.800 Winning Percentage: 14 NBA Teams in 66 Years; 3 This Year?

Stephen Curry, Chris Paul
The Associated Press
Auburn, AL

Since the NBA started play in 1950, 11 of 14 teams with an 80 percent winning percentage won the NBA title. This season should mark the first time multiple teams enter the playoffs with that mark, arguably making this the toughest NBA title in history.

Obviously, most expect Golden State, on pace to top the 1996 Chicago Bulls for the best record in history, to win the title behind Stephen Curry and company. Any team that upsets them would have pulled off one of the great series upsets in NBA history.

Before you crown them, consider that the San Antonio Spurs boast the 6th best record in the history of the NBA right now, and they are one of only three teams to win the title when another team (Dallas 2007) had an 80% winning percentage. In fact, the Spurs also did not have the best record in the league when they won the title in 2005, and when they came within one Ray Allen freak three-pointer of beating the Heat. No team in history seems better positioned to stun the Warriors than the Spurs.

While LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers will not finish with an 80% winning percentage, they have won 80 percent since Tyronn Lue took over as coach. In fact, with a few games under his belt, the Cavs have gone 10-2 and won their last five by at least nine points each. That includes Sunday’s blowout on the road against the fourth best team in the league, the Oklahoma City Thunder. In short, the Cavs look like they are really an 80% winning team under their new leadership.

In essence, this NBA playoffs could start with three teams good enough to win 80 percent of their games after only having 14 such teams in the league’s first 66 years.

Someone has to lose, but this could be the highest level championship in the history of the league.

Season NBA Team Winning 4 of 5 Record Win%
1967 Philadelphia 76ers 68-13 0.840
1971 Milwaukee Bucks 66-16 0.805
1972 Los Angeles Lakers 69-13 0.842
1973 Boston Celtics (no title) 68-14 0.829
1986 Boston Celtics 67-15 0.817
1992 Chicago Bulls 67-15 0.817
1996 Chicago Bulls 72-10 0.878
1997 Chicago Bulls 69-13 0.842
2000 Los Angeles Lakers 67-15 0.817
2007 Dallas Mavericks (no title) 67-15 0.817
2008 Boston Celtics 66-16 0.805
2009 Cleveland Cavaliers (no title) 66-16 0.805
2013 Miami Heat 66-16 0.805
2015 Golden State Warriors 67-15 0.817
2016 Golden State Warriors 49-5 0.907
2016 San Antonio Spurs 46-9 0.836
2016 Cleveland Cavaliers (w Tyronn Lue) 10-2 0.833