Who do you think are the best teams in NBA history?
NBA has a history of 75 years since it was established in 1946. It first started with just 11 teams on board. Currently, there are 30 teams in the league, 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada.
Since the NBA has so much history behind it, let us look at some of the best teams in NBA history. However, it is quite a task to rank them because it has such a long history and some teams played in a completely different era.
Therefore, we shall consider the team’s achievements and how they dominated the league. But, of course, the topic of best teams is a topic of debate. One can see this on various sides and put up an argument.
It isn’t easy to compare the best teams; however, we will look at the teams from the post-1970 era. We will also look at each team’s defining moments to make history the best teams in NBA history.
Without any further ado, let’s have a peek at the 12 best teams in NBA history.
12 Best Teams in NBA History
The information on this list is prepared by scouring the various trusted sources on the internet like Bleacher report.
Before diving into the details of the list, let us take a quick look at the table below.
|12.||1993-1994 Houston Rockets|
|11.||2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks|
|10.||1972-1973 New York Knicks|
|9.||2015-2016 Cleveland Cavaliers|
|8.||2012-2013 Miami Heat|
|7.||1982-1983 Philadelphia 76ers|
|6.||1988-1989 Detroit Pistons|
|5.||1970-1971 Milwaukee Bucks|
|4.||1985-1986 Boston Celtics|
|3.||1986-1987 Los Angeles Lakers|
|2.||2016-2017 Golden State Warriors|
|1.||1995-1996 Chicago Bulls|
12. 1993-1994 Houston Rockets
- Record: 58-24
- Postseason: 15-8
We will start this list of the best teams in NBA history with the Houston Rockets in their 1994 NBA season. They are based in Houston and founded in 1967 as the San Diego Rockets.
The Rockets had a great start in the 1993-1994 season. The Rockets won their first fifteen games of the season to tie for the best unbeaten record to open a season with the 1948-49 Washington Capitals.
They finished their record with a 58-24 record, which was also their franchise record until 2017-18. Hakeem Olajuwon had played one of his greatest seasons ever in the 1994 season.
Olajuwon had averaged 27.3 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 steals, and 3.7 blocks in the whole season. He was named the MVP, Final MVP, and Defensive Player of the year.
The Rockets, based on Huston, won their first championship in franchise history when they defeated the New York Knicks in seven games, trailing 3-2.
They are the first team from the Midwest Division to win the NBA title since the Milwaukee Bucks, 23 years prior.
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11. 2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks
- Record: 57-25
- Postseason: 16-5
The next team on our list is the most unlikely champions of all time, the Dallas Mavericks. They are a professional basketball team based in Dallas. They were founded in 1980, and throughout their founding year, they played as a perennial playoff team.
The year 2010-2011 was the 31st season of the Mavericks in the NBA. It was also their most successful season and the first championship title in the whole franchise history.
Although they were polled as the most unlikely team in NBA to win the season, the Mavs pulled off against all the odds with a team of hard-working veterans.
The Mavs, in the very first round, defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in six games. Then they defeated the two-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in four games in the semi-finals.
Further, the Mavericks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the Conference Finals. It was their first time since 2006 to reach the NBA Final.
The Mavs went head to head against the Miami Heat in a rematch of the NBA final. The Miami Heat were led by some of the biggest names in the NBA, like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Out of 22 experts, 15 polled the Miami Heat beating the Mavericks before the 2011 NBA Finals. And against all the odds, they showed that Jump-shooting teams could win titles.
10. 1972-1973 New York Knicks
- Record: 57-25
- Postseason: 12-5
The New York Knickerbockers is the professional team in the NBA based in the New York City borough of Manhattan. Commonly known as the New York Knicks, the team was first founded in 1946.
Before the late 1960s, the Knicks made three consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals but were defeated. After coach Red Holzman took the team’s helm, they won two NBA championships in 1970 and 1973.
1972-1973 was the 27th season of the New York Knicks in the NBA. The team was led by now a Hall of Famer Walt “Clyde” Frazier. It was then they won their second NBA title. They won against the Los Angeles Lakers in four to one game in the NBA Final.
Amazingly, it was the exact count with which the Knicks lost the game against the Lakers a year earlier. This championship, however, is, to date, the last Knicks’ championship.
Apart from winning the championship, the 1972-73 season’s Knicks’ roaster was made up of future Hall of Famers like Dave DeBusschere, Jerry Lucas, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, and Willis Reed.
The 1972-73 season got to be the most successful season for the franchise. The team came through the playoffs marvelously. Willis Reed was named the Finals MVP after the Mavs defeated the Lakers in five games.
9. 2015-2016 Cleveland Cavaliers
- Record: 57-25
- Postseason: 16-5
On our 9th number is the professional basketball team based in Cleveland, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team joined the NBA as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Central Division. They were founded in 1970.
The 2015-2016 season was the Cavs’ 46th season in the NBA. They won their very first NBA championship in franchise history in 2016. In addition, they became the first and only team to come back from a 1-3 deficit in a final series.
