A large majority of the NBA’s established talent has moved over to the West, with Lebron James remaining as the most dominant player in the East. But after the NBA draft, there is some youth that can keep some teams relevant for years to come.
The veterans and their moves have dominated the headlines this summer. Here’s a list of the names to watch in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia 76ers | Markelle Fultz
From the University of Washington, Fultz might be the final piece to the puzzle for Philadelphia, following the addition of Ben Simmons to complement the talented Joel Embiid. Fultz is a big 6’4″ guard that can score and distribute the ball. He’s also great in transition and will surely be one of the best rebounding guards in a few seasons. Don’t be surprised if “The Process” makes an appearance in the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs.
Boston Celtics | Jayson Tatum
The Celtics were first in the Eastern Conference last season. But after losing the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-1) in the Conference Finals, it’s clear they still don’t have enough firepower. Drafting wing Jayson Tatum from Duke University will really help Boston at the small forward position — Jae Crowder just isn’t good enough. Tatum already had the NBA build, so he can be effective early. But, the addition of Gordon Hayward will allow Tatum to grow at his own pace. This is the perfect situation for a young player to flourish.
Miami Heat | Bam Adebayo
It was difficult to see what Bam Adebayo could do in Kentucky. Each year, their team is stacked with talent and the great coaching keeps players from dominating individually. We’ve seen some summer league action and Bam has been showing out. The big man is more versatile than we thought and he can protect the rim. The Heat will have a strong defensive presence inside with Bam and Whiteside patrolling the paint.
Charlotte Hornets | Malik Monk
Monk was lighting it up last season. Every few years, Kentucky gets one guy that can absolutely get buckets. Monk was that player. Charlotte desperately needed more scoring on the perimeter to pair with Kemba Walker. Monk showed us that he could score from long range and make the right moves in transition. He’ll have the opportunity to get a lot of playing time very early.
Indiana Pacers | T.J. Leaf
The Pacers lost their swingman Paul George in a trade this offseason. Drafting Leaf won’t make up fully for the loss, but he’s a nice addition to prepare for the road ahead. From UCLA, this guy can contribute from several areas on the offensive end. Leaf shoots well from three, scores well from the mid-range area and will be a constant threat in the pick and pop game. Consequently, the 6’10” forward will fit perfectly with center Myles Turner. Indiana is already working on their rebuild.
It’s easy to see that the well-known NBA players are all out in the Western Conference. We can’t ignore the young talent that teams in the East have acquired. In a few years, maybe the Eastern Conference will be the dominant force.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this commentary don’t necessarily reflect the views of BallerStatus.com and/or its staff. The opinions are solely those of the author.