Comparing the Best Teams in NBA History (6/22/17)
Considering all the talk by older players, like Magic Johnson, claiming they could beat this year's Warriors teams, we've decided to take a stab at ranking past great championship teams against the most recent NBA championship and powerhouse teams. We will be using the same methods laid out in our previous article comparing the '96 Bulls and '17 Warriors. Using modern comparison teams and minutes played, we've ranked the teams below using team RPM, the best overall metric in regards to the betting market, courtesy of ESPN. Below are those rankings along with the expected spread versus the '17 Warriors on a neutral court.
This year's Warriors may be the best team we have on record. They are undoubtedly close to the '15 Warriors and '96 Bulls; however, we can make the judgement that there is no team that is definitively better than the '17 Warriors.
The '14 Spurs were extremely underrated. According to RPM and Basketball Reference's BPM, Gregg Popovich only rostered three negative players that season; none of which played more than 15 minutes per game in the playoffs.
The mid-80s Lakers weren't as good, relative to their competition and era, as modern teams. It may be no fault of their own due to sports analytics and data availability today, but those Lakers teams were not as efficient as one would anticipate. Before we need to listen to the “play our style” argument, we need to realize the athletes now are bigger, faster, and stronger than in the '80s. If the Lakers were playing a “rough” style of basketball, LeBron James would be, too.
The current dynasty of the Warriors may be the best dynasty ever. It's difficult to say with certainty that this is the case considering our imperfect methods, but from an efficiency standpoint, it is important to recognize they are one of, if not, the best franchise basketball has seen. How long the team will be able to stay together or continue to play at this pace is unclear. One would assume they have a few years left in them, which would only heighten the talk of their impressive run in regards to the history books.