Ranking Top 25 Single-Season Team Performances in NBA History

Figuring out how modern-day offenses and defenses stack up against the units of the 1950s and ’60s isn’t exactly an easy task, but it’s quite necessary when attempting to determine the very best teams of all time.

Yes, if you’ve been following along with this series, we’re finally to the big kahuna: the top 25 squads throughout all of NBA history. 

Just looking at points scored and allowed doesn’t do the trick because that doesn’t give pace an opportunity to come into play. For that reason, defensive and offensive ratings—pace-neutral metrics that show how many points a team allows and scores per 100 possessions—are much better gauges to measure prowess on those ends of the court.

But when attempting to rank teams historically, as we’re doing here, that’s still not good enough. After all, not every team with identical defensive ratings is on the same level. Nor is every team with an identical offensive rating equally competent at scoring the rock.

If two teams gave up 95 points per 100 possessions, which is worse—Team A, which did so during a year in which defenses rose to the top of the heap, or Team B, which did so when everyone was scoring points like the video-game sliders were all the way up?

Team A should be the easy answer because context is crucially important. That, in a nutshell, is why DRtng+, or adjusted defensive rating, is the best inter-era metric for comparing defensive performances. 

The same holds true for ORtng+, or adjusted offensive efficiency.

Calculating these metrics isn’t particularly troublesome: Just divide the league-average defensive rating from the year in question by the team’s defensive rating and then multiply the result by 100 to achieve DRtng+. Similarly, ORtng+ is derived by dividing the team’s offensive rating by the league average and then multiplying by 100.

A score of 100 means the defense or offense was perfectly average that year. That does tend to happen fairly often, given that we’re working with the 1,315 teams throughout league history for which we have data. 

The final step in determining the strength of a team is averaging the two metrics. The result, called TeamRtng+, weighs offense and defense evenly to ascertain the overall effectiveness of any team in NBA history.

When determining the best squads throughout the NBA’s many seasons, the style of play doesn’t factor into the equation. Neither does points scored/allowed per game nor memorability, subjectivity and win-loss records. 

TeamRtng+ is all that comes into play. We’ll be looking at the worst team in each franchise’s history, counting down toward the very worst squad of all time. Analyses like this have been run before, notably by Hardwood Paroxysm’s Andrew Lynch and Ian Levy, but this is taking it to a whole new level by calculating things before and after the 1976 ABA/NBA merger. 

 

Note: All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from Basketball-Reference.com. This introduction is an adapted form of what was used when ranking the top 20 offenses in NBA history as well as the top 20 defensesbottom 20 defensesbottom 20 offensesbest teams for each franchise and worst teams for each franchise throughout the same period. 

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Ranking the 5 Most Surprising Seasons in Pittsburgh Basketball History

One of the trademarks of the Jamie Dixon era in Pittsburgh has been, for all the unmet expectations of fans, the Panthers have exceeded just as many expectations under his watch. However, for a better perspective, how would some of Dixon’s surprising Pitt teams measure up with some of the school’s most surprising teams of years past?

We didn’t just look at bottom lines. We looked at how certain teams found success, or even failure, in some cases, and why that success or failure might have been thought hard to come by at the time.

It isn’t just coach-speak—or athlete-speak, as it were—to say there are inherent challenges with comparing one season to another. This is especially true when tasked with making apples-to-apples comparisons among different teams in different eras of college basketball.

For example, one surprising season that just missed our cut involved the 1940-41 Panthers, who bounced back from an 8-9 campaign to reach the Final Four. On one hand, they made it further in the NCAA tournament than any team in school history one year removed from not making the tournament at all. On the other hand, is it fair to call that team as surprising or more surprising than the teams that did make our cut, when factors like a smaller bracket and a shorter season made quick turnarounds more possible?

Giving the next generation its due credit without selling short the previous one, or vice versa, isn’t much easier. I’m not one to date myself, but, in the interest of maintaining candor with our readers, I’m not old enough to fully appreciate the playing careers of such Pitt legends as Charles Smith (pictured), Billy Knight or Don Hennon. Such limitations will inevitably alter my perspective, even though it’s common knowledge those guys turned quite a few heads in their day.

Nevertheless, we’ve given this assignment the same good-faith effort we give the rest. Let our ranking of the most surprising seasons in Pitt men’s basketball history begin—and let the debating begin as well.

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Minnesota Timberwolves: The five best trades in Timberwolves history

In honor of the Kevin Love and Andrew Wiggins trade, this past week I looked at the five worst trades in Minnesota Timberwolves history. To finish this theme on a happy note, here are the five best trades the Timberwolves have ever done.
5. Minnesota trades Jonny Flynn and the draft rights to Donatas Motiejunas to the Houston Rockets for Brad Miller, the draft rights to Nikola Mirotic, the draft rights to Chandler Parsons and a first round pick:
This trade, if the Timberwolves had kept the right players from this trade they actually would have recovered from investing a first round pick in Jonny Flynn. Mirotic was a great player in Europe and shows a lot of promise, while Chandler Parsons is a young player who plays good defense and was good enough to get a huge $45 million dollar deal this summer.
4. Minnesota trades Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, two first round picks and cash considerations.
Al Jefferson now leading the Charlotte Bobcats
 
While it always i

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Minnesota Timberwolves: The five worst trades in Timberwolves history

Will Wiggins make up for losing Love?
This whole summer, the main story about the Minnesota Timberwolves was the Kevin Love trade to Cleveland, which ultimately ended with the Timberwolves receiving Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young. Time will tell whether the Timberwolves made a good trade or not, but that’s not going to stop me from looking back at the best and worst trades the Timberwolves have made in franchise history. I will start off with the worst first and save the best for next week.
5. Minnesota trades Ty Lawson to the Denver Nuggets for cash considerations:
The Minnesota Timberwolves drafted three point guards in the 2009 NBA draft and got rid of possibly the best one of the bunch. Admittedly the Timberwolves getting three point guards through draft would be hard to put on the roster. However this move looks much worse considering that one of the point guards the Timberwolves drafted and kept over Lawson was Jonny Flynn, who is already out of the NBA while Lawson averages 18 po

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Ranking the Top 5 Uniforms in Los Angeles Clippers History

The Los Angeles Clippers franchise doesn’t have a history of winning in bunches, but in terms of uniforms, their tradition is as rich as it gets.

