Superteams are becoming more of the norm in recent years, as superstar players have figured out that teaming up with each other gives them the best chance to win NBA titles. Of course, talent wins chips and there have been some all-time great teams that have dominated the league in their era.
By ranking the 10 greatest superteams in NBA history in chronological order, here is the list we have come up with. It is important to note that superteams formed through the draft, such as the 1985 Lakers and the 1980’s Celtics were not included.
1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers
Best Players: Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich
The 1972 Lakers were a terrifying team to play against. With arguably the most dominant big man to have ever played in Wilt Chamberlain on the team and the NBA’s logo Jerry West by his side, the Lakers made their way to the NBA Finals.
Playing against Walt Frazier and the New York Knicks, the Lakers got the job done in 5 games with Wilt Chamberlain winning his first and only Finals MVP Award. The likes of West and Chamberlain were aided with 5-time All-Star and Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich, and this superteam was the start of many to come.
1998-1999 Houston Rockets
Best Players: Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen
The Houston Rockets tried their best to win their third NBA title with 1994 MVP and 2-time Finals MVP Hakeem Olajuwon on the team. They traded for the 1993 MVP in Charles Barkley, and also for 6-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen. The Rockets had the big names and winners on the squad, and all they had to do was get it done.
But the Rockets were old and past their best. Despite having three Hall of Famers, the Rockets fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. Superstars can be great, but as we will see again on this list, age matters.
2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers
Best Players: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Gary Payton
Perhaps the most disappointing superteam in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers looked primed for their 4th straight NBA title with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in their primes. The Lakers traded for 2-time MVP Karl Malone and signed 9-time All-Star Gary Payton in free agency. This team looked unbeatable and no one matched the talent of the Lakers.
But the 2004 Detroit Pistons did the unthinkable. Led by Mr. Big Shot Chauncey Billups and the defensive lineup consisting of Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince; the Pistons shut down the Lakers and won in 5 games. With Shaq not getting the touches and Kobe trying to play hero ball since Malone and Payton were old and slow, the Lakers were no match.
2007-2008 Boston Celtics
Best Players: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo
The last time the legendary Boston Celtics franchise won an NBA title, it was in 2008. The Celtics made the biggest heist in NBA history by stealing Kevin Garnett from the Timberwolves and also trading for 10-time All-Star Ray Allen. Budding star Rajon Rondo was also the starting point guard.
This Boston Celtics superteam made the Finals twice, defeating the Lakers in 2008 and then losing to the Lakers in 2010 in an iconic Game 7. Boston played the right way, dominating with their defense and sharing the wealth on offense. Their reign was truly an exciting time in the NBA.
2010-2014 Miami Heat
Best Players: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
LeBron James kick-started the modern-day superteam creation via free agency, by joining Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. With Chris Bosh also joining the Heat, Miami had a dominant superteam that would make 3 straight NBA Finals. Of course, they won 2 of them with LeBron James winning Finals MVP twice.
The Heat are one of the most talented teams in history because of their superstars and their depth, with the likes of Shane Battier and Ray Allen also joining the squad. The Heat were later usurped by new superteams down the line.
2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers
Best Players: Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest
The Los Angeles Lakers captured 2 more NBA titles in 2009 and 2010 with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol as the dynamic duo. But they didn’t quite have a superteam as they were the only All-Stars on the team. A few years later, the Lakers made some big moves by acquiring 3-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard and 2-time MVP Steve Nash.
Of course, Gasol and Nash were way past their prime and Dwight Howard was not the same dominant player he was with the Magic. With Bryant carrying a heavy load later in his career, the Lakers were manhandled by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.
2015-2017 Cleveland Cavaliers
Best Players: LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love
The Cleveland Cavaliers were another superteam led by LeBron James. The King had Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love by his side, and a team full of defenders and shooters such as Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith. The Cavs were a great team that had a historically great offense, and they did the unthinkable during their run.
2015 was a tough year as both Irving and Love missed the Finals leaving James to fight the Warriors alone, but 2016 was a different story. Down 3-1 and with LeBron’s legacy on the line, The King and the Cavaliers came back to win the series.
2017-2019 Golden State Warriors
Best Players: Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala
The most dominant superteam in recent NBA history was the “Death Lineup” of the Golden State Warriors. Kevin Durant shocked the world by joining a 73-9 team led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in free agency. The Warriors also had defensive specialist Andre Iguodala playing the power forward position.
With the Warriors playing small ball and the three Splash Brothers dominating on offense, the Warriors dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers for 2 straight years to win 2 rings in 3 years. The Warriors may have changed the way the game is played because of their dominance.
2017-2018 Oklahoma City Thunder
Best Players: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony
The Oklahoma City Thunder made a huge splash after Kevin Durant left the franchise by trading for 2-way superstar Paul George. George and Westbrook were meant to recreate the 2012 Thunder duo of Durant and Westbrook, and there were certainly some comparisons.
The Thunder also traded for scoring phenomenon and 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony, creating one of the best scoring trios in NBA history. Of course, the result of the superteam was a disaster as they lost in the first round of the playoffs against the Utah Jazz.
2020-2021 Brooklyn Nets
Best Players: Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge
The 2021 Brooklyn Nets are the most recent superteam in the NBA that will cause havoc across the league. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan joined forces last season in free agency, and the Nets traded for 3-time scoring champion James Harden as well.
Of course, adding Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge to the squad creates a total of 6 All-Star players who will most likely lead the Nets to the NBA title at the end of the year.