Disparity in the NBA is out of control.
There are two conferences comprised of the 30 teams in the NBA, and right now they are not equal. The Western conference is as strong as ever, with an incredible 10 teams over .500. Additionally, Memphis is just breaking even at .500, with Minnesota and New Orleans only one game below the threshold.
However, in the East, there is a problem. Apart from Indiana (17-2) and Miami (14-5), who are both fine, and Atlanta hanging in there just above .500, that conference is horrible. Detroit, Washington and Chicago are all one game below .500, while Charlotte is two games from breaking even. However somehow 9-12 Boston is ahead of them and sits in the automatic fourth-seed, because the Atlantic Division is so abysmal.
To put it another way, the season is about at the 20-game mark for the teams and the Western Conference already has 10 team in double-digits in victories. Also, three teams are at nine wins and will get to double-digits in the next couple games. In the East, only three teams have double-digit wins, while four teams are right on the cusp.
This disparity between conferences is happening right now, and so “violently” for a few reasons.
- The Western Conference is simply better and deeper, resulting in what’s called a zero-sum problem. If a Western team wins over an Eastern team it’s doubly bad for disparity. It’s happening a whole bunch so far this season.
- The top teams in the East, the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat (and to a lesser extent Atlanta Hawks, who are over .500) are SO good it worsens the disparity because some Eastern teams can’t even beat a team in their own conference, let alone one from the West.
- In the first half of the season, there is generally more “inter-conference” play. This is because the league wants teams in their respective conferences and divisions playing meaningful games against each other at the end of the season for playoff seeding. So there are more inter-conference games on the schedule and the West is dominating.
So are you saying the All-Star game in February will be a blowout for the West?
No, because many of the PLAYERS in the East are amazing, just many of the teams aren’t. Case and point: John Wall and the Wizards, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers. Also, a big majority (maybe even the entire starting lineup and possibly more) of the East All-Star team will be comprised of players from the Pacers and Heat. The Eastern Conference starting lineup could be Roy Hibbert, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Paul George.
So, is this level of disparity between the conferences good for the NBA?
Ultimately, no. Disparity is never a good thing in sports as it’s only exciting for fans if their team is good or the outlook is reasonable for the team to be good in the future. However, it isn’t all bad, because basketball is a dynasty sport. That’s why the Celtics have won 17 championships, while Lakers have won 16. The Bulls are next in line with a DECADE’S WORTH fewer titles in NBA history with Michael Jordan’s six.
However, over the course of years it’s been a sort of a black mark on the record of the NBA when a team like Phoenix misses out on the West playoffs, despite having an above .500 record, while one or two teams in the East playoffs haven’t even won half their games, but make the postseason anyway.
The disparity is pretty bad right now, because Phoenix who is the ninth seed and currently out of the playoffs in the West, would be the THIRD-SEED in the East right now behind Miami and Indiana.