The Eastern Conference has always been considered as the weakest of two Conferences in the NBA. This season, the East saw some of the biggest talents being traded to or signed by Western Conference teams during the transfer window.
Even though the East has been somewhat depleted of talent in the off-season trades, there is still enough to go around. Players like Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Brook Lopez, Rajon Rondo and Jeff Teague among many others have moved to the Western Conference, but here are the 10 Best Players in the Eastern Conference This Season:
Honorable Mention: Kevin Love
Deserve To Be On The List: Andre Drummond
Definitely one of the most improved players on this list, Andre Drummond has taken flight this season, recording career-highs in rebounds (15.6), assists (3.5) and steals (1.5). However, it is his improvement from the free throw line that has really turned heads so far, as he has gone up from 38% to a solid 61.8% this season, and he is an absolute beast.
10. Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker is one of the best remaining guards in the Eastern Conference, mainly due to his consistency in all aspects of the game. He is coming off his best year yet (currently on his 7th), where he posted career-highs in points (23.2), to go along with 3.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.1 steals.
This season he is having an equally good job so far, with averages of 22.3 points, a career-high 6.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 0.6 steals. He is shooting less this season, mostly due to the addition on Dwight Howard in the roster. Even so, Kemba Walker’s assists have gone up, and he is having a really strong season overall.
9. Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo came into the NBA highly advertised as a lethal scorer with all-around skills, but he wasn’t given the proper chances to shine. After 3 pretty decent season in the Orlando Magic, Oladipo was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he tried to co-exist with Russel Westbrook. It wasn’t a very productive season for Oladipo, but he recently was involved in a different trade, that brought him back to Indiana, where he had played college basketball.
The departure of Paul George has put Victor Oladipo at the helm of the team, and he hasn’t failed to deliver. He averages by far a career-high 23.0 ppg, 5.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 block, while also scoring a career-high 2.4 three-pointers per match. He has a great chance to shine in front of a welcome fan-base, and he is going to make his days there count.
8. DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan is coming off his career season with the Toronto Raptors last season, where he averaged a stunning 27.3 points per match. His overall stats had gone up from past seasons, as he also recorded career-highs in rebounds (5.2), to go along with 3.9 assists.
The Toronto Raptors might be choking at the playoffs every time they get there, but nonetheless, DeMar DeRozan keeps growing and growing, and he is now shooting a career-high 2.8 three-pointers per match.
He now has 22.9 points per match this season, with 4.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists. The three-point shooting is the only element missing from his game, the day DeRozan consistently starts making 3s, we can begin the MVP talk.
7. Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal has been a really good scorer throughout his career, and he has transferred his talents in the NBA since his rookie season. Drafted and the 3rd pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, he went on to record a solid 13.9 points per match, to go along with 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
He might have not played a full season yet, courtesy of numerous injuries he’s suffered, but he has been steadily increasing his impact on the Washington Wizards’ game. This season he has been somewhat “lucky” as John Wall is having several injury issues, so Bradley Beal has been handling the ball a whole lot more. In any case, he is averaging a career-high 24.2 points per game, with 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals. Moreover, he is scoring an average of 2.3 three-pointers per match.
6. Joel Embiid
“Trust the Process”, that’s his motto. He always uses that in his social media, where he is really active and always engages with fans and other athletes. Joel Embiid was spectacular in his “rookie” season in the NBA, and despite playing in only 31 matches, he had a stunning 20.2 points per game, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2.5 blocks. He would be the Rookie of the Year if he had played a few more matches, but with or without a trophy, he is a monster.
This season he has been even better, as he has carved a nice role in a team that has a truckload of talent. Through 17 matches so far, he’s been playing an average of 29:25 minutes per match, increasing his production to 22.8 points per game, 11.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 blocks. He is in a very good environment right now, and if he avoids any serious injury, the man from Cameroon will leave his mark in the NBA.
5. John Wall
While the University of Kentucky is known to traditionally feed the NBA with elite bigs, there are also a couple of guards that came out of Kentucky to dominate the NBA. Picked at the 1st pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, John Wall is one of the best guards to have come out of Kentucky in recent years, and he is one of the best passers in the NBA.
With a career average of 9.2 assists to go with 18.9 points and 4.4 rebounds, we are talking about a super-star. However, it is his defensive stats that have really pushed John Wall to stardom, as he has a career average of 1.7 steals and 0.7 blocks. However, this season he has been plagued by injuries, and he has yet to perform at the best of his ability. Having undergone surgeries to both knees not too long ago, John Wall will surely need to take care of his body.
4. Kristaps Porzingis
Europe has been feeding the NBA with a lot of talented players over the years, but even more so lately. When the New York Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis at the 4th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, people were literally booing in the audience. Well, two and a half seasons since, those who booed couldn’t be any more wrong.
The Unicorn has been impressive from even his rookie season (14.3p, 7.3r, 1.9bl), and has been steadily increasing his numbers year after year. This season he saw Carmelo Anthony being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, so that meant that Kristaps was going to be the leading scorer. And he is. He is having a breakout season with 27 points per match, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 2.1 three-pointers per match. He is a beast.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Greek Freak has been whatever you’ve heard he was gonna be: a super-star. Giannis had that super-star potential since a very young age when he was playing in the 2nd Division in Greece. He made his first All-Star appearance last season, his 4th in the NBA, and this season he has been simply spectacular. I wonder if he deserved to be higher on this list.
Giannis started off scoring 37, 34, 44 and 32 in his first 4 matches, to go along with multiple other stats along the boxscore. He is having a career-season with a whopping 29.5 points per game, 7.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks. Look for him to break multiple records as his career unfolds, and he is going to be remembered for a LONG time.
2. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving was pretty much tired of being the second option in the Cleveland Cavaliers and agreed to be traded to the Boston Celtics during the summer. He is now free of LeBron’s shadow, and he has taken up a much-needed, and well-received leading role in Boston already.
He’s had some tough luck with a couple of minor injuries so far, but he’s off to a great start in his first season at Boston. He scores an average of 22.8 points per match, to go with 5.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals on an average of 31:38 minutes per match.
1. LeBron James
LeBron James has been a dominant force in the Eastern Conference this season, despite walking on his 33rd year of life. King James saw Kyrie Irving get traded to the Boston Celtics in the off-season, which opened up a ton of touches and responsibilities to be taken care of.
LeBron has been stellar as ever this season, with averages of 28.6 ppg, 8.1 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.2 blocks and 2.1 three-pointers per match. This is his 15th season in the NBA, and his body looks able to play competitive basketball for a good 5 years at least.