If you've been paying close attention to NBA free agency—and we've been keeping track of all the major moves for you right here—you've undoubtedly noticed a trend in player movement. The Western Conference, easily the better conference for most of the last couple decades, made the disparity even worse by adding more firepower during the 2017 offseason.
Turns out, when Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Paul Millsap, and a number of high-value role players take their talents to the West, people tend to notice. A lot of the player movement came from trades, but the net effect was the same—the West is even more loaded now.
As the initial talent movement began to happen, fans from both conferences began comparing the talent discrepancy, turning the Eastern Conference into a living, breathing meme.
This what the West Vs East in the All Star Game gonna look like pic.twitter.com/WC4HMtHPTC— isaac (#FreeMonta) (@Stat4Stat) July 1, 2017
West vs East next year pic.twitter.com/ZhNbegxULH— Alex (@sSupurv) July 3, 2017
NBA West vs East pic.twitter.com/k7O5n2UnmH— Robert Lepelstat (@STATSports23) July 3, 2017
This is gonna be the West vs the East in the NBA All-Star game next year pic.twitter.com/4ggCDT95SM— Herbo (@HerbMcDerb) July 1, 2017
NBA West vs NBA East pic.twitter.com/JO3XG520Zu— Marleau szn (@TheHockeyGhostt) July 1, 2017
2018 All-Star Game. East Vs West 🤣 pic.twitter.com/DRiE09QOJq— NBA Live 18 (@NBALiveOfficial) July 2, 2017
Road to the NBA Finals in the East vs the West. pic.twitter.com/93zWBJaMrr— Austin (@AustinCTweets) July 1, 2017
Fans of the league aren't the only people who have noticed what's going on. Rockets GM Daryl Morey, one of the more active social media users among league executives, pulled off a coup when he acquired point guard Chris Paul from the Clippers this offseason. Despite the massive amount of talent his team has on hand, Morey was happy to joke about moving the Rockets to the East, and he pointed out the Astros were already able to pull off a move into a different half of their own league.
While it's a totally fair point, it's not like a lot of the stars fleeing the Eastern Conference were contending for titles there, either. Paul George's Pacers got turned into mincemeat by LeBron James in the first round of the 2017 playoffs, Jimmy Butler's Bulls put up a valiant effort against the top-seeded Boston Celtics, and Paul Millsap's Hawks couldn't get out of the first round.
All of those guys will get to pair with interesting young talent in the West, but does it move the needle much either way? The Golden State Warriors are still easily the best team in the conference, aided by the massive pay cut Kevin Durant took, and that's not changing any time soon. LeBron and the Cavs have a little bit of an easier path to the Finals now, but they lost a single game en route to this year's series, with all of those players still hanging out in the East.
Ultimately, if we get some dope playoff series out of this, it will have all been worth it. But until someone presents a challenge to one of the alpha dogs in either conference, it's the equivalent of shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.