Top 15 Best NBA Teams of All Time

Golden State Warriors

Who are the 15 best NBA teams of all time? Every few years, a new team sets the league alight. However, are the teams dominating the league nowadays as good as the teams from the olden days? We here at Bet Station love answering questions like these, as it allows us to dive back through the ages and compare NBA legends.

No matter when you grew up, there would have been a lot of talent on the court. Players like Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan have all left their mark on basketball, elevating the NBA to a global level. But of course, we are not looking for the greatest basketball players of all time. Instead, we only want to highlight the best NBA teams.

Picking the best teams from any sport is a lot of fun, but there was something more enjoyable about selecting the best NBA teams of all time. Many teams deserve recognition for their achievements. Some won it all multiple times. Others dominated the regular season, only to lose out on the trophy at the end. Below is our list of the greatest NBA teams ever, with some honorable mentions at the bottom.

15. Cleveland Cavaliers 2008-09

The 2008-09 Cleveland Cavaliers team was arguably the strongest Cavs ever. They set the franchise regular season record with 66 wins and only 16 losses, the best win-to-lose ratio in the Cavaliers’ history. They finished the season with a win percentage of .805, which is the joint seventh-best percentage in NBA history. The team finished one win away from legendary teams, such as the 1985-86 Boston Celtics or the 1991-92 Chicago Bulls.

The team was deadly, thanks to small forward LeBron James. James finished the season with 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game. He was the top scorer for his team but narrowly missed out on the NBA Scoring Champion title. The Cavaliers had several excellent forwards who also pitched in with the scoring. Mo Williams averaged 17.8 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas contributed 12.9 points, and Delonte West managed 11.7 points per game. It may not be as fearsome a lineup as other teams mentioned on our list, but they certainly set the league alight.

Some NBA teams had phenomenal regular seasons but fell short in the playoffs. Unfortunately, that is the case for the Cavs. They swept the Pistons and the Hawks before losing to Orlando Magic in the Conference Finals. That meant they did not get the chance to go for the NBA Final. The team managed an impressive 13-game winning streak and the joint second-most home wins in NBA history.

  • Record (W-L): 66-16
  • Win Percentage: .805
  • Titles: Central Div Champions
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 13

14. Dallas Mavericks 2006-07

Another team that dominated the court during the regular season was the Dallas Mavericks in 2006-07. Coming off the back of a strong season, the Mavericks improved their record of 60 wins and 22 losses to 67-15. They finished the season with a win percentage of .817, up there with some of the best teams to play the game.

So, if everything is so rosy, why are the Mavericks in 14th place? Well, once again, the team struggled in the playoffs. They went into the record books for being the third number-one seed to lose to the eighth-seeded team. Given the shocking defeat to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs, the Mavericks would need something special to be on a list of the best NBA teams ever. Well, they are the only team in NBA history to manage three winning streaks of at least 12 games. Especially impressive after losing their first four games of the season.

The Mavericks went undefeated in February and enjoyed a winning streak of 17, 13, and 12 in the season. The team had five players with point-scoring averages above ten, including Dirk Nowitzki, who got 24.6 points per game that season. What holds this team back when talking about the best has to be how they failed to win the NBA Finals. They are the only team with a win percentage over .800 to be knocked out in the first round. They were the first team ranked number one to lose to the eighth seed in the new seven-game playoff format.

  • Record (W-L): 67-15
  • Win Percentage: .817
  • Titles:  Southwest Div Champs
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 17

13. San Antonio Spurs 2015-16

Yet another team that set franchise records was the 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs. They won 67 games and only lost 15, the best Spurs season ever. Besides setting the franchise record for most home wins in a season, they are the joint record holder for most home wins in a single NBA season. They managed 40 wins and one loss, the same as the 1985-86 Boston Celtics team.

The home defeat came at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. For those of you who don’t know, the Warriors set the best regular season record in NBA history that year, winning 73 games and losing nine. The Spurs set the record for the best NBA home start to a season by going 39-0. If you include the end of the season before, they went 48 games without suffering a single defeat at home.

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However, after the team’s dominant performances in the regular season, they ran out of steam for the playoffs. They lost to Oklahoma City Thunder in the Conference Semifinals. They join the 2007 Mavericks as a team with 67 wins without reaching the Conference Finals. With so many resounding positives of the San Antonio Spurs’ season, it dampened things significantly missing out on the title.

While many hoped the Spurs would continue the charge back to the top, their star man retired. Tim Duncan, one of the best basketball players ever, decided at 39 it was time to give up the NBA. The team finished the season with a record better than previous title-winning campaigns. Especially impressive when given the competition in the league.

