Intriguing Player
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Most Intriguing Player on Every Eastern Conference Team

Every team has an intriguing player that has captivated their fanbase for a multitude of reasons. Whether it is a young player that was drafted and could raise the ceiling of a team if he pans out or a player brought in through trade that may have struggled in past situations, there is hope that the current team could be the one to unlock their potential. Maybe even a player that isn’t even really good but when he gets minutes the crowd and social media go crazy. These 15 names are players that are the most intriguing on their current teams in 2021 in the Eastern Conference for varying different reasons

Atlanta Hawks – John Collins

John Collins starts off the list as the most intriguing player on the surging Atlanta Hawks. Nate McMillan has found a way to fix the Hawk’s early-season struggles and John Collins has played a big role in that. Collins is the Ideal partner to form a dynamic duo with point guard Trae Young. His insane athleticism gives him the ability to be one of the best roll men in the league while he has also worked on his range from outside shooting 38% from three on 3.4 attempts this season. Collins was having a career year last season before he was suspended due to violating the NBA anti-drug policy and this season he has picked up where he left off continuing to improve.

Now in the final season of his contract, The Hawks will have to choose if Collins is worth the hefty price tag. He has already turned down an extension worth 90 million over four years and multiple teams like the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Dallas mavericks expressed interest at the trade deadline. Wherever Collins ends up next season he will fit in perfectly as one of the best young power forwards in the league.

Boston Celtics- Jayson Tatum

The Boston Celtics have had an extremely disappointing season, and everyone is wondering what is wrong with the Boston Celtics. While the team may have plenty of problems they will need to address down the stretch of this season and in the offseason, they can be sure about one thing. Jayson Tatum is on his way to superstardom and that makes him the most intriguing player on the Boston Celtics. Tatum is only 22 years old and has already made two All-Star games and continuing to improve year after year at an exponential rate. As a rookie, Tatum scored 351 points in the playoffs second to only Kareem Adbul Jabar, from a young age Tatum has shown he has the ability to step up to the occasion.

While the Celtics may be struggling, Danny Ainge can’t be too stressed knowing he has Jayson Tatum to build around for the foreseeable future. He recently scored a career-high 53 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves and that display of dominance will only continue to happen more regularly. Tatum is easily the best forward to play for the Celtics since Hall of Famer Paul Peirce wore the white and green.

Brooklyn Nets – Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets have multiple intriguing players and storylines that have filled this NBA season. The return of Kevin Durant from his Achilles injury or the James Harden trade and his dominant performances leading to MVP discussion. However, the third member of the big three is easily the most intriguing and that player is Kyrie Irving. Kyrie has the ability to flat out dominate the game with his ability to create off the dribble and hit the most difficult shots in the clutches moments like his iconic game 7 shot versus the Golden State Warriors.

Irving possesses all the talent to make him a top 10 point guard in the league but the problem with him remains his commitment to the game of basketball. In two instances Kyrie has left the Brookly Nets for what he deemed as personal reasons. The first time he was caught celebrating his sister’s birthday for which the league fined him over 800,000 for violating covid protocols. The second time he left the Net’s for an elongated period it was speculation that it was for his birthday as his absence on march 23rd coincidently was also his birthday. When Kyrie is engaged, he is easily one of the most entertaining players in the league but his off-court actions also make him one of the most polarizing.

Charlotte Hornets- LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball has been in the media spotlight since he was a Freshman in high school playing with his two brothers in Chino Hills. After a strange path to the NBA that involved multiple overseas stints, he found himself as one of the best rookies in the NBA. He was the clear-cut favorite for the rookie of the year award before a wrist fracture prematurely ended his season. Before the Injury, LaMelo was doing amazing things we haven’t seen from a rookie in a long time. It isn’t often that we see a rookie impacting winning for a team the way LaMelo was as he was leading the Hornets in usage rate, showing coach James Borrego fully trusted him to make all the decisions on the court only 41 games into his career.

He also was the first player to lead all rookies in total points, rebounds, assists, and steals heading into the All-Star break. Years ago LaMelo’s older brother Lonzo praised him saying that he was the best out of the three ball brothers. As we have seen with his play this season it’s clear that while LaMelo does have some flaw’s in his game the young point guard has the potential to be a star in the NBA.

