Photo by Larry W. Smith, Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
The disparity between the NBA’s Eastern Conference and Western Conference is not a new phenomenon.
Since 1999, only 4 Eastern Conference teams have won an NBA championship. In the last 19 seasons, the West has taken 13 of those championship rings. Therefore, there has evidently been a Western dominance in the NBA over the last 2 decades.
During this year’s offseason, there has been a migration to the West that the US hasn’t seen since the 19th century gold rush to California. Countless All-Star calibre players shifted to Western Conference teams, with comparably fewer going the other way.
Some notable players include Butler and Teague to the T-Wolves, Melo and PG13 to the Thunder and Millsap to the Nuggets. Only Hayward reputably went the other way, trading Jazz blue for Celtics green.
How did the problem get to this?
Therefore, one must ask the question: why?
Well, it’s more to do with how franchises and teams are run in the West as opposed to in the East. Greater numbers of Western teams like the Thunder, Clippers and Rockets have favoured superstar basketball, building teams around primary scorers.
For example, Lob City in LA; both Big 3s in OKC; and Harden and CP3 in Houston. Whereas, more teams in the East have preferred a team basketball core. Notably the Bulls, Hawks and Celtics have consistently made the playoffs in the last decade by buying into a team-first style of basketball. This is contrary to constantly relying on stars to ignite an offense and lead the defensive front.
Naturally superstars have looked to Western Conference teams as more desirable due to the increased touches stars have. This has led to Eastern Conference players shifting West whilst Western Conference players are more inclined to stay where they are.
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