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Current and All-time Best Basketball Teams

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Have you ever wondered what the best basketball teams are?

Whether you’re solely an NBA fan or are just as excited about college basketball and March Madness, we’ve got you covered. We’ve done extensive research to bring you the best current and all-time NBA and college teams. 

As a bonus, we added the best European teams too.

The Top 10 Best Basketball Teams

  • The best NBA team right now is the champions, the Milwaukee Bucks.
  • The Brooklyn Nets will be a top contender for next year’s championship.
  • The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls are one of the best NBA teams of all time.
  • The 2016-17 Golden State Warriors is considered by many as the best team of all time.
  • Gonzaga is a top contender for next season.
  • UCLA is moving on most people’s list of the best NCAA basketball teams.
  • The 1972 UCLA Bruins come on top of many people’s college basketball rankings.
  • The 1996 Kentucky Wildcats are one of the best college teams.
  • Turkey’s Anadolu Efes is the EuroLeague’s best basketball team in 2021.
  • The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers are always in the running for the best NBA team.

The Best NBA Teams

The NBA is arguably the best basketball league globally, and the best players and teams play there. Keep reading to find out more about the best teams.

NBA team rankings in 2021

The Playoffs just wrapped up, and we have our new champion. Is the champion the best team going into next season? Below, you will find the answer to that and our choices for the best teams going into next season.

1. What is the best NBA team right now? It’s the champions, the Milwaukee Bucks.

(ESPN, Bleacher Report)

Milwaukee Bucks are the 2021 NBA Champions, and deservedly so. The team went 0-2 in the finals to come back strong and win it 4-2. 

With all three of their stars, Holiday, Middleton, and Antetokounpo, and a total of six players on contract for next season, the Bucks will be a top contender once again.

2. The Western Conference Champions, the Phoenix Suns, were one of the best NBA teams in 2021.

(ESPN, NBC Sports)

The Suns were probably the best team up until the third game of the finals. Then it all fell apart. Much of the immediate future of the team depends on Chris Paul and if he will re-sign. If he does, expect the Suns to be back, looking for their first title.

3. Utah Jazz, who led the regular season NBA standings for 2021, will look for another title.

(Bleacher Report, ESPN)

Utah finished with the best regular-season record last season. The team started the playoffs well but crashed. This seems to be a trend for a few seasons now, one they must improve on.

A big plus is that almost all of their players are returning, with only veteran Mike Conley Jr. still unsure.

4. The LA Lakers, the top team in the NBA team rankings of 2020, were unlucky with injuries but will look for redemption.

(ESPN, Bleacher Report)

Healthy LeBron James is always in the running for the title. The 2020 Champions were very unlucky this year. Both LeBron James and Anthony Davis got injured towards the end of the season. But if they’re both healthy, we expect them to compete for the title.

5.  The Brooklyn Nets, considered by many as the best team in the NBA, will be a top contender for next year’s championship.

(ESPN, Bleacher Report)

The Nets are everyone’s No.1 contender. With Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, this team is unstoppable. It just needs to sort out some backup players’ contracts this off-season and keep everyone healthy.

The problem in 2020-21 was the injuries. The star trio played only eight regular-season games together, and Durant was alone in the playoffs. Going into the next season, if all of them are healthy, we know where many people’s bets will go.

The best NBA teams ever

There have been 74 champions in the NBA. All of them have written their name in the history books, but a select few remain beyond that — in fans’ memories. We will break down the top five teams we believe are the best in history.

6.  The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls are one of the best NBA teams of all time.

(Bleacher Report, Fadeaway World)

The Chicago Bulls in the 90s were undoubtedly the best basketball team in the world. They won six championships, and the 95-96 team was the one that stood above the rest. The Bulls finished the season with a 72-10 record, a record that stood for 20 years. 

Michael Jordan, the NBA leader in career points per game, won the MVP, averaging over 30 points per game. Scottie Pippen averaged just under 20, and the team led the league in offensive and defensive ratings. 

7.  The 2016-17 Golden State Warriors is considered by many as the best NBA team of all time.

(Bleacher Report, Fadeaway World)

Just like the Bulls in the 90s, the Warriors were dominant in the 2010s. That success on the court made it the second-highest valued team in the league. 

The 2015-16 season saw the Warriors break the all-time wins record, but they fell short in the finals. That changed in 2017.

Adding Kevin Durant meant that Golden State had four all-stars, two MVP caliber players, three of the best shooters, and good support players. The team can easily be the best NBA team ever assembled

That translated to winning the title by going 16-1 in the playoffs.

8. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers are always in the running for the best NBA team ever.  

(Bleacher Report, Fadeaway World)

That Lakers team was formed by a hall of farmers that were hungry for success. Wilt Chamberlain broke multiple records but had only one title. Gail Goodrich and Jerry West, who was the only person to win Finals MVP, were looking for their first title.

