The Western Conference doesn't operate on a curve.
If you're lucky enough to take a college course where the grades are curved, you can get away with bombing on a couple of tests. The Western Conference is not a curved college course at all, so now you have players jumping ahead of Bryant in terms of health, age, and skill. This includes players like the Thunder's Russell Westbrook (he'll be fine) and Kevin Durant, James Harden, Chris Paul, and Tony Parker. Let's not forget they have a far better supporting cast than Kobe Bryant. The West is as competitive as it gets. -Brian Josephs