NBA Championship Winners By Regular Season Seed: No. 1 Overall Seed Have Won Nearly 70% Of The Titles

The top of the NBA heap has dominated since 1984. Each No. 1 seed has won an average of 69% and only five teams with a lower overall seed have even made it to the finals, including three that reached their one-and-only championship when seeded seventh or eighth

The “how many number 1 seeds have won the nba championship” is a question that has been asked for years. The answer to this question is that “no. 1 overall seed have won nearly 70% of the titles.”

NBA-Championship-Winners-By-Regular-Season-Seed-No-1-Overall

We’re beginning to get our feet wet in the NBA playoffs after the first round of games. This season, there are just three teams left in the competition, and all eyes are on the title. The Minnesota Timberwolves stunned the world by defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round as a seventh seed, while the Brooklyn Nets are the league’s most dangerous seventh seed. It begs the question of how many Cinderella teams have reached the NBA Finals.

In the past, the higher the seed, the more beneficial the pairings. In 1984, the playoffs were extended to 16 teams, while there were only eight teams at the time and seeding was one to four in each conference. Since then, only two teams with a seed lower than three have ever won an NBA championship. Having said that, just one seed lower than four has ever won the tournament. There have been first-round shocks in the past, but how frequently has it resulted in a championship?

According to their seeding, these are the NBA champions.


Seed No. 8 – 0.0 percent

There have never been any NBA champions with the number eight next to their name. In the past, we’ve witnessed shocks like the Golden State Warriors surprising the Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs. Even as the eighth seed, the Chicago Bulls gave the Boston Celtics a fight for their money by bringing the series to seven games. Only one club, the 1999 New York Knicks, has ever advanced to the NBA Finals as an eighth seed.

Throughout the 1990s, the Knicks were a legitimate Eastern Conference contender, with Patrick Ewing and John Starks guiding the team to several postseason appearances. As a result, the squad faced hardship throughout the regular season and finished as the eighth seed. The Knicks reached the NBA Finals despite the absence of Michael Jordan and a healthy team. The club, however, was defeated 4-1 in the Finals by the San Antonio Spurs, who gave Tim Duncan his first ring.


Seed No. 7 – 0.0 percent

The seventh seed is no better than the eighth seed. With that said, a team from the eighth seed has advanced to the NBA Finals. No seven seed has ever participated in the NBA Finals in the 74 years of competition, so if Minnesota or Brooklyn can make a run, they will create NBA history. The 1987 Seattle SuperSonics came the closest to making it.

The SuperSonics concluded the regular season with a 39-43 record, but miraculously defeated the Dallas Mavericks, the No. 2 seed, in four games. The club then faced a rising sensation in Hakeem Olajuwon, but the Rockets were defeated in six games. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the Lakers swept Seattle in the Western Conference Finals, putting an end to the Cinderella story. The SuperSonics are still the only team with a seven-seed that has advanced to the Conference Finals.


1 Winner, No. 6 Seed, 1.3 percent

Houston Rockets are the winners (1995)

The Rockets dropped to the sixth seed in the Western Conference after winning the NBA title in 1994. At the trade deadline, the Rockets acquired Clyde Drexler, but the club ended 17-18 following the acquisition, slipping farther down the rankings. The Rockets won the championship after developing their relationship.

The Rockets came back from a 2-1 deficit in the playoffs to beat the third-seeded Jazz in five games. The club next took against the Phoenix Suns. The Rockets were behind 3-1 in the series, but came back to win in seven games. The club faced the top-seeded Spurs in the Conference Finals, but prevailed in six games. The club then faced a less experienced Orlando Magic team led by Shaquille O’Neal in the Finals, which they won in four games. The Rockets are still the lowest-seeded team to ever win an NBA title.


Seed No. 5 – 0.0 percent

A five-seed has never advanced to the NBA Finals until lately. The Miami Heat made history by being the first five-seed to ever reach the championship game in 2020. By making an unlikely run to the crown, the cast of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro captivated America’s hearts.

The Heat swept the Pacers in four games in the first round. This set up a showdown with the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks; nevertheless, many pundits predicted that this would be an unfavorable matchup for the Bucks, and they were correct. The Heat won the series in five games against the MVP’s team. The Heat defeated the Celtics in six games in the Conference Finals. The Heat brought the Lakers and LeBron James to six games in the Finals, but came up just short as James overcame his old club.


1 Winner, No. 4 Seed, 1.3 percent

Boston Celtics are the champions (1969)

Despite being the fourth seed, the Celtics were nonetheless regarded as champions. Bill Russell was in his last season with the squad, having previously won ten titles. Despite being relegated to the fourth seed, the Celtics maintained their championship legacy by reaching the NBA Finals and winning the title.

The Celtics upset the No. 2 seed Philadelphia Warriors in five games after entering the playoffs as the conference’s lowest seed. The Celtics defeated the Knicks in six games in the Division Finals. The Lakers and Celtics had a dramatic seven-game series in the Finals. Jerry West was named Finals MVP despite the fact that his team lost. He averaged nearly 38 points each game.


