The Best Team in the East
*Photo via USA Today
Coming into this season, the general feeling around the NBA, was that it was going to be a two headed race in the Eastern Conference . Those two teams being the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. Currently the Cavs are 7th in the Eastern Conference and on a 4 game skid. The Bulls are 3rd ,but like many feared the injury bug has been lingering, allowing Derrick Rose to only play in 5 games thus far, and recently with Pau Gasol missing time. So, Who are the top two teams sitting atop the Eastern Conference? The answer is the Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards. This is a surprise to many, seeing as both of these clubs are relatively young in experience. The Raptors are 11-2, while the Wizards are 9-3, both are off to hot starts. So which team is currently the best team in the East? The Washington Wizards.
The Wizards are finally getting back to full health. Bradley Beal has returned from suffering a broken wrist and he surely impacts this team with his great shooting touch. In just 3 games back, he’s averaging 16.7 points per game, 4.7 assist, 3.3 rebounds, while shooting 51.2 from the field and 45.5 from behind the arc. What team wouldn’t miss that kind of presence? Of course, if you were to ask John Wall, I’m sure he would again say, they have the best backcourt in basketball. Let’s be fair, in the East, they may very well have that title. John Wall continues to grow into more of a leader this season, despite the struggles, he continues to have at times shooting the ball. Walls is averaging team highs, in points per game with 19.4, and assist 9.1.a game. Who doesn’t love a point guard who can create for others? A key component thus far has to go with the signing of veteran, small forward, Paul Pierce. Pierce contains that veteran leadership quality, this team was lacking to truly make it a championship quality team. Yes, CHAMIONSHIP QUALITY TEAM. The backcourt duo of Wall and Beal, followed by veteran, Paul Pierce and then having Nene and Gortat down low. They can contest with any starting five in the East today. (They recently beat down Cleveland 91-78)
I know what you’re thinking; it won’t last, or the Raptors are the real deal. Well let’s look at some stats for that. Yes, the Raptors are Averaging 106.7 points per game, while only surrendering 94.7 points per game, and I tell you that won’t continue. Meanwhile, the Wizards are averaging 99.3 points per game and giving up 95.6 points per game. Now big side note, the points per game average of the Wizards is with Bradley Beal only playing 3 games. This offense will average more. The Wizards currently are shooting better all-around than the Raptors, by shooting 46.3% to 45.3%, they also are out rebounding the Raptors, 43 to 40.2. The key statistic that pops out to me is the assists per game totals, the Wizards average 24.7 assists per game, while the Raptors only average 11.2 (Kyle Lowry averages 6 of those on his own) What does this mean though? I take it as the Wizards play more team orientated basketball and create for each other. Not that the Raptors don’t, but I suspect this lack of ball movement by the Raptors will be another early out in the postseason and why they aren’t the best team currently in the east and won’t be this season.
Washington is a contender and with Beal back, watch out.
-By Kory Waldron