NBA: Best Regular-Season Records for Each Team

Michael Jordan's 1995-96 Chicago Bulls Had the Best Record of All Time

Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls Had the Best Record of All Time

In 2012-13, four NBA teams are either going for or already have achieved the best regular-season record in their franchise’s history.

The Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies will finish 2012-13 with their best records ever. The Denver Nuggets just tied their all-time win record and still have four games to go.

What about the other 26 franchises? Below, check out every one’s best all-time regular-season record by wins/percentage, and in only the case of the Sacramento Kings, both. The Kings won 61 games in 2001-02, but had two seasons (as the Rochester Royals) with higher percentages in the game’s first years.

The Kings, Brooklyn Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Washington Wizards made their marks as “other teams.” The Kings, as noted above, were the Rochester Royals. Then, respectively, the New Jersey Nets, Seattle SuperSonics and Washington Bullets.

(As an aside – you can see the history of all the NBA’s team name changes over the years here.)

Included below are how each team finished up in the playoffs, on the heels of their best records. Only six went on to win it all. Very interesting. There is apparently not much of a connection (20%) between having your most dominant season and winning the NBA Finals (or as much as one might think). There’s an 80% chance your team will get knocked off before getting a chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Which beings us to Michael Jordan. What? Yes.

Jordan is the best-season killer. His Chicago Bulls knocked off five of these franchise-bests on the way to (or in) the NBA Finals.

And how about the Los Angeles/Minneapolis Lakers? They knocked off six of the greatest teams below (four times with Kobe Bryant).

Bonus: A second list below sorts all teams by wins so you can see where your team ranks. Remember, this is not the all-time best records list (you can see that here). This is each team’s best record (primarily, most wins), sorted. So, we’re ranking each franchise by its best performance, not the best teams overall. Some franchises obviously have non-best seasons that are nonetheless better than other teams’ (ex: Toronto Raptors) best seasons.

On either list, you can click on the season to see the team’s roster and statistics.

Enough chatter! Here are today’s lists.

BEST REGULAR-SEASON RECORDS OF EVERY TEAM

TEAM/FRANCHISE W L W-L % SEASON POSTSEASON RESULT
Atlanta Hawks 57 25 .695 1986-87 Lost Eastern Semifinals to Detroit Pistons (4-1)
  57 25 .695 1993-94 Lost Eastern Semifinals to Indiana Pacers (4-2)
           
Boston Celtics 68 14 .829 1972-73 Lost Eastern Finals to New York Knicks (4-3)
           
Brooklyn Nets 52 30 .634 2001-02 LOST NBA FINALS to L.A. Lakers (4-0)
           
Charlotte Bobcats 44 38 .537 2009-10 Lost Eastern First Round to Orlando Magic (4-0)
           
Chicago Bulls 72 10 .878 1995-96 WON NBA FINALS over Seattle SuperSonics (4-2)
           
Cleveland Cavaliers 66 16 .805 2008-09 Lost Eastern Finals to Orlando Magic (4-2)
           
Dallas Mavericks 67 15 .817 2006-07 Lost Western First Round to Golden State Warriors (4-2)
           
Denver Nuggets* 54 28 .659 1987-88 Lost Western Semifinals to Dallas Mavericks (4-2)
  54 28 .659 2008-09 Lost Western Finals to L.A. Lakers (4-2)
  54 24 .692 2012-13 TBD
           
Detroit Pistons 64 18 .780 2005-06 Lost Eastern Finals to Miami Heat (4-2)
           
Golden State Warriors 59 23 .720 1975-76 Lost Western Finals to Phoenix Suns (4-3)
           
Houston Rockets 58 24 .707 1993-94 WON NBA FINALS over New York Knicks (4-3)
           
Indiana Pacers 61 21 .744 2003-04 Lost Eastern Finals to Detroit Pistons (4-2)
           
Los Angeles Clippers* 52 26 .667 2012-13 TBD
           
Los Angeles Lakers 69 13 .841 1971-72 WON NBA FINALS over New York Knicks (4-1)
           
Memphis Grizzlies* 53 25 .679 2012-13 TBD
           
Miami Heat* 62 16 .795 2012-13 TBD
           
Milwaukee Bucks 66 16 .805 1970-71 WON NBA FINALS over Baltimore Bullets (4-0)
           
Minnesota Timberwolves 58 24 .707 2003-04 Lost Western Finals to L.A. Lakers (4-2)
           
New Orleans Hornets 56 26 .683 2007-08 Lost Western Semifinals to San Antonio Spurs (4-3)
           
New York Knicks 60 22 .732 1969-70 WON NBA FINALS over L.A. Lakers (4-3)
  60 22 .732 1992-93 Lost Eastern Finals to Chicago Bulls (4-2)
           
Oklahoma City Thunder 64 18 .780 1995-96 LOST NBA FINALS to Chicago Bulls (4-2)
           
Orlando Magic 60 22 .732 1995-96 Lost Eastern Finals to Chicago Bulls (4-0)
           
Philadelphia 76ers 68 13 .840 1966-67 WON NBA FINALS over San Francisco Warriors (4-2)
           
Phoenix Suns 62 20 .756 1992-93 LOST NBA FINALS to Chicago Bulls (4-2)
  62 20 .756 2004-05 Lost Western Finals to San Antonio Spurs (4-1)
           
Portland Trail Blazers 63 19 .768 1990-91 Lost Western Finals to L.A. Lakers (4-2)
           
Sacramento Kings** 61 21 .744 2001-02 Lost Western Finals to L.A. Lakers (4-3)
  45 15 .750 1948-49 Lost Western Finals to Minneapolis Lakers (2-0)
  51 17 .759 1949-50 Lost Central Semifinals to Fort Wayne Pistons (2-0)
           
