Pelicans: Is the Western Conference now worse than the East?

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans and the rest of the Western Conference were delighted to see the Utah Jazz trade away both Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell this summer.

Utah got a haul for their two stars, but undoubtedly took a step back as a team for the short term, which should make things easier for the Pelicans and the rest of the playoff contenders in the West.

The Jazz were a mainstay in the playoffs, so the field got a little less crowded, though teams like the Pels, Clippers, Lakers and Nuggets should all be better with the return of injured players, including Zion Williamson.

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The Western Conference has long been the superior conference, winning six of the last 10 titles and having the much deeper roster of teams overall. But the Mitchell trade may have flipped the balance of power to the East, which is arguably now the stronger conference.

New Orleans Pelicans: Is the Eastern Conference now better than the West?

Both conferences are wide open and you could talk me into any one of 18 teams winning the title next season, which shows just how much talent and parity there is in the NBA.

The East has at least five teams that could easily win the conference and play for an NBA title in Miami, Boston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Cleveland. You also can’t rule out Toronto, Chicago, Brooklyn or Atlanta, so there are at least nine teams that could win the East.

The West has four frontrunners at the top with Phoenix, Memphis, Golden State and the LA Clippers, with five other teams who could take the conference if things bounce right in Denver, Dallas, New Orleans, Minnesota and the LA Lakers.

It looks like the East has a slight edge the top, but the West has more consistent depth throughout. Both conferences have 2-3 bottom feeders who will be playing in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, so saying which conference is superior right now is pretty much a coin flip.

You could talk me into either one, though I do think the West still has more quality depth from top to bottom and fewer really bad teams, as even the Kings and Trail Blazers should be improved next season.

The West may still have the edge for now, but the league is as balanced as it has ever been, which should lead to an exciting season whose championship is completely up for grabs.

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