The NBA’s Eastern Conference has been portrayed as a baby cub compared to the roaring lion that is the Western Conference over the last few years.
This is no surprise.
With a combination of big name superstars jumping ship to the competitive nature of the West, it leaves the teams on the East Coast looking around and having no choice but to hit the reset button.
Why has the East gotten so weak? The reason listed above is the big one.
Most of the big moves from free agency over the last few years were more of Western stars joining already stacked and established Western teams. Kevin Durant to the 73-win Warriors, Chris Paul to Houston, Paul George to the Thunder and now rumors of LeBron James possibly looking to move out West after this season, possibly the Lakers or Warriors?
All of the big names in the game can almost virtually be found exclusively in the West.
Another big factor leading to the East being uncompetitive is the fact that about five or six teams have hit the “rebuild” button.
Atlanta, Orlando, Chicago, Brooklyn and even New York (without Porzingis) have fallen into mediocrity, leaving only two teams that are actually trying to be competitive on the outside of the playoff picture.
In the West, as of this writing, only two games separate the three-through-nine seeds.
So how can the East rise back to prominence like it did when Jordan, Ewing, Iverson and Carter made the conference watchable?
There are signs of growth, as well as a few things that need to happen.
First, LeBron needs to stay in the East this offseason. Whether he re-signs with Cleveland, packs up for the Big Apple or comes to Philadelphia, the East is more competitive when he is in it.
Next, the young stars need to take charge.
Simmons and Embiid have turned the 76ers franchise around, Kyrie and Hayward in Boston will be interesting to watch when both are actually healthy. Lowry and DeRozan led Toronto to a great year and Giannis Antetokounmpo became a powerhouse who led Milwaukee to relevance once again.
The East is still steps behind the West as far as star power. But the future of the conference is leaning towards something positive.
If the young stars and duos that are mentioned above continue to play at the caliber they are playing and some of the rebuilding teams find their key pieces to be competitive again, many will shift their view to the East to watch good basketball.
Young, scrappy teams fighting for wins is more entertaining than watching a few teams in the West holding an arms race to see who can load-up with the most All-Stars in an effort to build the greatest super team.
Soon, “Beasts of the East” will become a legitimate title in the NBA once again.
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