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Good drafting key behind East’s resurgence

By: Tim Palladino

Kristaps Porzingis looks like a star in the making and is going to be huge helping create balance between conferences in the NBA.

Kristaps Porzingis looks like a star in the making and is going to be huge helping create balance between conferences in the NBA.

The balance in the NBA is starting to shift. The Western Conference is still far superior to the Eastern Conference but the East is getting much, much better because teams are finally starting to draft well.

While the Western Conference is still tight and competitive, the Eastern Conference is still very top heavy with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls running things but teams are catching up. The Knicks appear to have struck gold with their fist round pick Kristaps Porzingis. Jahlil Okafor looks like a star in the making and Frank Kaminsky, Justise Winslow, Jerian Grant and R.J. Hunter are all rookies coming along nicely. Combined with the returns of Chris Bosh and Paul George from injury, there was a lot of talent added to the Eastern Conference.

For years the Eastern Conference teams were miserable at drafting. While Atlanta was striking out on Marvin Williams and Toronto was wasting their picks on Charlie Villanueva, the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets were beefing up by getting Deron Williams and Chris Paul. Andrea Bargnani, Adam Morrison, Tyros Thomas and Shelden Williams were all busts while LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay brought power and athleticism to the West.

While Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, James Harden and Stephen Curry were brought out west, Yi Jianlian, Michael Beasley, Joe Alexander, Evan Turner, and Jan Vesely were far from the stars their teams needed them to be.

Sure, the Eastern Conference has some success in their drafts, and now those players are coming along and leaving this resurgence for the conference. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and John Wall just did not get the help they needed until now.

Another key factor in the East’s resurgence has been the ability to keep their own free agents and lure some other guys across the country. For years you would see solid contributing players go from the East to the West to try and chase a title. Now, however, the East is able to keep their big ticket free agents like LeBron James and Paul Millsap, while attracting stars like Pau Gasol and trading for impact players like Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic.

It might be too early to truly call it a resurgence, but as long as the Eastern Conference continues to add talent at the rate they are, it is going to start shifting the balance back to across the country.

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Tim Palladino

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