NBA Super Teams Since 2000: Much Ado About Nothing?

The Brooklyn Nets have been a polarizing team this 2020-21 NBA season, and that really began in January when they traded for James Harden from the Houston Rockets to join fellow superstars, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. To, you know, do something that’s never been done before – form a super team! Okay, I’m lying, it’s been done before.

On social media, there were cries of “All this to beat a 36 year old,” referring to LeBron James. Oddly, I just thought the Nets were trying to put themselves in a position to compete for an NBA title like every team usually does every season, and yes, that includes teams LeBron have been on. (Shoulder shrug). In fact, if we’re honest, he kind of started it. And “it” being PLAYERS taking control and dictating where they end up going. I’m mostly all for that.

There is nothing inherently wrong to have a collection of stars come together to compete. In the end, does it dilute anything? Not really. Unless they blatantly cheated, a ring is a ring. Besides, does forming a super team even guarantee a title? Well, I had to do the research.

Some parameters… I’m only looking at teams starting with the 2004-05 season when the Charlotte Bobcats joined the NBA, giving the league a full 30 teams as we have now. Obviously,  basic math concept, with less teams there is more of a consolidation of talent; more teams, that talent is diluted. For example, super teams were more possible during the 1980s when there were only 23 teams in the Association.

So, because of this, the Boston Celtics had four Hall of Famers in their starting line-up for a bit of time – Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and Dennis Johnson. And, while the four specifically weren’t All NBA together at once, they were each All NBA players within a few years of each other. Same with the Los Angeles Lakers who had five Hall of Famers at one time (but not all starting) – Jamaal Wilkes, Bob McAdoo, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Wilkes and McAdoo were passed their primes, but still effective when the Showtime Lakers were evolving.

The 1990s were split between 27 and 29 teams, so this was a transition period where there really weren’t any teams with three “superstars” at one time, let alone Hall of Famers. And, that’s why, it’s a little more striking to have super teams now with 30 teams. It’s totally possible with the right draft picks, trades, and/or free agency signings… as well as some winks and nudges among players.

Parameters, continued… to be considered a super team, said team will need at least TWO All NBA players and ONE All-Star level of player as part of their core – starter or sixth man – for that respective season’s team. Players should have been either All NBA or an All-Star that respective season or the season prior to establish star credibility.

While this is a valid measurement of a player qualifying as “super,” it’s not perfect since it’s limited in scope to two seasons to establish stardom. For example, we can certainly consider the 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers collection of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love a super team, but because of the strict “respective season in question and the previous season” rule, we are off by one season for them to qualify when Kevin Love was last All NBA in 2014, and missed the All Star game in 2015.

Now that we have some sort of guidelines, here are your super teams of the 2000s. * = Best record in the NBA that respective season.

2004-05 PHOENIX SUNS | 62-20* | Lost to San Antonio Spurs in Western Conference Finals | NBA Champion: Spurs
Core Stars: Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion
Star Cred: Nash – 2005 All-Star and All NBA | Stoudemire – 2005 All-Star and All NBA | Marion – 2005 All-Star and All NBA
Key Supporting Cast Members: Joe Johnson – 17.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.2 3PM, 46.1/47.8/75.0 shooting line | Quentin Richardson – 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.9 3PM, 38.9/35.8/73.9 shooting line

2005-06 DETROIT PISTONS | 64-18* | Lost to Miami Heat in Eastern Conference Finals | NBA Champion: Heat
Core Stars: Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace
Star Cred: Billups – 2006 All-Star and All NBA | B. Wallace – 2006 All-Star and All NBA | Hamilton – 2006 All-Star | R. Wallace – 2006 All-Star
Key Supporting Cast Member: Tayshaun Prince – 14.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 45.5/35.0/76.5 shooting line

2006-07 PHOENIX SUNS | 61-21 | Lost to San Antonio Spurs in Western Conference Semifinals | NBA Champion: Spurs
Core Stars: Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion
Star Cred: Nash – 2007 All-Star and All NBA | Stoudemire – 2007 All-Star and All NBA | Marion – 2007 All-Star, 2006 All NBA
Key Supporting Cast Members: Leandro Barbosa – 18.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.4 3PM, 1.2 steals, 47.6/43.4/84.5 shooting line | Raja Bell – 14.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.6 3PM, 43.2/41.3/77.6 shooting line

