The 15 Best NBA Teams of All Time Ranked And Decided By These 3 Factors

There have been many outstanding teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA) over the years, but only a select few can be mentioned in the conversation about the best NBA teams of all time. These league-dominating championship squads have set new standards for excellence and cemented their places in basketball history by steamrolling the league throughout their respective eras.

From the storied Boston Celtics of the 1960s to the unstoppable Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, these teams have left an everlasting mark on the NBA and inspired multitudes of basketball fans worldwide. In this article, we’ll explore some of the all-time greatest NBA teams and what made them so spectacular. 

The Criteria

First, let’s consider the criteria we used to choose the best NBA teams of all time prior to diving into the teams themselves. We took the 3 following factors into account: 

  1. Championship Team: Did they win a championship? Maybe not subjectively but technically the NBA team that wins the championship is the best team in a given year. We stacked up all of the best teams(champions) from each year against each other.
  2. Overall winning percentage: We look at the number of games each championship team won in a given season, as well as their overall winning percentage throughout their championship run.
  3. Post season dominance: The post season is where it really counts. So, post season records were used to separate championships teams with the same overall win%.

Now that we’ve established the criteria, let’s take a look at:

The 15 best NBA teams of all time rankings

#15. 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers

Regular Season: 65-17

Regular Season Win%: .793

Post Season: 16-7

Overall Win%: .771

The Los Angeles Lakers won their 15th NBA title during the 2008–09 season, making it a season to remember. Coached by Phil Jackson and led by star player Kobe Bryant the Lakers finished with the best regular-season record in the Western Conference (65-17). 

In the playoffs, the Lakers faced some tough competition, but they were able to come out on top. They defeated the Utah Jazz in the first round (4-1), the Houston Rockets in the second round (4-3), and the Denver Nuggets (4-2) in the Conference Finals to earn a spot in the NBA Finals.

In the Finals, the Lakers battled the Dwight Howard led Orlando Magic. But it was Kobe Bryant who was the standout performer for the Lakers throughout the series, averaging 32.4 points per game in the Finals and delivering clutch performances in crucial moments.

Bryant received his fourth NBA Finals MVP title as the Lakers prevailed in the five game series (4-1). Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Derek Fisher were among the team’s talented supporting cast that helped Bryant along the way.

With the victory, the Lakers were able to cap off a successful season in which they overcame numerous obstacles, including the absence of important players due to injury and difficult playoff opponents.

The team’s triumph was celebrated by supporters in Los Angeles and all over the world and in the process solidifying its status as one of the best NBA teams of all time.

#14. 1999-00 Los Angeles Lakers

Regular Season: 67-15

Regular Season Win%: .817

Post Season: 15-8

Overall Win%: .780

Another squad that is often recognized as one of the best NBA teams of all time is the 1999–2000 Los Angeles Lakers squad. With a stellar record of 67 victories and just 15 losses, this team went on to win the NBA title that year. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, two of the league’s top players at the time, led the Lakers. 

After averaging 29.7 points and 13.6 rebounds per game during the regular season, Shaq was voted the MVP. Averaging 22.5 points per game, Kobe Bryant also had a tremendous season. The 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers team was known for their dominant offense and defense. While holding their opponents to just 92.3 points the legendary Los Angeles Lakers averaged 100.8 points per game that season. 

The Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers in six games to claim the NBA title after an amazing playoff run. In the Finals, Shaquille O’Neal averaged 38 points and 16.7 rebounds per game, earning him the NBA Finals MVP.

Shaq and Kobe’s chemistry as well as the team’s outstanding teamwork were important contributors to their success. With an amazing regular season record and a strong playoff run, the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the best NBA teams of all time, solidified their place in NBA history with their 1999–2000 season.

#13. 2012-13 Miami Heat

Regular Season: 66-16

Regular Season Win%: .805

Post Season: 16-7

Overall Win%: .780

The Miami Heat’s second consecutive championship made the 2012–2013 NBA season a historic one for them. The Heat finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA, 66-16, thanks in large part to their “Big Three” of future Hall of Famers LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

James, who earned his fourth NBA MVP award that year, was without a doubt the team’s leader, but Wade and Bosh also had a significant impact, and the squad also saw strong performances from supporting role players such as Shane Battier and Ray Allen.

