Which NBA team is the greatest of All-time?
To answer that question, we went over the NBA’s 73-year history and picked out the teams who not only won NBA championships during a particular season but also the ones who put up the most impressive records, had the best players, those out of this world stat lines, and those who dominated their opposition.
These teams played in different eras so you could make a case for any of them moving up or down the rankings. For this article, we looked at their accomplishment during the regular season, playoff performance, and point differential against opponents to determine their greatness.
This list is up for debate but here are our 10 best teams in the history of the NBA:
10. 1960-61 Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics are the winningest franchise in the history of the NBA with 17 NBA championships won. 11 of these came between 1957-1969 with a dynasty led by the legendary Bill Rusell and head coach Red Auerbach. This dynasty won eight straight championships from 1959 to 1966 but the best of these teams was the 1960-61 squad.
This team finished with a modest regular-season record of 57-22 but had a very impressive run during the postseason. This team lost one game each in their first two series but won by an average margin of 11.6 points per game and had three wins by at least 20 points. The Celtics knocked off the Hawks 4-1 in the Finals.
9. 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers
This legendary team sent four players to the All-Star games including a record three in the Eastern Conference starting unit. Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and Maurice Cheeks were so dominant this season and the Sixers went on to win a total of 65 regular-season games. This team lost just once in the postseason, going 12-1, and beat the Lakers in the Finals 4-0.
At the end of the season, Bobby Jones, Maurice Cheeks, and Malone were all named to the All-Defensive first team in what still stands as the best season ever in the history of the Sixers franchise. They defeated their opponents by an average of 7.7 points per game during the regular season and won by 10.6 points per game during the postseason.
8. 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks were only in their third year of existence in the league but with future Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson leading the team, the Bucks won 66 games during the 1970-71 season. They had the best average winning margin in the history of the league at +17.5 points per game.
During the playoffs, this team beat their opponents by an average point differential of +14.5, the best in the history of the NBA. They had a total of five players averaging in double-digits during the regular season, including three who scored at least 18 points per game. Abdul Jabbar led the team with 31.7 points per game.
7. 1984-85 Los Angeles Lakers
The Showtime Lakers were the most dominant team during the 1980s, winning a total of five NBA championships. Led By Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott, this team had eight players averaging at least 8 points per game, including four that scored at least 16 points per contest.
This team holds the current NBA record for best shooting percentage during the regular season at 54.48% and they scored at least 100 points in all 19 playoff games played. This offensive juggernaut posted a +7.4 point differential and a +10.2 winning margin during the playoffs.
6. 1996-97 Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan had his best supporting cast during this season as the Bulls featured the likes of Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Ron Harper, Luc Longley, Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc, and even Robert Parish. This team had five eight-game winning streaks during the regular season and if they didn’t decide to coast in the final games of the regular season, they would’ve easily won 70 games and set the record for most regular-season wins ever.
The Bulls won a record 72 regular-season games during the 1995-96 season and to follow that up with a 69 win year proved how dominant and consistent this team was. They faced two 60-win teams during the playoff in the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals and the Utah Jazz during the championship but this team was too good for the rest of the league.
5. 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers
Before the Lakers won 69 games in 1972, the 1967 Sixers owned the best regular season in NBA history with 68 wins. This team was virtually unstoppable with a line-up that sent four players to the Hall of Fame. Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Costello, Hal Greer, and Chet Walker led the Sixers to a 46-4 start which stood as the best record over 50 games.
This team averaged 125.22 points per game during the regular season, third-best ever and during a time when there wasn’t a three-point shot yet. Chamberlain had a monster season averaging 24 points and 24 rebounds to win MVP honors. The Sixers knocked off the Boston Celtics 4-1 in the Eastern Division Finals to snap Boston’s run of eight consecutive NBA titles.
4. 1985-86 Boston Celtics
The Celtics’ 60s team won the most championships for this franchise but the 80s team led by Larry Bird stood tall in their rivalry with the Lakers. Among Bird’s champion teams, the 1985-86 squad was the best as it amassed a regular-season record of 67-15 and went 15-3 during the playoffs to win the title.
Boston lost to Los Angeles in the 1985 Finals and this was a revenge season for them. Boston featured one of the best championship frontlines in league with Bird teaming up with Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and Bill Walton. Five members of this team went on to be inducted to the Hall of Fame and their 40-1 home record during the regular season still stands as the NBA’s best.
3. 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers
The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers featured future Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and Gail Goodrich to finish with a 69-13 regular-season record. This team was complete from top to bottom and they dominated the competition to win the first championship under the Los Angeles franchise.
The 1971-72 Lakers set many records and some of them still stand today like the 33-game winning streak and the best point differential ever at +12.3. Their 69 win season was a standard that stood for 24 seasons before the Bulls broke the record. The Lakers crushed a New York Knicks team that was laden with future Hall of Famers 4-1 in the NBA Finals.
2. 2016-17 Golden State Warriors
The Dubs won 73 games from the previous season but they lost in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The following season, Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors and they went on to finish with a 67-15 record, breaking plenty of records along the way. Golden State’s 2016-17 team had four All-Stars in Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.
This team clinched a playoff berth of February 25, earlier than any other team in the history of the NBA at that time. What’s more impressive that they did so while playing for the ultra-competitive Western Conference. During the playoffs, the Warriors went 16-1, earning the highest winning percentage ever for a champion team. However, this team got a boost after Kawhi Leonard got injured in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
1. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls
The Bulls added Dennis Rodman during the offseason and by the end of the 1995-96 campaign, Chicago had three players named to the All-Defensive first team. Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman combined for the best offense and defense ever by any NBA trio.
Chicago had a point differential of +12.2 all season long. The Bulls 41-3 start is the best in the history of the NBA. Their combined regular season and a playoff record of 87-13 is the best, and they are the only team in the history of the league to win the championship after winning at least 72 regular-season games. The 2015-16 Golden State Warriors broke their record for the most wins during the regular season but that Dubs team did not win the NBA title. This one did, proving their dominance from start to finish.