Have you ever stopped to wonder just who holds the incredible honor of being considered the best NBA roster of all time? You probably have and you’ve probably argued your beliefs with many fans but we decided to jump into this argument and compile a most conclusive list. Based on PointAfter, a sports data visualization site which is part of Graphiq, we’ve rounded up a list that clearly showcases the best NBA team seasons of all time. This list was determined by a multitude of criteria, including winning the title, amassing a winning percentage of .600 or better, and reaching the NBA Finals. Check it out and see if your favorite makes the list!
1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers
We’re kicking off this list with probably the best team of the whole Shaq-Kobe era, as the 1999-2000 Lakers went on to win 67 games and earned the franchise’s first title in 12 years. While Kobe was just starting to make a name for himself, Shaq was at his apex. In just six games, Shaq averaged 38 points, 16.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.7 blocks while converting 61.1 percent of his field goals. We’re almost sure, a whole 99.99%, that this was the best NBA Finals MVP performance of all time.
1996-97 Utah Jazz
While the 1996-97 Utah Jazz team didn’t win the championship, they still earn a spot on our list. Karl Malone and John Stockton earned the Jazz a franchise-record of 64 wins in 1997, which earns them serious bragging rights. Additionally, the trio of Malone, Stockton and Jeff Hornacek started all 82 regular season games and were the Jazz’s stat record leaders. “The Mailman” even won MVP, but they were unable to take down Michael Jordan’s Bulls during the NBA Finals, which is understandable.
2004-05 San Antonio Spurs
This was the year that “the Big Three” of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili came together as a whole. Duncan averaged 20.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.6 blocks per game. San Antonio swept through the Western Conference before dispatching the Detroit Pistons in seven games.
1990-91 Los Angeles Lakers
Thought to be the final season of LA’s “Showtime” era, Magic Johnson just wasn’t able to drive the 1990-91 Lakers to his sixth career championship. Facing elimination against the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals Game 5, LA were without the incredible James Worthy and Byron Scott, as they were both injured. Magic Johnson would carry out 20 assists and Elden Campbell scored an impressive 21 points, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome Michael Jordan — who went on to beat Magic Johnson as MVP in 1991.
1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers
The 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers team was pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say? Wilt Chamberlain averaged 24.2 rebounds along with Luke Jackson (8.9), Chet Walker (8.1), Billy Cunningham (7.3) and Hal Greer (5.3), all were significant in terms of rebound creators. They finished No. 1 in points per game and offensive rating, plus they had four players average more than 18 points, and six average double digits. Not bad.
2012-13 Miami Heat
They came into this season as the defending NBA champions and back-to-back Eastern Conference champions. Plus their third season playing with the “Big Three” of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh, and their fifth season under head coach Erik Spoelstra. The Heat launched a 27 game winning streak, which to this day, still ranks as the 2nd longest winning streak in a single season in NBA history. They went on defeat the San Antonio Spurs in an NBA Finals that went the full seven games, which also echoed the 1997–98 Bulls as they had also been the last Eastern team to repeat as NBA champions.
1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks
There’s no doubt that the Bucks had done something pretty extraordinary – while just in their third season of the organization’s existence, the Bucks went on to win a franchise-record 66 games. This probably had something to do with Milwaukee trading for a superstar. In April, Milwaukee traded Charlie Paulk and Flynn Robinson to the Royals in exchange for the one and only, Oscar Robertson. The Big O teamed up with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Dandridge by averaging 19.4 points, 8.2 assists and 5.7 rebounds.
The Bucks engineered one of the most impressive playoff runs in the league’s history when they went 12-2 and swept the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA Finals. In that final duel, Abdul-Jabbar, Robertson and Dandridge combined an average 70.8 points per contest. Mind boggling.
1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers
Coached by Billy Cunningham, Philly would win 65 regular season games and went 12-1 throughout the playoffs. The season was chalk full of with individual accolades – Moses Malone won MVP and Finals MVP. While Julius Erving was selected for the All-NBA First Team along with Moses. Bobby Jones won Sixth Man of the Year and was also made the All-Defensive First Team. Maurice Cheeks and Malone joined Jones on the All-Defensive First Team. This was also the fourth time in the history of the NBA that saw three players from the same team make All-Defensive First Team.
2014-15 Golden State Warriors
When coach Steve Kerr started the 2014-15 season, the results poured in almost immediately and their first-class combination of offense and defense was a hair-raising event to watch. This team went on to win a then-franchise record 67 games, finishing first in the league in SRS, pace and defensive rating, and were second in offensive rating. Stephen Curry won MVP for his impeccable shooting display. They were unstoppable and rightly so.
