We've listed all the breakout stars out East.


Atlanta Hawks - John Collins

Despite featuring in just 61 games this season, high-flying forward John Collins made great improvements in his second NBA season. When on the court, Collins grabbed 52.1% of the team's rebounds, as well as dishing off 62.7% of the team's assists when he was on the floor. Collins also showed his scoring capabilities, taking 111 more three-pointers than his rookie season, shooting at a 34.8% clip from beyond the arc.

The Utah native ranked 15th in the league for rebounds per game, and 13th for offensive rating, while announcing himself with a 25-rebound game against the Pacers in April.

Grade: B+

Boston Celtics  - Kyrie Irving

A notable scorer throughout his eight-year tenure, Irving once again filled basketball fans with dazzling dribbling and finishing. What was most appealing for Boston fans was his focus on playmaking. Despite a microscopical decrease in his average PPG, Irving managed to bring his teammates into the game averaging 6.9 assists (up from 5.1 previous seasons). Irving also had a career high in rebounds (5 per game).

Although he under-performed during the playoffs, Kyrie enjoyed a solid year finishing inside the top 20 players for assists, steals per game, points per game and offensive plus/minus.

Grade: B+

Brooklyn Nets - D'Angelo Russell

'D-Lo' put Brooklyn back on the map this season, winning 14 more games than the previous season giving the Nets more wins than losses for the first time in 5 years. Russell's fourth season was highlighted by his shooting, averaging a career best 21.1 PPG, improving his percentage from the field, beyond the arc and the free throw line.

In 2019, Russell became an all-star for the first time in his career, and made some clutch baskets that shook the NBA world.

Grade: A+

Charlotte Hornets - Kemba Walker

The face of the Hornets, Walker's improvements overshadows that of teammate Jeremy Lamb who saw an increase in player minutes this season. But for Walker, he was never appreciated as much as he is now, proven by his inclusion into the All-NBA third team announced last week. Kemba played more minutes than any other Hornet, and finished with the team's best win-share percentage for the fourth consecutive season.

While averaging a career-high points, the point guard's season was rewarded with him becoming an All-Star starter for the first time, which was held in Charlotte.

Grade: A

Chicago Bulls - Zach Lavine

In his second season with the Bulls, Zach Lavine proved he isn't just a dunker - finishing 16th in the league for points per game. Lavine recorded a career-high 47 point game, yet it was his work as a playmaker that had the league on notice. With more total assists than any other Bulls player, Lavine mirrored the work of James Harden and became a dangerous threat as the main ball-handler.

Grade: B+

Cleveland Cavaliers - Cedi Osman

There was room to grow for Osman following the departure of LeBron James, and he showed why he could be an efficient scorer in this league. Osman averaged 13 points per game in his second season, up from 3.9 per game in 2017/18. He played 32 minutes per game (21 more than year one), and shot at a reasonable percentage from all areas.

There wasn't too much to get excited about for Cavs fans this year, but they did go out and battle each night, led by the Macedonian-born Osman.

Grade: C+

Detroit Pistons - Blake Griffin

After settling into the Pistons team, Griffin had an impressive year that flew under the radar. Averaging a career high 24.5 points, the one-two punch of Griffin and Drummond became a rebounding powerhouse. What was most impressive was Griffin's ability to shoot from the arc. The former Clipper shot more threes than any other year, and recorded a career-high three-point percentage (when more than 100 three's were taken for the season).

For the first time since 2015, Griffin received his sixth all-star nomination. He attempted more threes than any other Piston (13th in the league), meaning there's only room for improvement as he becomes a future perimeter threat.

Grade: A


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 08: Blake Griffin #23 of the Detroit Pistons looks to pass against Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 08, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


Indiana Pacers - Domantas Sabonis

Once Victor Oladipo went down to a season-ending injury, many wrote the Pacers off. However, coach Nate McMillan injected some energy into an undermanned team - best represented by rising star Domantis Sabonis. The son of former Trailblazer Arvydas Sabonis, he played similar to his father in his ability to cover the floor, find open players and only take smart shots. Sabonis averaged more points, rebounds and assists than any of his first two seasons.

