Commentary

Western Conference, worst to first

Compressed schedule, newfound fiscal austerity will shape competitive conference race

Originally Published: December 20, 2011
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com
Durant/NowitzkiGlenn James/Getty ImagesAs Dirk Nowitzki is quick to point out, Kevin Durant's game is improving at a rapid pace.

Has the new collective bargaining agreement really changed anything?

The preseason sagas of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard might lead you to conclude "no." But take a look at the Western Conference heading into this season, and you might be more inclined to say "yes."

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