  • Record (W-L): 67-15
  • Win Percentage: .817
  • Titles: Southwest Div Champs
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 13

12. Milwaukee Bucks 1970-71

The third season of the Milwaukee Bucks was one of the most successful. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was in his second season with the franchise. He was showing promise of becoming one of the greatest basketball players ever. However, the Bucks had plenty of talent, including Oscar Robertson, Bob Dandridge, and Jon McGlocklin.

The Bucks won 66 games that season, only losing 16. The team would make history for several reasons, notably for a 20-game winning streak. That was the best streak in the NBA, and it still ranks joint fifth with the Washington Capitols. The Bucks were the first team from the Midwest Division to win the biggest prize in basketball, the NBA Final. They won it all thanks to incredible teamwork and the prowess of one player.

Abdul-Jabbar won the league MVP and NBA Final MVP awards. He was the top point scorer in the league and had the most points per game for the season, with 31.7. His teammates were also in on the act, with four others securing 11 or more points per game. Robertson managed 19.4 points and 8.2 assists per game, and Dandridge had 18.4 points and eight rebounds a game. The 7ft2 Abdul-Jabbar had an incredible 16 rebounds per game on average across the season, securing the team’s place in NBA history as one of the best.

  • Record (W-L): 66-16
  • Win Percentage: .805
  • Titles: NBA Champions, Western Conference Champions, Midwest Div Champs
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 20

11. Golden State Warriors 2016-17

If you watched basketball in the mid-2010s, the Golden State Warriors were up there with the best. If you look at the teams with the highest NBA single-season win percentages, the Warriors have three teams with win percentages higher than .800. Between 2014 and 2017, the Warriors went on incredible winning streaks and set some records that we may never see beaten.

But anyway, this entry is just for the 2016-17 team. Not only did they demolish the regular season, but the playoffs as well. They had a record of 67 wins and 15 losses. The Warriors achieved the best playoff record in NBA history, winning 16 games and only losing one. That includes a 15-game playoff win streak, another record. They had two notable win streaks of 14 and 12 games, which contributed to the NBA record of 146 regular season games without consecutive losses. The Warriors beat the record held by the Chicago Bulls for the most wins over three seasons.

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The Warriors had three almost unstoppable forwards, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant. Each player finished the season with a point-per-game average of 22 or more. Curry had 25.3 points, 6.6 assists, and 8.5 field goals per game. Thompson had 22.5 points, 2.1 assists, and 8.3 field goals per game. Plus, Durant managed 25.1 points per game, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.9 field goals. You will struggle to find a team with a more balanced and deadly front three than the Warriors.

  • Record (W-L):  67-15
  • Win Percentage: .817
  • Titles: NBA champions, Western Conference Champions, Pacific Div Champs
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 14

10. Miami Heat 2012-13

The 2013-13 season for Miami Heat was arguably their best NBA season ever. It was the third season playing with the “Big Three” LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. These three players helped the Heat become Conference and Division Champions in 2011 and two-time Eastern Conference winners and NBA Champions in 2012.

Miami Heat would set multiple NBA records this season, earning the reputation as one of the best NBA teams in basketball history. The Heat lost 20 games the season before, finishing with a win percentage of .697. The 12-13 season would see the Heat lose only 16 times, winning 66 and finishing with a win percentage of .805.

The season was full of NBA records, with LeBron James becoming the youngest player to score 20,000 points. James became the only player to shoot over 60% and post 30+ points in six consecutive games. The Heat beat the Toronto Raptors on February 3rd, 2013. It wasn’t until March 27th that they lost an NBA game. This totaled a 27-game winning streak, the third-longest in NBA history. The Heat also won games the hard way, overturning double-digit deficits in four consecutive games to keep the streak going.

  • Record (W-L):  66-16
  • Win Percentage: .805
  • Titles: NBA champions, Conference champions, Division champions
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 27

9. Boston Celtics 1972-73

The Boston Celtics were one of the original founding teams back in 1946. The Celtics are also one of the most successful teams in NBA history, tying with the LA Lakers for most NBA Championships at 17. However, the 1972-73 season for the Celtics was their best-performing season, only losing 14 games. They won 68 games throughout the season, finishing with a winning record of .829, one more win than the legendary 85-86 season.

Even though the Boston Celtics had their best-performing season ever, it will go down in history as a near-miss. The Celtics became Division Champions in 73 but lost the East Conference Finals to the New York Knicks, NBA Champions that year. They made NBA history by becoming the team with the highest win percentage not to reach the NBA Finals.

