Speaking with ESPN New York’s Jared Zwerling, Carmelo Anthony said he thinks the NBA’s balance of power has shifted from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference.
“When I was in the Western Conference, everybody was talking about how the West is so much better,” he sad. “But now, the power has shifted back into the Eastern Conference, so we’re ready. We’re excited about that.”
The East has obviously gotten better. A lot better. Last year there were really only three teams worth keeping an eye on, in terms of title contention: the Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers. That’s it.
The Brooklyn Nets fancied themselves contenders back then, but they were more an expensive, second-round facade than anything else. And had Derrick Rose been healthy enough to play, the Chicago Bulls wouldn’t have been prolonging the inevitable with each victory they snagged.
Entering next season, those two teams join the Eastern Conference’s elite ranks. Chicago will be getting back Rose and is built like a club that can actually hit threes, and Brooklyn is still rejoicing after its acquisition of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko.
Then there’s still the Heat, who will always be a threat courtesy of LeBron James. There’s also the Pacers, who now have a bench plus a semblance of an offensive identity. Finally there’s ‘Melo’s Knicks, who I’m going to tell you right now are vastly underrated.
Together, those five teams are guaranteed to make up the top five of the conference. After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to who fills out six through eight. The Washington Wizards? Detroit Pistons? Atlanta Hawks? Cleveland Cavaliers? Milwaukee Bucks? We just don’t know. The East has gotten that confusing and, therefore, that much better.
But better than the Western Conference? Slow your roll, good ‘Melo.
Out West there are a litany of teams capable of contending for the title. The San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies are all built to shine. Those who will argue that the Los Angeles Lakers still belong there provided Kobe Bryant is healthy, I’ll still listen to you. Argue that the Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves are anything more than fringe playoff contenders, and I’ll run.
All in all, there still seems to be more talent at West. At the very least, its the deeper of the conferences. I say there are eight to 10 teams out West that finish with a record at or above .500. In the East, I’ll cap that number at eight. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the eighth team is sporting a sub-.500 record.
Remember, it’s not like the East has gotten better at the West’s expense. Shoot, it’s actually the other way around. Monta Ellis and Jrue Holiday, to name a few, were sent out West.
Let’s cool our jets on this balance of power talk then. A few of the Eastern Conference’s teams got better. That doesn’t mean the East is the superior half of the NBA. Because in all likelihood, it’s still not.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.