Doug Gottlieb names his Top 3 players in the East

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Doug Gottlieb and Chris Broussard discuss which team in the Eastern Conference is the best now that LeBron James is in Los Angeles. Additionally, Gottlieb names his top 3 players in the East. Do you agree with Doug?

- I believe Boston or Toronto-- if they-- let's say they reached the finals against--

DOUG GOTTLIEB: I think it's Boston. I don't think it's close, to be honest with you.

- I agree with that.

- OK, but, I think either of those teams, though, if they get to the finals against Golden State, I think they give the Warriors a tougher series than Cleveland did last year. Because they got defenders. They can switch stuff, you know?

- That's the genius to what Boston has done. And you remember, when they made the trade for Kyrie, or when they acquired Gordon Hayward-- they said the same thing when they made the trade for Gordon Hayward-- excuse me, for Kyrie Irving-- which is, it fits within our timeline, and also within our style of play. What would they have done is not just draft well and fleece people for draft picks. They've drafted versatile forwards who can defend multiple positions, right?

You go back two years ago when they had the best record. That was really the best record out of effort and going for it when other teams didn't go for it. But they had too many small guards and you get caught up. Small guys get eaten up in this league, as you know.

Right now-- like, the smallest guy they're going to throw out there is Terry Rozier. And his heart is bigger than the rest of his body, right? I mean, Kyrie Irving's got a great--

- And he's not tiny, like Isaiah Thomas.

DOUG GOTTLIEB: No, he's not Isaiah Thomas. Right? Marcus Smart can defend everybody but, maybe, a center. And he'd take a center out in the back alley and fight him. The rest of their players are all capable of guarding one through four positions.

And that's the genius to it. Because it matches up well with the Golden State Warriors. That was the flaw to the Cavs, which was, they didn't have-- two years ago, they didn't have anybody other than LeBron James who could guard Kevin Durant.

- I think we're in agreement about where things may fall. But when you look at the-- it was always LeBron, the best player in the Eastern-- in the league, but in the Eastern Conference. Who do you expect the most out of when you look at Giannis, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard? Out of the East, what player are you most excited to see that you think could have the biggest impact?

- Well, this is-- and I'm going to tip a cap to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, right? Every player's circumstances is, in fact, different. Like, Kyrie Irving might well be the best player in the East. But he's not going to have the best numbers in the East, because he has a bunch of other guys that need the basketball that are going to get shots. I think

Giannis is most likely to have the most similarly dominant season, because the team is built around-- they're trying to put pieces around to space out a virtually unguardable guy when he can make a jumpshot. I think Kawhi, of course, is a two-way player, and I'll be interested to see how they use him.

Like, DeMar averaged 23 a game. I think he's a little bit better-- he's much better defensively, and probably a little bit better offensively. I think, you know, 24, 25 points a game-- that's about right for Kawhi if he's healthy. I mean, those are the top three in my mind.

- Oh, so neither one of the Philadelphia guys?

- More so Embiid or Simmons?

- I love Simmons, OK, but I do think that-- and maybe it's how people guard you in the postseason. I do think he's been exposed a little bit.

- A little bit.

- And people know to put a big guy on him and sag off in the lane. And when he gets to your body, you gotta have length on him. Embiid's the one who I-- one, they're kind of going to split votes, right-- Embiid and Simmons. But I just don't know if Embiid's going to play every night.

If I'm Philadelphia, why would I play him every night? I need him for the playoffs. I don't need to wear him out in the regular season. Play him 60-some-odd games so that you know you have him in the postseason. And so I don't think he'll have as dominant a regular season as the others.