The Golden State Warriors joined an elite group of NBA franchises last month.
By winning their third NBA championship in four years, the Warriors ensured their place as one of the best teams in NBA history. The question is where do they rank among the league’s top dynasties.
Detroit Pistons 1988-90
The Bad Boys really lifted Motown during the late 80s. Led by HOF’ers Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman and Adrian Dantley, the Pistons brought unique toughness as well as grit to the forefront of the NBA.
Legendary head coach Chuck Daly led the Pistons to a very interesting three-year run where they won two championships in three seasons. Detroit went an NBA Eastern Conference best 176-70 (.715) during this period. That mark was six games worst than the Lakers during this period.
However, the Pistons turned up things during the postseason. The Pistons posted a 44-16 record during the playoffs which is the third highest among the 11 dynasties. They swept four teams and were extended to a deciding game twice.
10. Los Angeles Lakers 2008-10
Elite Years: 3
HOF: Phil Jackson
Future HOF: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol
This version of the Lakers rank last because it was only a three-year run and Bryant and Gasol were the only elite players on the squad.
LA did manage to top the league with a 179-67 regular season record. The Lakers won three straight Pacific Division crowns during this period, which included 65 victories during the 2009-10 season. The Lakers, who never posted the best record in the league, won 57 contests in each of the other two seasons.
The Lakers also did not have a strong playoff run during this three-year span, finishing with a 46-21 record (.686). They lost at least seven games in each of the three postseasons. LA managed two sweeps and were extended to seven games once as well.
9. Miami Heat 2010-14
Elite Years: 4
Potential HOF: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Erik Spoelstra
This dynasty started off shaky as James proclaimed that the Heat would become the greatest team in NBA history when he signed with the team during the 2011 offseason. But the Heat never managed to reach that height, although they did reach the NBA Finals four times and won two championships.
Miami posted a 224-88 record during the regular season for a .718 winning percentage, the second worst among the 10 teams listed. The Heat won four straight Southeast titles, but they posted the league’s best record just once (2012-13). They also finished outside the top-10 in defensive rating once in 2013-14.
Miami has the third most postseason losses and third worst playoff winning percentage (.678) among the listed dynasties. The Heat lost at least seven postseason games during each of their four Finals appearances. They only earned two playoff sweeps and were extended to seven games three times.
While Allen had one of the most memorable moments in NBA history in 2013, the Heat’s run ended as a disappointment overall.
8. Minneapolis Lakers 1949-54
Elite Years: 6
HOF: Elgin Baylor, Jim Pollard, Vern Mikkelsen, Slater Martin, Clyde Lovellette, George Mikan, John Kundla
The Lakers dominated the NBA in the early going. Minneapolis went 273-131 (.676) during the regular season in these six seasons. Although the Lakers managed just one season of 50 or more wins, they did claim four division titles.
Under the direction of Kundla, and led by Baylor and Mikan, the Lakers won their first NBA/BAA championship in their inaugural season. During the 1948-49 season, Minneapolis finished a game in back of the Rochester Royals with a 44-16 record. The Lakers swept the Chicago Stags and the Royals for the right to represent the West division in the Finals. They then defeated the Washington Capitols, the top seed from the East division, 4-2 in the finals.
Overall, the Lakers won five championships in this six-year span. They posted a 48-19 playoff record. The 1950-51 campaign was the only season that the Lakers failed to win a championship as they won 44 regular season games and was eliminated in the division finals by Rochester.
7. Los Angeles Lakers 2000-04
Elite Years: 5
Championship Years: 3
HOF: Shaquille O’Neal, Phil Jackson
Potential HOF: Kobe Bryant
The Lakers led the league with a 287-123 record during this five-year span. That ended up being just one more victory than the Spurs and 13 more than the Kings during this period. In fact, six of the top seven teams in terms of wins were Western Conference squads.
Los Angeles only managed to obtain the top seed in the conference once, although they won at least 50 games each season. The Lakers were Pacific division champs three times. Their best season of the run occurred during the 1999-2000 season when they posted the second most wins in franchise history (67). O’Neal, who was named Finals MVP three times during this period, earned three MVP honors — regular season, ASG and Finals — that season.
Los Angeles rolled through the playoffs the first three years of this run, going 45-13 which includes 15-1 during the 2001-02 campaign. However, they struggled in the postseason the last two years with a 19-15 mark to give them a 64-28 playoff record overall. LA was eliminated in the conference semifinals in 2002-03 and the finals in 2003-04.
6. Boston Celtics 1957-1969
HOF: Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey, Bill Sharman, Clyde Lovellette, Andy Phillip, Arnie Risen, Red Auerbach
Russell led a superstar cast of 11 Hall of Fame players during this period where the Celtics, coached by Auerbach, won 11 championships including an unprecedented eight from 1959-1966. The C’s reached the NBA Finals 10 straight times from 1957-1968.
During this stretch, Boston earned a 116 more regular season wins than Philadelphia which was second with 600 victories. The Celtics posted a 716-299 record for a .705 record. They won at least 50 games on 10 occasions, topping 60 victories three times.
Boston really didn’t really dominate the postseason during this period, combining to go 98-59 during this span. The Celtics lost less than five playoff games just five times. Given that there were only eight teams for the majority of this run, with 14 teams being the max, this is not a great fact.
