Below is a breakdown of the top players by position in each of the divisions of the Eastern Conference. To see the Western Conference teams, click here.
PG- Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets- Even though he plays for a struggling team, he gets the nod over Rajon Rondo here. His offensive game if more advanced, and he has proven he can carry a team. He is averaging 22 points and 8.3 assists this season and it’s likely he will be playing somewhere else next year.
SG- DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors- DeRozan has been a rare bright spot in an otherwise abysmal season for Toronto. His skill-set is starting to match his freakish athleticism and I expect him to be a 20 and 5 guy one day soon.
SF- Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks- Injuries and selfishness have led to a down year for Carmelo, but he still possesses a rare skill-set. He’s averaging 20.3 points per game during a lot of changes at the point guard position. I expect him to bounce back next year.
PF- Amare Soudemire, New York Knicks- Injuries have plagued him as well, and it still remains a question whether or not he and Carmelo can coincide with one another, but Amare is still younger than Kevin Garnett and can still give a team 20 points and 8 rebounds any given night when put in the right system.
C- Brook Lopez, New Jersey Nets- I gave Brook the nod over Tyson Chandler because he is younger and more versatile on the offensive end of the court. His rebounding needs to improve, but his scoring gives you something few other centers in the league provide. He’s only played in five games this year, but I was thinking big picture on this one.
Bench- Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics- He is enjoying his best overall season so far, and has gone from facilitator to the “Big Three” to the team’s best player.
Bench- Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers- What, no “Big Three” members? I don’t think they are the best at their position in this conference anymore. I wanted to put Lou Williams here, but I think Iguodala’s versatility is more important to the 76ers.
Coach- Doug Collins, Philadelphia 76ers- He’s done a great job blending the youth and experience of this team as they are poised to make the playoffs in a tough division.
PG- Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls- He has struggled with injuries this year, and his team has played surprisingly well without him, but he remains one of the top two point guards in the league. The Bulls will need him healthy if they want to go all the way this season.
SG- Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks- Recently traded to separate him from Stephen Curry. Ellis is a dynamic offensive threat. He’s averaging 20.8 points while shooting close to 45% from the field this season. He’s still young and could sink or flourish alongside Brandon Jennings.
SF- Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers- One of the most underrated players in the league. The Pacers would not be in position to make the playoffs if they didn’t have him. He’s only averaging 18 points per game, but he makes everyone around him better.
PF- Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls- He is the main reason the Bulls have continued to win without Rose. He’s averaging 15.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. You wouldn’t think he’s one of their best players if you watched the Bulls for the first time, because he plays slow, but he gets the job done.
C- Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers- I really like Hibbert’s game. He’s massive which allows him to have an advantage on almost everyone in the league. His offensive game has improved by leaps and bounds since his senior year at Georgetown, and I would imagine he isn’t finished yet.
Bench- Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks- Like Hibbert I think Jennings is a great player. He’s averaging 18.4 points per game this year, but I look for that to go down now that Ellis is here; would have been the top point guard in most other divisions.
Bench- Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers- He’s one of the youngest players in the league, but plays like a 10-year veteran. Hopefully Cleveland gets some talent around him because it looks like he could be special.
Coach- Tom Thibideau, Chicago Bulls- He’s done a great job of keeping his team together without last year’s MVP Derrick Rose. Does that make him this year’s MVP then?
PG- John Wall, Washington Wizards- I’ll admit there aren’t a lot of great point guards in this division, but Wall has the talent. If he had more talent around him it would help his development out, but for now 17 points and 8 assists will do.
SG- Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat- Too easy; next.
SF- LeBron James, Miami Heat- Oh yeah the Heat are loaded. These are arguably number one and three in the league right now.
PF- Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks- The “Big Three” stops here. Smith has emerged from one of the best athletes in basketball to one of the best all-around players. He’s averaging 18.4 points and 9.8 rebounds this year.
C- Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic- Amid all the trade rumors circulating around him this year both he and the Magic are enjoying solid seasons. He leads all centers in scoring with 20.9 a game, and leads the league in rebounding with 14.5 a game. I still think Howard will be playing somewhere else next year, or the Magic will bring in another star: see Deron Williams.
Bench- Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks- He’s one of the best shooters in the game, and has seemingly taken over Chauncey Billups’ role as Mr. Big Shot. I’ve liked Johnson ever since he played for Phoenix and I hope he wins a championship one of these years.
Bench- Chris Bosh, Miami Heat- I really wrestled with the idea of putting Ryan Anderson here, but Bosh has had a better career and even in Anderson’s breakout year their numbers are pretty similar.
Coach- Larry Drew, Atlanta Hawks- This is a tough one because Orlando has done great amidst all the Howard turmoil, but Drew has quietly done a great job with his young squad that has had a few injuries of their own.
Do you agree or disagree with the rankings? Let us know how you feel in the comments section.
To see the Western Conference teams, click here.