7 Winners, 9.4 percent, No. 3 Seed

Milwaukee Bucks (2021), Dallas Mavericks (2011), San Antonio Spurs (2007), Detroit Pistons (2004), Los Angeles Lakers (2002), Washington Wizards (1978), and Portland Trail Blazers (2004) were the winners (1977)

Last season, the Bucks must have felt a little less pressure after a couple years of being the number one seed. Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to their first championship in 50 years, making them the first three seed to win in ten years. There have only been seven teams that have won as a three seed, and none of them have won again. Only two teams had ever done it until the 2000s: the Washington Bullets and the Trail Blazers, both headed by two powerful, ace centers in Wes Unseld and Bill Walton.

In recent history, the Mavericks astonished the world in 2011 when they defeated the Miami Heat’s big three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade. The Spurs dominated a young LeBron James, who had led the Cavaliers to the Finals the previous season. The Pistons defeated the Indiana Pacers (61 wins) in the Conference Finals before beating the much fancied Lakers in the Finals, perhaps forcing Shaq out. Shaq’s trio of Kobe Bryant, himself, and himself accomplished the three-peat in 2002 with their lowest seed.


16 winners from the No. 2 seed, for a total of 21.6 percent.

Los Angeles Lakers – 3 wins (2001, 1952, 1949), Golden State Warriors – 2 wins (2018, 1947), Miami Heat – 2 wins (2012, 2006), Boston Celtics – 2 wins (2001, 1952, 1949). (1969, 1966) San Antonio Spurs (2005), Houston Rockets (1994), Chicago Bulls (1993), New York Knicks (1973), Sacramento Kings (1951), Washington Wizards (1951), Toronto Raptors (2019). (1948)

The Raptors were the most recent two-seed to win in 2019, when Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard returned for a one-year stint to lead the surprise finish. When it comes to multi-winners, the Lakers have a long history of success, including a championship in 2001. Injuries plagued the Warriors in 2018, causing them to fall behind the Rockets in the regular season before defeating the same Rockets in the Conference Finals to win the championship.

Both the Heat and the Celtics have won several championships, although Boston hasn’t done it in a long time. Michael Jordan, a two-seed, won his lone title as a single winner in 1993. It was the Bulls’ first three-peat title, and Jordan’s lowest seed of his six titles.


50 winners (67.6%) from the No. 1 seed

Los Angeles Lakers – 13 (2020, 2010, 2009, 2000, 1988, 1987, 1985, 1982, 1980, 1972, 1954, 1953, 1950), Chicago Bulls – 5 (1998, 1997, 1996, 1992, 1991), Boston Celtics – 14 (2008, 1986, 1984, 1981, 1976, 1974, 1965, 1964, 1963, 1962, 1961, 1960, 1959, 1957), Boston Celtics – 14 (2008, 1986, 1984, 1981, 1976, 1974, 1965, 1964, 1963, 1962, 1961 (2017, 2015, 1975, 1956) San Antonio Spurs – 3 (2014, 2003, 1999), Philadelphia 76ers – 3 (1983, 1967, 1955), Detroit Pistons – 2 (1989, 1990), Cleveland Cavaliers (2016), Miami Heat (2013), Oklahoma City Thunder (1979), Milwaukee Bucks (1971), New York Knicks (1970), Atlanta Hawks – 2 (1989, 1990), Cleveland Cavaliers (2016), Miami Heat (2013), Oklahoma City Thunder (1979), Milwaukee Bucks (1971), New York Knicks (1970), Atlanta Hawk (1958)

You have a two-thirds probability of winning it all if you finish first in the league. The Celtics have the most victories as a one-seed in NBA history, owing in part to Bill Russell’s contributions back in the day. The Celtics won eight titles when Russell was a one-seed. With 13 titles, the Lakers are just behind them, but if you go back in history, the 1980s were a championship juggernaut.

Every year in the 1980s, the one seed was a winner. From 1979 through 1992, the title was won by the one seed. During several of those years, the Celtics’ Larry Bird and Kevin McHale faced off against the Lakers’ Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Bulls and Pistons were many victors outside of the Lakers and Celtics, as Jordan and Isiah Thomas proved their teams were the greatest at the time. The Lakers, Nationals, Warriors, Hawks, and Celtics all won the championship as one seed from 1953 through 1966, which was the second-longest stretch.

The game has developed throughout time, and instead of the traditional top dogs in the Celtics and Lakers, there are other challengers. Basketball is a sport with a lot of stars. Instead of two serious candidates, there may be as many as four, five, or six. With that stated, a top-2 seed has won 66 of the 74 championships available, implying that the top seed has a good chance of winning a ring. The Suns, Grizzlies, Heat, and Celtics are the top seeds this season. Is there a chance for any of those clubs to win this year? 

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The “highest seed to make finals” is a statistic that shows the percentage of NBA Championship winners by regular season seed. The top overall seed has won nearly 70% of the titles, and this trend has been consistent for over 40 years.

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