Throughout the rich history of the NBA, there have been some incredible records.
In this article, we will explore each NBA team’s best record and mention some astonishing individual records along the way.
NBA history has seen many great teams come and go. Some have destroyed their proponents time and again across the span of a regular season. But to continue to be ruthlessly efficient and dominant for 82 games across 7 months is a lot to ask of even the most special teams.
It is virtually impossible to maintain peak performance right across the season. Even for top athletes. Unseen problems, injuries and myriad other issues can threaten to derail any title-winning run. Once in a while, however, a team will keep pushing all the way and post a truly remarkable record of wins and losses.
NBA REGULAR-SEASON RECORD FOR EACH TEAM
1996/97 was to be Charlotte Hornets’ first without Larry Johnson, whom they had traded to the New York Knicks. That wasn’t the biggest mistake they made that season as they traded away the NBA Draft rights to choose Kobe Bryant, and went for Vlade Divac instead.
If there are many bigger mistakes in sporting history than that then we’re struggling to think of them. To add insult to injury, Larry Johnson’s and his Knickerbockers knocked them out of the Playoffs. Ouch. In spite of some calamitous decisions, the Hornets had the best season in their history.
Go figure, as they say.
The 20/21 season was the Brooklyn Net’s best. The game-changing trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving all missed parts of the season. But they had affected the attitude of those around them and new head coach Steve Nash guided them well in his maiden season. Perhaps using the experience of his playing days.
Brooklyn had other players step up in the absence of the big hitters and did remarkably well. The playoffs were a bridge too far as those injuries and absences began to really bite and they lost in the second round to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Memphis Grizzlies’ best season was the culmination of three where they recorded 50+ wins. The 2012/13 season also represented their best playoff finish although the San Antonio Spurs put paid to their plans pretty rapidly.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
2007 saw the Pelicans’ one-and-only 50-win season in their history. They also took their first Northwest Division crown, in no small part down to the efforts of Chris Paul. After finishing second in the MVP voting, Paul led his team almost all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
It was not to be, and they went down at the last hurdle to the SA Spurs, but the season remains a franchise record for the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Nuggets are unique in that they are the only team on this list that set their franchise’s win record for a season without an All-Star on their roster. Not only that, but they didn’t have a single player that season who averaged more than 20 points per game.
A remarkable fact in itself. The Denver Nuggets did better than they ever had but were unable to get past the first round of the playoffs, where they were duly dispatched by the Golden State Warriors.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
The 2013-’14 campaign was their best regular-season run. True to form, they were unable to advance beyond the second round of the Playoffs. They lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Semifinals over six games.
Not a tradition that they enjoy being reminded of we imagine. Nevertheless, 2013/14 represents the best win/loss ratio in the history of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Minnesota made seven straight appearances in the Playoffs leading up to the 2003/04 season. This was widely regarded to be the zenith of that period and their best chance yet. The season represented their best record in the Western Conference and they had the winner of NBA MVP in Kevin Garnett. Another bonus was Sam Cassell making his first (and only) All-Star appearance.
Things were looking promising, but the Timberwolves failed to make the Finals, missing out to the LA Lakers. It seems that the season really did represent their best chance, as they have only been to the Playoffs once in the subsequent 19 seasons, recording more than 50 wins per season just twice in that time.
The Toronto Raptors won a franchise-record 59 games the year before clinching the NBA Championship itself. Sadly, DeMar DeRozan, beloved by the fans for his 9 years of efforts on their behalf, called it a day after this season. Missing out on the party.
He went out on a high in terms of his individual performances, but this was not enough to push the Raptors to the next level. They were dumped out in round two for the third straight year. This time by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
NEW YORK KNICKERBOCKERS
1969/70 & 1992/93 seasons
The 1969/70 season, was the Knicks’ first 60+ win season.
Willis Reed won the NBA’s MVP. Hall of Famer Dave DeBusschere played his first full season with the team. Walt Frazier made his first All-Star appearance. They beat the Lakers and won their first NBA championship. Not a bad season all-in-all!
The 1992-’93 season with the same numbers was a continuation in a turnaround of fortunes for the team as head coach Pat Riley cemented the good work he had done in his first season with the Knicks the season before. The New York Knicks eventually went down to the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Washington put together a solid 74/75 season and it still represents their best-ever win/loss percentage.
Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes’ played his first season with them, alongside their other HoF player, Wes Unseld. The Washington Wizards made it to their second of four Finals in the course of the 1970s but lost to the Golden State Warriors.
Shaquille O’Neal’s last year in Orlando was a particularly memorable one. After making the NBA Finals the year before, the franchise had its best-ever season in terms of win/loss percentage. That in spite of Shaq missing 28 games of the season.
They were unable to return to the Finals, but their record for winning 60 games in the regular season stands as their best effort to date.
We’ve all heard the old adage – ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’. Well, the Atlanta Hawks epitomised that saying by taking 65 years to post 60+ winning games in a season. Impressively, the improvement was by an extra 22 games! No mean feat.
Finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference in 14/15, the team saw four of its players make All-Star appearances but they were put to the sword easily in the Playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Just one season after the Sacramento Kings tied their franchise’s all-time record with 55 wins, they pushed on and claimed 61 wins. Their record that season was the best of any team in the NBA, but they could not maintain the quality in the NBA Playoffs.
They lost to the LA Laker in the Western Conference Finals but the season remains their best. In no small part due to the efforts of All-Star Chris Webber and rising stars Peja Stojakovic and Mike Bibby.
Emerging talents All-Star Jermaine O’Neal and All-Star, Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) Ron Artest stepped up in 03/04. Reggie Miller was nearing the end of his reign in the NBA and they were a welcome sight to Indiana Pacers fans.
