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West is Best: Lack of Superstars Means Nothing

With all the superstars in the league defecting to the East, we seem to have forgotten that the Western Conference is still home to the leagues best teams. Everyone is busy debating which team will come out of the East, well look at the West! It’s arguably more competitive, and holds the best teams in the league.

Now, I know the Celtics, Heat and Bulls are good teams, and I guess you can throw the Magic in there too, but look at the West. The Spurs are quietly the best team in the league. So much so, that people can’t refer to the Spurs without saying they are quietly the best team in the league. The Mavericks are pretty good as well. If Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t injured early in the year, they might have a better record than the Spurs. Even with their poor play when Dirk was out, they still have more wins than any team in the East. The Spurs and Mavericks may be the two top teams in the West, but the Lakers are still favored to reach the NBA Finals.

The Lakers have had a tale of two seasons. When they are losing, everyone counts them out, saying they are overrated and that the Spurs are the best team solely based on their record. When they are winning, everyone praises Kobe and Phil Jackson and says “SEE!”. I’ve been critical of the Lakers, but let’s be honest, they have the best team in the West. They have so much size up front, have a very good bench headlined by Lamar Odom (and Matt Barnes once he is healthy) and they have Kobe Bryant.

The team in that is first in the Pacific Division, the Oklahoma City Thunder, is getting some love now that they have a dependable front line. The Thunder traded for Kenderick Perkins and Nazr Mohammad, giving them a good center tandem, something they have not had before. Don’t let the record fool you, the Thunder might be the best team in the West now, and after this trade (and once Perkins gets back from injury), the Thunder might be favored by some to make the Finals.

The West has better teams in the bottom seeding too. Compared to the East, the teams that aren’t in the playoffs still have a shot to make the playoffs, and be good in the playoffs. The Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, and Memphis Grizzlies would make for an enjoyable first round stacked against the top teams in the West. Can you say the same about the potential first round matchups in the East? Unlikely.

I mentioned that the East is full of stars, stars that once played for the West. Here’s a list of star players who have changed conferences recently.

Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Chauncey Billups, and Deron Williams are star players who have changed conferences recently. That’s some serious player movement in such a short time. The East clearly has more stars than the West, but that obviously does not mean much, considering how good the teams in the West are.

So look out for the Western Conference, because the beasts may be in the East, but the West is still best.

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Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.