The seventh team on this list presents the second-biggest surprise on this list. No one expected the Oklahoma City Thunder to even compete for a playoff spot, yet they’re solidly in the mix. The same goes for the Miami Heat, who are just a tick better than the Thunder.
7th, Miami Heat: (41-24)
Pat Riley is a genius, and we almost forgot that. We should’ve known he’d maximize whatever team he places on the court. To our surprise, the Heat are (41-24) on the season and are in the top half of the Eastern Conference.
What makes the Heat so dangerous? Their perfect mix of depth, youth, and leadership. Jimmy Butler, a player whose hard-nosed style of leadership has rubbed some of his younger teammates the wrong way in the past, has served as a benefactor in Miami’s success this season. Couple that with their plethora of solid role players, and you have a top-eight team in the NBA.
Bam Adebayo will win the NBA’s Most Improved, averaging 16.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, while Miami’s third-leading scorer is a rookie, Kendrick Nunn, who’s averaging 15.6 points per game. Their other rookie, Tyler Herro is averaging 12.9 points per game too. In addition to who we just mentioned, they still have Goran Dragic, Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder, and Justice Winslow who, on average, combine for 52.6 points per game.
Miami is definitely worthy of being the seventh-best team on this list, and honestly, they may be more of a cohesive unit than the team that’s ahead of them for sixth. Just like the Thunder, don’t be surprised when the Heat makes things interesting in the playoffs.