The Eastern Conference has been quite soft for many years now, with teams under .500 making it to the playoffs despite not being nearly half as competitive as their Western Conference counterparts have been.
And now that LeBron James has finally left the Eastern Conference for the first time ever to join the Los Angeles Lakers, the door has been left wide open to try and determine who the best player in the Eastern Conference may be.
The East is filled with youth and it seems like these surging stars may finally make a run at the Finals now that James is not around anymore. So today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 best players in the East.
Honorable Mention: Bradley Beal and Kevin Love
10. Ben Simmons
The Fresh Prince has quickly surged as one of the league’s most promising players, coming off a borderline All-Star season and winning the Rookie of the Year after taking the Sixers to the playoffs for the first time in years.
Simmons is already one of the best passers in the league, and underrated defender and a huge factor in both ends of the glass, but he still needs to put a lot of work on his jump shot if he wants to become an MVP candidate, which he’ll surely do.
9. Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo had a breakout year this season after being traded to the Indiana Pacers on the Paul George deal, taking the reins of the offense and winning the Most Improved Player award as well as leading the league in steals.
Oladipo is quietly emerging as a standout two-way stud and is yet to reach his prime, so the Pacers have to be extremely delighted with the deal that got them the former 2nd overall pick in return for a player that was bound to leave anyway.
8. Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker has never had a truly capable support cast next to him, but even though, he’s always been able to put Kyrie Irving kind of numbers despite not getting nearly half as much recognition.
Walker is a lock to be traded out of the Charlotte Hornets, especially now that they’ve landed Tony Parker on a two-year deal, so he should be looking forward to the chance of finally playing for a contending side.
7. Gordon Hayward
Even despite the fact that he was only able to play for 5 minutes throughout the entire campaign, Gordon Hayward has to be considered one of the best players in the Eastern Conference.
Prior to his injury, Hayward was coming off the best year of his career as a much improved defender, willing passer, smart player and versatile scorer, so let’s hope he’s able to bounce back and pick up things where he left them.
6. Kristaps Porzingis
Kristaps Porzingis was arguably the most pleasant surprise of his Draft class, with his stock drastically rising over the last days up to the point where the New York Knicks made him the face of the franchise for years to come.
Porzingis is an underrated defender and has great overall awareness, not to mention his incredibly smooth stroke from all three levels, although he still needs to do a better job boxing out and establishing himself as a rebounder.
5. John Wall
John Wall may lack charisma, but he definitely makes up for it with his top-notch ball handling abilities, being one of the best dribblers and passers in the league and deadly in passing lanes due to his great speed.
Wall hasn’t been able to take his Wizards past the 2nd round of the playoffs, but truth to be told, he’s never had a truly capable support cast next to him besides Bradley Beal, not to mention a really good coach either.
4. Joel Embiid
It’s pretty crazy to believe that Joel Embiid wasn’t playing basketball 10 years ago, as he’s one of the most talented players the league has seen in years and is still yet to fulfill his true potential.
Embiid has the offensive skill set of a guard and the defensive awareness of a top-tier rim protector, and he’s going to be a perennial Defensive Player of the Year award for many years to come.
3. DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan has improved on a yearly basis and been one of the most dominant scorers in the paint despite his height, averaging over 25 a night despite not being able to make a three-pointer to save his life.
DeRozan led the Raptors to the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference this prior campaign and now that James is out of the picture, maybe he’ll finally be able to take a step forward and make it to the Finals.
2. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving was sick and tired of leaving on LeBron’s shadow, so he bet on himself and it truly paid off, becoming the Boston Celtics’ go-to-guy before suffering that season-ending injury that made him miss the last passage of the season.
Irving is set to prove his worth once again next season and try to get the Celtics back to the NBA Finals for the first time in almost a decade, especially if that grants him the chance to beat LeBron and the Lakers.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
And now that James is out of the East, Giannis Antetokounmpo has climbed all the way up to the throne as the best player in the Conference, mostly because of his upside and how hard he works during the offseason.
Giannis’ lone liability is his lack of a jump shot but he’s even improving in that regard, so he’s going to become the most unstoppable player in the league as the second coming of Kevin Durant, and hopefully he’s going to be able to lead the Bucks to playoff success once and for all.