2007-08 BOSTON CELTICS | 66-16* | Won NBA Title over Los Angeles Lakers | NBA Champion: CELTICS
Core Stars: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen
Star Cred: Pierce – 2008 All-Star and All NBA | Garnett – 2008 All-Star and All NBA | Allen – 2008 All-Star
Key Supporting Cast Members: Rajon Rondo – 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.7 steals, 49.2/26.3/61.1 shooting line | Kendrick Perkins – 6.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.5 blocks, 61.5/NA/62.3 shooting line

2007-08 PHOENIX SUNS | 55-27 | Lost to San Antonio Spurs in First Round | NBA Champion: Celtics
Core Stars: Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion
Star Cred: Nash – 2008 All-Star and All NBA | Stoudemire – 2008 All-Star and All NBA | Marion – 2007 All-Star
Key Supporting Cast Members: Leandro Barbosa – 15.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.0 3PM, 46.2/38.9/82.2 shooting line | Grant Hill – 13.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 50.3/31.7/86.7 shooting line | Raja Bell – 11.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.3 3PM, 42.1/40.1/86.8 shooting line

2008-09 BOSTON CELTICS | 62-20 | Lost to Orlando Magic in Eastern Conference Semifinals | NBA Champion: Lakers
Core Stars: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen
Star Cred: Pierce – 2009 All-Star and All NBA | Garnett – 2009 All-Star, 2008 All NBA | Allen – 2009 All-Star
Key Supporting Cast Members: Rajon Rondo – 11.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 1.9 steals, 50.5/31.3/64.2 shooting line | Kendrick Perkins – 8.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.0 blocks, 57.7/NA/60.0 shooting line

2010-11 MIAMI HEAT | 58-24 | Lost to Dallas Mavericks in NBA Finals | Champion: Mavericks
Core Stars: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Star Cred: James – 2011 All-Star and All NBA | Wade – 2011 All-Star and All NBA | Bosh – 2011 All-Star
Key Supporting Cast Members: Mario Chalmers – 6.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 3PM, 1.1 steals, 39.9/35.9/87.1 shooting line | James Jones – 5.9 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.5 3PM, 42.2/42.9/83.3 shooting line

2011-12 MIAMI HEAT | 46-20 | Won NBA Title over Oklahoma City Thunder | Champion: HEAT
Core Stars: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Star Cred: James – 2012 All-Star and All NBA | Wade – 2012 All-Star and All NBA | Bosh – 2012 All-Star
Key Supporting Cast Members: Mario Chalmers – 9.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.6 3PM, 1.5 steals, 44.8/38.8/79.2 shooting line | Udonis Haslem – 6.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 42.3/NA/81.4 shooting line

2012-13 MIAMI HEAT | 66-16* | Won NBA Title over San Antonio Spurs | Champion: HEAT
Core Stars: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Star Cred: James – 2013 All-Star and All NBA | Wade – 2013 All-Star and All NBA | Bosh – 2013 All-Star
Key Supporting Cast Members: Ray Allen – 10.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.8 3PM, 44.9/41.9/88.6 shooting line | Mario Chalmers – 8.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.6 3PM, 1.5 steals, 42.9/40.9/79.5 shooting line

2013-14 MIAMI HEAT | 54-28 | Lost to San Antonio Spurs in NBA Finals | Champion: Spurs
Core Stars: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Star Cred: James – 2014 All-Star and All NBA | Wade – 2014 All-Star, 2013 All NBA | Bosh – 2014 All-Star
Key Supporting Cast Members: Mario Chalmers – 9.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.2 3PM, 1.6 steals, 45.4/38.5/74.2 shooting line | Ray Allen – 9.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.6 3PM, 44.2/37.5/90.5 shooting line

2014-15 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS | 56-26 | Lost to Houston Rockets in Western Conference Semifinals | Champion: Warriors
Core Stars: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Star Cred: Paul – 2015 All-Star and All NBA | Griffin – 2015 All-Star and All NBA | Jordan – 2015 All NBA
Key Supporting Cast Members: J.J. Redick – 16.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.6 3PM, 47.7/43.7/90.1 shooting line | Jamal Crawford – 15.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.9 3PM, 39.6/32.7/90.1 shooting line | Matt Barnes – 10.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.8 3PM, 44.4/36.2/77.9 shooting line