Even though the Celtics fell short of claiming the bragging rights that year, it is not all doom and gloom. Basketball Hall of Famer Dave Cowens had this to say when speaking to the Boston Herald:

1973 was the epitome of my whole career, even more so than winning a championship. That was the greatest time I ever had, playing basketball that year. It was a great team. We got along and we kicked a lot of ass.

- Dave Cowens

Although the Celtics did not win big this year, they were still an incredible team that would be tough to beat. Winning 26 of their first 29 games, and only lost one of their last 17. Even without the grand prize, this Celtics team was one of the best NBA teams of all time.

  • Record (W-L): 68-14
  • Win Percentage: .829
  • Titles: Division champions
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 10

8. Philadelphia 76ers 1966-67

The Philadelphia 76ers had a monster of a season back in 1966. In the off-season, the 76ers sacked head coach Dolph Schayes and appointed Alex Hannum. Hannum somehow got even more out of legendary basketball player Wilt Chamberlain. His eight assists per game was a record for centers, and he led the NBA in rebounds and blocked shots. The new coach also encouraged Hal Greer, Chet Walker, and Billy Cunningham to score more points, averaging around the 20-point-per-game mark.

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Now that the new coach reinvigorated the 76ers as a lean, mean point-scoring machine, they dominated the league. The team averaged 125 points per game, leading the league in shot accuracy. From the first 50 games, the 76ers lost four, which remains the joint-best start to an NBA season. Their win ratio after 50 games was .902 and finished at .840. The season ended with 68 wins and 13 losses, the former best league record in history.

The 76ers won the NBA Championship and finished the year as Division Champions. The only small blot on an otherwise incredible season was missing the Conference Championship. However, this does not detract from the incredible success the 76ers achieved. On the league leaderboards, the 76ers had multiple players for almost every category. They may have missed out on one trophy, but they are certainly one of the best NBA teams ever.

  • Record (W-L): 68-13
  • Win Percentage: .840
  • Titles:  NBA champions, Division champions
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 11

7. Chicago Bulls 1991-92

The Chicago Bulls began the 1991 season as defending champions, having won the NBA, Conference, and Division Championships. The Bulls got their title defense season off to a rocky start, losing two of the first three games. However, they quickly turned this around, winning 14 consecutive games. Later in the season, they would go on a similar run in January, winning 13 consecutive games.

The Bulls were a powerful team to face, with Michael Jordan leading the way. This season, he won a second MVP award by averaging 30.1 points, 6.1 assists, and 6.4 rebounds a game. Scottie Pippen provided just as impressive numbers, 21 points, seven assists, and 7.7 rebounds a game. Teammates Horace Grant and B.J Armstrong were also vital players in the title-winning season.

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The Bulls had several iconic moments this season, including one provided by Jordan in the Eastern Conference playoffs. In the first round against Miami Heat, the Bulls won three straight games. In Game three, Jordan scored 56 points to secure a 119-114 win. They won the 1992 NBA Finals, beating the Portland Trail Blazers.

In the 1992-93 season, Jordan’s Bulls also won the NBA, Conference, and Division titles, but with a worse team record. In 1991-92, they won 67 games, lost 15, and finished the season with a win percentage of .817. Next season the Bulls only won 57 games, losing 25 and finishing with a .695 win percentage.

  • Record (W-L): 67-15
  • Win Percentage: .817
  • Titles:  NBA champions, Conference champions, Division champions
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 14

6. Los Angeles Lakers 1999-00

The 1999-00 Los Angeles Lakers season was the first spent at their new stadium, the Staples Center. More notably, it was the first season Phil Jackson was head coach at the Lakers, the best NBA coach in history. The Lakers also re-signed A. C. Green, who won two championships in the 80s. Plus, they signed John Salley, who won three championships with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls.

The recruits might have been a show of intent, but the start of the season did not go off with a bang. Instead, the Lakers won 15 of their first 20 games before the new team sparked into life. This season was filled with incredible winning streaks, including a 16-game streak from December to January. They then embarked on a 19-game winning streak. When this streak ended, they hit back by winning 11 consecutive games. 

This Lakers team from 1999 is one of the best NBA teams ever. The two most instrumental Lakers players were shooting guard Kobe Bryant, and center, Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal averaged 29.7 points, three blocks, and 13.6 rebounds a game. Bryant, who was only 21, averaged 22.5 points, 4.9 assists, and 6.3 rebounds per game. The two basketball legends would later fall out after a lengthy feud, with O’Neal ending up at Miami Heat.

  • Record (W-L): 67-15
  • Win Percentage: .817
  • Titles: NBA champions, Conference champions, Division champions
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 19

5. Boston Celtics 1985-86

One of the best NBA teams of all time is the Boston Celtics from 1985. The Celtics finished the season with an incredible record, winning 67 games and only losing 15. This included a home record of 40 wins and one defeat, a joint NBA record. The Celtics finished the season one less victory than the 1972-73 record-setting season mentioned above.

