Ranking the NBA Teams of the Decade
From the '00-01 to the current NBA season, two clear teams have prospered: the Spurs and the Lakers.
There are many other teams who clearly did not, such as the Knicks, Warriors, and Clippers.
Here is the ranking of all of the 30 NBA teams based on their performance in being a solid NBA team for the past 10 years.
30. New York Knicks
Highlight: One fourth seed playoff appearance in 2001
Lowlight: 7 straight missed playoffs
The Knicks have been the worst team in the league for a long time. Their inability to acquire star players has been reflected in their constant below-.500 records. They've been bad for a long time.
29. Los Angeles Clippers
Highlight: One 5th seed playoff appearance in 2006
Low light: Everything else
The Clippers have been the mockery of the NBA. But it appears like they're trying. They have been drafting fairly decent players the past couple years, and are making the most of who they have, but even in LA, the Clippers should be doing better.
28. Golden State Warriors
Highlight: Two consecutive .500+ seasons
Low light: Never created an All-Star
The Warriors have only once been the worst team in the conference, and have stayed pretty steady in the third or fourth to bottom standing, but were never a competitive team start to finish, and they're starting to put their names up there with the Clippers to be used as Leno jokes.
27. Charlotte Bobcats
Highlight: Raised several stars, such as Gerald Wallace, and Emeka Okafor
Low light: Never made it to the postseason
This is the newest franchise in the NBA, so no one really expected them to be NBA champions at this point.
But given the squads that they've had, you'd expect them to at least be close to the playoffs.
26. Seattle Sonics/Oklahoma City Thunder
Highlight: Made the playoffs several times
Low light: Worst in the West in 07/08
This is a team that has been hopping in and out of the playoffs for some time now, and even this year are fighting early for the 8th seed.
But they have had some high draft picks, and gave up their All-Stars for Jeff Green and a second-round pick. Not smart.
25. Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies
Highlight: The Pau Gasol/Mike Miller years
Low light: The current years
We saw Memphis in the playoffs for around three straight years. We are now on a streak higher than that for not making the playoffs, and they aren't looking like they're breaking it soon.
The good news, is they have some good players this season, and COULD make their way back up soon.
If Rudy Gay can turn into some good trade value.
24. Atlanta Hawks
Highlight: Current and surrounding seasons
Low light: Beginning of the decade/Worst in the league '05
Atlanta has become a playoff team the past couple of years, but if you look at their track record for the past several, it hasn't been great. They didn't make the playoffs this millennium until 2008.
23. Portland Trailblazers
Highlight: Brandon Roy
Low light: Zach Randolph
The Blazers had a strong 2000-2002 run, but then were absent from the playoffs until this past season. So in reality.... not so great.
There's a lot to be excited about with Brandon, LaMarcus, and Greg, but in previous years in the decade, the Blazers have hit rock bottom, sometimes literally bottom (2006).
22. Milwaukee Bucks
Highlight: Consistant above .500 seasons
Low light: No All-Stars
You could see a lot of potential in the Bucks when they brought in good players like Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson, and Charlie Villenueva.
Problem is, whether those players got them into the playoffs or not, the Bucks were never even close to being considered for any championships, or awards. They were just, well, average.
21. New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
Highlight: 2nd in the Western Conference in 2008
Low light: Worst in the Western Conference in 2005
When the Hornets changed cities and conferences, it seemed like their franchise slowly started to head downward.
That is, until they drafted the hot gun CP3. They then became a force to be reckoned with, until their steady slope down again to right where they are this year. 12th place.
20. Toronto Raptors
Highlight: The VC years & The Bosh years
Low light: In between (around 2002 to 2006)
It's been an awkward decade for the Raptors. They had some solid years with Vince, followed by some solid years with Chris Bosh, but never anything fantastic.
They were in and out of the playoffs in the late decade, and were a lottery team a few times. I'd grade them somewhere between average and below average.
19. Chicago Bulls
Highlight: 3rd in the East in 2007
Low light: Worst East team 2000-2002
The Bulls have always been included in the playoffs this decade, with the exception of the first few years. That's because they are completely loaded with a bunch of pretty good players. No All-Stars, but a lot of stars.
Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Brad Miller, Tyrus Thomas, Andres Nocioni, John Salmonds, Ben Wallace, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng; all at around the same level of play.
18. Washington Wizards
Highlight: MJ? Agent 0?
Low light: When Agent 0 got hurt
Remember MJ? Yeah, he was a Wizard for a few years. Yeah, but the Wizard's success was over 100 percent based on whether or not their precious point guard Gilbert was active or not.
When he was, they made the fourth seed. When he wasn't, they were the worst team in the league. And don't forget (they'll never forget) that you drafted Kwame Brown with the No. 1 pick!
17. Indiana Pacers
Highlight: They were the best team out East in 2003
Low light: The infamous fight
Ron Artest got punched by Ben Wallace. It just escalated from there, where Jermaine O'Neal, Stephen Jackson, and Ron Artest were all punching fans.
And that is how most people would define the Pacers decade. It would have been much better had it not been for that...
16. Houston Rockets
Highlight: Several playoff years
Low light: Injuries
Despite their injury seasons, Tracy and Yao have made a pretty good team in Houston. Now that they're both injured, look for some new Rockets in 2010-2020.
