All-Time NBA Franchise Rankings (2016-17 Edition)

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After several years of ranking all active NBA franchises on my other site, I’ve decided to move it here. In addition to the list having a new home, I’ve upped my game introduced some new technology to the process — namely, Tableau data visualizations. Other than making things look snazzy, however, the methodology behind how I’m ranking all NBA franchises remains pretty much intact. So for those who don’t know the rules, here they are again:

The Criteria

The categories and point values are as follows:

  • 30 points for a league championship, and 15 points for a Finals loss.
  • 2 points for a playoff berth.
  • 5 points for each playoff round win.
  • 4 points for a division title (starting in 1970-71).
  • 1 point for a winning season, -1 point for a losing season.
  • 3 points for a regular-season winning percentage better than .730 (60 wins with the current schedule), -3 points for a regular-season winning percentage worse than .270 (20 wins with the current schedule).
  • Consecutive winning regular seasons are worth 2 points starting with the second, 3 points for the third, 4 points for the fourth, and so on. The counter is reset after any non-winning season. So if a team has three winning seasons in a row, they get a total of 5 points.

While I may tweak the formula in future years, I think this accomplishes my two most important objectives — to reward consistently good play in the regular season, and to not give older franchises too much of an advantage just by virtue of being around for so many years. I’ve always felt that using NBA titles alone to measure a franchise’s greatness (or badness) is taking too narrow a view. Just as the NBA handles its own records, these rankings to not reflect statistics for teams while in the ABA or NBL.

Clicking on the graph will take you to my Tableau page were you can look at other NBA charts and play with the parameters. Each team’s previous ranking is in parentheses.

All-Time NBA Franchise Rankings (2016-17 Edition)

The Top 10

#1. Los Angeles Lakers (#1) — 30.10 avg.
#2. Boston Celtics (#2) — 24.86 avg.
#3. San Antonio Spurs (#3) — 22.13 avg.
#4. Miami Heat (#4) — 15.36 avg.
#5. Chicago Bulls (#5) — 13.64 avg.
#6. Utah Jazz (#6) — 10.62 avg.
#7. Philadelphia 76ers (#7) — 10.55 avg.
#8. Oklahoma City Thunder (#9) — 9.06 avg.
#9. New York Knicks (#10) — 8.90 avg.
#10. Portland Trail Blazers (#9) — 8.74 avg.

Not much movement here at all, other than the Knicks and Blazers swapping spots. The Spurs continue to ever so slowly creep up on the Celtics and Lakers while they slump.

The Mediocre 10

#11. Houston Rockets (#11) — 8.63 avg.
#12. Detroit Pistons (#12) — 8.51 avg.
#13. Dallas Mavericks (#13) — 8.22 avg.
#14. Milwaukee Bucks (#14) — 7.52 avg.
#15. Golden State Warriors (#16) — 7.23 avg.
#16. Phoenix Suns (#15) — 7.13 avg.
#17. Cleveland Cavaliers (#22)  — 6.07 avg.
#18. Atlanta Hawks (#17) — 6.06 avg.
#19. Orlando Magic (#18) — 5.70 avg.
#20. Indiana Pacers (#19) — 4.95 avg.

To nobody’s surprise, last year’s NBA Finals teams — the Cavaliers and Warriors — both moved up this year. Cleveland captured their first league title and in the process catapulted out of the bottom third of my rankings.

The Bottom 10

#21. Washington Wizards (#21) — 4.73 avg.
#22. Denver Nuggets (#20) — 4.50 avg.
#23. Sacramento Kings (#23) — 3.60 avg.
#24. Brooklyn Nets (#24) — 3.50 avg.
#25. Toronto Raptors (#27) — 1.90 avg.
#26. Memphis Grizzlies (#28) — 1.86 avg.
#27. New Orleans Pelicans (#25)— 1.71 avg.
#28. Charlotte Hornets (#26) — 1.65 avg.
#29. Minnesota Timberwolves (#30) — 0.41 avg.
#30. Los Angeles Clippers (#29) — 0.37 avg.

Taking Cleveland’s place in the bottom tier this year are the Denver Nuggets, who turned in their third consecutive season without a playoff appearance. Congratulations to the Timberwolves, who clawed out of dead last despite another dreadful season — although to be honest that may be in part due to my use of better technology to keep track of statistics.

Team of the Decade (So Far)

As we head into the 2nd half of the 2010s, there is a tight race for Team of the Decade between the Spurs and Heat. Whether or not a post-LeBron James Miami can hold onto that spot remains to be seen, although of course the Warriors have plenty of time to close the gap.

NBA Team of the Decade (2010s)