Carmelo Anthony Trade: Ranking the Top 14 Players in the Eastern Conference
Michael Jordan. Larry Bird. Bill Russell. Reggie Miller… The Eastern Conference produces legendary players.
Currently, there are 15 teams split up into three divisions comprised of five teams each. Out of these 15 teams, only five have over 30 wins. Yet, regardless of a team’s record, it can have one of the best players in that position.
With the movement of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks and the Eastern Conference, there is quite possibly a shift of power. A new balance.
Here is an edited list which names the top two point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards, centers, bench players and rookies in the Eastern Conference.
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo
Rondo, who was just selected to his second All-Star game this season, has been averaging 10.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 12.2 APG this season for the Boston Celtics.
He has only been in the NBA since 2006, but he’s already won a championship (in 2008), broken two Celtics franchise records and lead the league in steals and steals per game (both in 2010).
He has become a quiet, yet powerful part of the Celtics offense, as he as been able to successfully work with Garnett, Allen and Pierce.
Point Guard: Derrick Rose
Although Rose has only been in the league since 2008, he has become one of the most recognizable faces not only as a Chicago Bull, but as a Chicago athlete.
After leading Memphis to the NCAA Championship, his talent was apparent, and he was the number one pick in the NBA Draft. He was Rookie of the Year in 2009, helped the US win the FIBA World Championship in 2010 and has been a two-time All-Star.
Over the course of three seasons, all of his season average numbers have increased. So far in the 2010-2011 season, he has averaged 24.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 8.2 APG.
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade
D-Wade has become one of the most beloved players in the NBA. Since entering the league in 2003 as a first round pick, he has proved to be quick and hard to defend.
His season field goal percentages have never dipped below 45 percent, helping his career PPG average to be 25.4 (this is also his current season average). He has been racking up accolades since his rookie season: seven All-Star selections, Finals Champion and MVP (2006), Olympic Gold Medalist (2008) and the scoring title in the 2009-2010 season.
Currently, he leads the rejuvenated Miami Heat who are tied with the Celtics atop the Eastern Conference.
Shooting Guard: Ray Allen
Since entering into the NBA in 1996, Allen has become one of the most prolific and accurate three-point and free throw shooters in history.
He owns franchise records with all three teams he has played for (Milwaukee, Seattle and currently Boston) in addition to making it to the playoffs with all three.
In 2008, he finally won an NBA Championship with the Celtics after defeating the Lakers.
His records extend from the regular season, through the playoffs and into the finals. He has also been selected as an All-Star 10 times, exemplifying not only his talent, but his popularity as well.
This season, the Celtics are 40-14 and he is averaging 16.3 PPG while shooting a 47.7 FG percentage, a 36.4 3P percentage and a 91.3 FT percentage.
Small Forward: LeBron James
It is impossible to not think about King James in accordance with any mention of the NBA.
This superstar, who was the first overall pick (out of high school) in 2003, has been turning heads ever since. Whether it has to do with his public image, his tattoos, or his flat out skill, James is the most recognizable player in the NBA right now.
After leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers due to dissatisfaction, he decided to “take his talents to South Beach” with the hopes of winning his first NBA title after making it to the playoffs five times.
He has been the Rookie of the Year (2004), MVP twice (2009, 2010), scoring champion (2008), All-Star seven times (2005-2011), All-NBA six times (2005-2010) and All-Defensive player twice (2009, 2010).
His average career PPG is nearly 30 (27.8), and he is a skilled field goal, three point and free throw shooter, in addition to posting consistent rebound, assist, steal and block numbers.
The Miami Heat are sitting pretty in the Easter Conference thanks to James his fellow “Big 3” members, as he makes his case for his third MVP Award.
Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony
Just when NBA nation thought trading and moving controversies ended long ago, Carmelo Anthony left the Denver Nuggets after 6.5 seasons for the New York Knicks.
Anthony, who will likely debut for the sixth place Knicks against Milwaukee tonight, brings an incredibly strong scoring ability to the East Coast. This season, he has been averaging 25.2 PPG, 7.60 RPG and 2.8 APG.