San Antonio Spurs 63 19 .768 2005-06 Lost Western Semifinals to Dallas Mavericks (4-3)
           
Toronto Raptors 47 35 .573 2000-01 Lost Eastern Semifinals to Philadelphia 76ers (4-3)
  47 35 .573 2006-07 Lost Eastern First Round to New Jersey Nets (4-2)
           
Utah Jazz 64 18 .780 1996-97 LOST NBA FINALS to Chicago Bulls (4-2)
           
Washington Wizards 60 22 .732 1974-75 LOST NBA FINALS to Golden State Warriors (4-0)

RANKING FRANCHISES BY THEIR BEST RECORDS (MOST WINS)

  TEAM/FRANCHISE W L W-L % SEASON POSTSEASON RESULT
1. Chicago Bulls 72 10 .878 1995-96 WON NBA FINALS over Seattle SuperSonics (4-2)
2. Los Angeles Lakers 69 13 .841 1971-72 WON NBA FINALS over New York Knicks (4-1)
3. Boston Celtics 68 14 .829 1972-73 Lost Eastern Finals to New York Knicks (4-3)
3. Philadelphia 76ers 68 13 .840 1966-67 WON NBA FINALS over San Francisco Warriors (4-2)
5. Dallas Mavericks 67 15 .817 2006-07 Lost Western First Round to Golden State Warriors (4-2)
6. Cleveland Cavaliers 66 16 .805 2008-09 Lost Eastern Finals to Orlando Magic (4-2)
6. Milwaukee Bucks 66 16 .805 1970-71 WON NBA FINALS over Baltimore Bullets (4-0)
8. Detroit Pistons 64 18 .780 2005-06 Lost Eastern Finals to Miami Heat (4-2)
8. Oklahoma City Thunder 64 18 .780 1995-96 LOST NBA FINALS to Chicago Bulls (4-2)
8. Utah Jazz 64 18 .780 1996-97 LOST NBA FINALS to Chicago Bulls (4-2)
11. Portland Trail Blazers 63 19 .768 1990-91 Lost Western Finals to L.A. Lakers (4-2)
11. San Antonio Spurs 63 19 .768 2005-06 Lost Western Semifinals to Dallas Mavericks (4-3)
13. Miami Heat* 62 16 .795 2012-13 TBD
13. Phoenix Suns 62 20 .756 1992-93 LOST NBA FINALS to Chicago Bulls (4-2)
13. Phoenix Suns 62 20 .756 2004-05 Lost Western Finals to San Antonio Spurs (4-1)
16. Indiana Pacers 61 21 .744 2003-04 Lost Eastern Finals to Detroit Pistons (4-2)
16. Sacramento Kings 61 21 .744 2001-02 Lost Western Finals to L.A. Lakers (4-3)
18. New York Knicks 60 22 .732 1969-70 WON NBA FINALS over L.A. Lakers (4-3)
18. New York Knicks 60 22 .732 1992-93 Lost Eastern Finals to Chicago Bulls (4-2)
18. Orlando Magic 60 22 .732 1995-96 Lost Eastern Finals to Chicago Bulls (4-0)
18. Washington Wizards 60 22 .732 1974-75 LOST NBA FINALS to Golden State Warriors (4-0)
22. Golden State Warriors 59 23 .720 1975-76 Lost Western Finals to Phoenix Suns (4-3)
23. Houston Rockets 58 24 .707 1993-94 WON NBA FINALS over New York Knicks (4-3)
23. Minnesota Timberwolves 58 24 .707 2003-04 Lost Western Finals to L.A. Lakers (4-2)
25. Atlanta Hawks 57 25 .695 1986-87 Lost Eastern Semifinals to Detroit Pistons (4-1)
25. Atlanta Hawks 57 25 .695 1993-94 Lost Eastern Semifinals to Indiana Pacers (4-2)
27. New Orleans Hornets 56 26 .683 2007-08 Lost Western Semifinals to San Antonio Spurs (4-3)
28. Denver Nuggets 54 28 .659 1987-88 Lost Western Semifinals to Dallas Mavericks (4-2)
28. Denver Nuggets 54 28 .659 2008-09 Lost Western Finals to L.A. Lakers (4-2)
28. Denver Nuggets* 54 24 .692 2012-13 TBD
31. Memphis Grizzlies* 53 25 .679 2012-13 TBD
32. Brooklyn Nets 52 30 .634 2001-02 LOST NBA FINALS to L.A. Lakers (4-0)
32. Los Angeles Clippers* 52 26 .667 2012-13 TBD
34. Toronto Raptors 47 35 .573 2000-01 Lost Eastern Semifinals to Philadelphia 76ers (4-3)
34. Toronto Raptors 47 35 .573 2006-07 Lost Eastern First Round to New Jersey Nets (4-2)
36. Charlotte Bobcats 44 38 .537 2009-10 Lost Eastern First Round to Orlando Magic (4-0)

* Team’s best record is this season (2012-13)

** Franchise best-record under different team name. For the Kings, see the technicality noted above. This is the Brooklyn Nets’ first season, so whatever their record winds up being will be their best. The Oklahoma City Thunder have already won 58 this year, which will be that team’s (in its five seasons) best record. And, finally, the Washington Wizards’ best record of all time was 45-37 in 2004-05. Maybe they should change their name again,

These records do not include the ABA. They include the NBA (1949-50 to present) and also the BAA (1946-47 through 1948-49), which was the precursor to the NBA.

Thanks to basketball-reference.com where I sifted through the data.

Photo: nba.com. Full size here.

Posted on April 12, 2013, in NBA Basketball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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