Taking a Look at the Eastern Conference’s Five Best Players

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February 15, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Eastern Conference forward

Carmelo Anthony

of the New York Knicks (7) shoots the basketball against Western Conference forward

LaMarcus Aldridge

of the Portland Trail Blazers (12) before the 2015 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden.Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony

I learned something earlier this summer: a lot of people really don’t like Carmelo Anthony. And no, I didn’t mean a lot of people don’t really like Melo. I meant that lots and lots of people really, really dislike him. This isn’t anything new, but it’s still pretty dumb–Anthony is still one of the best players in the Association.

Just look at what he was able to do in his last healthy NBA season. Melo averaged 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.7 blocks per game in the 2013-14 season. Those scoring and rebounding numbers would be elite for a center–Melo plays forward.

Feb 9, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) makes a three point basket during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

He’s the most versatile scorer around–he has the advantage on pretty much any player guarding him. If you put a smaller guy on him he’ll take him to work in the post, and if you put a poor lumbering big man on him Melo will just blow right past him.

Anthony gets a knock for having defensive deficiencies and not playing on a great team, but I still think he’s the third-best player in the Eastern Conference. Scoring is overrated in the public eye, but it’s still very important.

The New York Knicks retooled in their own special way this offseason, and they should be much better than last year. Not completely because of their free agency additions, but moreso because they should have a healthy Carmelo Anthony.

If Melo is back to 100 percent healthy, this team will be better than people think. They have a defensive anchor in Robin Lopez to solidify their team D, so Melo should be free to go to work this year. That’s a scary prospect for when he matches up with the Bucks.

Next: The Best Player To Be Placed Out Of Position Against His Will