For so long in the NBA, the Western Conference has reigned supreme as the best conference. If you were considered a good team in the Eastern Conference, you still wouldn't stand a chance against the West. Have things changed? Is the East actually better this year?
If you break it down by just stats and standings then the East is better as of now. The NBA is much more than just stats, you have to look at how each team is doing under their circumstances. Has the team had a lot of injuries? Are the players on this specific team playing to their usual caliber? Many things go into breaking down which teams should be considered contenders and which teams will probably fade away late in the year.
If you take a look at the standings of both the East and West, the East is better. The top three teams in the East each have just five losses. In the West, although the Golden State Warriors have yet to lose, the third place team, Oklahoma City Thunder, have seven losses (11-7). That is the first advantage to the East, more competition up top.
Another advantage the East has is that every team in the top 10 has a record over .500. The same can't be said for the West. The above .500 cut off mark stops at the sixth seeded Los Angeles Clippers (10-9). This advantage, while it may seem small, makes for a much more competitive and interesting conference.
Although it may seem like the East will run away this year as the better conference, the West has a lot left to offer. If you take a look at some of teams in the West that are under the playoff mark at this point, there are some really good teams under performing. Let's take the Houston Rockets for example. They are sitting at a record of 8-11 and have struggled to start the season. They fired their coach Kevin McHale and have yet to find another scorer besides James Harden.
The reason you need to take a look at the teams underperforming in a conference is simple. When good teams under perform, it ultimately makes the conference less competitive. If the Rockets were playing well this season and had a better record, other teams in the West would have to step up their game, making the West better overall.
Another team in the West that many experts had said in the preseason would be a tough contender was the New Orleans Pelicans. They have looked anything but that and have a record of 4-15 so far this season. If they would have started the season off better, the West gets better.
At this point in the season, the East is playing better as a whole. If some of the teams in the West that are expected to do big things can actually get going, then the West can make this debate a better one as the season continues to unfold.