He finished 17th in rebounds per game and 7th in field goal pct. As he approaches 23 years of age, expect him to go from a role player off the bench to a formidable passing-forward.

Grade: B

Miami Heat - Justise Winslow

Neck and neck with teammate Josh Richardson, Winslow managed to improve in nearly every category statistically while transitioning from a forward to the teams main ball-handler (due to Goran Dragic missing most of the season). The Duke product averaged a career-high in points and assists thanks to the role change, while also shooting at a reasonable 37.5% from three-point land, and 46.2% from inside.

Grade: B-

Milwaukee Bucks - Brook Lopez

The obvious choice here is MVP-candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, there's also first-time All-Star Khris Middleton and first-team defense guard Eric Bledsoe, but this one is going to big man Brook Lopez. The decision is not so much for the team's benefit, but more how Lopez turned himself into one of the most dangerous shooters from the perimeter.

He made 187 of his 512 threes (36.5%), and had a 61.3% efficiency from any two-point distance. Lopez finished 17th in the league for made three-balls whilst remaining a presence on the defensive end, finishing fourth in the NBA for blocks per game.

Grade: A-


MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 23: Brook Lopez #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles the ball while being guarded by Marc Gasol #33 of the Toronto Raptors in the third quarter during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at the Fiserv Forum on May 23, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


New York Knicks - Dennis Smith Jnr

A season to forget for all Knicks fans, but one thing to come from the Kristaps Porzingis drama was the arrival of Dennis Smith. In his second year, Smith found it difficult to mirror his outstanding rookie year after he was moved around. In his 20 games for New York, Smith scored double figures in nine matches, and filled the stat sheet elsewhere.

Dallas had played New York just days prior to the trade, and Smith recorded his second ever career triple-double to then end up on the opposition the following week.

Grade: C

Orlando Magic - Nikola Vucevic

The Orlando center enjoyed a fine year by anyone's standards, averaging a career-high in PPG (20.8), rebounds per game (12), and assists 3.8. He made 84 three's at a 36.4% clip. Vucevic finished 7th in the league for total field goals and third in total rebounds.

Rewarded with his first ever All-Star jersey at 28 years of age, Vucevic is well and truly in his prime years and remains one of the more underrated big men of the modern era.

Grade: A-

Philadelphia 76ers - Joel Embiid

In his third season, Embiid made an impact on the competition both on and off the court. Despite teammate Ben Simmons improving in every area (except three-point shooting) this season, the impact of Joel Embiid to go out - even when slightly underdone - and produce MVP-caliber performances night in and night out was breathtaking.

Only James Harden, Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged more points than him this season. He collected 13.6 rebounds per game, second in the league at cleaning the glass behind only Andre Drummond. The importance of 'Jo-Jo' is crucial for the Sixers, he was named center in the All-NBA second team, and he's only just turned 25.

Grade: A


PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 05: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on against the Toronto Raptors in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the Wells Fargo Center on May 5, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Raptors defeated the 76ers 101-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)


Toronto Raptors - Paskal Siakam

Another Cameroon native in his third season, Siakam went from a below average bench player to Toronto's starting power forward. He recorded the most total minutes of any Raptor, and managed to score double-figure points in 74 of his 80 game season. His free-throw percentage went from 61% (2017/18) to 78.5% (2018/19).

While also becoming a threat from the arc, Siakam's game was raised when Kawhi Leonard was on the floor, a handy teacher and teammate. The sky's the limit for the 24-year-old who is the favourite to take out the most improved award.

Grade: A+

Washington Wizards - Thomas Bryant

Injuries to John Wall and Dwight Howard dampened the Wizards season, but it opened up an opportunity for second-year big Thomas Bryant to make his mark. Bryant started in 53 out of a possible 72 games, and finished the season with the highest two-point percentage (68.5%) of any other player in the league. He averaged 10 points per game and 6.3 rebounds at just 21 years of age, and will likely be rewarded with a nice contract coming into year three.

Grade: C+