The Miami Heat swept the Milwaukee Bucks (4-0) in the opening round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, defeated the Chicago Bulls (4-1) in five games of the second round, and defeated the Indiana Pacers (4-3) in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat and San Antonio Spurs faced off in the NBA Finals, and it was a fiercely fought series that finished in a memorable Game 7. LeBron James had one of his best games of his career in that contest, leading the Heat to a 95-88 victory and their second consecutive title with 37 points and 12 rebounds.

The Heat displayed an unbreakable sense of togetherness and resilience throughout the season, overcoming setbacks and adversity to maintain their league-leading record. The Miami Heat’s 2012–2013 championship run was an incredible feat that will always be remembered for its star power and solidifying their spot as one of the best NBA teams of all time.

#12. 1988-89 Detroit Pistons

Regular Season: (63-19)

Regular Season Win%: .768

Post Season: (15-2)

Overall Win%: .787

The 1988-1989 Detroit Pistons championship season was a historic moment in NBA history, as the team captured their first NBA championship by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-game sweep in the NBA Finals.

Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Adrian Dantley, Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, and a depth-filled bench that included Vinny “the microwave” Johnson and Mark Aguirre served as the team’s core under the direction of head coach Chuck Daly. The Pistons’ aggressive and defensively-focused brand of basketball earned them the nickname “Bad Boys” of the NBA. 

The Pistons had the best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference with 63 wins and 19 losses. Plus throughout the postseason the Pistons swept three out of their four series. They flourished against the Boston Celtics (3-0) in the Eastern Conference playoffs’ opening round, swept the Milwaukee Bucks in the conference’s semifinals (4-0), defeated the Chicago Bulls (4-2) in the conference finals, and then faced the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals. 

A new era of basketball dominance in Detroit started with this Pistons’ championship run, which was the result of years of sacrifice, dedication and hard work. The Pistons’ rugged, no-nonsense approach to the game served as an inspiration for later generations of players and fans.

#11. 1991-92 Chicago Bulls

Regular Season: 67-15

Regular Season Win%:.817

Post Season: 15-7

Overall Win%: .788

The Chicago Bulls’ historic 1991–1992 NBA season witnessed them capture their second NBA championship in team history. The Michael Jordan-led Bulls finished the regular season with the best record in the league (67-15) including a 13-game and 14-game winning streak.

The Bulls finished the postseason with a 15-7 record and won the NBA Championship in 22 games. Before playing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls won four straight against the Miami Heat and took down the New York Knicks in seven during the opening two rounds of the playoffs. The Bulls also defeated the cavaliers in game 6 to clinch the series and advance to the finals.

In the NBA Finals, the Bulls took on the 57-25 Portland Trail Blazers. Jordan memorably hit six three-pointers in the first half of game 1 of the series, breaking the finals record, as the Bulls closed out the game with a 122-89 victory. After Jordan averaged 35.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game and winning Finals MVP for the second consecutive year, the Bulls went on to win the series in six games.

The Bulls’ dynasty began with the 1991–1992 season, and it would last for the next seven years as they won four more championships. In the regular season, Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game, solidifying his place among the all-time greats in the NBA. Fans also witnessed the Bulls rise to prominence as one of the best teams of the decade.

#10. 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles lakers 1987 champions

Regular Season: 65-17

Regular Season Win%:.793

Post Season: 15-3

Overall Win%: .800

The Los Angeles Lakers’ 1986–1987 championship season was spectacular, as they dominated the NBA and captured their fifth title in team history. The Lakers, who were led by superstars Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and supported by a brilliant cast that featured James Worthy, Michael Cooper, A.C Green, Mychal Thompson and Byron Scott, finished the regular season with the best record in the league (65-17).

Their dominance continued throughout the playoffs as the Lakers won 15 out of 18 games en route to a championship. In the finals against the Boston Celtics, Magic Johnson averaged 26.2 points, 13 assists, and 8 rebounds per game. As a result he was named the Finals MVP.

This season was also significant for its Los Angeles Lakers Boston Celtics rivalry as it marked the tenth time the two teams met in the NBA Finals. By winning in six games, the Lakers won their second championship in three years, solidifying their status as one of the best NBA teams of all time.

#9. 2014-15 Golden State Warriors

Regular Season: 67-15

Regular Season Win%: .817

Post Season: 16-5

Overall Win%: .805

The 2014–2015 Golden State Warriors is another squad that is frequently recognized as one of the best NBA teams of all time. The Warriors, coached by Steve Kerr, had the best regular-season record (67-15) in the NBA. Superstar guard Stephen Curry, who won his first MVP award that season, led the team with an average of 23.8 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per contest.

