The Western Conference was supposed to be the better conference coming into the season. There were so many good teams just a year ago but what happened to that Western Conference dominance? It’s still early but things have changed just a little bit in the West.
The West is still competitive but it is not as dominant as we thought it would be. Last season seven teams won at least 50 games and you needed 45 wins to make the playoffs. On the flip side the Eastern Conference only had three teams win 50 games and there were two teams under .500 that made the playoffs.
At this moment in the season two Western Conference teams are below .500 but in the playoffs. This includes the Phoenix Suns and the struggling Los Angeles Clippers. Of the top eight teams in the West two of them have a negative point differential. The Memphis Grizzlies have a -3.2 point differential but that’s what happens when you lose by 50 points to the Warriors. The Blazers are worst as expected but the Rockets have fallen off a cliff and are only 5-10.
The Timberwolves, Nuggets and Mavericks have been surprises this season. Although the Nuggets and Wolves are outside of the playoffs they do have better records than the Rockets, Kings and Pelicans. New Orleans has been banged up and got off to a bad start. The Los Angeles Lakers might be the worst team in basketball even though they have two more wins than the lowly Sixers.
In the Eastern Conference the top 9 teams have a positive point differential. More surprising is the fact that 11 teams in the East are at .500 including the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons. The Boston Celtics are currently outside of the playoffs but they have a better point differential than five Western Conference playoff teams.
So what happened to the West? The Pelicans are the only team dealing with major injuries. The Clippers rotation is terrible and the offense looks bad whenever Chris Paul sits on the bench. Houston is 3-7 at home and has the second worst point differential in the West. The top three teams in the West; Warriors, Spurs and Thunder are set but the rest of the West will continue to change throughout the season.
For the first time in a while the race in the Eastern Conference might be better. The Pistons are a surprise team; the Hornets are scoring and launching 3-pointers, the Knicks actually look like a real team and everyone loves Porzingis. Right now the East is slightly better than the West.