In addition, he has also been a four-time All-NBA player (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010) and a four-time All-Star (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011). While his numbers may not be as “phenomenal” as James’, he is still arguably one of the best small forwards in the league.
His movement to the Eastern Conference changes quite a bit, as the Knicks now move into serious contenders for making the playoffs this season.
Power Forward: Amar’e Stoudemire
At almost seven feet, Stoudemire has been called one of the most pure shooters in the league. In his eight professional years with the Phoenix Suns (excluding the 2006-06 season when he only played in three games due to an injury), his average PPG has been above 20.0 (his rookie season is an exception, when he averaged 13.5 PPG); currently his PPG is 26.1.
His field goal percentage has also consistently hovered near 50 percent, and this season his three-point percentage is also 50 percent.
This season with the Knicks, he is averaging career highs in APG (2.7) and BPG (2.2). He has been an All-Star six times, is currently the face of the Knicks, who have been slowly improving season by season. Look for the addition of star Carmelo Anthony to electrify things quite a bit at Madison Square Garden.
Center: Dwight Howard
At one inch shy of seven feet, Howard has become one of the NBA’s most prolific and effective rebounders and blockers.
This two-time Defensive Player of the Year (2009-2010) is also consistently at the top of the league in field goal percentage and free throw attempts.
His extremely positive image and popularity makes him the most recognizable player in the Orlando franchise.
Last season, he lead the league in games played (82), games started (82), field goal percentage (61.2 percent), rebounds per game (13.2) and blocks per game (2.8). These outstanding numbers have helped him break many NBA and franchise records.
Despite leading the Magic to four straight playoff appearances (2007-2010), a championship has eluded Howard. Yet, he is one of the league’s most dominant centers, and Orlando is only 5.5 games back from Eastern Conference leaders Boston and Miami.
Center: Al Horford
Although he has only been pro for three years (all with Atlanta), Horford has two NCAA Championships, two NCAA Finals MVP awards and two All-Star appearances under his belt.
His rookie season was also impressive, as he led the rookies in double doubles (25) and rebounds per game (9.7).
This season, he is averaging career highs in minutes per game (35.1), free throw percentage (82.0 percent), rebounds per game (9.9), assists per game (3.6), steals per game (0.8) and points per game (16.6).
Horford may be a quiet force at center, but he is definitely talented and effective.
Bench Player: Jamal Crawford
Crawford, who was the sixth pick overall in the 2000 Draft has played for four teams since; he has been with the Hawks since 2009.
Yet, his importance became apparent when he won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award last season.
Although he did not start any games, in the 79 he played in he averaged 18.0 PPG while having a 44.9 FG percentage and a 85.7 FT percentage. He also recorded his 24th career four-point play in February 2010, setting a new NBA record.
So far, this shooting/point guard is averaging 15.0 PG, 1.70 RPG and 3.4 APG this season.
Bench Player: Glen Davis
At either power forward or center, “Big Baby” has become a crucial part to the Celtics’ success. Although his role was not incredible during the 2007-08 playoffs (he averaged only 2.3 PPG), he was well on his way to becoming recognizable.
In the 2008-2009 playoffs, Davis started and played in all 14 games, averaging 36.4 MPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG and 15.8 PPG—all career playoff highs.
Currently, he is averaging 11.7 PPG, 5.20 RPG and 1.3 APG, as the Celtics are one of the best teams in the entire league.
Rookie: John Wall
There is a reason why there is a dance named after this point guard.
He has started in 37 of the 42 games he has played, averaging 36.9 MPG, 4.2 RPG, 8.9 APG, 1.7 SPG and 15.0 PPG. He has also made NBA history in terms of triple-doubles.
Although the Wizards are a sad 15-40, they have hope in the form of Wall, Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche and Kirk Hinrich.
Rookie: Landry Fields
Although he was drafted 39th overall in 2010, he has won Rookie of the Month twice—November and December 2010.
He has started all 54 games he has played, averaging 10.1 PPG, 7.10 RPG and 2.0 APG.
This 6'7" guard is a big and powerful force, and adds strength for the Knicks as they look to continue improving.