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NBA: Top 4 Contenders for the New "King of The East"

Expresso
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Top 5 / Top 10
1.94K   //    01 Aug 2018, 20:05 IST

Joel Embiid and Kawhi Leonard
Joel Embiid and Kawhi Leonard

I pity Cleveland Cavaliers' fans, but it had to happen. It had been 4 years, the Golden State Warriors only got stronger, the east was even getting stronger, and the Cavs were somehow getting weaker. LeBron had to leave in Free Agency but with James now representing the Los Angeles Lakers and out of the east, the mantle as king over the Eastern Conference is now up for grabs.

While last year's Eastern Conference playoff was confusing and slightly un-entertaining, I believe that the East without the crushing presence of LeBron is on the road to becoming competitive again, while still being much weaker than the Western Conference.

Here (in ascending order) are the four players who have the best chance of becoming the new "King of The East".

#4 Kyrie Irving


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Kyrie hasn't met the high expectations set following his trade to the Boston Celtics - USA TODAY SPORTS

This one likely comes as a surprise to many and rightfully so, Kyrie Irving should be much higher in these rankings, as he is an NBA Champion, 5x All-Star and his Celtics finished the regular season, with a 53-29 record, despite several injuries to the roster, including himself and fellow star Gordon Hayward (Hayward at the beginning of the season).

However, it is this success that has dented Kyrie's chances so far at being the top dog in the East, as proven via an impressive Conference Finals appearance for the Boston Celtics. The Celtics do not necessarily need him (or Hayward) to compete in the East. Irving is yet to win a major accolade since his time in Cleveland and his constant injury problems make him a risk as a franchise player.

Dubbed the "Spurs of the East", the ball-sharing, team-centred play of the Celtics, engineered by the basketball genius, Brad Stevens, involves scoring off team plays and less individual play stardom. As an isolation-type player, I feel Kyrie is still struggling to fit into the team's game plan. Kyrie heavily desires to be the leader of his own team (hence why he left Cleveland) and while things have been good, he still lacks that leadership authority that LeBron had. The Celtics will most likely still win the East but Kyrie will require a bit more work to claim the top spot he seems to want quite desperately.



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