Chicago Bulls- Patrick Williams

The Chicago Bulls surprised many analysts and fans when they decided to use the 4th pick on 19-year-old Patrick Williams out of Florida State. The reason for his rise to the top of the draft was his potential to become one of the best defenders in the NBA. So much so that comparisons to Kawhi Leonard who is one of the best defensive players in the league has earned Williams the Nickname “The Paw” by bulls commentator Stacey King. Here at Vendetta, there was worry that Williams was well on his way to becoming a bust but there should be patience for Williams.

He is the second-youngest player in the NBA and has already shown progress in becoming an above-average shooter from three-point range shooting 38.3% on 2.1 attempts per game. Patrick Williams is a raw prospect but he possesses all the necessary physical tools to succeed in this league and has already earned praise from star players on his mindset and defense.

Cleveland Cavaliers- Collin Sexton

The Cleveland Cavaliers have a plethora of young intriguing players as they go down the stretch of their third season rebuilding since the departure of LeBron James. Recently they had two players, Jarret Allen and Collin Sexton, featured in Espn’s top 25 under 25 years old list which puts them in a good position as they hope to build towards a return to relevancy. Given a choice between Sexton and Allen, however, and Sexton has to be the more intriguing player on the Cavaliers roster. Sexton has come a long way from his rookie season where he was called out by multiple veteran teammates questioning his ability on his basketball IQ. Now in his fourth year, he is a part of a star-studded list of players averaging over 24 points per game and 4 assists per game while shooting 35% from three.

Detroit Pistons – Saddiq Bey

The 19th pick in the 2020 NBA draft has been a huge bright spot for the Detroit Pistons this season. The young forward has set records for becoming the first rookie to make seven straight threes without a miss and was the first rookie to make 100 threes this season. Bey’s three-point prowess has earned him a starting role in the Detroit pistons lineup and coach Dwayne Casey has labeled him a future star in the league.

The Pistons front office must also agree with that statement since a report came out around the trade deadline that they had turned down a swap of Marvin Bagley the former 2nd pick in the 2018 draft for Saddiq. Bey has impressed everyone on the Detriot Pistons and around the NBA and has shown he is easily one of the biggest steals from the draft. Only six rookies in NBA history have taken over six three a game and Saddiq so far is leading that group in percentage at 38%.

Indiana Pacers- Caris LeVert

The Indiana Pacers decided to make a midseason trade to shake up the roster sending Victor Oladipo to the Houston Rocket’s and acquiring Caris LeVert from the Brooklyn Net’s in a three-team deal. LeVert’s debut with the team was delayed due to a kidney mass found during his required physical players must go through before being traded. Caris was originally drafted by the Pacers with the 20th pick in the 2016 NBA draft and now he returns with big expectations to meet.

LeVert is only 26 years old and along with Malcolm Brogdon form one of the best scoring backcourts in the eastern conference. He has the ability to score from every level and is also an underrated playmaker averaging 5 assists this season. The Pacers have two excellent big men in All-Star Domantas Sabonis and DPOY candidate Myles Turner but the NBA is driven by guards and Caris may be the missing piece to raise the ceiling in Indiana.

Miami Heat- Duncan Robinson

The most intriguing player on the Miami Heat is Duncan Robinson, the undrafted forward has become one of the best shooters in the NBA and one of the most important players on the Miami heat. Robinson climbed all the way up from division three college basketball to the NBA and is in the final year of his rookie contract. Player’s of Robinsons Caliber are getting paid huge salaries like Luke Kennard and Joe Harris. The Heat already have two players with max contract’s on the roster and after acquiring Victor Oladipo it will be interesting to see how much they really value Robinson when free agency comes around.

Milwaukee Bucks- Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokoumpo is the most intriguing player on the Bucks roster and one of the best players in Milwaukee Bucks history. Giannis continues to improve year after year and the Bucks see more team success as each season passes. He has grown from being called one of the most overrated players in the league to earning the most improved player award then becoming an NBA All-Star, an NBA MVP, and a Defensive Player of the year all on the Milwaukee Bucks. He continues to push the boundaries of what he is able to accomplish in this league breaking records on a weekly basis.

