East has no middle class

Updated: July 20, 2004, 7:04 AM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Pausing for reflection on an eventful NBA offseason, Insider last week gave a preliminary breakdown of why the West wasn't going to be a cakewalk for the Lakers next season.

A flood of e-mails followed asking the obvious follow-up question: With the world champions and most dominant player in the NBA now in the East, should we even bother talking about the West anymore?

Yes and no. I think you can make the argument that the two best teams in the NBA next season will reside in the East. The Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers, barring unforeseen changes to the NBA landscape, have it all. Great defense, great coaches, deep benches and a superstar or two to push things along.

After that, however, the West will likely field the next-best 11 teams in the league, depending on where you want to place the Miami Heat.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer