This NBA off-season has been fun, to say the least. And, with LeBron James going to the Los Angeles Lakers and Kawhi Leonard now on the Toronto Raptors, the balance of power has shifted in the Eastern Conference.
So who are the best players in the East after all the dust has settled? Here is my ranking of the five best in the East for the 2018-19 season. Hint, there is a new sheriff in town…
5. Victor Oladipo:
Oladipo had a monster season by all accounts. Not only did he win the NBA Most Improved Player Award, but he single-handedly carried his team to the playoffs. And in the playoffs, he put on a show, averaging 22.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 6 APG, and 2.4 SPG. With the Pacers adding some new pieces around Oladipo via the draft and free agency, he is primed to have an even better season coming up.
4. Joel Embiid:
Embiid averaged a double-double last season (22.9 PPG and 11 RPG), and he was named to the All-NBA Second Team. The future is bright in Philadelphia and their outspoken Center is now gunning for the MVP next season. After an intense summer of working out with trainer Drew Hanlen, the sky’s the limit for Embiid. I’m looking forward to his domination on the court and his smack talk off of it (social media) next season.
3. Kyrie Irving:
Some people forget that Irving put up 24.4 PPG and 5.1 APG last year before he got injured. Look for Uncle Drew to put on a show with a healthy Gordon Hayward and the young bucks, who gained valuable playoff experience. This Boston Celtics squad is going to be fun to watch, and they are my pick to win the East.
2. Kawhi Leonard:
When Kawhi is fully healthy and fully motivated, he is a top-five player in the league. He showed just that with his ’16-’17 season. But, I need to see him play at that level again before I make him the top dog in the East. We all need to see if he is the same player after his quad injury, especially mentally. And, unfortunately it looks like we are going to have to wait some more to see him play:
The “Greek Freak” was the second-best player in the East before LeBron left, so it is fitting he comes in at one on this list. Giannis averaged a double-double with 26.9 PPG and 10 RPG. He also improved his 3P% and FG%. At 23, he is just starting to scratch the surface on his potential.
P.S. he can dunk on and over people!
Next guys up: