Is the East Becoming the More Dominant Conference?


For the last six seasons, only two teams have managed to win the NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat. The common factor in those two teams is that they both featured NBA superstar, LeBron James. During the same six seasons, four different teams from the Western Conference have won the NBA Finals.

The Western Conference has also dominated the Eastern Conference in head to head matchups over the last four years. According to Cleveland.com, over the last four seasons, the Western Conference is a combined 282 games over .500 against the Eastern Conference teams. However, the margin has gotten much smaller, as the West was only 14 games over .500 against the Eastern Conference in the 2015-2016 season. The Western Conference also featured 11 of the 15 players selected on the NBA’s All NBA teams.

After a wild first month in the NBA off-season, has there been a shift in power in the conferences?

The team that made the most significant move was the Golden State Warriors. They signed the top free agent of 2016 in Kevin Durant. That move made Golden State the odds on favorites to win the NBA championship in 2017. What that move also did was weaken one of the top three teams in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder went from being the Warriors top contender, to a team that will be fighting for a playoff spot. Other big moves that have affected the landscape of the Western conference consisted of Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan retiring, Dwight Howard leaving Houston for Atlanta, Rajon Rondo leaving Sacramento for Chicago, Serge Ibaka traded to Orlando, among many others.

The Eastern Conference teams were arguably more active trying to strengthen their rosters. Other than the moves mentioned above, the Eastern Conference moves also consisted of Dwyane Wade going to Chicago, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, Brandon Jennings, and Derrick Rose (via trade) all ending up in New York. The Indiana Pacers acquired Al Jefferson, Jeff Teague (via trade), and Thaddeus Young. The Boston Celtics made a big splash by signing Al Horford.

With all the movements that were made this off-season, other than the Golden State Warriors, the primary teams that have gotten better have been the Eastern Conference teams. The San Antonio Spurs will be the main challenger to the Golden State Warriors in the West considering they have acquired Pau Gasol. While in the East, multiple teams have made significant movements to strengthen their rosters to rise as the team that knocks the Cavaliers off their throne.

While many teams in the Eastern Conference have made improvements to their rosters, the Cavaliers will still be heavy favorites to come out of the East again in 2017. However, barring multiple injuries, expect a more challenging Eastern Conference and a more difficult road to the finals for Cleveland. The Eastern Conference teams have done a great job at improving this off-season. The West has dominated the last few years, but after a busy summer, expect the tides to start turning towards the East.

About Aaron Davis

Aaron is a staff writer and the Co-Founder of NBALEAD. He has been following the NBA for over 15 years. Graduated from Purdue University.

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