Ranking the 10 best NBA players in the East for 2018-19 season
Ranking the 10 best NBA players in the East with LeBron now headed west
With LeBron James now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, a major shift in the Eastern Conference is about to take place.
Who is the best player in the Eastern Conference now that LeBron James is out west?
Here is our ranking of the ten best NBA players in the East for the 2018-19 season.
No. 15 - Andre Drummond, Center, Pistons
No. 14 - Kemba Walker, Guard, Hornets
No. 13 - Jayson Tatum, Forward, Celtics
No. 12 - Kyle Lowry, Guard, Raptors
No. 11 - Kevin Love, Center-Forward, Cavaliers
10. Bradley Beal, Wizards
2017-18 Stats: 22.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.5 apg
Why he's ranked: With John Wall on the mend in the middle of last season, Bradley Beal stood out in a way that showed his max-deal was worth the price for the Wizards. Coming off his first All-Star appearance in 2018, Beal looks to keep up his career-season from a year ago.
9. Ben Simmons, 76ers
2017-18 Stats: 15.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 8.2 apg
Why he's ranked: As one of the young, rising stars in the league, Ben Simmons is a unique talent without many players to compare him to. Go ahead and put him as one of the top point guards in the East, but what has Simmons standing out above some others is his defensive ability and how he can alter an opposing team's offense.
Now if only he could develop a long-range shot, because, without it, he was able to win the NBA Rookie of the Year.
8. Gordon Hayward, Celtics
2017-18 Stats: N/A
Why he's ranked: It is hard to tell which type of Gordon Hayward the Celtics will see after he comes back from his horrific injury.
In 2016-17 with the Utah Jazz, he had a 22-5-4 line and was one of the best all-around players in the NBA. There is definitely some wiggle room with where to rank Hayward, but he could trend up, or down.
7. Victor Oladipo, Pacers
2017-18 Stats: 23.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.3 rpg
Why he's ranked: Last season with the Indiana Pacers, Victor Oladipo single-handily carried his team to the playoffs. The scoring stroke that he showed in college finally broke through as he worked himself to be the NBA's Most Improved Player last year.
Give him another piece or two and he can will the Pacers to contenders in the East.
6. Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks
2017-18 Stats: 22.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.2 apg
Why he's ranked: Kristaps Porzingis has the potential to be the best player in the East every year. The only problem is he plays on the lowly Knicks. He has the frame and body of Joel Embiid, the length of Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the shooting ability of LeBron James.
At the same time, he could also drop to barely being a top-10 player in the East during his mid-season slump that he continues to go through.
5. John Wall, Wizards
2017-18 Stats: 19.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 9.6 apg
Why he's ranked: This past season John Wall missed out on averaging a double-double for a fourth straight season by 0.4 assists. He's always in the conversation for the best point guard in the East thanks to his elite vision, world-class athleticism and uncanny ability to protect the rim on transition plays.
Coming off his fifth All-Star appearance, Wall has the opportunity to lead his team in a wide-open conference.
4. Kyrie Irving, Celtics
2017-18 Stats: 24.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.1 apg
Why he's ranked: Kyrie Irving has been a top-five player in the East since he jumped into the league. He is a do-it-all point guard that can score, distribute, defend, and be a team leader. Last year it was expected for Irving to jump up a level after he left the shadow of LeBron James, but an injury slowed him down.
He is the best true guard in the Eastern Conference and one of the three best players in the East regardless of position.
3. Joel Embiid, 76ers
2017-18 Stats: 22.9 pg, 11.0 rpg, 3.2 apg
Why he's ranked: At 7-0, 250 pounds, Joel Embid is unstoppable inside the paint. There are very few teams in the East that could even slow him down when he is fully healthy.
With Ben Simmons running the point, the 2018 All-NBA Second Teamer creates a classic one-two punch from the guard to center position.
Embid, with the post presence and dominating stature, could very well pass the No. 1 player on this list once we see him play a full year.
2. Kawhi Leonard, Raptors
2017-18 Stats:16.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.3 apg
Why he's ranked: The only reason Kawhi can't go No. 1 right now is the question about his health moving forward.
After missing all but nine games last season, we have to see if he's the same player he was before the quad injury.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
2017-18 Stats: 26.9 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 4.8 apg
Why he's ranked: Before LeBron James left the East, Giannis Antetokounmpo was easily the second-best player in the conference. He is a physical freak (hence 'the Greek Freak') and cannot be stopped in one-on-one situations.
Every player on the court has to keep an eye on Antetokounmpo and once he gets started, he cannot be stopped.
Since joining the league in 2013, Antetokounmpo has steadily improved in every statistical category. That should not change in the 2018-19 season.
He is the poster boy for the NBA2K 19 video game and with good reason. He is the best player in the Eastern Conference.