1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers 65 games won in the 1986-87 season, ties them for third-most wins in franchise history. At the ripe ol’ age of 39, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar averaged 17.5 points while Magic Johnson made his first extraordinary mark on the NBA. Magic averaged 23.9 points, 12.2 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals to get the league’s MVP award and the Finals MVP.
2015-16 Golden State Warriors
The Warriors had it all going for them but just couldn’t snag that Championship win, despite winning a league record of 73 regular season games. They beat Houston and Portland in five games apiece, but were forced to claw back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. All before blowing their 3-1 series lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals.
1991-92 Chicago Bulls
Coming off their first ever championship, the Chicago Bulls finished first in the Central Division, and had the best record in the league at 67–15. His Airness, Michael Jordan, snagged his second straight MVP, and sixth straight scoring title. During the semifinals, they defeated the Knicks in a full seven game series. In the Eastern Conference Finals, they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games, making their second trip to the Finals. Then during the 1992 NBA Finals, they devastated the Portland Trail Blazers four games to two to win their second consecutive championship, and second of three straight. Not bad at all.
1998-99 San Antonio Spurs
The unstoppable duo that was Tim Duncan and David Robinson destroyed the court during the 1998-99 campaign. Both averaged double-doubles throughout the season and also combined 4.9 shot attempts per contest. In the Finals against the New York Knicks, Duncan would average 27.4 points, 14 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.2 blocks — earning him the Finals MVP.
1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers
To this day, the 1971-72 Lakers hold the NBA record with their insane 33 consecutive wins in the same campaign. Jerry West and Gail Goodrich combined to average an astonishing 51.7 points per game. Wilt Chamberlain played all 82 games while averaging 14.8 points, 19.2 rebounds and four assists.
1990-91 Chicago Bulls
Up next are the 1990-91 Bulls who dominated over the Lakers in the NBA finals. The Bulls looked sloppy as they lost their first three games, but this was a minor setback because after, they were a force to be reckoned with. They finished first in the Central Division and Eastern Conference with a 61–21 record, surpassing their previous franchise-best from the 1971–72 season. Michael Jordan was electric, winning yet another scoring title and his second MVP award, all while being selected for the 1991 NBA All-Star Game. This season was just the first of three consecutive NBA titles for the Bulls, it also marked the beginning of the legendary Bulls Dynasty, which would net the team another five more championships throughout the 90s.
2006-07 San Antonio Spurs
The unshakable trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili dominated the court throughout the season and playoffs, despite falling in the “aging role players” cluster. This roster proved that age is just a number, Parker and Ginobili went on as the only guys under 30 to receive significant playoff minutes. San Antonio went 16-4 in the playoffs, including killing LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the final showdown.
2007-08 Boston Celtics
With the additions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the Celtics finished with an all-mighty record of 66–16 and ignited the court with the best single-season turnaround in NBA history. They finished first in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, achieving the league’s best record. Kevin Garnett was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, while Danny Ainge (carried out “the most dramatic NBA turnaround ever”) was named NBA Executive of the Year.
For the first time since 1987, the Celtics were in the finals, facing their famed rivalry against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics won 4–2 (!), gaining their first championship since 1986, and 17th in franchise history. Albeit, they clawed their way to this championship, playing 26 games, which is the most any team has ever played in a post-season.
1985-86 Boston Celtics
Even if you’re not a die-hard Celtics fan, you’ve got to agree that the team with players like Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, Robert Parish, Bill Walton, was the best in franchise history. The 1985-86 Celtics was breathtakingly good (magnificent, astonishing, awesome, extraordinary – need we go on?) due to their sensational team chemistry and firepower. They went on to snag 67 wins, which is the second-most in franchise history behind the 1972-73 Celtics.
1996-97 Chicago Bulls
When Jordan is scoring, Pippen’s playmaking abilities are through the roof and Rodman’s the rebounding king – yeah, there was nothing the Chicago Bulls couldn’t do. The Bulls went for a 69-win campaign, which wasn’t their all time best but it is pretty impressive. Their stable regular season led to a solid playoff run, with the Bulls going 15-4 against the Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat and Utah Jazz.
1995-96 Chicago Bulls
When you finish off a 72-10 season, yeah, you’re going to end up on this list, and you’re definitely going to end up at the top of this list. With a roster consisting of Scottie Pippen, Luc Longley, Ron Harper, Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr and others, the odds are in your favor. This team dominated a record amount of games in the regular season and stormed to the championship with 15-3, sweeping over Miami and Orlando. During the regular season, Chicago rattled off win streaks of 13 and 18 games, respectively. This incredible team easily earn the #1 slot on our list, was there ever any doubt they wouldn’t?