With just over two months to go until the end of the regular season, there are several NBA players that have the opportunity to make or break their team's chances of either reaching the playoffs and/or landing a more desired seed in the conference..
Looking at the Western Conference standings, the San Antonio Spurs seem like a lock to have the best record and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, but things get complicated after that.
Dallas, the Lakers and Oklahoma City currently round out the top four in the Western conference, with no other teams within two and a half games of those three teams, but the order among them has yet to be decided.
Battling for the bottom four seeds in the west are eight teams separated by just 6.5 games- New Orleans, Utah, Portland, Denver, Memphis Phoenix, Houston and Golden State.
Meanwhile, Boston and Miami are tied for the best record in the east. Chicago is the no. 3 seed, two games back, while Orlando and Atlanta are in a dead heat for the four spot.
After the first five seeds in the east, five teams have a legitimate chance of getting the last three spots- New York, Philadelphia, Indiana, Charlotte and Milwaukee.
Once a team is in the playoffs, anything can happen. Home court advantage is very important, but it is not the only thing that matters, as evidenced by Boston reaching the finals as the no. 4 seed last season. There have also been three no. 8 seeds have beaten the no. 1 seed since 1994, so things certainly can happen.
We rank the top 20 players who will the play the biggest role in shaping the NBA playoff picture. This is not merely a list of the top 20 players in the league, but rather ranks which players will play the biggest part from now until the end of the season in helping their team make the postseason or receiving a more preferred seeding.