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Why is the Eastern Conference Still Mediocre?

Why is the Eastern Conference Still Mediocre?

In the 2020-21 season, the Eastern Conference has been atrocious. With the exception of three to four teams, all other franchises have been simply bad and can’t seem to compete.

The top three teams in the east (76ers, Bucks and Nets) have records that are well over .500. The Knicks are a game above the .500 mark and then there’s everyone else.

About the only plus side to having a lot of bad teams is that the competition for playoff seeds is super close. That means, at this point in the season, every game counts.

Just look at the Indiana Pacers. Over the weekend, they were sitting at the four/five seed. Then they dropped some games and are now sitting at the ninth spot.

A Lot of Stars but No Results

What makes the scenario interesting is the number of stars that are in the Eastern Conference in comparison to the West.

Why is the Eastern Conference Still Mediocre?

Image Courtesy of Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

Looking at the all-star selections, there’s a lot of notables who’ve made the all-star game before but didn’t this season.  Don’t take this list as a list of snubs, because those who made it were more deserving.

Some of those stars that missed out are: Russell Westbrook, Khris Middleton, Trae Young, Jimmy Butler, Andre Drummond, Kemba Walker and Bam Adebayo.

Take this list of stars in with the players that made the team; that’s significantly more talent in the East than the West. With all this in mind, it makes a fan wonder why there’s so many bad teams in the East.

Injury Riddled Conference

One thing to consider when looking for answers is the fact of injuries and absence. After all, the NBA is playing through a pandemic. And more teams in the East have reaped the effects of all these factors.

The Indiana Pacers are a great example.

Why is the Eastern Conference Still Mediocre?
Image Courtesy of Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

The Pacers have been without TJ Warren, who’s proven to be a key piece to the Pacers’ roster over the last few seasons. He’s only been available for four games this year. The other is Caris LeVert, who’s out indefinitely since finding he has left kidney carcinoma in his trade from Brooklyn.

These two guys are examples of key role players that have been injured for quite some time this season. They could be playing a big role to Indiana’s success if they were healthy.

The scenario in Indiana is similar to what other teams in the East are facing. Boston and Atlanta have been dealing with the injury bug as well.

How Will the Future Look?

Well, with the halfway mark approaching, definitely expect teams to start solidifying their spots in the playoff race. As stated above, it’ll be a tight race for the bottom three seeds.

As a result, that could make for a way more entertaining playoff. There could be more game seven’s, or finishes down to the wire.

Look at last season as an example.

The Heat, who were the five seed, put a beat down on all the teams they faced, until they made it to the Finals. The last team outside of the top four seeds that made it to the Finals before the Heat last year was all the way back in 1999. That year the New York Knicks made it to the Finals as an eight seed!

Point being, the fact that there’s a lot of average teams record-wise in the East this year isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It could make for a tighter race for playoff seeding and upsets in the playoffs.

Not to mention, the league will do what they did last year: have the last two teams play each other for the last spot in the playoffs. That’ll be definitely something to watch for later this season.

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