Article by: Peter Caceci
Over the past couple of seasons, the Eastern Conference in the NBA has changed considerably with the amount of competition within the conference. Before, you would occasionally have one star that would push each team to the limelight for a small length of time in a season, and that would be it. That team would go on to have a mediocre season and would retreat to the postseason awaiting its draft picks. The Western Conference, as we know, has tons of stars flocking to the other half of the league creating super teams like the rosters in Golden State and Oklahoma City. The star power in the West has always been much higher, so the few stars that have been groomed in the East, always end up making their way to the West at some point in their careers.
As the pendulum swings back towards the East, players of championship-caliber quality, like Kawhi Leonard, are finding themselves on teams, in this case the Toronto Raptors, that have never seen a playoff run in consecutive years. Then, there is the common scenario where the teams are amping up their building through the draft, and teams that have been down in the gutters, like the Philadelphia 76ers, may find themselves back in the Finals through obtaining players like all stars Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons. Another example of this would be the Boston Celtics from last season, where they made a solid playoff push using their rising stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, coming one game short of the NBA Finals after ultimately losing to LeBron's Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
On the other hand, there are still plenty of announcers, celebrities, and sports journalists that still believe the East is nowhere near the level of the competition of the West. With the current roster that the Warriors have, it still seems to be the Warriors vs everyone else. An example of this argument is LeBron James and his current situation with the Los Angeles Lakers. We all know that LeBron is a player who has conquered through thick and thin with all-star teams, and teams with little to no support. Many fans believed that when he went across the country, he would get the Lakers out of their disastrous season, and lead the young core to the playoffs, or at least a winning record. Now however, it looks like LeBron's Lakers won't be making the playoffs after all, and are in a very similar situation as last season. Except this time around, the team's overall chemistry seems to be completely diminished. .
Let’s face it though, in hindsight the East is coming back, and in the next two seasons it will be a major powerhouse. Teams are constantly pushing for the “Now!” movement, meaning they want success and they do not want it in the next 10 years. It all depends on what happens this offseason with the many free agents, and how the teams in the East will handle them. If the Knicks, for example, can obtain Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant, along with getting Zion Williamson in the draft, then that only adds to the conference's overall diversity of rising teams. Expect teams like the 76ers, Bucks, Raptors, and Celtics to all be in prime championship contention for the foreseeable future as well.
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