The Utah Jazz are the number one seed in the Western Conference, and many fans have asked: “Are the 2020-21 Jazz the worst/weakest number one seed of all time?” Without a major superstar like a LeBron, Giannis, or Steph Curry, or a major city like LA or Brooklyn, fans don’t think this team is legit. But they are far from the worst number 1 seed in league history. Here are a _ number 1 seeds worse than this year’s Utah Jazz:
3. 1999 Miami Heat
The 1999 season was the first NBA season after Michael Jordan’s second retirement, and this is also the lockout-shortened season that canceled the first 32 games of the season. They finished the season at a three-way tie for the top seed in the Eastern Conference at 33-17, tied with the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers.
This team was known as one of the tougher teams in the NBA, mostly known for their defense and grit. Alonzo Mourning won NBA Defensive Player of the year in 1999, also finishing 2nd in MVP voting to Karl Malone. They ranked 2nd in the NBA in opponents’ points per game, and in the top 5 in opponent rebounding, field goal percentage, steals, and ranked number one in blocks.
One reason I can’t have them higher on the list is the fact that they faced a Knicks team that was better than the 8th seed they ended up being. They were ravished with injuries, and in a lockout-shortened season, missed games mean more than they normally would before.
But their offense was terrible. They ranked 23rd in points per game, and only had one player score over 20 points per game, which was Alonzo Mourning at 20.1 points. Obviously, this was not a high-scoring era, with only one team scoring over 100 PPG, but the Heat being ranked 23rd in scoring is simply awful. They ranked the top 10 in shooting percentages, but the total amount of baskets scored was very troubling. Mix that with losing to the 8th seeded New York Knicks while only being able to average 79 points in that 5 game series, they are most certainly one of the worst number one seeds of all time.
2. 2017 Boston Celtics
The 2017 Boston Celtics was a team full of guys that everyone doubted, and they proved to be a pretty good team in the NBA. Isaiah Thomas the undersized all-star, averaging almost 30 points per game, proving everybody wrong. But when looking deeper at the numbers, they only ranked 8th in the NBA net rating, 27th in rebounding, and 26th in strength of schedule.
But when the playoffs came, they nearly had a first-round exit to the Chicago Bulls after going down 2-0 early. However, a Rajon Rondo broken thumb saved the Celtics from defeat. Having to go 7 games with the Washington Wizards, who many felt like was the better team of the two, and eventually losing in 5 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Just looking at the roster, their offense was very suspect. The only true scorer was Thomas and a few guys who couldn’t create their own shot but were also streaking shooters, as many guys on that team like Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley shot career-highs from the three-point line. The defense was good, but they mainly hid Thomas on a non-ball-dominant player and let the rest of the guys do the dirty work. At the end of the day, the talent was just not there to take them seriously as many top-seeded rosters over time.
1. 2015 Atlanta Hawks
Is this really a debate right now? The 2015 Hawks are by far the worst one seed in NBA history. Did they win 60 games? Yes. Were they the first team in NBA history to go undefeated in the month of January? Yes, including a 19 game winning streak that started in late December. Also, they ranked dead last in strength of schedule.
But looking at their roster and what they did in the playoffs, this team is clearly just a team who got hot during the regular season and fell off when they started playing better competition. Guys like Paul Milsap, Kyle Korver and Al Horford are C+ players at best.
Comparing them to this year’s Utah Jazz team, they would simply get dominated on both ends. Utah possesses the third-highest ranked offense along with the fourth-highest ranked defense. There is simply nothing Atlanta excelled at. They are by far the weakest number one seed in NBA history.