Since Lebron left the Eastern Conference, the already watered down half of the NBA became even more diluted. There are only a handful of stars in the east and there may not be a tier one superstar at all.
The storm has passed and things are calmer now. Who are the top five (active) players in the east?
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Many considered the “Greek Freak” the second best player in the Eastern Conference last year behind only Lebron James. His time has come and his 26.9 points and 10 rebounds per game legitimizes this ranking. His weaknesses? Shooting the ball and he’s been working on that. During the 2017-2018 season, Giannis improved his field goal percentage to 53 percent and his three-point percentage has finally reached 30.7 percent which isn’t good but it’s not laughable like it has been. He’s only 23 years old and hasn’t reached his prime yet. That’s terrifying.
2. Kawhi Leonard.
Obviously, Kawhi is a top-five player when fit and probably the top player in the Eastern Conference after getting traded to Toronto, but before he gets that crown he needs to play. All we can go off of is his ’16-’17 season. How do we know he’ll be that same player when he returns? If he was really hurt over the past year, that’s a legitimate question.
3. Kyrie Irving.
Before Irving got injured last season, he was putting up absolute numbers. A point guard averaging 24.4 points and 5.4 assists per game is no joke and with Gordon Hayward’s return imminent, expect those assist numbers to improve. Boston will be the team to watch in the Eastern Conference and Irving will be their ringleader
4. Joel Embiid.
The top five in the East are pretty locked in but the order of them varies. You could argue that Joel is the second best player in the conference and although he isn’t right now, doesn’t mean that he isn’t well on his way to it. Last season he averaged 22.9 points and 11 rebounds per game and it would be unfair to think the 24-year-old has reached his peak. He’s going for MVP this season (according to him).
5. Victor Oladipo.
Victor Oladipo went from having a simply mediocre 2016-2017 season in Oklahoma City coming off the bench, to his first all-star appearance and being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in his first season with the Indiana Pacers. Oladipo averaged 22.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2.4 steals per game last year and he’s settled into his new star role for Indiana.