It was Lebron who led the Cavaliers to the win in the final series and dominated the season. The athlete averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals, and 2.3 blocks. Likewise, Kyrie Irving also posted 19.6 points and 4.7 assists a game.
The team won against the Detroit Pistons in the first round in four games, then against the Altlanta Hawks in the semi-finals in four games again.
Similarly, they defeated the Toronto Raptors in the Conference Finals in six games. It was the Cavaliers’ second consecutive year reaching the NBA finals.
In the finals, the team defeated the then-defending NBA champions Golden State Warriors. The team posted their league-best 73-9 record that season.
The victory of the Cavaliers was also the first championship win by a central professional sports team from Cleveland since 1964.
8. 2012-2013 Miami Heat
- Record: 66-16
- Postseason: 16-7
The next team on our list of the best teams in NBA history is based on Miami. The Miami Heat was founded in 1988 when they began playing as the expansion team. They joined the NBA as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Southeast Division.
Miami Heat has the third-longest winning streak in NBA history in its 27 seasons. The 2012-13 season was the franchise’s 25th season in the NBA and probably the best one to date.
The Miami Heat came into the 2012-13 season as the defending NBA champions. Moreover, the team’s third season was playing with the league’s “Big Three,” LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, and during the fifth season was with the head coach Erik Spoelstra.
In the final series, the Heat faced off against the San Antonio Spurs. The match was tough until Ray Allen hit one of the most clutch triples in NBA history. The team won the final in overtime and forced game 7, bringing the title home.
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The Heats’ finished the season with a 66-16 record. All the “Big Three” players were selected for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, and LeBron also won his fourth NBA Most Valuable Player Award.
With the franchise’s formidable team and dominance in regular and postseason performance, Miami Heat is undoubtedly one of the greatest teams in NBA history.
7. 1982-1983 Philadelphia 76ers
- Record: 65-17
- Postseason: 12-1
Widely known as the Sixers, the Philadelphia 76ers is a team based in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The franchise was founded initially as the Syracuse Nationals in 1946.
The Sixers are one of the oldest franchises in the NBA and are one of the only eight out of twenty-three to survive the league’s first decade.
The 1982-83 season was the franchise’s 37th season with the NBA. Although the Sixers lost against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1982 NBA Finals, they changed the game after acquiring Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets in a sign-and-trade for Caldwell Jones.
The team already had the team led by Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, and Andrew Toney, and acquiring Malone on top of that made the Sixers a very dominating team. And they did dominate the season with total winnings of 65 games.
It is also the franchise’s second-most winning year in franchise history. The Sixers got the victory over the New York Knicks in the first round, then the Milwaukee Bucks in 5. Finally, they ended the season with a win against the Lakers, a 4-0.
Erving was named the NBA All-Star Game MVP. Similarly, Malone was named the league MVP, and Bobby Jones was named the sixth man of the year.
6. 1988-1989 Detroit Pistons
- Record: 54-28
- Postseason: 16-7
Detroit Pistons are the professional basketball team founded in 1937 as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. They are based in Detroit and became part of the NBA after NBL and BAA merged to become NBA in 1949.
It was Detroit’s 41st season with NBA in the 1988-89 season. Although the experts predicted the team to be the most unlikely championship winner, they proved otherwise.
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The team had the most formidable defense in the league that season, which ultimately led to their victory. The Pistons also won the first two rounds of the playoff.
Isiah Thomas played one of his greatest postseason games during that season. He averaged 20.5 points, 8.2 assists, 2.2 steals, and 5.5 rebounds. Similarly, Joe Dumars also made a significant contribution and averaged 17.8 points.
The Pistons went head-on against the Lakers. Despite the Lakers having a formidable team with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone, the Pistons could take home victory in 5 games.
The Detroit Pistons are a little underrated team in the NBA, and they also have star power. But the Pistons are one of the best teams in NBA history. They won three NBA championships in 1989, 1990, and 2004.
5. 1970-1971 Milwaukee Bucks
- Record: 66-16
- Postseason: 12-2
Founded in 1968 as an expansion team, Milwaukee Bucks is a team based in Milwaukee. The team competes in the NBA as the league’s Eastern Conference Central Division member.
1970-1971 was the Bucks’ third season with the NBA. The franchise drafted Lew Alcindor (known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in later life) out of UCLA, and the move instantly showed a result. With Alcindor’s help, the Bucks won their first-ever NBA championship.
Similarly, adding Oscar Robertson to the roster also played a crucial part in this championship that season. While Alcindor’s average was 31.7 points, 16.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists, Robertson averaged 19.4 points, 8.2 assists, and 5.7 rebounds.
Because of this achievement, Alcindor won his first of six titles and first of six MVP awards. The Bucks became the first team to earn the NBA title from the Midwest Division.
The Bucks were also able to record a then-record 20-game winning streak en route to the playoffs. The team faced and emerged victorious against the San Francisco Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers in the playoff during that season.
Then in the final series, Milwaukee was able to sweep the Baltimore Bullets. The team posted their best single-season simple rating system of all time. They outscored their opponents by 10.8 points per 100 possessions in the postseason.