But they had a good run with a few seasons in and out of the playoffs, depending on who was injured and how long. Did I mention that Yao got injured a few times?
15. Minnesota Timberwolves
Highlight: KG, Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell
Low light: Right now.
Remember KG MVP? Remember how unstoppable they were? Remember when they were stopped by the Lakers, who won it all in the finals? Oh.
The Timberwolves, undoubtedly were the best team in the NBA for around a year and a half. So you have to give them that bit of credit despite the post-Garnett era.
And they were in the playoffs before their big '03 season too, so props to their past!
14. Cleveland Cavaliers
Highlight: The 2008-2009 regular season
Low light: The postseason, and most regular seasons.
The Cavs were a bad team for many, many years. This guy James, however, made that a different situation the past few years.
The problem is, they can't seem to find their first ring, despite a trip to the finals, and a Conference championship.
This decade may be over as fast as it started, in the 2010 offseason, but the second half of 2000-2010 was a good one with LeBron.
13. Orlando Magic
Highlight: Only 3/10 years not in the playoffs
Low light: One of those years they were (one of many teams that was the) worst team in the conference.
Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Steve Francis, Vince Carter, and Rashard Lewis. Some pretty nice names for just 10 years. And they had some pretty good years in the last 10.
A consistent playoff team, a trip to the finals, and they've only been in the league around 20 years. They seem pretty productive!
12. Philadelphia 76ers
Highlight: Iverson's MVP year in 2001
Low light: Either now, or around 2004
A trip to the finals, and an MVP season make the Sixers a pretty good team for the past few years. But maybe not so much in between now and then.
In '04 they slipped out of the playoffs, and missed them for two more seasons in 2005/06 and 2006/07. So a fairly good team, but nothing to kill for.
11. New Jersey Nets
Highlight: 2 seasons as the No. 1 seed, then the No. 2 seed in the playoffs
Low light: Tied the record for worst record at the start of a season
Some pretty big accomplishments to compare to their current situation. Good thing their current situation looks like its only temporary because they have so much money to burn in 2010.
But looking back at the Nets reign of terror in around '02, they were one of the top teams of the decade. Just not... now.
10. Denver Nuggets
Highlight: Carmelo Anthony and his many point guards
Low light: a 17-65 season in 2003
Once the 'Melo years started, they just didn't stop. He made a pretty good team with AI for a while, and he's becoming a superstar alongside Chauncey.
He'll still be a threat in the years to come, so keep the mile high city in your head for possible champions.
9. Utah Jazz
Highlight: Only below .500 once
Low light: Below .500 once
That's a pretty powerful statistic when you look at it. The Jazz have been good for a while. The Karl Malone years have made everyone in the Great Salt Lake a believer in the team, and now Boozer/Williams/Millsap/Okur are doing it again.
8. Sacramento Kings
Highlight: Webber/Bibby/Miller/Divac/Christie era
Low light: Martin/Garcia/Udrih/Nocioni era
Ignore last season. The Kings were in the playoffs from 2000-2006. And now, they're a young team that's actually playing at around .500.
So they can be considered a legitimate threat from the past several years. Not to mention their conference championship, and their 4 straight years of being a top 4 team.
7. Miami Heat
Highlight: 2006 NBA Champions
Low light: 2008 Worst team in the league
Quite opposite ends of the spectrum there. It's hard to judge Miami's success in the decade based on one year, but what a banner year it was. Only 5 different teams won the finals since 1999, and there wasn't very much variety before then.
So it's an impressive 4-2 series win over the Mavericks, Miami, just forget about the year Dwyane was injured.
6. Boston Celtics
Highlight: 2008 NBA Champions
Low light: A lot of the seasons before then
The Boston Celtics have historically been a good team, and they were in the playoffs a few times before 2008, with Pierce and Antoine Walker.
But 2008 was the year with the team to remember for many years to come, it was like an All-Star game with the Boston 3 party: Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and captain Paul Pierce. What a team they were, and will continue to be until this decade is over.
5. Phoenix Suns
Low light: Missed a couple of playoffs
They never made the finals, and only won the division once. But the Suns have been a good team for years. Steve Nash won back to back MVPs for a reason, this is a very, very good team. Wow.
4. Dallas Mavericks
Highlight: A trip to the finals/Conference champions
Low light: um... N/A?
They are the only team in the league to not miss the playoffs once, except for the Spurs. They have been a complete dominant force for many years, and that streak will just keep on going.
3. Detroit Pistons
Highlight: 2004 NBA Champions
Low light: Past few years
The Detroit Pistons have been the best team in the East for a long time it seems like. Year after year they are in the playoffs, many times taking it far, and once all the way. Good job Pistons, sorry about 2008 and beyond...
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Highlight: 4 NBA Championships
Low light: Missed the playoffs in 2005, by a large margin
They've been fantastic. They've been incredible. They haven't been the best. Kobe and Shaq ended up not making the best team, and then they each demanded separation, and the Lakers dropped way below .500, so they weren't unbelievable.
I can believe the accomplishments they made. Fantastic work. Not THE best.
1. San Antonio Spurs
Highlight: 3 NBA Championships
Low light: Current season
This Spurs team has just been fantastic for years. They have not missed the playoffs once, they have won the conference, they won the finals three times, and were consistently good.
You can't say that about all those Laker years. That's why they are the best team of the past decade.