The success of the Celtics was down to head coach K. C. Jones and his use of the Big Three. Their frontcourt included NBA legend Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. At the beginning of the season, the team took a gamble trading Cedric Maxwell for the injury-prone Bill Walton. The Celtics took Walton’s word for his fitness, signing him before the doctors could give him the all-clear. The gamble worked, with Walton winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award.

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The Big Three from the Celtics ended up in the Hall of Fame. Bird averaged 25.8 points, 6.8 assists, and 9.8 rebounds a game, plus a .896 free throw percentage. McHale also had a productive season, scoring 21.3 points, two blocks, and 8.1 rebounds per game. Parish had 16.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 11.9 field goal attempts per game. Most teams in this list have a big three to be proud of, but few compare to the Boston Celtics 85/86 team.

  • Record (W-L): 67-15  
  • Win Percentage: .817
  • Titles: NBA champions, Conference champions, Division champions
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 14

4. Chicago Bulls 1996-97

The 1996-97 Chicago Bulls team was one of the best NBA teams in basketball history. They entered the season as defending NBA Champions and kept the same players that helped facilitate their success earlier in the decade. They have the same head coach, Michael Jordan is still the man, and there are outstanding players around him. Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and they even added 43-year-old free agent Robert Parish to the roster.

Everything on paper for the Bulls spelled success, and they did not disappoint. The team started the title defense season strong, winning 12 games before their first defeat. That was the longest winning streak they went on all season, but that did not stop records from being set in other ways. They finished the season with the second-most home victories in NBA history. The Bulls went on five streaks where they won eight games, and they were the first NBA team to win 30 road games in consecutive seasons. They finished the season with 69 wins, 13 losses, and a win percentage of .841.

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The Bulls were in full swing now that Jordan had given up on his Minor League Baseball career. He averaged 29.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. Pippen brought the heat, averaging 20.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. But they were both helped by the king of rebounds, Dennis Rodman, who averaged 16.1 rebounds a game. Jordan came out of retirement and was still the best player in the league should be all the evidence you need that this Bulls team was iconic.

  • Record (W-L): 69-13
  • Win Percentage: .841
  • Titles: NBA champions, Conference champions, Division champions
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 12

3. Los Angeles Lakers 1971-72

The 1971-72 season for the Los Angeles Lakers was probably the best in the franchise’s history. It was one of the best team performances in NBA history, registering a win percentage of .841. The Lakers won 69 games this season, only losing 13. It was a 24-year wait before the Bulls beat this win-to-loss record in 1996.

The Lakers, coached by NBA legend Bill Sharman, made history that year. They set multiple NBA records, most of which still stand. The season started on the front foot with a four-game winning streak. However, with three losses in the first nine games, expectations around the Lakers diminished. They won the next game against the Baltimore Bullets on November 5th, and they didn’t lose a game until January 9th. This 33-game winning streak included a 16-game winning streak on the road, both of which are the longest streaks in NBA history.

The Lakers finished the season with the highest point differential in NBA history, +12.3. Incredible point scorers Gal Goodrich, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and Happy Hairston helped achieve this. All these players finished the season with a point-per-game average of ten or more. Nothing terrifies a team more than multiple high-scoring players. Add that to the incredible rebounds Chamberlain achieved throughout his career, and you have one of the best NBA teams of all time.

  • Record (W-L): 69-13
  • Win Percentage: .841
  • Titles:  NBA champions, Conference champions, Division champions
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 33

2. Golden State Warriors 2015-16

The Golden State Warriors team of 2015-16 was the second-best NBA team of all time. They set a record for the best regular season, winning 73 games and only losing nine. The Warriors have the most regular and postseason wins combined, with 88. They broke over 25 records this season, taking many from the iconic 1995 Chicago Bulls team.

The Warriors began the season as NBA champions, finishing the season strong with four consecutive wins. They carried this over into 2015-16 by winning their first 24 games. This streak broke the record set in 1884 when the St Louis Maroons went 20-0 in baseball. The Golden State Warriors hold the best start to a season of any major professional sports team in American history. The 28 games they won across two NBA seasons place them second in the all-time list of NBA winning streaks. They also claimed the record for most road wins in a season, 14. Plus, the best road start to a season, winning 14 games in a row without losing.

There were several integral players to the Warriors' success, but none more so than Stephen Curry. Curry averaged 30.1 points, 6.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.1 steals a game. Klay Thompson averaged 22.1 points, and Harrison Barnes contributed 11.7 points per game. Draymond Green was a driving force in the team, starting 81 games, averaging 34.7 minutes, 14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game. 