4. 1985-1986 Boston Celtics
- Record: 67-15
- Postseason: 15-3
On the fourth number of our list of best teams in the NBA is the Boston-based professional basketball team, the Boston Celtics. The franchise is the league’s original eight teams and was founded in 1946.
The 1985-86 season was the Boston Celtics’ 40th season in the NBA. They set several franchise records as well as the league record that season. They finished the season with 67-15, which is the franchise’s best record in the league.
The Celtics also recorded a 40-1 (37-1 at the Boston Garden, 3-0 at the Hartford Civic Center). It was the most home win recorded in NBA during the time, which was broken in 2016 by the San Antonio Spurs.
During the 1985-86 period, the Celtics’ roster had the “Big Three,” which consisted of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. The team suffered only one loss in the Garden and dominated the NBA season.
During the playoffs, the Celtics won against the Chicago Bulls in the first round in three games. Likewise, the team won against the Atlanta Hawks in the semi-finals in five games, then defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the Conference Finals in four games.
The Celtics played against the Houston Rockets in the NBA finals, which they won in six games. It would be their 16th championship.
Bird led the squad in scoring and rebounding, with an average of 25.8 points and 9.8 rebounds. This earned Bird the Finals MVP award, regular-season MVP award, and also Athlete of the Year award. Similarly, Bill Walton won the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
3. 1986-1987 Los Angeles Lakers
- Record: 65-17
- Postseason: 15-3
1986-1987 was the 41st season of the Los Angeles Lakers and the 39th season of the franchise in the NBA. The Lakers were first founded in 1947 as the Minneapolis Lakers. They are one of the most successful teams in NBA history.
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The Lakers dominated the league during that decade. The team defeated the Denver Nuggets in the first round in three games. Likewise, they went ahead to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the semi-finals in five games.
After that victory, the Lakers swept another win against the Seattle SuperSonics in the Conference Finals in four games. Then finally, they made their way to the NBA finals.
In that season, Los Angeles had some of the greatest players on their roster. The team consisted of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Mychal Thompson. Similarly, the team also had A.C. Green, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, and James Worthy.
The Lakers faced the defending NBA championship and their rivals, the Boston Celtics, in six games. The victory in the NBA finals against the Celtics was the highlight of the season.
After the win against the Celtics, Michael Cooper was named the Defensive Player of the Year, while Magic Johnson won the MVP and Finals MVP awards. Johnson led the team in scoring and assists with an average of 23.9 points, 12.2 assists, and 6.3 rebounds.
2. 2016-2017 Golden State Warriors
- Record: 67-15
- Postseason: 16-1
On the second rank on our list of the 12 best teams in NBA history is the Golden State Warriors. The franchise was founded in Philadelphia in 1946 as the Philadelphia Warriors.
Later the franchise moved to San Francisco, and that is where the team is currently based.
The 2016-2017 season was the Warriors’ 71st season in the NBA. During this season, the team had some of the most significant achievements recorded in NBA history.
The Warriors are considered one of the greatest teams in NBA history. And in the 2016 NBA finals, the team entered the season as the runners-up.
They also secured their position as the number one seed in the playoffs for the third successive year in the postseason. Aside from that, the Golden State set the record for best playoff record in NBA history and was the league leader in team points per game.
Similarly, they became one of the only two teams in NBA history to win 30 road games in a back-to-back season. In addition, the Warriors led the league in scoring as a team and were the most efficient team during the season.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant averaged 25.3, 22.3, and 25.1. The Warriors moved to the finals undefeated in the postseason. However, they faced one loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the postseason.
Given the overall achievements and star power, the Golden State Warriors are among the best teams in NBA history.
1. 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls
- Record: 72-10
- Postseason: 15-3
At the top of the list of 12 best teams in NBA history is non-other than the Chicago Bulls. Widely considered the greatest team in NBA history, the franchise was founded in 1966 and played its first game in the 1966-67 NBA season.
It was the 30th season of the Bulls in the NBA in the 1995-1996 season. During the off-season, the team acquired Dennis Rodman and signed free agents Randy Brown and James Edwards.
In addition, Michael Jordon came out of his retirement and became part of the roster.
Jordon led the team in scoring, rebounding, and assists with an average of 30.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. This made him an All-Star and the league’s MVP.
The Bulls dominated the league the whole season and emerged as the overall champion in the league. They had the second most number of wins in a regular season and also became the first NBA team to win 70 games in the regular season.
Additionally, the Bulls also became the only team to win 70 games in a season and win the championship. The team defeated the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA with a 4-2, giving the franchise its 4th NBA championship.
Not many teams can come close with these achievements and the Bulls’ dominance in the 1995-96 season. The team was also named to the Top 10 Greatest Teams during the NBA’s 50th Anniversary.
Therefore, the accomplishments of the Bulls, along with their star power, make the Chicago Bulls the best in NBA history.
This concludes our list of the 12 best teams in NBA history. For any NBA team, there is no better moment than to win a championship. NBA season always is exciting, and anything can happen during the match. This is one of the reasons why fans love sports.
With a rich history, NBA has many teams who have displayed greatness during championship moments. Our list comprises those teams’ greatest moments, making them the best teams in NBA history.