Earning the NBA top seed in a team’s respective conference is very important for teams. It guarantees them home-court advantage against their conference in the playoffs. In a playoff atmosphere, you need the energy of your fans to help you win games.
The race for the top spot will be very close in each conference. There are several teams that will be competing for the top seed in order to have home-court advantage.
In the Eastern Conference, you have the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Brooklyn Nets. In the West, you have the Phoenix Suns, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors, the Denver Nuggets, and the Los Angeles Clippers. Any of these teams could conceivably earn the top spot in their respective conference.
Which team will ultimately earn the number one seed? In this article, we predict the one seed in Eastern and Western Conference.
Eastern Conference: Miami Heat
The Miami Heat were the number one seed last season. For the most part, that helped them tremendously. They were undefeated at home until the Eastern Conference Finals.
Earning the top spot in the Eastern Conference was an impressive feat for Miami considering what they went through last season. Their four best players are Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, and Tyler Herro. During the regular season, Herro missed 16 games, Lowry missed 19 games, Butler missed 25 games, and Adebayo missed 26 games. The four rarely played together.
Winning 53 games last season speaks to the Heat’s coaching and depth. For example, when Bam Adebayo was sidelined in the middle of the season, the Heat turned to their rookie Omer Yurtseven to step up as the starting center. He averaged a double-double during that stretch.
The Heat find talent anywhere and everywhere. They had five undrafted players who were a consistent part of their rotation.
The Heat aren’t going anywhere next season. The main pieces of their roster are already under contract, including the young duo of Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo, who are going to improve. They are going to add more pieces to fit alongside Jimmy Butler, who had a phenomenal postseason. They also have one of the best coaches in the NBA in Erik Spoelstra.
There are many other teams that could steal the top seed from the Heat, including the Nets and the Bucks. However, there are many question marks right now about what many of those teams will look like next season. The Heat are a safe bet right now. If they could earn the top spot with all of the injuries they suffered last season, then they can definitely do it next season.
After winning back-to-back MVPs and carrying the Nuggets on his back last season, we have seen what Nikola Jokic can do. He helped the Nuggets to a 48-34 record while averaging 27 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists per game. No other player on the Nuggets averaged more than 15 points per game.
Jokic’s skillset is one of which we have not seen before in the NBA. He has the footwork of an elite center, but he is also one of the best passers in the NBA. Plus, his efficiency is off the charts.
Combine that with the fact that two of the best three players are returning to the team next season, and Denver’s chances at earning the top seed look pretty realistic. The Nuggets will welcome back Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to their roster.
The last time we saw Jamal Murray, he was growing as an elite NBA scorer. His points per game and efficiency were consistently improving every year.
The last time Michael Porter Jr. was fully healthy, he was in the middle of a breakout season. He has thrived in the role as the third option on the Nuggets. His shot creation and size has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant. The only thing holding him back is injuries.
In fact, injuries are the only thing holding back the entire Denver Nuggets team. We saw what Jokic was capable of without his two rising star teammates. He did an impressive job, but there were still some stretches where the team looked lost offensively. The scoring and shot variety of Murray and Porter should help solve that issue.
There are going to be other teams competing with the Nuggets for the top spot. However, none of the teams with a chance to be the top seed are going to improve as much as the Nuggets will next season. Some teams, like the Suns, will likely get worse. For that reason, the Nuggets will be the number one seed in the West next year.