Thursday, July 2
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All-Time NBA Franchise Rankings, 2015-16 Edition

The 2015-16 NBA season is upon us, so it’s time to take a look at the updated rankings for all 30 active franchises. To see last year’s list click here, and to see all my fantastic sports rankings and lists, go here.

The Criteria

The categories and point values are as follows:

  • 30 points for a league championship, and 15 points for a Finals loss.
  • 2 points for a playoff berth.
  • 5 points for each playoff round win (does not include a win in the Finals).
  • 4 points for a division title (starting in 1970-71).
  • 1 point for a winning season, -1 point for a losing season.
  • 3 points for a regular-season winning percentage better than .730 (60 wins with the current schedule), -3 points for a regular-season winning percentage worse than .270 (20 wins with the current schedule).
  • Consecutive winning regular seasons are worth 2 points starting with the second, 3 points for the third, 4 points for the fourth, and so on. The counter is reset after any non-winning season. So if a team has three winning seasons in a row, they get a total of 5 points.

While I may tweak the formula in future years, I think this accomplishes my two most important objectives — to reward consistently good play in the regular season, and to not give older franchises too much of an advantage just by virtue of being around for so many years. I’ve always felt that using NBA titles alone to measure a franchise’s greatness (or badness) is taking too narrow a view.

One final note — as with the NBA, these rankings to not reflect records for teams while in the ABA or NBL.


Portland Trail BlazersThe Top 10

#1. Los Angeles Lakers (#1 last year) — 31.42 avg.

#2. Boston Celtics (#2) — 25.88 avg.

#3. San Antonio Spurs (#3) — 23.23 avg.

#4. Miami Heat (#4) — 15.89 avg.

#5. Chicago Bulls (#5) — 14.02 avg.

#6. Utah Jazz (#6) — 11.28 avg.

#7. Philadelphia 76ers (#7) — 10.92 avg.

#8. Oklahoma City Thunder (#9) — 9.10 avg.

#9. Portland Trail Blazers (#10) — 9.05 avg.

#10. New York Knicks (#8) — 9.01 avg.

Both the Thunder and Trail Blazers moved up a spot this year, mainly due to the Knicks turning in the worst season they’ve had (17-65) in their nearly seven decades in the NBA. In fact, every team in the top 10 saw their point-per-season average drop from last year’s list. The Heat dropped the most (.68 points), due in no small part to the loss of LeBron James.

Golden State Warriors The Mediocre 10

#11. Houston Rockets (#12) — 8.93 avg.

#12. Detroit Pistons (#11) — 8.53 avg.

#13. Dallas Mavericks (#13) — 8.40 avg.

#14. Milwaukee Bucks (#15) — 7.81 avg.

#15. Phoenix Suns (#14) — 7.80 avg.

#16. Golden State Warriors (#18) — 6.41 avg.

#17. Atlanta Hawks (#17) — 5.96 avg.

#18. Orlando Magic (#16) — 5.79 avg.

#19. Indiana Pacers (#19) — 4.95 avg.

#20. Denver Nuggets (#20) — 4.39 avg.

Thanks to their fantastic run all the way to the NBA title, the Golden State Warriors moved up two spots and boosted their per-season average by more than a point. Meanwhile, the Rockets are less than a tenth of a point away from knocking the Knicks out of the top 10, and if I were a betting man I’d say they’ll do it this season.

1991-92 Minnesota TimberwolvesThe Bottom 10

#21. Washington Wizards (#21) — 4.20 avg.

#22. Cleveland Cavaliers (#23) — 3.31 avg.

#23. Sacramento Kings (#22) — 3.44 avg.

#24. Brooklyn Nets (#24) — 2.77 avg.

#25. New Orleans Pelicans  (#25)— 0.42 avg.

#26. Charlotte Hornets (#30) — 0.43 avg.

#27. Toronto Raptors (#28) — -1.54 avg.

#28. Memphis Grizzlies (#29) — -1.85 avg.

#29. Los Angeles Clippers (#27) — -1.40 avg.

#30. Minnesota Timberwolves (#26) — -1.37 avg.

Several teams in the bottom third of the countdown improved their lots last season, most notably the Cavaliers (+.81 points), Raptors (+.86 points) and Grizzlies (+1.07 points). And thanks to their miserable 16-66 season the Minnesota Timberwolves are now the worst franchise in NBA history.