NBA Teams of the Decade From WhatIfSports.com From WhatIfSports.com image

The NBA's Best and Worst from 2000-2009

The Boston Celtics rise to the top again
By Eric Schmoldt, WhatIfSports.com
February 22, 2010
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Los Angeles had four chances to produce the best team of the decade.

San Antonio had a 30 percent chance to finish at the top.

My apologies to the Western Conference, but this title belongs in the East.

The Spurs and Lakers both have teams in the top three, but it turns out "The Big Three" in Boston came together not only to provide one of the more memorable teams in recent memory, but the best championship team of the last 10 years as the 2007-08 Boston Celtics emerged with the best winning percentage when taking on all nine other champions 51 times each.

A dismal 2006-07 season very well could have landed the Celtics in our round robin of the worst teams of the decade. Instead, Boston - with the second-worst record that year - not only lost out of the No. 1 overall pick, but fell all the way to the fifth spot.

With coaching and front office jobs seemingly on the line, the Celtics couldn't stand idly by and they certainly didn't. They picked up Ray Allen along with Glen Davis in a five-player deal with Seattle and followed that up with perhaps the trade of the decade, landing Kevin Garnett from Minnesota for five players, a draft pick and cash.

Celtics Big 3

Garnett and Allen joined Paul Pierce to form "The Big Three," which subsequently provided the greatest turnaround in NBA history and the franchise's first NBA championship in more than two decades.

The Celtics needed at least six games to win each of its playoff series, but those close battles aren't reflected against the other nine champions of the past decade. (Note: Playoff statistics are not factored in to this simulation.)

With "The Big Three" all averaging at least 17 points per game that season and a fourth, Rajon Rondo, in double figures as well, the Celtics post the second-highest scoring average in the round robin of NBA champs.

And with that lethal combination, Boston distances itself from almost the entire pack, winning 70% of its games while eight other teams didn't even get to 60%, almost running away with the Team of the Decade title.

The only team that came within 10 percentage points of the Celtics is one of those three championship Spurs teams.

With a trio of its own - Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili - the 2006-07 San Antonio team doesn't quite score as many points against the other champions, but with perhaps the top defense in the field beats all the other champions more than 66% of the time.

Los Angeles has four championships in the decade, but three of them find themselves in the bottom half. Only last year's champions rank in the upper half and that Lakers team - the highest-scoring team of the entire group -- comes in third, winning 59.7% of its games.

Did the NBA continue to get better and better as the decade progressed? The statistics would certainly say so.

The past five NBA champions compose the entire top five with the past three all coming in the top three.

Of those three, it's "The Big Three" and the Celtics who take top honors.

NBA Best of the Decade
TeamWin%Avg Score
2007-08 Boston70.0104.7
2006-07 San Antonio66.2101.8
2008-09 Los Angeles59.7106.5
2005-06 Miami50.8102.3
2004-05 San Antonio50.095.5
2001-02 Los Angeles46.1104.2
1999-00 Los Angeles46.0101.7
2000-01 Los Angeles41.3104.2
2002-03 San Antonio39.799.1
2003-04 Detroit30.196.6


WORST TEAM OF THE DECADE
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Even the worst teams of the latter half of the decade seemed to be better than those of the first half.

For every best team, there has to be a cellar dweller. So, we pitted the teams with the worst records (using those who finished higher in the draft lottery as a tiebreaker) in each of the last 10 seasons to find the NBA's bottom feeder of the decade.

The 2004-05 Atlanta Hawks win the dubious honor in a tight race.

NBA Worst of the Decade
TeamWin%Avg Score
2004-05 Atlanta33.499.9
2001-02 Chicago33.899.4
2000-01 Chicago38.497.1
2003-04 Orlando40.4101.9
2002-03 Cleveland43.094.8
1999-00 LA Clippers44.799.6
2005-06 Portland45.597.6
2008-09 Sacramento67.9104.4
2006-07 Memphis73.2105.4
2007-08 Miami79.4103.6

The Atlanta Hawks team from that year had five players average at least 10 points per game, but just two of them played more than 56 games that season. The Hawks finished with a robust 13 wins.

The 2001-02 Chicago Bulls team won eight more games in its season, but had similar issues. Of their top five scorers, three played 40 games or less.

The two teams' numbers couldn't get much closer.

The Bulls average just 99.4 points per game while the Hawks average just half a point more. Each team, against the other worst teams from each season over the last 10 years, wins just over one-third of their games.

In the end, however, the Hawks squeak by the Bulls by just 0.4%, earning the distinction as being the worst
NBA team in the last decade.

Could one of the worst teams of the decade beat one of the best? Using Whatifsports.com's basketball simulation engine, you can check out the results yourself with our NBA SimMatchup tool.

If you have any questions, comments or just want to talk sports shoot us an email at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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