Even though the team lost another Hall of Famer, Elgin Baylor, early in the season, they went on a record 33-game winning streak. The team finished with a 69-13 record and went 12-3 in the playoffs to win the sought-after title.

9. 1985-86 Boston Celtics were among the most dominant teams in the NBA and best defensive teams ever.

(Bleacher Report, Fadeaway World)

Some can argue that these Celtics were the best team in the 80s — and might have a point. Larry Bird was the consecutive three-time MVP. When you add former MVP and that year’s Sixth Man of the Year Bill Walton, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, you would understand why.

The team won 67 games and lost only three in the playoffs. They led the league in defensive rating and rebounds and were second in assists. On top of that, all five starters averaged double figures in scoring.

10. 1986-87 LA Lakers are considered by many to be the best NBA team in the 1980s.

(Bleacher Report, Fadeaway World)

It had to take a special team to win against Larry Bird’s Celtics, and it had to be their fiercest rival — the Lakers. In the 1986-87 season, we saw the rise of Magic Johnson, who took the wheel from aging Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and became the league’s MVP.

The team led by Johnson won the title, beating the Celtics 4-2 in the finals. The Lakers won 65 games in the regular season and went 15-3 in the playoffs, leading the league in offensive rating. Seven players averaged double figures in scoring that season.

The Best College Basketball Teams

College basketball is as exciting as the NBA for many people. College players do not get paid, and their motivation is to turn pro or earn scholarships. March Madness is arguably as famous and watched as many other professional sports events. 

College basketball rankings in 2021

The 2020-21 season was an exciting one. As usual, we saw many surprises during March Madness, and in the end, Baylor won it all against Gonzaga. But is Baylor the best team going into next season? Read further to find out.

11. One of the leaders in the college basketball rankings for 2020-21, Gonzaga is a top contender for next season.

(CBS Sports)(KSR)

Gonzaga won 31 games last season and was the favorite of many. While they fell short and will be losing a few of their starters, they remain a top contender. 

Players such as Drew Timme are returning, and adding high rookie prospects such as Chet Holmgren, will surely put them in the mix for the title.

12. UCLA is moving on most people’s list of the best college basketball teams in 2021.

(CBS Sports)

UCLA reached the Final Four last season, and every player is coming back. With star player Johnny Juzang’s decision not to enter the NBA Draft and few new additions, the Bruins are many people’s favorite.

13. The return of key players gives Villanova the chance to be one of the top 4 college basketball teams.

(CBS Sports, KSR)

If Collin Gillispie didn’t get hurt last season, Villanova could’ve been a championship contender. Gillispie and Jermaine Samuels are among seven players electing to come back for next year. That means Villanova is back in the contest for the championship.

14. Texas has been climbing in the college basketball top 25 rankings.

(CBS Sports)

Texas made significant additions in the transfer portal and added five players with a double-digit scoring average. Now the team has a deep roster that also has the experience. We say, don’t scratch off the Longhorns from a long run in March.

15. One of the Big 12 conferencebest college basketball teams, Kansas, is always a contender.

(CBS Sports)

Kansas beat the future champion Baylor last season but finished second in the Big 12. There is some great news, though — four out of five highest scorers are coming back. Plus, some high-level transfers, such as Remy Martin, make the Jayhawks contender for the title. 

Best college basketball teams ever

Just like in the NBA, some teams stay in fans’ memories forever. Those teams went beyond winning the championship — they did so while achieving historical stats. Keep reading below to see our picks.

16.  The 1972 UCLA Bruins come on top of many people’s college basketball rankings.

(SB Nation, Men’s Journal)

UCLA under John Wooden was unstoppable. They won multiple championships, but 1972 was very impressive, as the team finished 30-0. They beat their opponents by over 30 points per game and were part of an 88-game winning streak. 

Future NBA MVP Bill Walton was leading the team. He was famously upset when UCLA won the championship, because the team won by only 5 points. He thought he should’ve played better.

17. With possibly the deepest roster in history, the 1996 Kentucky Wildcats are one of the best college basketball teams.

(ESPN, Men’s Journal)

The Wildcats consisted of a roster that could well play in the NBA. And they did, as nine players were selected in the draft, five in the first round. The team went 34-2, including a school record of 27 wins, and won the championship.

18. When you talk about the best college basketball teams of all time, many people select the 1968 UCLA Bruins.

(ESPN, Men’s Journal)

The Bruins lost one game that season and finished 29-1. Beyond that fluke, they dominated teams and won by over 20 points per game in the championship run, including the final. 

UCLA was led by Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,) who averaged 26 points and 16 rebounds per game, possibly the most dominating stats in college basketball.

