DAR Sports: The 15 Best Players In The NBA Eastern Conference

By @TrueGodImmortal

The Eastern Conference gets weaker and weaker as the days go by. Carmelo Anthony is rumored to be traded soon, more than likely to the Houston Rockets, with the Portland Trailblazers emerging as a long shot to land the now 15 year veteran. With that, the East would lose yet another All Star after losing three All Stars in the off-season in Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and Paul Millsap. What does that say about the Eastern Conference? Well, it says that the Western Conference will be much more competitive and that the path to the Conference Finals in the East should be much easier for the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, despite the East getting weaker on paper, they still have a good amount of talent in the Conference and today, that's what I'm here to discuss. Let's take a look at the top 15 players in the Eastern Conference.

*LeBron James
(Cleveland Cavaliers)

-Clearly the top choice in the entire NBA still. Entering his 15th year in the league, the LeBron era might be over with a new powerhouse like the Warriors in motion out West. Still, regardless of if LeBron wins another title, leaves the Cavs, or heads out West next season, he's still easily the best player in the East. All of his competition for the top spot is out West so he firmly holds the position of the best in the East until he retires or leaves the Conference, whichever comes first.

*Giannis Antetokounmpo
(Milwaukee Bucks)

-In reality, Giannis isn't missing much in his game. He's defensively solid, he's offensively a threat, and the only thing he needs to work on is a jumpshot. If he develops a nice mid range game and can learn to knock down three pointers, this could be extremely dangerous for the league. The young rising star had his best season thus far averaging 22.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, and maintaining a heavy presence on defense throughout. The East could one day run through him and the Bucks if he decides to stay there, and Jabari Parker can get back to full strength after his unfortunate injury. The sky is the limit for this young player and when he finally hits his prime, beware.

*John Wall
(Washington Wizards)

-The best point guard in the East easily makes this list without question. A top 10 player in the entire league? John Wall has a case for it. He was magnificent all last season and even in the playoffs where the Wizards were one game away from the Conference Finals. He can score, lead the offense, assist, and he is without a doubt the most important player on the floor for the Wizards at all times. There's no doubt that John Wall is a top tier player in the East and he just might be the 2nd best in the entire Conference.

*Kyrie Irving
(Cleveland Cavaliers)

-Of course, the sharpshooter of the Cavs would make this list. Despite some criticism against him, make no mistake about It, Kyrie is a killer and one of the best in the game today. Defensively he isn't the strongest, but what he lacks on the defensive end, he makes up for offensively and then some. His scoring ability is second to none and he's easily one of the best finishers in the entire game without question. With Kyrie continuing to get better and develop his game, when the time comes for him to be a leader of a team, I don't doubt that he will eventually be up to the challenge. He's that good.

*Gordon Hayward
(Boston Celtics)

-The newest and biggest addition to the Eastern Conference clearly makes this list. Hayward was considered a high tier player in the West, though not on the level of a Steph, KD, Kawhi, or Russell Westbrook, he was definitely in that 2nd tier just a notch below. If he was that highly regarded in the stacked West, one would imagine in the East he is without question a top tier star. The question remains however, will Hayward fit perfectly into this Celtics unit that ran through Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Al Horford, and Avery Bradley? With some changes being made and a smaller role likely given to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Hayward might have his best year yet statistically in the fast paced offense that Brad Stevens works with. He's a solid defender and a good offensive player, and Gordon Hayward might be gearing up for his best season thus far with a renewed purpose in Boston under his old coach.

*Demar Derozan
(Toronto Raptors)

-Sure, the social media world, at least a sector of it, hates Derozan, but why would you ever take their basketball opinions serious? The Basketball Reference checking "fans" aside, there is no doubt that Derozan brings an element to the game the likes of which we don't see as often today. He lives by his mid range game and aside from his lackluster play in the playoffs this past season, he was on fire for most of the regular season, showing that he has what it takes to lead the Raptors as the best player on that team. Early on in the 2016-2017 season, Derozan went on a run that only a select few players had been on, and that solidified his spot as one of the best in the East.

*Joel Embiid
(Philadelphia 76ers)

-This inclusion literally comes with one condition: staying healthy. If Embiid can stay healthy and play 70-75 games this year, he's the best big man in the East without question. All the time away from the game might have an effect, but with what we saw from him in his playing time this past year, a healthy Embiid promotes a winning culture in Philly with Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and more all expected to play this year. Will Embiid continue to improve his skills and showcase his moves in the post, his blocking ability, And score at will? If he does, he will for sure end up as an All Star like he should have this past year.

