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Which Players Are The X-Factors In The Eastern Conference in 2016-17?

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Posted By: Danny Thompson Full Court Press Radio

With every team in the Eastern Conference record being 0-0 currently, there is always that one player on each team that can tilt the fortunes of your favorite team.

Every team in the NBA has one player who can make or break a team’s fortunes, if they step up and become better than expected then their team will be taken to another level. But if their play falls off or they don’t live up to the hype, then their team falls off a cliff and the team becomes a disapointment. So lets take a look at my thoughts on who the X-Factors are for your favorite teams in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta Hawks- Dwight Howard- C

Howard was Atlanta’s major free agent signing this summer. He has the task of replacing Al Horford and returning to his hometown. If anyone can live up to it, it’s Howard. His last 2 stops haven’t been the best places for his talent and his repuation isn’t the best either. But what we do know is that, when healthy and motivated Howard is maybe the best defensive center in the league. He may not have the same spring in his knees as he had during his Orlando days, but he’s still a threat. He will allow Paul Millsap to have more freedom at the Power Forward spot and the pick and roll game with Dennis Schroder could be dangerous. If Howard lives up to his expecations there won’t be a drop off in Atlanta, but he doesn’t it’s going to be a long year in the A.

Boston Celtics- Marcus Smart- PG

Smart was drafted the 6th Overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and after years of not being considered in trades, it’s time for him to finally live up to the hype. He has shown flashes of brillance in his short career, but hasn’t been a consistant starter in Boston. Smart’s biggest strength is his on-ball defensive. If he can get on the court with All-NBA Defensive stud Avery Bradley, the Celtics could have the best set of defensive guards in the East. But with Isaiah Thomas becoming an All-Star last year it made it tough for Smart to get back into the starting lineup. But Celtics fans know that Thomas is better suited for coming off the bench and lighting teams up. If Smart can improve his shooting (Last season he shot 34.8% from the floor and 25% from 3), Boston could captipute themselves into the Eastern Conference Finals.

Brooklyn Nets- Bojan Bogdanovic- SG

Bojan’s play at the end of last season was one of the bright spots that the Nets had in a uneventful season. In the 2nd half of the season, he increased his scoring by almost 6 points per game and hit over 40% from the 3 point line. On a team that is currently the worst in the league, Bogdanovic will have the green light to shoot as much as needed as teams double down on Brook Lopez. If he can improve the rest of his game and get closer to 20 points per game (He finished at 11.2 per game with a 15.1 average after the All-Star Break), the Nets might have a shot at getting out the East’s bottom

Charlotte Hornets- Roy Hibbert- C

Charlotte lost Al Jefferson to Indiana and one thing that Steve Clifford wants out of his big men is to be a defensive presence. Enter Roy Hibbert, after a season of looking lost and losing games in Los Angeles, has a chance to restart his career with a playoff team in Charlotte. People forget that he’s a 2 time All-Star and he was the runner up for Defensive Player of the Year in the 2013-14 season with the Indiana Pacers. Also on the Hornets staff is Patrick Ewing, who is fellow Georgetown Alum who will be in charge of bringing Roy back to life. If Hibbert returns to form, Charlotte could have the best defensive team in the East. The Hornets already have Michael Kidd-Ghilchrist and Nicolas Batum on the wings, so if he provides the post presence then good luck scoring on the Hornets.

Chicago Bulls- Bobby Portis- PF

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