With the balance of power continuing to shift to the Western Conference after the Paul George trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers could be in a league of their own in the East. A source told ESPN, per a report by Dave McMenamin, that the East has gotten worse since George was traded to a Western Conference team.

Based on ESPN’s ranking of the top 15 players in the NBA, only two are in the Eastern Conference and both are currently playing for the Cavaliers – James and Kyrie Irving. Last season, James was No.

1, Irving was No. 15 , George was ninth on that list when he was still with the Indiana Pacers.

Stars align in the Western Conference

The other players in ESPN’s top 15 were Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors, Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, and Russell Westbrook of the Thunder. This was followed by Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Chris Paul (then with the Clippers), James Harden (Rockets), George (Pacers) and Damian Lillard (Blazers). Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), Blake Griffin (Clippers), DeMarcus Cousins (Pelicans), Draymond Green (Warriors) and Irving occupied Nos. 11 to 15, respectively.

The source also told McMenamin that Indiana general manager Kevin Pritchard felt more comfortable trading George to a Western Conference squad rather than sending him to an East rival such as the Boston Celtics or the Cavaliers.

The Celtics and the Cavaliers both aggressively pursued George.

Celtics could challenge Cavs in East if…

The Celtics could provide the biggest challenge for the Cavaliers if they can get additional help from the free-agent market. The Celtics tried to lure George from the Pacers but the latter turned down their offer of three future first-round picks and two starters, including Jae Crowder.

The Pacers reportedly wanted either Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum but the Celtics didn’t budge.

Aside from George, they are also eyeing small forward Gordon Hayward, who is expected to meet with the Celtics' top brass next week. The Celtics also tried to meet with power forward Blake Griffin but failed to schedule a meeting due to different time tables.

On Friday, Griffin signed a maximum five-year deal with the Clippers worth $173 million.

The Toronto Raptors could also challenge the Cavaliers if they keep point guard Kyle Lowry and center Serge Ibaka. The Washington Wizards can contend if they add another key player to complement John Wall and Bradley Beal. Wall also tried to convince George to join the Wizards via trade, believing that he would be instrumental to their success next season had he decided to join.