They posted their best regular season but The Pacers lost the Eastern Conference Finals to eventual winners the Detroit Pistons.
1992/93 & 2004/05 seasons
In the 92/93 season, The Phoenix Suns made it to the NBA Finals after their first time winning so many games during the regular season. They lost to the Chicago Bulls in the end but at that time, who didn’t?
In the 2004/05 campaign, the Suns again played a superb season and won 62 games. Steve Nash won his first of two MVP awards and Amar’e Stoudemire made his first All-Star appearance. Things were looking good but the Western Conference Finals thwarted them again and they lost to the SA Spurs.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
The Portland Trail Blazers came into the 1990-’91 season on the back of an unsuccessful NBA Finals run the
year before. Their franchise-record number of 63 wins seemed to indicate that they might have a chance to make a real mark on the competition. It was also the best in the NBA that year. But it was not to be reproduced in the Playoffs and they lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Before they became the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Seattle Supersonics had some decent seasons. In 1993/94 they finished the regular season with a franchise-best record of 63 wins. They promptly undid all that good work by being the first No.1 seed to lose in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
The following season they were back and even went one better with 64 wins. All-Star Gary Payton was named Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) and the Supersonics made the NBA Finals, losing to the Chicago Bulls.
An incredible year for the Jazz saw them put together two runs of 15 games without a loss. They set the franchise record for the second consecutive season and Karl Malone even edged out Michael Jordan to take the NBA MVP award.
Utah Jazz went on to make their first NBA Finals but lost to the Chicago Bulls.
Aiming for a 3rd NBA Finals appearance in as many seasons, the Detroit Pistons finished with the best record in the NBA.
They had 4 players named All-Stars but couldn’t emulate their previous achievements. They fell to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals and that was that.
The Houston Rockets bounded into the 2017/18 season with genuine championship hopes after acquiring Chris Paul. They put together a franchise record of 65 wins during the regular season.
All-Star James Harden won NBA MVP. There looked to be a chance but the Rockets eventually lost to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
The start of the 70s saw the Milwaukee Bucks win a franchise record of 66 games. This included impressive 16 and 22-game winning streaks. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar earned the first of his record six NBA MVP awards that stands to this day.
If that weren’t enough, the Bucks went on to win the championship against the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA Finals. A remarkable season in so many ways.
In the season that LeBron James took home his first NBA MVP award, the Cleveland Cavaliers won 66 games. Before that, the team had only hit 50 winning games 3 times since the mid-70s. Once James began to show his incredible prowess on the court they won more than 50 games 4 times in 7 seasons.
Coincidence? You be the judge. Excited fans hoped to see LeBron James vs Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals, but Cleveland lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Orlando Magic and the chance was gone.
The second-longest winning streak in NBA history (27 games) saw the Miami Heat post a franchise record 66 wins.
LeBron James won his fourth NBA MVP and the Heat pulled off back-to-back championship victories, this time beating the San Antonio Spurs.
The season after making their first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history, the Dallas Mavericks broke another record. With 67 wins and Dirk Nowitzki winning his only NBA MVP award, things were looking good.
The Dallas Mavericks lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors happened to be the only team that they did not defeat during the regular season and it seems they had too much for the Mavericks yet again.
The Dallas Mavericks are the only team in NBA history to lose in the first round of the Playoffs after posting more than 65 wins in a season.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Tim Duncan’s final season with them saw the San Antonio Spurs set a franchise record for wins in a season.
Kawhi Leonard made his first All-Star team and their 40-1 home record tied for the NBA record. The Spurs eventually lost in the Conference Semifinals to the OKC Thunder.
This was the season that Dave Cowens (his third in the NBA) won the NBA MVP.
John Havlicek also produced some incredible performances and the Boston Celtics posted a better win percentage than they ever had before.
The Boston Celtics lost in the Conference Finals to the New York Knicks, and in doing so, became the only team to top the table for regular-season wins but not make the NBA Finals.
The 1966/67 season saw the Philadelphia 76ers post the most wins in their history. They also became the only team in the whole of the 1960s to beat the Boston Celtics in a playoff series.
Philadelphia kept up the pressure and managed to win the NBA championship, beating the San Francisco Warriors.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
In the early 70s, the Los Angeles Lakers achieved an NBA regular-season record with a winning streak of 33 games back to back.
They went on to win the NBA championship, their first since 1954, by beating the New York Knickerbockers.
Michael Jordan’s first season back in the NBA after retiring to play baseball also happened to be Dennis Rodman’s first with the Chicago Bulls.
Michael Jordan hadn’t lost any of his magic and the Bulls became the first team in NBA history to win 70 games. This included a home record of 39-2.
The Chicago Bulls beat the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA Finals to put the icing on the cake of an unbelievable season.
Michael Jordan matched yet another NBA record by becoming only the second player in league history to win NBA MVP, All-Star MVP and Finals MVP in the same season.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
The season after they won their second NBA championship, (the first being in 1975), the Golden State Warriors made NBA history.
The Warriors broke the single-season record for wins. After starting the season with a 24-0 winning streak, they never lost consecutive games throughout the whole season.
Think about that.
Stephen Curry set the record for three-pointers (402), averaged 30 points per game and won the NBA MVP.
It was the dream season.
Except it wasn’t…
Golden State blew a 3-1 series lead and lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. After the greatest regular-season performance that many people had ever seen they fell at the final hurdle. Still a remarkable achievement.
What is the best record in NBA history? That accolade falls to the Golden State Warriors.
But it is hard to judge the importance of incredible performances from players like Michael Jordan and Stephen Curry or team performances that produce the best regular-season record on the back of an amazing winning percentage.
Throughout the years we have been spoiled by some truly astonishing events in the NBA. The team here at The Jump Hub can’t wait to experience more and see these NBA records fall one by one…