With 10 teams currently over .500, the Western Conference is clearly the dominant conference in the NBA.
While that provides great entertainment and storylines with nearly every conference matchup meaning something, it will also leave some great players out of the playoffs.
Damian Lillard, the point guard of the third-place Portland Trail Blazers, sees the competition in the West as a good thing.
Speaking for the media for All-Star Weekend, Lillard explained why he likes playing in the West:
“It’s really competitive in the West. Everybody knows that. I think it makes it fun — it’s really fun to be a part of that type of competition where every night matters. You have to show up, you gotta put your best foot forward. I think that brings the best out of us.”
Lillard’s response is fairly typical — most players say playing against the best brings out the best in them, but it also highlights another point about the West, one that might be an advantage for each team.
Because the competition is so stiff, players and their teams are always prepared and have to be ready to play. While there will obviously be blowouts and off nights, by and large, teams are up for playing one another and games will be close and competitive. Whereas in the East, where there are only six teams above .500, teams may blow each other out or play down to the level of their opponents, there are rarely any teams sneaking up on one another.
The competition of the West also affects how these teams are built. Teams look to get any advantage they can, and that often means reevaluating rosters and looking for trades. The Memphis Grizzlies already made, arguably, the biggest trade thus far in the West by acquiring Jeff Green, hoping to bolster their offence. With the trade deadline nearing, most Western Conference teams will likely be active in seeking improvements and trying to top one another.
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