The Warriors kept dominating during the postseason. In the second round, they faced one of their toughest opponents in the Memphis Grizzlies, but they ultimately prevailed in six games. The Houston Rockets and Warriors faced off in the Western Conference Finals, and the Warriors emerged victorious in five games.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, met the Warriors in the NBA Finals. After a closely contested series that went six games the Warriors won the championship, their first in forty years. Andre Iguodala was awarded the Finals MVP while averaging 16 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game in the series.

A number of factors made a significant contribution to the Warriors’ success, including their high-scoring offense, which was headed by Curry and fellow sharpshooter Klay Thompson, and their stout defense, which was anchored by Draymond Green. With players like Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, and Shaun Livingston making significant contributions off the bench, the squad also featured excellent depth.

However the Warriors’ 14–15 season’s dominance was mostly due to their three-point shooting. During the regular season, the team shot a scorching 39.8 percent, which was a league best. Overall, the Golden State Warriors’ 2014–2015 season was a historic one that cemented their status as one of the best NBA teams of all time that also revolutionized the way the game is played today. 

#8. 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers

Regular Season: 65-17

Regular Season Win%: .793

Post Season: 12-1

Overall Win%: .810

Fans and players alike will never forget the 1982–1983 Philadelphia 76ers championship season. Hall of Famers Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and Maurice Cheeks led the team to a stellar 65-17 regular-season record. With Erving’s scoring and Malone’s and rebounding, the team dominated on both sides of the court.

The 76ers breezed through the postseason, beginning with a semifinal sweep of the Knicks. Their only loss of the postseason came in the Eastern Conference Finals, as they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in five games.

The Los Angeles Lakers, who featured a star-studded team that included Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, squared up against the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Finals. In what was expected to be a closely contested series the 76ers proved too strong for the Lakers. Moses Malone, who had an average of 25.8 points, 18 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game, was named Finals MVP as the 76ers took the series in four games.

For a talented team that played with exceptional cohesion and intense passion, the 76ers championship season was an amazing feat. Basketball fans in Philadelphia and elsewhere still cherish their memories of the 76ers, who were one of the NBA’s most entertaining teams to watch that season. To this day they continue to be regarded as one of the best NBA teams of all time.

#7. 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks

Regular Season: 66-16

Regular Season Win%:.805

Post Season: 12-2

Overall Win%: .812

Another squad frequently referred to as one of the best NBA teams of all time is the 1970–1971 Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks, who were led by Oscar Robertson and the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly known as Lew Alcindor), finished the regular season with the best record in the league (66-16). They maintained their dominance throughout the postseason, dropping just two games en route to their first NBA title in franchise history.

On both offense and defense, the 1970–1971 Bucks were a dangerous squad. While Robertson excelled in all areas of the game, averaging 19.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game, Abdul-Jabbar was the league’s leading scorer with an average of 31.7 points per game. Bob Dandridge, John McGlocklin, and Greg Smith were among the team’s strong supporting cast and made significant contributions all throughout season.

The Bucks’ distinct style of play, however, was what made them stand out during 1970–1971 season nevertheless. They were well renowned for their fast paced offense, which was built around Abdul-Jabbar’s dominant interior play. The club also played a smothering defense, with Abdul-Jabbar and other players using their length and quickness to stymie the opposition’s offense.

In the playoffs, before defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, the Bucks sustained their incredible run by beating the San Francisco Warriors 4-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals.

During the finals they competed against the 42-40 Baltimore Bullets. In route to winning the title, the Bucks swept the Bullets. After averaging 27.0 points and 18.5 rebounds per game during the series, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was named the Finals MVP.

After only three seasons in the league, this Bucks’ championship was a crowning moment in franchise history. Abdul-Jabbar’s dominance on both ends of the floor throughout the regular season and playoffs also solidified his place among the greats in NBA history.

Milwaukee became known as a basketball city thanks in part to the 1970–71 Milwaukee Bucks’ success, which also laid the groundwork for Milwaukee’s future NBA success. The team’s impact continues to be felt today, and it will always be regarded as one of best NBA teams of all time.

#6. 1985-86 Boston Celtics

Regular Season: 67-15

Regular Season Win%: .817

Post Season: 15-3

Overall Win%: .820

Many consider the 1985–1986 Boston Celtics to be one of the greatest NBA teams ever. With a record of 67 victories and only 15 losses throughout the regular season, the Celtics were led by Larry Bird, one of the best players in NBA history.