*Isaiah Thomas
(Boston Celtics)

-Though he is a true liability on defense, make no mistake about it, IT is top tier in the East and was a top 10 MVP candidate and to some, a top 5 MVP candidate last season. He's extremely small for this game of basketball, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in toughness and heart. He's a solid shooter and can score at will, showing he knows how to take over a game. That killer instinct is what led to IT being labeled Mr. 4th Quarter, after he kept the Celtics in plenty of games and led them to victory in the final minutes. The Celtics took the no. 1 seed thanks to the play and the leadership of IT. His role might be slightly reduced going forward since Gordon Hayward can help out on the scoring side nightly, but IT will remain a top tier player in the East.

*Bradley Beal
(Washington Wizards)

-You might see the inclusion of Bradley Beal and wonder why. If you watched him in the 2016-2017 season then you know why clearly. Beal was in the running for being an All Star and he had one of the best seasons of his career averaging 23.1 PPG on 48% shooting from the field and 40% from three. Beal is a deadly shooter and with John Wall by his side, he will only get better and better. 

*Kemba Walker
(Charlotte Hornets)

-The guard for the Hornets was an All Star this past year and I could very well see him making that team yet again. Kemba isn't the most gifted on defense, but he's very skilled on offense and can create points on any given night. He's the true leader of this Charlotte Hornets team and the best player on a roster that could and should very well make the playoffs this year if injuries don't persist. Kemba is the driving force of that team, and there's no question he's one of the top 15 players in the East.

*Kyle Lowry
(Toronto Raptors)

-I am far from the biggest Lowry fan. However, credit has to be given. He's still a really good player, who can help create offense for his team and has a solid three point shot. His shooting can keep the Raptors in games when it's close and although Derozan is usually the closer for Toronto, Lowry is comfortable in his role as the point guard. He's definitely in the top 5 conversation for the best point guard in the Conference, so naturally he's here on this list. There's no debating his placement here.

*Kristaps Porzingis
(New York Knicks)

-A lot of people feel that Porzingis is overrated. They're wrong. As usual. Porzingis is ready to lead a franchise, and though the Knicks probably won't be that franchise he leads to the promised land, it's about time they gave him the keys especially if Carmelo gets traded. He improved his numbers this past season from his rookie year and he has the ability to defend well, pull down rebounds when needed (this is one area of his game that needs improvement), block shots, but most of all, he can score and shoot. If the Knicks figure it out and Porzingis is given the keys to be the new 1st option, it might work in their favor. Porzingis could very well be an All Star this season and it would be well deserved. 

*Goran Dragic
(Miami Heat)

-I thought long and hard about this one. I wanted to put Dion Waiters on the list, or even Hassan Whiteside, but he's just far too inconsistent and Dion isn't quite there yet. Dion could very well become a future All Star and the leader of the Heat, but the top dog at the moment is still Dragic. He stepped into that role during this season and when the Heat began to find a winning strategy, Dragic was a huge reason why, if not the biggest reason. He finished the season with very solid numbers, shooting 48% from the field and nearly 41% from three, with averages of nearly 4 rebounds a game, 6 assists a game, and of course 20 points a game with 1 steal per game as well. Dragic had his most solid season in about 5 or 6 years, which earned his spot on this list.

*Kevin Love
(Cleveland Cavaliers)

-For all the disrespect Kevin Love takes on social media and on ESPN, he is a vital part of the Cavs and one of the biggest reasons for their success. As surprising as it may be for some to believe, trading Kevin Love for just about any other top player doesn't make the Cavs better. A Love for Melo trade would have made them worse. Love was a 25 points and 12 rebounds guy before accepting a lesser role in Cleveland and he finally found his rhythm this season with a 20 and 10 season. His rebounding is important for the Cavs if Tristan Thompson isn't aggressive on the boards, and his three point shooting is very clutch, as we've seen. Love deserves to be mentioned as one of the best in the East without question.

*Carmelo Anthony
(New York Knicks)

-As of right now, Carmelo is still on the Knicks and he makes this list. He's not the best defensive player, but that was never his strong suit. What he does better than most is score and contribute to offense. Carmelo is nearing the end of his career, and with his 15th season coming up, one has to wonder if we will start to see an even bigger decline over an 82 game season. The real question is if Carmelo stays with the Knicks or finally leaves them via a trade. If he stays, he's a guaranteed All Star this season if he stays healthy. If he leaves? He fights an uphill battle for a spot on the All Star team while accepting a slightly smaller role as the 2nd, maybe third option on either the Cavs or the Rockets, or even the Blazers. For now, Melo remains a top Eastern Conference player. If he's motivated again, he could be dangerous.



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