0 out of 10
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For the fourth time in a decade, the Golden State Warriors have become NBA champions. They defeated the Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals, sending triples in six games.
But the Warriors – more than anyone, given the franchise’s recent success – understand that the comparisons never stop.
How is the team that won the title of champion of the 2021-2022 season different from the champions of the last 10 years?
The rankings are subjective, but take into account many factors, including regular season and playoff performance, postseason quality of opponents, performance metrics, and individual awards.
1 out of 10
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The 2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers team is the hardest to judge.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the season came to an abrupt halt in mid-March 2020. Nearly five months later, the campaign resumed in a bubble in the Orlando area. It was like playing in two different seasons.
However, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers led the Western Conference with a 52–19 record. They made it through the playoffs relatively painlessly, winning each of the first three series 4-1 before defeating the Miami Heat 4-2 in the NBA Finals.
LeBron and Davis, who both earned all NBA First Team honors, also averaged 27-plus points each in the postseason.
Los Angeles’ net rating— the second lowest scoring of these champions — and, compared to others, a more favorable path to the playoffs saw the Lakers drop from the list.
2 out of 10
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In both 2018-19 and 2019-20, the Bucks finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference. However, they never made it to the NBA Finals.
Perhaps the third time was the charm.
Milwaukee leads the league with 120.1 points per game. second in effective field goal percentage and ranks fourth in three-point shooting. And, of course, the entire team revolved around Giannis Antetokounmpo, NBA First Team player and all defensemen.
Having beaten the Miami Heat before the start of the playoffs, the Bucks defeated the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns.
Milwaukee’s high performance is inferior to the Lakers, but it’s not enough to catch the best defense in the league.
3 out of 10
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Steph Curry still did Steph Curry’s stuff. But in the 2021-22 season, the Dubs were defended by defense.
Golden State ended the regular season as the league’s best player. defensive rating and the second highest field goal percentage. Rivals averaged out second by size assists per game, and the Dubs finished second in defensive rebounding percentage.
However, the championship was not without problems. After starting 41-13 they went on 12-16. Golden State’s offensive rating was 17th, and its regular season net rating was also the lowest of any team on this list.
However, Golden State bounced back at the perfect time, winning all four postseason series convincingly to claim their fourth title in eight years.
4 out of 10
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While the Toronto Raptors had a superstar in Kawhi Leonard in 2018-19, they relied on a deep and efficient team.
Kyle Lowry averaged 14.2 points and 8.7 assists per game in the regular season, and Pascal Siakam had a breakout year ending with the Most Improved Player award. Serge Ibaka, Danny Green and Fred VanVliet averaged double figures, with Marc Gasol also a key influence after the mid-season trade.
Toronto, which set a 58-24 record, held top five ranking in both offensive and defensive rankings.
Leonard scored 30.5 points per game during a memorable playoff series in which he eliminated the third-place Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7. Although the Raptors have the most postseason losses on this list, they managed to take down the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and the two-time defending champion Golden State. The high level of competition gives the Raptors an advantage over the Warriors for the 2021–22 season.
5 out of 10
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The season that marked the beginning of a dynasty.
After the 2013–2014 campaign, the franchise moved on from Mark Jackson and hired Steve Kerr. Golden State soon unleashed a dynamic scoring offense that led the NBA in points per game and 3-point percentage, as well as a second-best offensive line-up.
But as All-NBA picks Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson pushed the offense forward, the Warriors also reached new defensive heights.
Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut earned All-Defensive recognition, while Golden State had the best defensive rating in the league. The flexibility of Green and Andre Iguodala also allowed Kerr to deploy the “Death Row” smallball, which also helped win the NBA Finals.
Golden State posted a 67–15 record in the regular season and a flat 16–5 record in the playoffs. However, in that tiny gap, a pair of 2-1 series losses, including injuries to Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, kept the Warriors below the Spurs in 2013-14.
6 out of 10
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A year after the heartbreaking fall at the Heat, the San Antonio Spurs held a master class.
In other words, San Antonio was a buzz saw.
On their way to redemption, the Spurs posted an NBA-best 62-20 record and the league’s best net rating. In addition, the organizers of the “Beautiful Game” ranked first in the number of three-pointers and assists, and ranked third in the defense rating.
Along with Tim Duncan continuing to challenge Father Time, the Spurs relied on All-NBA second team defenseman Tony Parker and Leonard—then a rising star—who secured the Finals MVP.
San Antonio avoided a seven-game streak with the Dallas Mavericks and then beat the Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Heat in five, six, and five games, respectively. The convincing playoff nature of the Spurs gave the Warriors a head start in the 2014-15 season.
7 out of 10
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It’s hard to follow a legendary team, you know? However, we will talk about the Warriors of the 2016-17 season later.
The Golden State set the bar extremely high in the first season of Kevin Durant’s brief era, but the 2017-18 team was still a stellar year. This offense was the best in the NBA in 2-point, 3-point, free throw, field goal, field goal percentage, and points per game.
On the defensive side, the Dubs hit the most shots in the league and allowed the NBA to rank third in field goal percentage.
Golden State picked up more injuries than usual, contributing to a 58-24 regular season. In addition, the Warriors played two elimination games against the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. But when the lights were at their brightest, the quartet of Curry, Durant, Thompson and Green helped the Warriors to a 16-5 playoff win by beating Cleveland in the Finals.
8 out of 10
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At that point, it looked like the Warriors, with 73 wins, could claim to surpass the 1995–96 Chicago Bulls as the best team in NBA history.
But the Cavaliers prevented that discussion.
Kyrie Irving played in the third minute in Game 7 of the Finals and marked Cleveland’s epic 3-1 comeback with a fantastic Golden State team. LeBron James followed up with a 41-point run in games 5 and 6 and also made a 27-point triple-double in the decider.
This narrative gives a well-deserved boost to this roster over its championship competition. During the 57–25 regular season, Cleveland did not lead the NBA in any major statistical category, but otherwise held numerous top 10 rankings, including the league’s third-best offensive rating.
In addition, the Cavs beat the Detroit Pistons and Hawks before eliminating the Raptors in six games and shocking the Warriors.
9 out of 10
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After beating the Thunder in the 2012 Finals, the Heat earned back-to-back rings in iconic fashion.
Ray Allen’s third clutch led Miami to an overtime victory over the Spurs in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, with the Heat following the triumph in Game 7. The championship ended a season in which Miami had a franchise-record 66 wins, including a 27-game streak, the second-longest single-season run in NBA history.
After the Big Three of LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat posted an NBA-leading .552 field goal percentage. Among the champions, Miami also had the third-highest net rating.
LeBron, who may have been at his peak this season, was named the league’s most valuable player and was selected to the All-Defense First Team. Wade earned third-team NBA recognition.
The Heat went 8-1 in the first two rounds of the playoffs before taking down the Pacers’ best defense and the powerful Spurs.
10 out of 10
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The Golden State responded to the failure of the 2016 Finals against Cleveland by signing Kevin Durant.
In short, it worked fine.
During the 67-15 regular season, the Warriors led the league. attacking rating, effective field goal percentage and accurate shooting, passes, blocks and interceptions. Their defensive rating was second only to the Spurs with 61 wins.
Most impressively, Golden State waltzed against Portland and Utah before an injury to Kawhi Leonard left San Antonio in no doubt. Cleveland managed to win in Game 4 of the Finals, so the Warriors missed the perfect playoff by just one game.
Durant, Curry and Greene are also All-Defensive picks – each received an All-NBA honor on this juggernaut.
All statistics from Basketball Handbook unless otherwise noted.