2015-16 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS | 73-9* | Lost to Cleveland Cavaliers in NBA Finals | Champion: Cavaliers
Core Stars: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green
Star Cred: Curry – 2016 All-Star and All NBA | Thompson – 2016 All-Star and All NBA | Green 2016 All-Star and All NBA
Key Supporting Cast Members: Harrison Barnes – 11.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 3PM, 46.6/38.3/76.1 shooting line | Andrew Bogut – 5.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.6 blocks, 62.7/100.0/48.0 shooting line

2016-17 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS | 67-15* | Won NBA Title over Cleveland Cavaliers | Champion: WARRIORS
Core Stars: Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green
Star Cred: Curry – 2017 All-Star and All NBA | Durant – 2017 All-Star and All NBA | Green 2017 All-Star and All NBA | Thompson – 2017 All-Star
Key Supporting Cast Member: Andre Iguodala – 7.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.0 steal, 52.8/36.2/70.6 shooting line

2017-18 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS | 58-24 | Won NBA Title over Cleveland Cavaliers | Champion: WARRIORS
Core Stars: Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green
Star Cred: Curry – 2018 All-Star and All NBA | Durant – 2018 All-Star and All NBA | Green 2018 All-Star, 2017 All NBA | Thompson – 2018 All-Star
Key Supporting Cast Member: Andre Iguodala – 6.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 46.3/28.2/63.2 shooting line

2018-19 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS | 57-25 | Lost to Toronto Raptors in NBA Finals | Champion: Raptors
Core Stars: Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green
Star Cred: Curry – 2019 All-Star and All NBA | Durant – 2019 All-Star and All NBA | Thompson – 2019 All-Star | Green – 2018 All-Star and All NBA
Key Supporting Cast Members: Kevon Looney – 6.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 62.5/10.0/61.9 shooting line

So, since the NBA went to 30 teams for the 2004-05 season, there have been 15 super teams that meet the laid out requirements of having at least two All NBA players and one All-Star on their team, at the very least. Here are some notable findings:

  • Only FIVE of 15 super teams won NBA titles, an unimpressive 33.3%: 2007-08 Boston Celtics, 2011-12 and 2012-13 Miami Heat, 2016-17 and 2017-18 Golden State Warriors
  • Of the 10 that didn’t win the NBA championship, FOUR of them lost in the NBA Finals: 2010-11 and 2013-14 Miami Heat, 2015-16 and 2018-19 Golden State Warriors
  • Of the SIX teams that didn’t make it to the NBA Finals, TWO lost in the Conference Finals: 2004-05 Phoenix Suns, 2005-06 Detroit Pistons; THREE lost in the Conference Semifinals: 2006-07 Phoenix Suns, 2008-09 Boston Celtics, 2014-15 Los Angeles Clippers; and ONE lost in the first round: 2007-08 Phoenix Suns
  • SIX of 15 teams finished the regular season with the best record of their respective season; only THREE of them actually won the NBA title
  • THIRTEEN of 15 teams had ALL of their core stars receive All-Star or All NBA honors that respective season
  • Only SIX separate franchises claimed super team status (in order from most to least): Miami Heat (4)– 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 | Golden State Warriors (4)– 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 | Phoenix Suns (3) – 2004-05, 2006-07, 2007-08 | Boston Celtics (2) – 2007-08, 2008-09 | Detroit Pistons (1) – 2005-06 | Los Angeles Clippers (1) – 2014-15
  • The player trios of the Heat – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Warriors – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green appear the most on super teams
  • DeAndre Jordan is the only player on a super team (2014-15 Los Angeles Clippers) that made the All NBA team that respective season, but was not an All-Star. In fact, the following season (2015-16), he made All NBA first team and wasn’t an All-Star again that season. Finally, during the third consecutive time he made All NBA (2016-17), he was a 2017 All-Star that same season. It’s the last time Jordan received either honor.

So, what we can conclude is pretty simple: forming a super team guarantees absolutely nothing. Using the above, only 33.3% of super teams won the NBA title. Only 40% of them finished with the best record during the regular season; and only half of those teams raised the Larry O’Brien trophy. So, head up, my friends… that team you love to hate, well, you’re more likely to enjoy watching them lose than whine when you see them win.

So, how about this? Instead of letting a player and/or team that you don’t even like live rent free in your head space, enjoy watching your favorite player or team and cheer them on. Life is too short.

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