5. San Antonio Spurs 1999-2014
Elite Years: 16
HOF: David Robinson
Potential HOF: Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili
It is amazing what the Spurs accomplished and how incredible their run was with just one hall of famer and a future hall of famer leading the way. That just goes to show how cohesive and how much the team bought into Popovich’s system.
The Spurs won at least 50 games in 15 of the 16 years with the lone exception being during the strike shorten 1998-1999 campaign when they went 37-13. They won 60 or more games four times. San Antonio finished with the best record in the regular season on four occasions, holding that title outright twice and tying for the title the other two times.
During this period, the Spurs posted an NBA-best 894-370 record and claimed 11 division titles during this period.
The main reason that San Antonio is so high on the list is that they have five championships in six Finals appearances. Only the Bulls and Celtics have more titles than the Spurs. And only the Celtics have reached the Finals more often.
Overall, the Spurs went 145-85 in 16 postseason appearances during this stretch. They won at least one playoff series in 13 of the 16 seasons, reaching the Western Conference Finals nine times.
4. Boston Celtics 1981-1987
Elite Years: 7
HOF: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, Robert Parish, Bill Walton
The Celtics had a really nice run during the early and mid-80s. In fact, the C’s dominated that part of the 80s, posting a 432-142 record which was 20 more victories than the Lakers during this period. Although they did struggle against the Lakers, losing 8 of 15 regular season games and two of three Finals series.
Boston’s lineup of Bird, Parish, Cedric Maxwell along with Danny Ainge/ Tiny Archibald/Johnson was one of the best in the league during this period. The C’s also had McHale, Gerald Henderson, Bill Walton and Scott Wedman coming off the bench.
Boston won at least 56 games in each of the seven seasons, topping the 60 victory plateau on five occasions. The Celtics, who finished with the best record on five occasions, won six Atlantic titles.
Despite winning three championships and appearing in five Finals, the C’s struggled during the postseason. Boston went 77-50 (.606) in the playoffs during this seven-year stretch. The Celtics best postseason run occurred during the 1986 playoffs where they went 15-3. That was the only season that the C’s lost less than five postseason games.
3. Los Angeles Lakers 1980-91
Elite Years: 10
HOF: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Bob McAdoo, Jamaal Wilkes, Pat Riley
Riley orchestrated quite a dynasty with the “Showtime” Lakers that featured Abdul-Jabbar along with Johnson and Worthy, during this 12 year period, which was owned by the Lakers and Celtics. The Lakers ended up winning 12 more regular season games than their arch-rivals (712-to-700). They also won 17 of the 27 head-to-head matchups during this period.
Los Angeles won 54 or more games each of the 12 campaigns, topping the 60 victory plateau six times. The Lakers also claimed 11 division titles and reached the conference finals on nine occasions.
LA also dominated the postseason during this period. The Lakers reached the NBA Finals nine times, claiming five championships. This includes winning two of three championships series over the Celtics, winning 11 of the 19 games.
Overall, the Lakers posted a 127-60 (.679) record in the playoffs. They earned 12 playoff sweeps and were extended to seven games just four times. However, they were swept in the NBA Finals twice by the 76ers and Pistons.
2. Golden State Warriors 2014-present
Elite Years: 4
Potential HOF: Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Steve Kerr
A few weeks ago, the Warriors earned their third World Championship title in the last four years by sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Dubs are just the ninth team in history to end the NBA Finals in four games, the first since 2007. They have been to four straight NBA Finals and the only reason the Warriors don’t have four rings is that they blew a 3-1 series lead against the Cavs in 2016.
Golden State has been absolutely magnificent over these past four seasons. The Warriors set the NBA regular season record with 73 victories in 2015-16 and have posted a 265-63 record overall during this period. Their .808 regular season winning percentage regular season is tops among all 10 dynasties listed. The Dubs have won at least 60 games in three of the campaigns.
Golden State has led the NBA in scoring in scoring and shooting percentage in each of the last four years. The Warriors also led the league in 3-point shooting percentage on three occasions during this period. In addition, the Dubs have been ranked in the top-10 in both offensive and defensive ratings all four seasons.
Golden State has also been dominate in the postseason, going 63-20. The Dubs best postseason run occurred in 2016-17 when they went 16-1 for an NBA record 94.1% winning percentage. They lost nine playoff games in 2015-16 though they did come back from a 3-1 deficit to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors are favored to claim their fourth NBA title in 2018-19.
1. Chicago Bulls 1991-1998
Elite Years: 6
HOF: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Robert Parrish and Phil Jackson
Chicago is No. 1 on the list as they are the only team to win all of their six NBA Finals appearances. The Bulls are also the only franchise in the modern NBA to win three consecutive Finals on two occasions (1991-93, 1996-98).
Chicago went 490-166 for an NBA-best .747 winning percentage during this eight-year period. This includes two seasons without Jordan, who took a sabbatical to attempt to make a career in baseball with the Chicago White Sox. With Jordan leading the way, the Bulls won 388 of 492 games for a .789 winning percentage.
The Bulls won 60 games on five times, all with Jordan on the team, which includes posting a then-NBA record 72 victories in 1995-96. Overall, they won at least 50 games on seven occasions during this span.
During the Bulls six championship seasons, they posted an incredible 89-29 record (.754) in the postseason. The Bulls only played 20 or more playoff games in two of those six years. They swept nine series and were taken to a seventh and final game just twice.
In the two season without Jordan, the Bulls reached the Eastern Conference semifinals in both seasons.