Over the last decade the Basketball Gods have bestowed some glorious storylines upon us.
We saw three future MVPs on one team in Oklahoma City that never won an actual championship. We saw the Warriors break the 72-10 Bulls’ regular season win record. We saw LeBron James’ Miami Heat rip off one of the longest winning streaks in NBA history.
I haven’t even gotten to Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs drama or the James Harden’s Rockets. We’ve been blessed this decade, folks. We’ve seen dynasties rise and fall, we’ve seen one-off titles that will last forever, and we’ve seen failures we’ll never forget.
But which teams were the best of the decade? We’re ranking them all right here.
It’s hard to keep a champion out of the top 10 on this list, but this feels right. These Lakers were a great team — they won 57 games and were a repeat champion. But they were a year older and a bit worse than the season before. They also came right before the league’s 3-point boom. Had they been around in the next era, it’s hard to tell if they would’ve had the same success.
2010-11 Dallas Mavericks
The same thing goes for these Dallas Mavericks. They had an amazing title run and were legitimately one of the best stories of the decade. But, pound for pound, they only had a single All-Star in Dirk Nowitzki. It’s hard to compare them to other teams later in the decade.
The All-Decade list
10. 2017-18 Houston Rockets
Okay, okay. I get it. The Rockets can’t get over the hump, James Harden’s playoff struggles, blah blah blah. Yes, we know. But the Rockets were the only team in the West that could even challenge the Kevin Durant-era Warriors. No, they never won, but neither did anyone else when they were fully healthy. They had an MVP, won 65 games and pushed the best roster ever to seven games. No one else can say that.
9. 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs
This team was by far the best in the league that season. Their 9.1 net rating was tops in the league, they had four future Hall of Famers and a bunch of scrappy role players that moved the ball and defended at a top notch level. This is the team that shaped Kawhi Leonard into the player he is now. Speaking of which…
8. 2011-12 Miami Heat
I’m totally afraid that I’m underrating this Miami Heat team. Though they weren’t at the peak of their powers just yet, they were still spectacular in a lockout shortened season where they won 46 of 66 games. Their season culminated in a dominant 4-1 Finals win over a Thunder team that they’d never see in the postseason again.
7. 2015-16 Golden State Warriors
This team could’ve very easily been closer to the top. They won a league record 73 games, had the longest winning streak to start a season ever (24), and had a UNANIMOUS MVP on their team. Yet, they also could’ve missed it completely after blowing a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. They were the NBA’s biggest success and failure of the decade, all at once.
6. 2018-19 Toronto Raptors
These Raptors reaped the benefits from those 2014 Spurs. They essentially took Leonard on loan and rode him all the way to a title. They’re are the only team to win a playoff series against the Durant-led Warriors — even if they weren’t healthy. That’s a big achievement in itself.
5. 2014-15 Golden State Warriors
You can say what you want about this Warriors team — sure, they beat an injured Cavaliers team and they had a bit of luck on their way to a title. Most champions do. The bottom line is they won 67 games with a league MVP in Stephen Curry and a spectacular defense. They were incredible.
4. 2017-18 Golden State Warriors
It’s hard to go back-to-back in this era of NBA basketball where stars are bouncing all over the place and the balance of the league is forever shifting. These Warriors were able to do it behind the brilliance of Curry and Durant once again — even with seeds of discord being sewn in the team.
3. 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers
This team is so hard to rank. They were a soap opera. These Cavaliers fired a coach with a 30-11 record midseason, subtweeted each other, and still felt failure of the Finals loss from the season before. But they made up for it with the most epic comeback in league history. You know — 3-1 deficit, unanimous MVP and all that good stuff.
2. 2012-13 Miami Heat
This team’s 27 game winning streak on their way to 66 wins on the season is the second longest streak in NBA history. Only the 1971-72 Lakers’ 33-game streak is longer. They had LeBron James at the peak of his powers — that alone makes them one of the best teams in league history.
1. 2016-17 Golden State Warriors
This is quite simply the greatest collection of basketball talent we’ve ever seen – outside of an All-Star team – headed by Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant at their best. They rode that to a 67-win season and a 16-1 record in the playoffs, matching the unstoppable 2001 Lakers’ playoff run.
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