Revered for their tenacious defense, rebounding and pinpoint passing the Celtics sustained their momentum throughout the playoffs, sweeping the Chicago Bulls in the opening round. They battled the Atlanta Hawks in the second round and prevailed in a five-game series. Then defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals in four games to advance to the NBA Finals to play the Houston Rockets.

Larry Bird, who averaged 24.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game, was awarded the series’ MVP. But the Celtics’ talent and chemistry showed out throughout the NBA Finals. Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, and Bill Walton were among Bird’s outstanding teammates that helped bring a title to Boston.

The Celtics finished off a brilliant season by winning the Nba title in six games, solidifying their place in league history and capping off a spectacular championship run. The team’s accomplishments were a result of their hard work and determination. Their championship season stands out as a pivotal moment in NBA history and it solidified their status as one of the best NBA teams of all time. 

#5. 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers

Regular Season: 68-13

Regular Season Win%: .839

Post Season: 11-4

Overall Win%: .822

In NBA history, the 1966-1967 Philadelphia 76ers were another dynamic squad. The 76ers, who were led by the iconic center Wilt Chamberlain, dominated the regular season, going 68-13 to finish with the best record in NBA history at the time and secure the top spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Philadelphia 76ers continued their dominant play in the postseason, winning 7 of their 9 games and advancing to the NBA Finals, where they took on the San Francisco Warriors. In a six-game victory over the Warriors, the 76ers captured their first NBA title since 1955. In the series, Chamberlain, who joined the 76ers two years earlier, averaged 17.7 points and 28.5 rebounds per game against his former team and was named the league’s MVP.

A talented supporting cast helped Chamberlain and the 76ers succeed, including guard Hal Greer, forward Chet Walker, guard Wali Jones, and forward Billy Cunningham, all of whom averaged at least 15 points per contest in the postseason.

The 76ers’ title run was the culmination of several seasons of preparation and hard work. The 76ers’ victory also had a long-lasting impact on Philadelphia, motivating a new generation of basketball fans and establishing them as one of the league’s elite squads. 

#4. 1996-97 Chicago Bulls

Regular Season: (69-13)

Regular Season Win%: .841

Post Season: (15-4)

Overall Win%: .831

The Chicago Bulls’ championship 1996–1997 season was a momentous one for the organization as the team won its fifth NBA title in seven years. The Bulls had the best regular-season record in the league that year, finishing with an astounding 69 wins and 13 losses. As strong favorites to win the title, the Bulls led by superstar Michael Jordan dominated throughout the season.

Jordan won the NBA Finals MVP award for the fifth time in his career after averaging 32.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. Other key players on the team included Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Toni Kukoc, who all played important roles in the Bulls’ success.

That season, Pippen was an All-Star, averaging 20.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. Rodman, who was known for his defensive prowess and rebounding abilities, was the NBA’s leading rebounder (16.1 per game).

The Bulls maintained their dominant performance in the playoffs, sweeping the Washington Bullets in the first round and knocking the Atlanta Hawks out in the second. When the Bulls and Miami Heat met in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls prevailed in five games.

The Bulls and Utah Jazz, the top-seeded team in the Western Conference that year, went head to head in the NBA Finals. In a closely fought series, the Bulls won the opening two games at home before dropping the following two in Utah. However, Jordan led the way to a crucial victory with 38 points in a bounce back game 5.

In game 6, the Bulls defeated the Jazz in an exciting 90-86 triumph to capture the championship. Jordan finished with 39 points, including the game-winning jumper with a few seconds remaining. With their fifth championship trophy, Jordan and the Bulls cemented their status as one of the best NBA teams of all time.

#3. 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers

Regular Season: 69-13

Regular Season Win%:.841

Post Season: 12-3

Overall Win%: .835

The Los Angeles Lakers’ 1971–1972 season, which saw them win a record 33 straight games and finish with a stunning 69–13 regular season record, is considered to be one of the most dominant in NBA history. Led by the “fantastic five” of Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Jim McMillian, Wilt Chamberlain, and Happy Hairston, the Lakers dominated the playoffs and dropped just one game in the championship series to win their first title in eight years.

High hopes were placed on this season as the Lakers, who had acquired Chamberlain three years prior, joined forces with Hall of Famers Jerry West and Elgin Baylor in an effort to win a title. Baylor, though, announced his retirement after just nine games, leaving the Lakers with a significant gap to fill. In response, the team adopted a selfless style of basketball that prioritized teamwork and ball movement.

