NBA Offseason Chaos: Balance Of Power Shifts in The West
Western Odds More Competitive Than Ever
The latest personnel swaps drained the east further, intensifying the already-fierce competition in the west. Old favorites like the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs will need to perform well to avoid upsets against a wild new west.
NBA Offseason Chaos Strengthens The West
There’s never been an offseason like 2017. More than 90 players switched teams during the summer, with most of the best players migrating to the west.
No one believed that Jimmy Butler, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony would be traded to the west, but the Bulls, Pacers and Knicks clearly preferred shipping their ex-stars far away instead of watching them play for conference rivals.
Before the 2017 season starts, only two NBA players in ESPN’s top 15 in 2016 play out of the east – LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Of the top 20 players, only six reside with eastern conference teams, and Andre Drummond probably won’t be included in the top twenty this season.
In terms of all-stars, the western conference is so stacked that 21 deserving players will compete for 12 spots when mid-season rolls around. Butler, Anthony and George, consistent east coast all-stars, will have a difficult time finding a spot on the western roster.
The change from an east-west all-star game to a Captain’s draft should mitigate this problem somewhat, but the competitive disparity remains during the regular season, worsening in the playoffs.
East Coast Favorites Consolidate Power
The Boston-Cleveland trade was unprecedented, but appropriate given the lack of competition in the eastern conference. No other team other than the Cavaliers main rival had enough talent and resources to trade for a disgruntled Kyrie Irving.
The gap between the top two in the east and the rest of the conference remains considerable. Washington has one of the best guard combos in the league, but typically falter in the second round of the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors improved by signing C.J. Miles and ridding themselves of contractual dead weight, but remain without the high-end talent of Cleveland and Boston.
Eleven of fourteen eastern conference teams have virtually no chance of defeating Cleveland, or even Boston, in the playoffs. Miami were impressive in the second half of the season, and Giannis Antetokounmpo might make another leap forward into MVP territory, but the most realistic scenario for getting past the Cavaliers is an injury to LeBron James.
Zero Margin For Error In The West
Now that the western conference features a slew of killer teams, the Golden State Warriors have little room for error, while the rest of the conference has none.
A couple of off weeks for teams like the Spurs, Rockets, Thunder and Timberwolves will relegate them from western conference competitors into long shots. Compare this picture with the east, where LeBron and the Cavs hardly care about the regular season. Teams in the west must remain focused all season, instead of saving energy for the playoffs.
Much depends on how quickly new-look teams gel early in the schedule. Houston, Oklahoma and Minnesota will need to adjust to new lineups to make the most of their new talent – easier said than done. Teams like the Warriors, Spurs and the Portland Trail Blazers will enjoy a brief advantage in terms of continuity, because of the lack of top-end turnover.
NBA futures will fluctuate in the western conference as teams become accustomed to all the changes. The east remains stable and relatively stale – only the Boston Celtics have an outside shot at beating the Cleveland Cavaliers. The west is more unpredictable than ever because of the element of the unknown.
Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have never played with a point guard like Russell Westbrook – will Westbrook unlock another gear in his two new all-star mates? Will one ball be enough for Chris Paul and James Harden? Are the Timberwolves an elite team with Jimmy Butler? These questions will be answered on-court as basketball betting fans anticipate an exciting new season.
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