By Austin Santiago
Published: November 14th, 2018
When LeBron James decided to sign with the Lakers in July, NBA fans were ecstatic just thinking about how action packed the Western Conference would be, and rightfully so. However, there was a lot of speculation as to how mundane the Eastern Conference would become. With the best player in the world jumping ship to the other conference along with the majority of NBA All-Stars, many fans wondered: what was there to look forward to in the east? Well, as it turns out, a lot.
With the first month of season in the books the Eastern Conference has proven to be nothing short of must-watch basketball. Though the Western Conference has the star-power, the Eastern Conference of the NBA is rich with storylines. In the north, the Toronto Raptors are currently the top team in the east thanks to the play of Kawhi Leonard. Leonard, who was the target of off season scrutiny due to his refusal to play for a San Antonio Spurs team that saw him as the future of their franchise. Sporting an average 24.4 point per game, Leonard is proving that he is a self-made superstar and that the Spurs uniform had nothing to do with it.
Though the east does not have as many established stars as the west, it does have something that many fans deem just as valuable, young teams with limitless potential. Teams like the Celtics, Bucks, and Pacers offer rosters of young talent that has been given ample time to play and show us that the future of the NBA is bright. But perhaps the biggest ticket in the east can be found in the city of Philadelphia. The 76ers are the hottest they have been in years due to the outstanding play of center Joell Embiid, with an average 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game, the superstar center has become the catalyst for this young Sixers team and has served as the ambassador for Philadelphia sports due to his larger than life personality. This past weekend, a new storyline developed in Philadelphia that brings a whole new meaning to the term “Trust the process”. The 76ers traded for star shooting guard Jimmy Butler. Butler, who was involved in a very public dispute with his former team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, is sure to bring passion and character to a team full of colorful characters.
Sixers forward Ben Simmons had this to say on the teams’ newest acquisition: “A guy like him who can come in, score the ball, veteran leadership, experience — he’s going to fit in here. Our culture is winning, playing together as a team and playing hard. I think he’s going to bring that.” Simmons told ESPN reporters in the locker room on Saturday. It appears that while many NBA fans were focused on the lack of star power in the east, they forgot why exactly a lack of superstars could be a great thing. With nothing but young teams in the east, the entire conference is up for grabs.
Eight playoff spots are any teams for the taking and these young players will have to give 100% every night in order to be playing postseason basketball. As NBA fans, we shouldn’t worry about seeing a superstar every night, we should be concerned about seeing players leave it all on the court, it’s the purest form of basketball and the eastern conference has become a haven for just that, pure basketball.