The Clips have won many times in the looks department, and part of the intrigue in their success lies in the fact that they’ve had two substantial relocations to San Diego from Buffalo in 1978 and from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1984. 

As for the criteria, the goal is to look at the five best looking outfits. One thing to note is that these have nothing to do with the success of the team that wore them, though there’s plenty of background info for context alone.

Which jerseys belong in the all-time top 5 in franchise history? Let’s take a look, starting where it all began. 

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Chauncey Billups Retires with 5th-Best Free-Throw Percentage in NBA History

According to Yahoo Sports, guard Chauncey Billups is retiring from the NBA after 17 seasons.

Now set to hang up his kicks, the man known as Mr. Big Shot will finish his career with the fifth-best free-throw percentage (89.40) in league history, per NBA.com/Stats.

He sits behind Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash (90.4 percent), Mark Price (90.4), Rick Barry (90.0) and Peja Stojakovic (89.5), just a smidgen ahead of free-agent shooting guard Ray Allen (89.39), who still has time to make up the difference.

Now known for his leadership, clutch shooting and ability to play both guard spots, Billups came into the league as an excellent free-throw shooter, but didn’t really find himself as a player until landing with the Detroit Pistons in 2002.

The Boston Celtics’ third overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft, Billups bounced from the Celtics to the Toronto Raptors to the Denver Nuggets to the Minnesota Timberwolves, before finally calling Detroit—his fifth stop in the NBA—home.

Viewed by many as a potential Hall of Famer, the 37-year-old guard would be an oddity in basketball’s Springfield, Mass., shrine, having played for seven different teams.

Of course, Billups’ candidacy largely depends on his first stint with the Pistons, which lasted from 2002 to 2008.

During that time, he won a championship and NBA Finals MVP (2004), also making the first three (2006-08) of five consecutive All-Star Game appearances. He was named to the All-Defensive second team for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, with an All-NBA second team nod in 2005-06, plus All-NBA third team honors in 2006-07 and 2008-09, albeit with the second of those seasons spent largely with the Nuggets.

Basketball-Reference.com’s Hall of Fame Probability statistic estimates that Billups has a 20.5 percent chance of being elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame.

Such a stat seems to understate his real chances, but the measure is typically excellent, as described here in further detail.

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On the Greatest Offseason in Cleveland Sports History

Name the last time a Cleveland team signed the best player in the league. Now give an example of when a Cleveland team acquired a top ten player in the league. How about when was the last time free agents took less money to play on a Cleveland team? Okay, now tell me when a team has been able to do this in one offseason. Can’t come up with one? This answer leads me to say that the last two months for the Cleveland Cavaliers has been the single best offseason in the history of the Cleveland professional sports.
On Saturday, the Cavaliers officially made the long awaited trade for Kevin Love. The deal involved the Cavs sending first-round picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and a future first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers. In return, the Cavaliers landed a top ten player who averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds last season.
Love is a scoring machine who can make baskets in the post, mid-range, and perimeter. Last season he shot 45.7% from the field and 37.6% from

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Kobe has made history on his 36th birthday

Kobe Bryant turns 36 today.

      
 

 

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Ranking the Best 10 Acquisitions in LA Lakers History

For the sake of clarity, the selections included here are free-agent signings and trades by the Los Angeles Lakers but not draft picks or draft day trades.

And for those who feel compelled to howl in protest because Kobe Bryant is not part of this—take a deep soothing breath. The Mamba would be listed here in a heartbeat except for the fact that he was selected by the Charlotte Hornets on behalf of the Lakers in the 1996 NBA draft.

The same goes for Magic Johnson—the No. 1 overall pick in 1979 won’t be listed here, and neither will Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, James Worthy, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon or any other Lakers draftees. 

It also doesn’t include the Lakers’ new head coach Byron Scott, who was drafted by the San Diego Clippers and then traded to the Lakers for Norm Nixon.

No, this is about the competition to land elite free agents and crazy multi-team blockbuster trades. Or, in the case of some of the players from yesteryear, the deals you used to read about in things called newspapers.

And on the subject of blockbusters, one of the best trades of all time can’t be included—the three-team agreement between the New Orleans Hornets, Houston Rockets and the Lakers that would have had Chris Paul wearing purple and gold if not for then NBA commissioner David Stern.

Finally, with all the caveats, consider one more—this isn’t a historical comparison of the greatest Lakers of all time but a look at both players and transactions as we know them.

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Ranking the Most Surprising Final Four Teams in College Basketball History

In 76 years of NCAA tournament history, 91 teams have combined to make 304 appearances in the Final Four.

Some of those were much more surprising than others.

Take the 2010-11 VCU Rams, for example.

Few people thought Shaka Smart and company deserved to make the tournament. Much fewer picked them to make the Final Four. According to ESPN’s Tournament Challenge blog, less than 0.1 percent of the 5.9 million brackets filled out had the Rams reaching the national semifinals.

But they busted brackets left and right to become the most surprising team to ever reach the Final Four.

Based on a combination of the difficulty of the path taken to the Final Four and the perceived strength of the team at the end of the season, we’ve ranked the 10 most surprising Final Four teams in men’s college basketball history.

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