With LeBron James leaving, the east is for Giannis’ taking

The Milwaukee Bucks have not had the best player in the Eastern Conference since 1974 when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took home the league’s MVP award as a member of the Bucks. Since then the conference has been dominated by the likes of Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James.

With James’ announcement on Sunday that he is joining the Los Angeles Lakers via free agency, the Eastern Conference is now up for grabs. James had been on the team that represented the conference in the NBA Finals each June from 2011 until 2018.

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The door is certainly open for the talent-laden Boston Celtics, the young and exciting Philadelphia 76ers, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo now becomes the presumptive best player in the Eastern Conference, with a chance to enter his prime with a wide-open conference.

There is still talent in the conference, for sure, but there’s no doubting that each of the – at the very least – top five players in basketball now reside out west. Antetokounmpo very well may be the highest-ranked player in the east.

There’s certainly competition, as players like Al Horford, Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons all play their basketball in the Eastern Conference. But of those players, there’s not a single one of them that Milwaukee would even think about swapping with Antetokounmpo, and it would be tough to argue that their respective teams would not jump at the chance.

Antetokounmpo still has plenty to work on in order to reach his ceiling. There’s no doubt his passing has room to grow, as does his ability to score from the outside as well as his basketball IQ.

Like their star, the Bucks have plenty of room to improve the roster as they attempt to win a playoff series for the first time since the spring of 2001. Milwaukee is in a cap-space bind for the time being, but the future of Antetokounmpo is bright.

Earlier in 2018 Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson was fined by the NBA for tampering as a result of comments me made regarding Antetokounmpo. Those comments seemed to be good natured and unworthy of a fine according to public opinion.

“He’s going to be like an MVP, a champion,” Johnson told ESPN. “This dude, he’s going to put Milwaukee on the map. And I think he’s going to bring them a championship one day.”

While Johnson isn’t directly helping to build the Bucks into a contender, he just did help Antetokounmpo become the best player in the conference. Now it’s up for Antetokounmpo to take things from there and put Milwaukee on the map.

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