1. Demar Derozan – Toronto Raptors
Demar Derozan has been the leader and star that the Toronto Raptors needed this year. Demar has lead this Raptors team to the second seed in the East with a record of 28-11 which is also tied for third best record in the Association. Derozan is averaging 25.3 ppg this year, which is ranked 7th in the NBA. He is also chipping in 5.0 apg which is his career high for a season. He also posted his first 50 point game this year with 52 points vs the Milwaukee Bucks on 1/1/18 which is now his career high. Derozan is with out question an All Star and top 10 MVP candidate taking into consideration both his team and individual success so far this season.
2. Spencer Dinwiddie – Brooklyn Nets
From playing inconsistent minutes throughout his tenure in the NBA, Spencer Dinwiddie is now playing the best basketball of his career ever since D’Angelo Russell sustained an injury earlier this season. Spencer along with a few other players on the Brooklyn Nets have finally given this team some sort of momentum moving forward in their franchises future. Even though Brooklyn still seems like they won’t make the playoffs this year they are finally moving into the right direction and are no longer the bottom dwellers of the East. Spencer is leading the Nets in assists and is second in points this season, he is also leading the league in assist to turnover ratio at an impressive 4.49. D’Angelo Russell seems likely return to the Nets sometime this month, if not next and will most definitely take back his starting point guard spot. Spencer seems to have done enough though to have a key role on this Nets roster with guaranteed minutes once Russell returns.
3. Al Horford – Boston Celtics
Al Horford’s stats may not amaze you but what he brings to the Boston Celtics is unmeasurable. The Celtics are sitting atop of the East thanks greatly to their defense. The Celtics lead the NBA in opponents points per game in which Al Horford anchors this defense. Al also brings a veteran leadership to one of the youngest teams in the league. So far on the year Al has done a good bit of everything leading this Celtic team in not only Rebounds at 7.9 but also assists and blocks at 5.3 and 1.0 respectively. In order for this team to continue it’s success through the second half of the year and leading into playoffs, Horford will have to play as good if not better than he did through the first part of the year. If he does continue his play primarily on the defensive side of the ball Horford may find his name amongst finalist for Defensive Player of the Year at the end of the season.
4. Dennis Schroeder – Atlanta Hawks
Dennis Schroeder may come as a surprise for being on this list due to the lack of success his team has had this year but don’t let his teams record shadow you from how well Schroeder has played this season, with the lack of skill the Atlanta Hawks has surrounded him with. Schroeder is ranked within the top 25 in ppg averaging 19.8 and ranked within the top 10 in apg at 6.5. The only other players in the NBA who are currently ranked both within the top 25 in ppg and top 10 in apg are Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. By no means am I comparing Schroeder to any of those players, but we should at least recognize what he is doing this year; considering the little talent put around him while being the focal point that teams try to stop when playing the Atlanta Hawks.
5. Robert Covington – Philadelphia 76ers
Robert Covington is one of the premiere 3 and D players in the NBA, and for those of you unaware with the term 3 and D that simply means that this player shoots the 3 at an acceptable rate while also playing superb defense. This year Covington is ranked within the top 10 in both 3 pointers made and steals this year. He is a vital part of this Sixers rebuilding process, allowing young players such as Ben Simmons to rely on Covington to hit an open 3 when Simmons attracts the defense in which he is known to do. Covington is also a great defender which there is room for on any team, example Andre Roberson. The 76ers record is currently 19-19, they are a game out of the last playoff spot in the East. In order for them to make the playoffs this year players such as Covington and Redick must continue to play at an exceptional rate while hoping their young stars stay injury free.
Stats and Info courtesy of ESPN.com and Basketball-reference.com
Pictures via: RaptorsRapture.com Netsdaily.com boston.cbslocal.com Yahoosports.com Nba.com