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Every NBA Champion Ranked by Pythagorean Record+Strength of Schedule

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday's pythagorean day, you can get to the previous lists here.

This is a ranking of every NBA Champ by regular season pythagorean wins (normalized for an 82 game season) if you click that above link you can work your way to the methodology.  Included with each team is a list of its players who had Win Shares of 10 or over (Win Shares is an aggregate performance metric).  I combined regular season and playoff performance for that number. I'm now adding strength of schedule as well, the combination of those two numbers is reflected in the simple rating system from pro-basketball-reference.

So - what's the best team in NBA history?




1. 1971 Bucks 11.91

Abdul-Jabbar 25.6, Robertson 14.7, Dandridge 11.3, McGlocklin 10.7, (d. Bullets 42 – above question answered in the negative, a 25 real win spread, let’s see if this Bullets team is the worst ever in an NBA Finals)


2. 1996 Bulls 11.8

Here are the players who had 10+ Win Shares, regular season +playoffs = Jordan 25.1, Pippen 15.3, Kukoc 11.4 (d. Sonics 61)


3. 1972 Lakers 11.65

Chamberlain 18.8, West 14.3, Goodrich 14.3, Hairston 11, (d. Knicks 48 – is this going to be the biggest Finals mismatch?)


4. 1997 Bulls 10.7


Jordan 22.2, Pippen 15.4, (d. Jazz 64, might wind up as best finals matchup ever)


5. 1992 Bulls 10.07

Jordan 21.8, Grant 17.4, Pippen 15.8, (d. Blazers 59). 3 Bulls teams in the top 6.



6. 2008 Celtics 9.31

Garnett 17, Pierce 15.4, Allen 12.8, (d. Lakers 59). Would you have guessed this as the best Celtics team of all time?


7. 1986 Celtics 9.06

Bird 20, McHale 14.2, Parish 10.2 (d. Rockets 48)



8. 1991 Bulls 8.57

Jordan 25.1, Pippen 14.1, Grant 12.9, (d. Lakers 59). 4th MJ team thusfar.


9. 1967 Sixers 8.5

Chamberlain 25.7, Walker 12.4, (d. GSW 47)



10. 1970 Knicks 8.42

Frazier 17.8, Reed 17.4, (d. Lakers 46)



11. 2000 Lakers 8.41


O’Neal 23.3, Bryant 12.7, Rice 10.1, (d. Pacers 54). 3 Lakers teams in the top 8, only two Celtics.


12. 2007 Spurs 8.35

Duncan 16.3, Ginobli 13.2, Parker 11.2, (d. Cavs 52)



13. 1987 Lakers 8.32

Johnson 19.6, Worthy 12 (d. Celtics 57)

14. 1950 Lakers 8.25



Mikan (21.1) (d. Nationals 65)


15. 1962 Celtics 8.25

Russell 19.1, SJones 11.1, Heinsohn 10.3, (d. Lakers 46)

16. 2014 Spurs 8.0
Duncan 10.6 (d. Heat 54)


17. 2005 Spurs 7.83

Ginobli 15.2, Duncan 14.7, (d. Pistons 53).


18. 1960 Celtics 7.62

Russell 16.8, (d. Lakers 52)




19. 1983 Sixers 7.53

Malone 17.9, Erving 12.1, Cheeks 11, (d. Lakers 55)


20. 1965 Celtics 7.47

Russell 14.9, SJones 12.2, (d. Lakers 46)



21. 1998 Bulls 7.24

Jordan 20.6, (d. Jazz 59)



22. 2002 Lakers 7.14


O’Neal 17, Bryant 15.3, (d. Nets 53)



23. 1999 Spurs 7.12

Duncan 12.4, Robinson 11.4, (d. Knicks 44)


24. 2009 Lakers 7.11

Gasol 18.2, Bryant 17.6, (d. Magic 59)

25. 2013 Heat 7.03
James 24.5, Wade 11.4, Bosh 11.2 (d.Spurs)

26. 1964 Celtics 6.93


Russell 19.2, SJones 11 (d. GSW 54)


27. 1985 Lakers 6.48

Johnson 15.7, Abdul-Jabbar 13.7, Worthy 10.1, (d. Celtics 57)


28. 1984 Celtics 6.42

Bird 18.3, McHale 12.6, Parish 12.4, (d. Lakers 50)


29. 1963 Celtics 6.38

Russell 16, SJones 11.5, (d. Lakers 48)


30. 1989 Pistons 6.24

Laimbeer 10.6, (d. Lakers 58 – the second finals upset on the list)


