Personal NBA rankings: Game 4 loss cost Warriors title of best ever
Circling back to a subject me and Tom Warner discussed at length last month - where do this year's Golden State Warriors rank in the all-time team discussion.
I created a formula for ranking teams a few years ago. It is based upon season percentage and then the winning percentages of the teams beaten in the playoffs with some bonus points for having the best record in the NBA and beating teams with players who finished in the top 10 of the MVP standings.
This year's Warriors won 67 games and stormed through the playoffs with a 16-1 record. That's the best playoff winning percentage ever.
In my rankings, it landed the Warriors - in third place, behind two of Michael Jordan's Bulls teams. The key factors that kept Golden State from being No. 1?
- Had they swept the Cavaliers it would have been enough to finish No. 1.
- Had the Warriors swept the Spurs WITH Kawhi Leonard it would have been enough to finish No. 1. Since Leonard played only one half of the first game - which the Spurs were winning big - I didn't credit the Warriors with the eight bonus points they would have received.
Of course, considering how easily the Spurs were handling Golden State with Leonard, you can argue that Golden State might not have advanced without the injury. Still, the injury happened and the Warriors made history.
Here are the 10 greatest teams - in my opinion - since the NBA-ABA merger.
- 1996-1997 Bulls: 69-13, 15-4 playoff record - 454.13
- 1995-1996 Bulls: 72-10, 15-3 playoff record - 453.89
- 2016-2017 Warriors: 67-15, 16-1 playoff record - 452.76
- 1982-1983 76ers: 65-17, 12-1 playoff record - 444.68
- 2000-2001 Lakers: 56-26, 15-1 playoff record - 442.00
- 1988-1989 Pistons: 63-19, 15-2 playoff record - 438.36
- 2014-2015 Warriors: 67-15, 15-5 playoff record - 432.73
- 1985-1986 Celtics: 67-15, 15-3 playoff record - 426.76
- 1998-1999 Spurs: 37-13, 15-2 playoff record - 413.70
- 1997-1998 Bulls: 62-20, 15-5 playoff record - 412.32
The 1996-1997 Bulls ended up ahead of the 72-win team because they faced a tougher line of talent in the playoffs. After beating the Bullets, Chicago took four of five from Atlanta, who had two players get MVP votes in Dikembe Mutombo and Steve Smith. The Bulls took four of five from the Heat, which had Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, who was fourth in MVP voting. Chicago then took four of five from the Jazz, which featured John Stockton and league MVP Karl Malone.
The 1995-1996 team got through teams with four MVP candidates, Mourning, Shaquille O'Neal, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton.
This year's Warriors team - since Leonard was discounted - played just one team in the playoffs with a player who got MVP votes. That was the Cavaliers with LeBron James, who finished fourth. Only the 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers had an easier road.