Where the Warriors Rank Among Best NBA Rosters of All Time
After signing DeMarcus Cousins, the Golden State Warriors will roll out a roster featuring five All-Stars plus a backup with an NBA Finals MVP honor in his trophy case.
Yes, it could be the most talent-rich team ever assembled in NBA history. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green complete the starting unit, and Andre Iguodala returns as the sixth man.
Comparing the Warriors to other teams across eras is challenging, since the rules of today's NBA—most specifically, the three-point line—have benefited them in an unmistakable way. But we're also focused on rosters, not simply the best teams of all time.
Factors include team success, award winners, All-NBA players, All-Star nods and depth of contributors. Hindsight also gives us a look at the future Hall of Famers on these rosters. We slid 2018-19 Golden State into its projected final slot.
Whether the Warriors hoist a championship banner will shape many perspectives about the team, but entering 2018-19, it's one of the most impressive rosters the league has seen.
10. 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers
Both players averaged 28-plus points, starting for the Western Conference All-Stars and later landing on an All-NBA squad. They shared All-Defensive Second Team honors. O'Neal stood slightly above Kobe in achievements with the Finals MVP.
Save for Derek Fisher, nearly the rest of the rotation was at least 29 years old. Nevertheless, they formed a sturdy group that helped the Lakers put together a 15-1 record during the playoffs. Beyond Shaq, Kobe and Fisher, seven players averaged between five and 10 points.
Though this iteration is remembered fondly in both Lakers and NBA lore, the roster is only slightly behind the 1971-72 squad because of that team's complementary pieces.
9. 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers
If you like legendary players and alliterative names, the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers are perfect for you.
All-NBA First Team guard Jerry West scored 25.8 points per game and led the league in assists (9.7). Wilt Chamberlain, a second-teamer, stood atop the charts in both rebounds (19.2) and field-goal percentage (64.9). Both were All-Defensive First Team players.
West and Chamberlain appeared in the All-Star Game along with Gail Goodrich, a future Hall of Famer who paced the Lakers with 25.9 points per game. Jim McMillian and Happy Hairston played key roles in leading the Lakers to a 69-win season and NBA title.
Really, the only blemish occurred when Hall of Fame forward Elgin Baylor retired early in the season because of nagging knee issues.
8. 1985-86 Boston Celtics
As if the Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish weren't enough to excel, the surrounding cast of the Boston Celtics made the 1985-86 squad a juggernaut.
In addition to those three, Boston had a couple of future Hall of Famers in Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton. Danny Ainge averaged 10.7 points and 5.1 assists for this roster, which cruised to an NBA title with a 67-15 regular-season and 15-3 playoff record.
Bird won league and Finals MVP with All-NBA First Team honors, and Walton celebrated a Sixth Man of the Year title. McHale and Johnson both made an All-Defensive squad, and Parish was an All-Star.
The recognition earned beyond the Big Three propelled Boston past the other Lakers teams and into a virtual deadlock with the 1987 Los Angeles roster—one that defeated a similar Celtics squad.
7. 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers
The premier roster of the "Showtime" era won 65 regular-season games and went 15-3 in the playoffs to win the 1986-87 NBA title.
Magic Johnson highlighted the unit, winning both the league and Finals MVP award. He secured All-NBA First Team recognition, while Michael Cooper won Defensive Player of the Year.
Los Angeles' second- and third-leading scorers were future Hall of Famers in James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. They both made the All-Star team alongside Johnson.
Byron Scott averaged 17 points, and each of Cooper, A.C. Green and Mychal Thompson tallied at least 10 per game.
6. 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers
Only a six-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks stopped the 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers from going "Fo' Fo' Fo'" in the playoffs. They went 12-1 and swept the Lakers in the Finals.
Philly boasted four All-Stars, including three starters. Julius Erving—the game's MVP—Moses Malone and Maurice Cheeks opened the game, and Andrew Toney played as a reserve.
