It’s no secret that the Eastern Conference has been stripped of a great amount of their top level talent this offseason. Three All-Stars left the Eastern Conference, so far this offseason. Those All-Stars consist of Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and Paul Millsap. There could be more to come if Carmelo Anthony gets traded to Houston like he is heavily rumored to. I am here to assure you that there is still plenty of talent in this supposed “Weak Conference” that should have All-Star caliber seasons next year.
Here is 5 players that could represent the East in the All-Star game next season including those who just missed the cut.
Bradley will undoubtedly be the best player on the Detroit Pistons going forward. He should become the anchor of their defense. Expect his scoring to rise decently and launch himself in the running for the Most Improved Player Award. Bradley improves every season and this season should be no different because of increased opportunity to be the go to guy in Detroit on both ends of the floor.
The problem is I feel that Detroit still hasn’t improved much off-season and didn’t address much more needed issues like depth.
With Paul Millsap heading to Denver, Tim Hardaway Jr. heading to New York, and Dwight Howard heading to Charlotte, this is Schroder’s team now in Atlanta. Expect the German point guard’s game to take another leap this year. However, it won’t be enough for the point guard depth in the East. Fun fact of the day, there were 5 point guards in the East that were All-Stars last year. I don’t see the likes of Kyle Lowry, John Wall, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving or Isaiah Thomas slowing down this year.
Also, the Hawks aren’t projected to be very good team since they are rebuilding. A win-loss total is always a factor.
I think the lack of played games might be an issue. Yeah, Embiid is still not out of the doghouse with this writer. We will see how those legs with hold up and if Trust the process is more than just a trending topic on twitter. I feel like the Philadelphia 76ers are the biggest what if of the season.
Yes, they might be able to make the playoffs, but let’s see how they play together first. I know Embiid is a fan favorite, but even that wasn't enough last year.
5. Victor Oladipo
The Indiana Pacers will be Oladipo’s team going forward. Oladipo will get a lot more opportunities not having to defer to a player of Russell Westbrook’s stardom. Meaning much more shot attempts and chances to make plays for others. The ball will be in his hands as one of the primary offensive options for the Pacers. Victor has always been a good perimeter defender and may be able to showcase the makings of a great two-way guard.
Despite what many say, I also still feel the Pacers will still be a very competitive team in the post-Paul George era. A line up like Lance Stephenson, Victor Oladipo, Bojan Bogdanovic, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner can win many games. No reason lack of wins would be an argument against Oladipo.
4. Kristaps Porzingis
Like I had previously mentioned in the beginning of this article, Carmelo Anthony could be headed west to Houston any day now. If this happens and I’m willing to bet it will, then that would make Porzingis the unquestioned top dog on the New York Knicks.
With increased touches that aren’t there, when you with a ball stopper like Melo, Porzingis’s numbers should rise significantly. Expect Kristaps to be putting up at least 20 ppg and 10 rpg with 2 blocks on a nightly basis. The guy is a unicorn. The magic is inevitable.
3. Hassan Whiteside
The play of Miami Heat big man, Hassan Whiteside was a great catalyst for their success in the second half of last season. Whiteside is one of the premier NBA centers in this league and probably the best big man in the Eastern Conference. Former NBA blocks leader (2016) and rebound leader (2017) is only going to get better. Their core, for the most part, has remained intact in South Beach. They should be a top four team in the East next season and Whiteside will be their best player.
Last season Whiteside was unfairly snubbed from the All-Star Game once again. He is out to prove why he should be known as one of the league's most elite. As if averaging 17.0 ppg, 14.1 rpg, and 2.1 bpg wasn’t enough. The game is changing but let's bring centers back to the NBA All-Star Game.
2. Dion Waiters
Now I know, I said that Hassan Whiteside is the best player on the Miami Heat but he simply isn’t as popular as Dion Waiters. When Waiters went off during the second half of the season, NBA fans fell in love with his game. The expectation is that he could break out even further next season. Into a full-fledged All-Star. All things coming up big in South Beach.
The other major reason I put him over Whiteside is due to the recent history of NBA centers not making the All-Star Game. It’s a tragedy, but we can’t ignore the fact that history tends to have a repetition to itself. Can’t go wrong with Waiters though, a flashy guard that was made for big time games.
1. Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal was by far the biggest snub in the Eastern Conference last year. He was healthy for a majority of the season and put up outstanding numbers. Giving him and John Wall serious consideration as the best backcourt in the NBA. They are called the “Wiz Kids”. At least, I call them that on occasion. I felt like Jimmy Butler and Paul George didn’t get going until much later in the season to push their teams to the playoffs. Procrastination shouldn’t be awarded. The Washington Wizards were a top four team in the East for most of the season.
Bradley Beal was the second best player on that team and honestly, the gap between him and Wall is closer than some may think. Beal averaged career numbers across the board. Finished the season averaging 23.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, and 3.1 rpg on a career high 48% shooting from the field. That is great for a shooting guard. Definitely is the second best shooting guard in the East behind DeMar DeRozan. Deserves to finally get recognition assuming he remains consistent. The Wizards will take a step back this season but still be a top 5 team in the East. They just made no notable acquisitions.
These are my picks to be the first time All Stars in the Eastern Conference. Do you agree with my analysis? Why or why not?