Heat will have a hard time putting together a better supporting cast than that.
The Lakers have won the last two championships and don't look to be slowing down coming into next season. An Eastern Conference team will have to do a lot more to be considered the favorites going into the 2010-2011 NBA season.
The Nuggets Are Better Than the East
I would even argue that the Denver Nuggets are better than any team the Eastern Conference has to offer right now, even if LeBron James goes back to Cleveland.
The Nuggets broke through and became a top team last season with the play of Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Nene, Kenyon Martin, Chris Anderson and more.
While the talent might not line up with the Celtics, Heat or Cavs of the East, I bet if you put the Nuggets in a seven-game series with any Eastern Conference team, they would win.
The Mavericks Are Arguably Better Than the East
Even further down the list in the Western Conference, the Mavericks could be argued as having a better team than any team in the Eastern Conference.
With the re-signing of Dirk Nowitzki to a cap-friendly contract, the Mavs have cap room to improve on their 55-win season last year.
Paired up with Jason Kidd, Dirk had even more help last season from the likes of Jason Terry, Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler, Rodrigue Beaubois and more.
This team is very well balanced and could be a surprise in the 2011 playoffs.
The West Is Deeper
Overall, the West is clearly a deeper conference than the East as it stands right now. A ranking of the top 16 teams in the NBA shows that the Western Conference has the clear advantage in depth.
4. Cavaliers (with LeBron)
7. Jazz (with Boozer)
It doesn't get any better as you go further down the list.
Not Enough Talent Has Shifted Between Conferences
I think we can all agree that the West was the best conference last season and has been for a while now.
Has that much talent shifted between conferences for us to now call the East better?
Sure, Amar'e Stoudemire went to the Knicks, but that has been the only major shift between conferences this season.
Carlos Boozer could be the next one to jump to the East, but those two players alone moving across conferences doesn't shift the balance enough to make me say that the East is better.
The NBA's Best Players Are Still in the West
A comparison of the top players in each conference still shows that the West has more top talented players than the East, although it could be debatable.
For example, the West features Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Tim Duncan, Rudy Gay and others.
For comparison, the East has LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire, Danny Granger, Derrick Rose, the big three of the Celtics, and more.
Which one do you think is better? Does anyone want to argue for the side of the new Eastern Conference?