And the Sixers claimed a ton of awards.
Malone received MVP honors for both the regular season and NBA Finals, sharing a place on the All-NBA First Team with Erving. Bobby Jones grabbed Sixth Man of the Year, plus NBA All-Defensive First Team honors with Malone and Cheeks.
5. 1962-63 Boston Celtics
The 1962-63 Celtics see your All-Star representatives and raise you a bunch of future Hall of Famers.
Coached by legend Red Auerbach, this roster featured Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, John Havlicek, Tom Heinsohn, Frank Ramsey and Clyde Lovellette. Including Auerbach and Satch Sanders—who was inducted as a contributor, that makes 10.
Yes, several of these players were on the wrong side of 30, but the Celtics won 58 games and celebrated an NBA title. Russell—the league MVP—Cousy and Heinsohn earned All-Star nods, and each of them secured a spot on an All-NBA team, with Havlicek making the All-Rookie First Team.
That combination of overall roster talent and individual success narrowly edged the dominant Sixers squad.
4. 2018-19 Golden State Warriors
Right now, we're talking about "on paper." We haven't seen this group on the floor, and there are a bunch of variables.
Sure, the Warriors might not be as effective this season, but arguing the roster hasn't improved is foolish. They effectively replaced JaVale McGee with DeMarcus Cousins, Zaza Pachulia with Jonas Jerebko and Nick Young with first-round pick Jacob Evans.
The team's actual performance—and particularly if there's another championship—will determine how history remembers Cousins' stint in the Bay Area. His recovery from an Achilles tear will be especially impactful, but his talent is undeniable.
After all, Durant and Curry are All-NBA favorites, and Thompson is primed for a fifth straight All-Star nod. Green or Cousins could slide onto the All-NBA Third Team, though Cousins would need to return early in the season and stay mostly healthy to have a shot. And the NBA world is fully expecting another title from the reigning champs.
Now, they need to prove it.
3. 2017-18 Golden State Warriors
Depth was a concern at times, and that shortcoming prevented Golden State from waltzing through the postseason. Focus seemed to waver at times, and injuries didn't help.
The Warriors only won 58 games during the regular season. They merely dispatched the San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets with a combined 12-5 record in the playoffs. At least they swept the Cleveland Cavaliers to wrap up the Finals.
Still, let's be serious.
Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry were All-Star starters, while Klay Thompson and Draymond Green both made the exhibition. It was the first time in NBA history a team had four All-Stars in consecutive years. Durant, the Finals MVP, and Curry earned All-NBA honors, too.
2. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls
The first championship of Chicago's second three-peat included a heavy dose of awards and achievements.
Michael Jordan won both league and Finals MVP, also collecting an All-Star nod, All-NBA First Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team recognition. Scottie Pippen joined MJ on each of the latter three, while Dennis Rodman—the league's top rebounder—made NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Additionally, Steve Kerr paced the NBA with the lowest turnover percentage, and his 51.5 three-point clip ranked second overall. Toni Kukoc finished third on the Bulls with 13.1 points per game and 16th in the league with 10.1 win shares, per Basketball Reference.
Chicago capped the regular season with a then-record 72 wins, which would only be surpassed by the 2015-16 Warriors. Based on team success alone, this Bulls team surely remains the consensus No. 1.
1. 2016-17 Golden State Warriors
The first edition of the Warriors that included Kevin Durant won a league-high 67 games and nearly finished the playoffs undefeated.
En route to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, Golden State posted an NBA-best 113.2 offensive rating, per NBA.com. That number climbed to 116.3 during the postseason as the Warriors went 16-1. The only loss happened against the Cavs in the Finals.
As they'd repeat in 2017-18, Durant, Curry, Thompson—a two-time All-NBA guard—and Green all appeared in the All-Star Game.
Green won Defensive Player of the Year, Andre Iguodala finished second in Sixth Man of the Year voting. Durant, Curry and Green each made an All-NBA squad, providing the final boost to edge Chicago.