This season in the 2021 NBA All-Star game en route to winning All-Star MVP, Giannis became the first player to go perfect from the field in the All-Star game since 1968. While Giannis is able to rack up nonstop individual accomplishments and accolades he has yet to be able to lead the Bucks to the NBA Finals. Something that may change this season with the help of the recently extended guard Jrue Holiday.

New York Knicks- Julius Randle

The New York Knicks are actually good this season and have a chance at making the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-2013 season. Julius Randle is a big part of this resurgence in New York and he is the most intriguing player on the team. He is averaging career high’s across all major statistical categories while also leading the NBA in minutes at 37.0 mpg.

Randle has played for three teams in six seasons but he has found a home in New York earning his first All-Star selection of his career this season. He is a free agent after this season, The Knicks would be wise to pay whatever the price tag is to keep the best player in recent franchise history since Carmelo Anthony. The NBA is better when the Knicks are good and if Randle stays around they may be able to create some much-needed stability in the organization.

Orlando Magic – Chuma Okeke

The Orlando Magic finally decided to full commit to rebuilding the team trading veterans Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier at the deadline. Now the roster is filled with multiple young players as the team looks to find a new identity. Chuma Okeke has been one of the more impressive players on the roster. The 6’6, 22 year old forward has been turning heads since he found himself gaining more opportunity since the trades that cleared up playing time. Over the last ten games Okeke has averaged 14.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals and .7 blocks in 31 minutes per game.

Before the trades Okeke was only seeing around 20 minutes per game but he has shown when he is given minutes he has the ability to stuff the stat sheet across the board. Player’s like Okeke will be important in the Orlando Magic’s rebuilding journey, low salary intriguing prospect that performs well on both sides of the ball. He has the opportunity to expand his game and grow into a star with the Orlando Magic.

Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons is the most intriguing player on the Philadelphia 76ers mainly because he is also the most frustrating to watch at times. He is a 6’10 point guard will all the physical tools to absolutely dominate the game but his refusal to shoot the ball and at times his passiveness has led him to average a career low 15 ppg and 7.1 apg. Joel Embiid’s MVP season has covered for Ben Simmons struggles on the offensive end but as they get closer to the playoffs the 76ers will need more from Ben if they hope to advance far.

Ben’s saving grace however is his defensive ability, he is one of the best defensive player’s in the league as some of the league’s best players struggle with his strength, quickness, and size. Ben has been trading places with Rudy Gobert in the DPOY tracker for the favorite to win the award all season. If he is ever to able to bring his offensive game to the level of his defense, the Philadelphia 76ers would be unstoppable.

Toronto Raptors- Gary Trent Jr.

Gary Trent Jr. was recently acquired in a trade deadline deal that sent former Raptors guard Norman Powell to the Portland Trailblazers. Trent Jr. was brought to Toronto because his age is more in line with the current nucleus and state of the Toronto Raptors organization. Trent jr is only 22 years old and made a name for himself in the Orlando bubble last season where he erupted onto the scene as a high volume scorer. In Toronto he has continued to carry that title and reputation most recently scoring a career high 44 points against the Cavaliers. In his ten games with the Raptors he is averaging 18.4 points per game on 46% shooting while also providing some size at the guard position that the Raptors have been lacking. Trent Jr. has excelled with this team and will only continue to improve along side underrated players like O.G Anunoby.

Washington Wizards- Daniel Gafford

Daniel Gafford is the most intriguing player on the Washington Wizards because he gives them some intriguing upside at the center position that they haven’t seen in a very long time. I am a firm believer that Thomas Bryant sucks at basketball and with his recent injury to his ACL, the Wizards don’t know what to expect when he returns. Gafford may have been brought in as an insurance policy but his play so far has shown he might be the long term answer for the center position. In the three games he played for the Wizards he averaged 11 points per game 5.3 rebounds per game, and 2.0 blocks. Gafford has the potential to become a top tier interior defender and rim protector and he only cost Troy Brown Jr. and Moritz Wagner two players out of the rotation to acquire.