Which group is your best of all time? To answer this question with much more rigor than it’s typically debated in sports bars, in 2015 I ranked every group since minutes played were tracked in 1951-52 (sorry to the 1949-50 Minneapolis Lakers) based on their performance in the regular season and playoffs.
Three years after, it’s time for an update with a brand new No. 1, and several other newcomers to the list thanks to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors dominating the competition in their respective conferences.
The method
For winners, I took the average of the point differential during the regular season and their stage differential in the playoffs plus the point differential of the opponents. That tells us just how many points each game better than an average team each champion was, giving equal weight to the postseason as the regular time to reward the most important games.
For non-champions, the beginning point is exactly the same, but their playoff differential was also adjusted by effectively giving them a five-point loss for each game they came up short of this title. That has little effect on teams such as the 2012-13 San Antonio Spurs, who lost in Game 7 of the Finals, but it harshly penalizes teams which rolled up big victory margins early in the playoffs before falling short in the conference finals.
The previous adjustment deals with leaguewide quality of play. It is no surprise that some of the best single-season team performances in NBA history came from the early 1970s, when the league had expanded quickly and battled the ABA for incoming draft selections. The redistribution of gift allowed stars to glow more brightly. For each season, I quantified how gamers saw their minutes per match increase or reduce the following season compared to what we would expect given their era. More minutes indicates a poorer league, while fewer minutes indicates one that has gotten stronger.
Each season is rated relative to 2017-18, from a high of 21 percent stronger in 1965-66, the previous year the NBA had just nine teams, to a low of 10 percent weaker in 2004-05, the last time that the league enlarged. That adjustment is multiplied from the group’s typical regular-season and playoff scores to give a last score better than an ordinary team this year.

Read more: gamecocktoast.com