COMMENTARY | Although the Miami Heat have won two consecutive championships, the Western Conference has been the better conference as a whole during this time.
There have been playoff teams in the East that would be buried much deeper in the standings in the West, such as the last season's Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. Similarly, it seems as if teams like the Memphis Grizzlies or Golden State Warriors would have had a much better chance of making it to the NBA Finals if they were in the Eastern Conference.
Now this looks to have changed a bit. The Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets have made major improvements this offseason and figure to be noticeably better this season. Derrick Rose is finally returning from his ACL injury, making the Chicago Bulls a much more dangerous team. Additionally, the Heat and New York Knicks have no plans to go away anytime soon.
Carmelo Anthony has taken notice of these Eastern Conference teams around him making serious moves. While this hasn't even been a debate recently, Melo now believes that his conference possesses the NBA's power.
The Heat look to be better as ever, but their competition is certainly much tougher than it has been over the past three seasons. The Pacers, who have been a thorn in their side recently, made much-needed improvements to their bench in adding Chris Copeland and Luis Scola. Indiana is also welcoming back Danny Granger from injury; he missed most of last season due to injury. Brooklyn made blockbuster moves with hopes of making a championship run, and the Knicks have made a few smaller moves to improve on last year's success. The hobbled Chicago Bulls look to finally be healthy again, with their MVP point guard finally returning to the floor.
Melo may be right here. There are five teams in the Eastern Conference with the potential to be very dangerous. The past few years, it has pretty much been the Heat and everybody else. Miami's road to the NBA Finals appears to be much tougher, and Melo has taken notice.
The Western Conference still figures to be very good, but a few playoff teams have taken serious hits. Kevin Martin left the Oklahoma City Thunder, leaving a major scoring void that will need to be filled somehow. Andre Iguodala and George Karl are no longer with the Denver Nuggets, and the Los Angeles Lakers were not able to keep Dwight Howard.
The New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony will look to be one of the major players in the Eastern Conference. They will certainly need to fight to keep their spot as the second-best team, as some of the teams below them will be much better this season. A few minor moves should improve their depth, with Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih looking to contribute quality minutes.
If Melo is to be proven right, his Knicks will have to have a very good season in a suddenly improved Eastern Conference.
Chris lives in Connecticut and covers the New York Knicks. He grew up in New York and is a lifelong follower of the NBA.
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