31. 1993 Bulls 6.19

Jordan 21.6, Grant 11.5, Pippen 10.2, (d. Suns 57)

32. 1973 Knicks 6.07

Frazier 16, (d. Lakers 62 – this is the first upset on the list, the losing team having a better regular season real record)


33. 1981 Celtics 6.05

Bird 13.9, Maxwell 13.5, Parish 12.3, (d. Rockets 42 – the Celtics played some bad Rockets teams in the 80s)



34. 1959 Celtics 5.84

Russell 14.8, (d. Lakers 37 – okay, this will almost certainly be the worst team ever to make an NBA Final – and since I’ve already done the SB, I know it’s worse than any team ever to win the SB. I’ve done WS winners already, one team, out of 106 WS champs, was under .500 – the ’87 Twins – I haven’t done losers yet, but right now, this Lakers team is the worst team ever in a title game. Note, I didn’t do NFL Champs before SB era.)


35. 2012 Heat 5.72
James 20.3 (d. OKC 6.44)

36. 2003 Spurs 5.65
Duncan 22.4, (d. Nets 56)


37. 1953 Lakers 5.53

Mikan 16.6, Mikkelsen 13.2, (d. Knicks 58)


38. 1980 Lakers 5.39

Abdul-Jabbar 18.1, Johnson 13.3, Wilkes 11.7, (d. Sixers 52)


39. 1969 Celtics 5.35

Howell 12.9, Russell 12.3, Havlicek 10.1 (d. Lakers 52)


40. 1977 Blazers 5.39

Walton 12.7, Lucas 11.3, (d. Sixers 51)


41. 1952 Lakers 5.28

MIkan 16.8, Mikkelsen 15.1, (d. Knicks 43).


42. 2004 Pistons 5.04

Billups 15, Wallace 13.8, Hamilton 11.6, Prince 10.3,


43. 1961 Celtics 4.93


Russell 14.9, (d. Hawks 49)


44. 1988 Lakers 4.81

Johnson 14.9, Scott 13, Worthy 10.7, (d. Pistons 54)


45. 1957 Celtics 4.79

Sharman 11.7, (d. Hawks 41)


46. 2010 Lakers 4.78

Gasol 15.3, Bryant 13, (d. Celtics 52)


47. 2011 Mavericks 4.41
Nowitzki 14.8


48. 1982 Lakers 4.37

Johnson 15.6, Abdul-Jabbar 12.6, (d. Sixers 56)


49. 1966 Celtics 4.34

Russell 14.9, SJones 12.2, (d. Lakers 47)



50. 1994 Rockets 4.19

Olajuwon 18.6, Thorpe 12.2, (d. Knicks 60 – and the one year the Knicks have a great team in the NBA Finals, it’s the biggest upset we’ve seen so far, really, given how close the others were, it’s the only real upset in 46 years looked at thusfar)


51. 1968 Celtics 3.87

Howell 12.3, (d. Lakers 54)


52. 1956 Warriors 3.82

Johnston 15.5, Arizin 14.4, (d. Pistons 43)


53. 2001 Lakers 3.74

O’Neal 18.6, Bryant 15.1, (d. Sixers 54)


54. 2006 Heat 3.59


Wade 19.6 (d. Mavs 58 – now we see some upsets)

55. 1974 Celtics 3.42

Havlicek 13.2, Cowens 11.4, (d. Bucks 61 – the biggest upset yet)

56. 1975 GSW 2.86

Warriors! Sure, I was 4 and therefore have not a single memory of it. But it’s GSW! GSW! GSW!! Barry 15.8, (d. Bullets 60 – and a significant upset to boot)

57. 1954 Lakers 2.7

Mikan 16.2, (d. Nationals 56)

58. 1979 Sonics 2.69

Williams 11, Sikma 10.6, (d. Bullets 53)

59. 1951 Royals 2.54

Risen (9.3) (d. Knicks 42 – The Knicks have had some really bad finals teams)

60. 1995 Rockets 2.32

Olajuwon 14, (d. Magic 59 – the new biggest upset ever, those back to back Rockets pulling sizeable finals upsets)

61. 1976 Celtics 2.24

Cowens 13.4, (d Suns 43 – worst finals matchup ever?)

62. 1955 Nationals 1.23

Schayes 13.8, (d. Pistons 49)

63. 1958 Hawks .82

Pettit 12.2, Hagan 12.7 (d. Celtics 54)

64. 1978 Bullets .82

Hayes 11.4, (d. Sonics 45 – nope, this is the worst finals matchup ever).  This is the first NBA Finals of my memory; I was 7 - it's a wonder I kept watching.

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