Giannis and Simmons East's top talent's now | Bonehead Picks

Giannis and Ben Simmons are the Eastern Conference’s best following LeBron’s exodus

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LeBron James is a Los Angeles Laker. The future Hall of Famer decided to take his talents to the Western Conference after spending his entire career in the Eastern Conference between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat. One of the biggest reasons many thought that James would remain with Cleveland this summer is because he has dominated the Eastern Conference for several years including winning the Eastern Conference and playing in the NBA Finals for eight consecutive seasons. Now that LeBron James has left the Eastern Conference, the teams in the Eastern Conference can breathe a sigh of relief but there is a void about who is the best player in the Eastern Conference now that he is gone.

A great indicator about the best players in the NBA comes from the All-NBA teams. It is a better indicator than the NBA All-Star teams, which can be popularity contests at times. Of the 15 NBA players on the 2017-18 All-NBA team, only five played in the Eastern Conference and LeBron James was the only one on the first team. 76ers’ center Joel Embiid, Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Raptors guard DeMar Derozan were the Eastern Conference representatives on the All-NBA second team but only Antetokounmpo should be considered a bonefide superstar from that group. Embiid is immensely talented but his durability is still very much a question and he has never even played more than 63 games in a NBA regular season. Derozan lacks the defense and all-around ability to also be considered a legitimate superstar.

The term “superstar” in the NBA is often used for the best player on a NBA team but legitimate NBA superstars are players that NBA franchises can be built around and they contribute in multiple areas on the court. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is truly a rare talent who is terrific in transition who is a threat to produce a triple-double almost any game. His length causes problems for opposing offenses and his lack of three-point shooting is not as important since he plays the power forward position.

The other Eastern Conference player who should be considered a superstar might surprise you. Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons was a somewhat controversial selection as the NBA Rookie of the Year. Simmons is a truly unique blend of size, speed, and passing ability. He ranked in the top ten of both assists per game and assist percentage. Although Simmons received some criticism about not shooting, he had the eight most 2 point attempts during the 2017-18 NBA season. The most underrated part about Ben Simmons is his defense. He is disruptive for his size and ranked 2nd in the NBA in Defensive Win Shares and ranked 4th in the NBA in Defensive Plus/Minus. It is rare for a young NBA player to show the diversity of skills that Simmons has and he and Giannis represents the best of the Eastern Conference players following LeBron’s departure to Los Angeles.


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