Why the Western Conference is Overrated

Arya Bhansali

Every year we talk about the NBA playoffs, we always talk about how the Western Conference is amazing and that it is very entertaining to watch every year. We hear media and other news networks write about how the West is way better and that it is unpredictable which team will make the finals every year while the East is a “foregone conclusion” and that LeBron will always win. Everyone says “the East is so weak” and how there is no competition for LeBron and his teams. Every year since 2014, people have said how LeBron “cakewalks to the Finals” and that it’s over before it starts. Everyone praises the Warriors and how amazing they are while everyone dispatches the Cavs and try to delegitimize the fact that they are the only team to start two consecutive postseasons 8-0 and say that the East is weak and has no competition.

There have been talks about eliminating the conferences because of how travel is much better compared to the commercial flights teams had to travel in the past and also about how it would “balance out the league.” The media is saying about how the majority of the stars are in the West and that the stars in the Western Conference are more marketed and are bigger names than the East. Players like Kawhi Leonard, who’s a quiet guy, and Russell Westbrook garner the majority of the attention while players like LeBron get scrutinized because of the “he plays in the EAST” comments and that most of his opponents are scrubs.

Before this year’s NBA playoffs, the media has said that the Warriors path to the Finals was super hard and that they had to get through really tough teams to get there. In the 2014-15 playoffs, the Warriors played the Pelicans, Grizzlies, and Rockets. In the 2015-16 playoffs, the Warriors played the Rockets, Trail Blazers, and Thunder. In those two years, the opposing teams combined for 296 wins. In the 2014-15 playoffs, the Cavs faced the Celtics, Bulls, and Hawks and in 2015-16 playoffs, they faced the Pistons, Hawks, and Raptors. The opposing teams combined for 298 wins in the two years. Based on regular season wins, it should be a forgone conclusion that the Cavs had a “tougher” road to the Finals both of those years but for some odd reason, it seems as if the Warriors had to play these “super teams” in the West. For the past two years, the Warriors never had to face a stacked Spurs team and also had the easiest path to the Finals. On the other hand, the Cavs had to play a 60 win Hawks team in 2014-15 playoffs, which they were able to dispatch really easily and swept them in 4 games. Unlike the Warriors, the Cavs were able to dispatch their competition really easily and entering the Finals both those years; they held a 12-2 record in the playoffs. In reality, both these teams don’t have a relatively hard path to the Finals, but for an odd reason, the West is so tough while the East is a “cakewalk.”

The San Antonio Spurs have been such a great team for the past 20 years. They have been one of the best dynasties ever since they drafted Tim Duncan in 1997. After drafting Duncan, they have won 50 games every year (except 1999 due to the lockout shortened year). Ever since Tim Duncan has been drafted, the Spurs have won the Western Conference 6 times and went on to win the championship five times, only losing once to Miami during that span. The Spurs are one of the best dynasties ever, but the real reason the Western Conference is getting so much praise for being tough is the Spurs, and it’s what separates the East and the West.
In the NBA today, there are only three real contenders in the NBA, which are the Warriors, Cavs, and the Spurs. The media says how every 50 win team this year is a contender, and 5 of them belong in the West. The thing is that the rest of the 50 win teams are missing key pieces to make a deep run as the Warriors, Cavs, and Spurs can. The media also says about how if you put teams like the Thunder in the East, they would be able to get the 3rd due to the sole play of Russell Westbrook and his rampage of triple-doubles. In Dom2ks video about eliminating conferences, he said that putting the Spurs over in the East would make the NBA more balanced and that there can be more parody in the NBA, but if you put the Spurs in the East, people would praise the East more and how great of a conference it is. Even though the East isn’t the stronger conference at the moment, the media and the fans shouldn’t heavily praise the West, and all of it’s “contenders, ” and we shouldn’t say how “the East is so weak” and how it is a “cakewalk to the Finals” for the Cavs because at the end, we as fans should truly enjoy the teams that face each other because we won’t see 2 teams like the Cavs and the Warriors dominate their conferences again and are in collision course to meet each other again for the 3rd time in a row.

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