In November 1971, the Lakers began their illustrious winning streak, which lasted for more than two months. Gail Goodrich averaged 25.9 points per game, Jerry West averaged 25.8 points per game, Jim McMillian averaged 18.8 points per game, while Wilt Chamberlain (14.8 ppg, 19.2 rpg) and Happy Hairston (13.1 ppg, 13.1 rpg) averaged a double double. Their success was the result of a balanced attack.

The Lakers defeated the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals after sweeping the Chicago Bulls in the postseason and defeating the Milwaukee Bucks. The Lakers’ dominance solidified their place in NBA history as one of the best NBA teams of all time, and Chamberlain was awarded the Finals MVP. 

#2. 2016-17 Golden State Warriors

Regular Season: (67-15)

Regular Season Win%:.817

Post Season: (16-1)

Overall Win%: .838

The Golden State Warriors’ 2016–2017 championship season was one to cherish. After losing in the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers the previous season, the Warriors returned with a vengeance and a devotion to recapture the championship trophy. The “Big Four” of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green functioned as the team’s leaders. Green earned the Defensive Player of the Year award. Durant won the finals MVP award.

Curry, Durant, and Klay Thompson were the pillars of the Warriors’ explosive offensive attack. Draymond Green served as the backbone for the team’s outstanding performance on the defensive side of the ball. Plus, with role players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston stepping up when it mattered most, the Warriors had a perfect combination of talent, depth and chemistry.

The Warriors had a strong regular season, posting a record of 67-15 that was the best in the league. They also ranked first in the league for offensive production scoring 115.9 points per game and ranked second with a defensive rating of 104.0.

In the postseason, the Warriors continued to crush and overwhelm the competition, sweeping their way to the NBA Finals and winning their first 15 games along the way. There, they again squared off against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but this time around, the Warriors dominated. With an average of 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game, Durant was named Finals MVP as they won the series in five games.

Overall, the Golden State Warriors’ championship season in 2016–2017 was a historic one because the team not only won its title but did so with a level of domination in the postseason rarely seen in the league’s history. And because of that, many people consider the 2016–2017 Golden State Warriors to be one of the best NBA teams of all time. 

#1. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls

Regular Season: 72-10

Regular Season Win%: .878

Post Season: 15-3

Overall Win%: .870

The Chicago Bulls made history in the 1995–1996 NBA season while cementing their status as one of the game’s best NBA teams of all time. With an astounding 72-10 record at the end of the regular season, the team led by superstar Michael Jordan broke the Los Angeles Lakers’ previous milestone of 69 victories during the 1971–1972 season.

Their dominance on both ends of the court is what made this Bulls team so extraordinary. In the league that year, they had the best offensive production (105.2 points per game) and best defensive rating (101.8). Jordan averaged 30.4 points per game, won his eighth scoring crown, was the league MVP, and named MVP of the Finals.

A terrific supporting cast also contributed to the team’s success, including Coach of the Year Phil Jackson, Toni Kukoc, one of the league’s top sixth men, Dennis Rodman, a top rebounder and defender, and Scottie Pippen, one of the league’s best all-around players.

In route to their fourth title in six years, the Bulls charged through the postseason, losing only three games. Their opponent in the NBA Finals that year was the Seattle Supersonics, who had the best record in the Western Conference. However, the Bulls dominated the Sonics 4-2 to win the series, with Jordan earning his fourth finals MVP award in his career.

The 1995–1996 Chicago Bulls are recognized as one of the best basketball teams of all time, and their record-breaking season combined with a chip continues to set the bar for excellence in the NBA. Sports fans all over the world were captivated by their brilliance on the court and their legacy continues to inspire future generations basketball players.

Who is the greatest NBA team of all time? What is the best basketball team ever assembled?

No matter how you ask the question the NBA has over the years seen numerous fantastic teams, each with their own distinct strengths and limitations.

Whether discussing the 25 greatest NBA teams of all time, the top 10 NBA teams over the last decade, the best NBA teams 2023 has to offer, the best NBA team of all time record wise or the ESPN best NBA teams of all-time list there will always be disagreements about which team is the best of all time, but a select few are more notable than the others.

These teams reflect the epitome of basketball greatness, from the dominant Chicago Bulls of the 1990s to the dynastic Boston Celtics of the 1960s to the show time Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s.

Although it is impossible to pick just one squad as the “best” of all time with certainty, it is obvious that these teams have had a big impact on the sport and will live on in people’s memories for a very long time.

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