The Eastern Conference and the Western Conference — both have their strengths and weaknesses. They are the underlying structure that the NBA resides on. But why does the NBA have conferences? Is it for order and structure, or for something a little bit more clever? Could the Eastern Conference be catching a break for the playoffs in the current two-conference structure? The evidence seems to point in that direction…
Currently, in the halted NBA Season, there are four teams in the Eastern Conference that have over 40 wins, compared to seven teams in the West. In the 2018-2019 season only three teams in the East had over 50 wins, whereas five teams in the West did. This has shown the lopsided shift of competition from pretty-even to West-dominant. In the past couple of years, many NBA stars have decided to move from the Eastern Conference to the West — like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and D’Angelo Russell, whereas Kevin Durant might be the only major player to move to the East in the past couple of years.
What this really means is that while the Western Conference is getting more-competitive, the Eastern Conference is getting less-competitive — making it unfair to base playoffs on elimination strictly in-conference. The in-conference playoffs model doesn’t acknowledge good regular-season records, it acknowledges records that are in the top 8 of the conference.
That’s why an elimination of the Eastern and Western conferences could be beneficial toward the overall competition of the NBA. It would only level out the playing field. The best teams would make the playoffs, and there would be a more-competitive playoff series, and ultimately a more-competitive NBA Finals. If conferences were eliminated, there would be less sweep series like the 2018 NBA Finals — where the Warriors, the Western Conference team, swept the Cavaliers, the Eastern Conference team, 4-0 for the NBA title.
But, in this scenario of eliminating conferences, it ultimately leads to the question: would Eastern Conference teams stand a chance? My answer is no. But it is for the better.
This scenario would be the ultimate wake-up call for the Eastern Conference teams to start bringing back big-time players to their franchises. It would level-out the playing field and create an even-more competitive NBA. It’s crazy. But it might… just…work.