As the start of the 2020-2021 season approaches, we predict the top 10 seeds in each conference. The NBA now has a play in series between the 7-10 seeds so that is why this year we are predicting the top 10 seeds from each conference.
1.) Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are built for the regular season and it’s just too hard for teams to prepare for Giannis with only 1 or 2 days of prep. The Bucks are also better than last year and Budenholzer is a very good regular season coach. They should find a way to stay at the top.
2.) Toronto Raptors
Never underestimate a great coach and Nick Nurse is that. He willed them to be the 2nd seed last year and I believe he’ll do it again. Losing Serge will hurt, but they were able to retain Fred VanVleet and made a couple of other sneaky moves that will fit in with their culture. This team has shown they can win shorthanded so even if they do sustain injuries, they find ways to win games.
3.) Boston Celtics
The Celtics are my top team to win the east right now, but in the regular season, some teams are built a little better for the regular season. They added Tristan Thompson to stabilize the center position and Tatum and Brown are only getting better.
4.) Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers have made great moves this offseason, but we still don’t know what they will look like. They got a lot more shooters, but there should be more of a pecking order on this team that should help the chemistry of this team in theory, but I still don’t know how good of a coach Doc is. He’s an upgrade, but only time will tell with the effect he’ll have on this team.
5.) Brooklyn Nets
Despite the talent, we just don’t know what this team is. Also, as I mentioned with the 76ers, there isn’t a clear pecking order on this team. Kyrie has caused problems in the locker room although according to Woj, he has been impressed with Kyrie’s leadership thus far. This feels like fools’ gold though as anyone can be a good leader when things are going well, but how will this team respond after a bad loss? They aren’t as proven as some of the teams ahead so with all the moving parts, this team may have some growing pains throughout the season.
6.) Miami Heat
I have the defending Eastern Conference champs at 6 because last year they thrived on being the underdog. It’s hard staying on top and they are going to get every team’s best effort and I’m not sure they’re talented enough to overcome that. Miami is still a very good team, but it’s going to be a lot different from last year. Similar to the Clippers when they thrived as underdogs but struggled when they lost that chip on their shoulder and that’s what made Miami who they are.
7.) Washington Wizards
The Wizards are very talented with a backcourt of Westbrook and Beal. There is no way they don’t make playoffs this year barring a significant injury to one of those two players. Westbrook is a phenomenal regular season player though and Beal is an All-Star and carried this team to the 9th seed last year. They have decent enough role players that should help them enough to win a majority of their games.
8.) Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are a wild card with a new coach and how their player returning from injury will look. The Pacers starting 5 is very solid though, and they fit well together. So a lot of it does depend on injury as they have had injury problems, but this team is too talented to not be considered in the playoff race.
9.) Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are at 9 and while they might be more talented than some of the teams ahead, I don’t think they have the right coach and the lack of experience will hurt them compared to an Indiana team who knows how to beat the teams you’re supposed to beat. That’s a big thing young teams making that next step can struggle with.
10.) Chicago Bulls
No one will benefit more from a coaching change than the Chicago Bulls. Billy Donovan has never missed the playoffs and even in the preseason, there is so much more ball movement and player movement than last year. Then with Zach LaVine in his prime along with the assistance of Coby White and Lauri, this team is going to be able to put up a lot of points. Like the Hawks though, they need to show they can beat the teams they’re supposed to consistently.
1.) Los Angeles Lakers
Now the Lakers might still be in a honeymoon phase as it’s only been 2 months since they won it all, the Lakers did improve. They don’t have the same rim protection as last year but have a lot more scorers in Harrell and Schroder who should fill nice roles for them. I don’t like betting against LeBron so I think he will get this team on track and continue to not rest games.
2.) Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers were the 2nd seed last year with plenty of injuries and “rest days.” Now with Ty Lue as the coach, I don’t think he’s going to be as lenient about the rest days and give his stars less “star treatment” as that was something Doc got heavily criticized for. This team also got Serge Ibaka who will be an instant upgrade. They should be able to win enough games on talent alone to be the 2nd seed in the West.
3.) Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs are one of my bigger risers this year I’m predicting as I’m expecting Luka to make another jump to being considered a possible top 5 player in the NBA. This feels like his year to even be the MVP as Vegas is even giving him the best odds among all players to win the MVP award. The Mavs are well-coached and have plenty of solid role players that fit and I haven’t even mentioned Kristaps and his ability to impact the game as a floor spacer and rim protector.
4.) Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are always a very good regular season team and they should be a top 4 seed once again. Jokic is a great player, then expect Jamal to make another jump in his development along with Michael Porter Jr. The loss of Jerami Grant will hurt them slightly, but more so playoffs than regular season, but he was that guy who would guard the opposing team’s best wing/forward.
5.) Portland Trailblazers
Portland was very aggressive this offseason and made many smart moves to improve this team. This feels like a redemption year for them to remind people they are still a great team. Dame is going to be a man on a mission and if they could be a top 3 seed in the West, he may be up there in the MVP voting when it’s all said and done.
6.) Utah Jazz
The Jazz are another very good, well-coached team. They are led by Donavon and Rudy, but they are much deeper than in years past. 6 is the lowest seed I see them as, but it’s definitely plausible that reasonable minds could have 3-6 in any order and it wouldn’t be outrageous by any means.
7.) Golden State Warriors
Despite how great Curry is, it’s not going to be easy for this team to score like in years past without Klay. Alongside Curry, it’s Kelly Oubre, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and James Wiseman and none are above average 3 point shooters. Oubre and Wiggins can score, but they’re both more comfortable getting downhill and attacking the rim. This may be a more defensive-minded team this season and we will see how much fire power they have outside of Curry.
8.) Phoenix Suns
The Suns are going to improve with CP3 now running the offense and he’s showing a lot of motivation to build and continue his legacy as he somehow got the Thunder to the playoffs as the 5th seed in a loaded Western Conference. The Suns are adding CP3 with Devin Booker and Ayton, and have some role players that should be enough to get them to the playoffs.
9.) New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans are an incredibly talented team filled with many incredibly talented young players. Health will be key, but also just learning to win the games you’re supposed to (like what was previously mentioned with the Hawks and Bulls) and staying consistent night to night will be huge, but Lonzo Ball and Zion Williamson are two of the best young leaders in the game. This team’s future is certainly bright, but it will be difficult for them to navigate their way into the playoffs with the stiff competition at the bottom of the West.
10.) Houston Rockets
This is a team I felt like I had to include. We don’t know what’s going on with James Harden. Obviously, if he stays, this team should be higher. But if he leaves, who knows what kind of return the Rockets will get. What I do know though is they found a good coach. I believe he is an upgrade over Mike D’Antoni, especially in a playoff series. Overall though, he seems like a leader of men when you hear him talk and it’s surprising that Harden doesn’t want to give him a chance because he has 20 years of coaching experience in the NBA, the team’s playstyle has looked good in the preseason, and he’s a rockstar at the microphone. It felt like an obligation to include this team as long as Harden is on the roster.
Article Written by Bradley Patten
Photo found on ESPN (https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/28840735/giannis-inspired-lebron-elite-ability-35-makes-want-there-one-day)