  • Record (W-L): 73-9
  • Win Percentage: .890
  • Titles: Conference champions, Division champions
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 24

Why Not the Best NBA Team of all Time?

Everything about the Golden State Warriors screams the best. However, the Warriors entered the season as NBA Champions but failed to defend their title. In the 2016 NBA Finals, the Warriors faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in a seven-game series. The Warriors started strong, taking a 3-1 lead. They then lost the next two games by a significant margin. To cap it all off, they lost the series with a 93-89 defeat at home.

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The team was sensational. They are the only team in NBA history to avoid consecutive defeats, not lose to the same opponent twice, and the first to make over 1,000 three-pointers in one season. When you look at what this team achieved, there are hardly any negative things you can say about their entire season.

Nobody can take away the records and various achievements the Warriors managed in this incredible season. However, it fizzled out at the end. We at Bet Station believe the best NBA team of all time was tough to beat in both the regular and postseason. The Golden State Warriors may have the best regular season record of all time, but failing to win the NBA Finals dampens their achievements. After all, imagine the odds if you bet on the underdog in that final. Even the best betting sites would have paid out handsomely at this upset.

1. Chicago Bulls 1995-96

The best NBA team of all time is the Chicago Bulls team of the 1995-96 season. We have spoken about two other Bulls teams so far, but they were the most dominant in the league this year. In the off-season, the Bulls recruited wisely by bringing in rebound expert Dennis Rodman and signing free agents Randy Brown and James Edwards. The Bulls signed John Salley mid-season, reforming a partnership with former Detroit Pistons teammates Rodman and Edwards.

The result was an incredible offense led by Michael Jordan and backed up by Scottie Pippen. Plus, an outstanding backline who played together at the Pistons during the "Bad Boy" era. The team set the record for most wins in an NBA season, 73, which was beaten by the Warriors in 2016. The Bulls had a sensational home record, starting the season 37-0 at home. By the time the team lost its fourth game of the season, they had won 41. This included an 18-game win streak, plus remaining undefeated all of January. The Bulls are the only team in NBA history to win 70 or more games and the NBA title.

This Bulls team was deadly and had a reputation for its dogged defending. It is one of five teams in NBA history to have three players called up to the Defensive First Team. The frontline, led by the best NBA player of all time, Michael Jordan, had some sensational stats. He averaged 30.4 points, 2.2 steals, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. Pippen averaged 19.4 points, 5.9 assists, and 6.9 rebounds. Rodman did what he does best, 15.6 rebounds a game, more than double anyone else on the team.

  • Record (W-L): 72-10
  • Win Percentage: .878
  • Titles: NBA champions, Conference champions, Division champions
  • Biggest Winning Streak: 18

Were the Bulls the Best NBA Team?

Yes. The Golden State Warriors were a force to be reckoned with. However, finishing the season without the NBA title is a hard pill to swallow. This puts their incredible season up for debate, which it would have avoided had everything gone their way. One question we need to know is; if the 1995 Bulls met the 2015 Warriors in the NBA Finals, who would win?

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One aspect that will always keep the Chicago Bulls at the top is Michael Jordan. Given he retired from the NBA in 1993 to pursue Minor League Baseball, his impact on a basketball court should be limited. However, his return in 1995 was with such a vengeance that he claimed 96.5 percent of the MVP award. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Jordan explained how this MVP award was the best in his career. He said:

I think this is more meaningful because I was away from the game for a couple of years, came back, and learned a lesson that no matter how long you're away from the game or how great you were before you left the game, you can't just come back and think you can turn it right back on and take up where you left off. From an individual standpoint, this caps it off.

- Michael Jordan

This list is here to discuss the best NBA teams, and any team with Michael Jordan in it has a particular fear factor above all others. Jordan had it all, retired, came back, and still won the NBA Final. That tells us everything we need to know. You would have an easier time playing any other team on our list than the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

Honorable Mentions

While we would love to celebrate every single NBA team, there is not enough time. Instead, we have included a small list of teams that deserve recognition but narrowly missed out on our list of the best NBA teams of all time. Keep an eye out, as we may well update or expand this list in the future!

  • 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers (65-17) .793
  • 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers (65-17) .793
  • 1988-89 Detroit Pistons (63-19) .768
  • 1969-70 New York Knicks (60-22) .732
  • 1964-65 Boston Celtics (62-18) .755
  • 2007-08 Boston Celtics (66-16) .805
  • 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (66-15) .805
  • 2014-15 Golden State Warriors (67-15) .817

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