19. The 1976 Indiana Hoosiers are undoubtedly one of the best college basketball teams of all time.

(SB Nation ESPN)

In 1976, the Hoosiers went 32-0, beating opponents by over 17 points per game. In the semifinal, the team beat the national champions UCLA. 

Scott May averaged 23.5 ppg and 7.7 rpg, and he won the NCAA Player of the Year award.

20. If you ask what the best basketball team in college history is, many fans will point out the 1992 Duke Blue Devils.

(SB Nation, ESPN)

In 1992, Duke went 34-2 and became the first back-to-back champion since UCLA. The team was full of talent and was ranked No.1 the whole year. They crushed Michigan 71-51 in the final.

Moreover, the game-winning basket against Kentucky in the Elite Eight is still talked about today.

The Best Basketball Teams Outside the US

We don’t want to discard the leagues outside the US. Many past and current stars, such as Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic, have come from overseas. Read further for our top picks from the EuroLeague.

21. Turkey’s Anadolu Efes is the EuroLeague’s best basketball team in 2021.

(EuroLeague)

The Turkish team won the 2020-21 EuroLeague, the equivalent of the NBA championship. The team reached the Final Four in the previous season, 2018-19 (2019-20 was canceled due to the pandemic). This year, Efes also became the champion of Turkey.

22. If you ask — what is the best basketball team in the EuroLeague? — many would say CSKA Moscow.

(EuroLeague)

CSKA Moscow is one of the most successful teams in Europe. They’ve won the EuroLeague eight times and been in the Final Four in eight of the last ten years. When you add 48 Russian and USSR titles, you can see why they are labeled as one of the best.

23. Countless people would say Real Madrid is the best basketball team in Europe.

(EuroLeague)

Real Madrid holds the record for most EuroLeague titles, with ten, the latest of which came in 2018 when Luka Doncic won the MVP. The team has also won 34 Spanish titles and Spanish cups, making it one of the most decorated teams.

24. Barcelona is always one of the best basketball teams in Europe.

(EuroLeague)

While the team has won only two EuroLeagues, they’ve made the Final Four 14 times since 1988. They are also the current champions of Spain.

25. While not as successful in recent years, Maccabi Tel Aviv can also be considered as one of the best basketball teams in Europe.

(EuroLeague)

While being a powerhouse in Israel, winning 55 national titles and 45 Israeli cups, Maccabi hasn’t made the EuroLeague Playoffs in five years. 

That doesn’t take away from the fact that the team has won the EuroLeague six times (only behind Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow), most recently in 2014.

FAQ

Who is the best basketball team?

(ESPN, Bleacher Report, SB Nation, CBS Sports)

While there is no single answer to the question, a few teams can fight for that title. Newly crowned Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, and Baylor in the NCAA, currently hold the championship crown.

The 1996 Bulls, 2007 Warriors in the NBA or 1968 UCLA, or 1996 Kansas in the NCAA, are all contenders.

Who is the best NBA team right now?

(ESPN)

The Milwaukee Bucks are the 2020-21 NBA Champion and on top of the NBA team rankings going into next season. We believe they’re the best team right now. 

Who is the best NBA team for 2020?

(CBS Sports)

The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title in 2020, tying Boston Celtics for most titles — 17. LeBron James made history as the only player to become Finals MVP for three different teams, and only the second one after Michael Jordan with more than four in total.

Who are the best teams in college basketball?

(CBS Sports)

Unlike the NBA, college teams lose their best players every year and have to start from scratch. Take a look at the top 5 all-time programs that have brought success throughout time.

  1. Kentucky – 47 regular-season titles, 17 Final Fours, 59 NCAA tournaments
  2. North Carolina – 35 regular-season titles, 20 Final Fours, 50 NCAA tournaments
  3. Duke – 22 regular-season titles, 16 Final Fours, 43 NCAA tournaments
  4. UCLA – 31 regular-season titles, 18 Final Fours, 49 NCAA tournaments
  5. Kansas – 42 Regular-season titles, 15 Final Fours, 48 NCAA tournaments

Who is considered the best college basketball team of all time?

(SB Nation, Men’s Journal, ESPN)

While we can’t point at a single greatest team, we will share our top 5 picks: 

  • 1972 UCLA 
  • 1996 Kentucky 
  • 1976 Indiana
  • 1968 UCLA
  • 1992 Duke 

We believe that any one of these teams can be called the greatest of all time.

Who is the worst NBA team of all time?

(Basketball-Reference)

Charlotte Bobcats hold the record for the worst NBA record. In 2011-12, the Bobcats finished with a 7-59 record, for a winning percentage of 0.106, making them the worst team in NBA history. 

The Philadelphia 76ers hold the other record with single-digit wins. In 1972-73, the team finished with a 9-73 record.

Who are the top 10 best basketball teams of all time?

(Bleacher Report, Fadeaway World, SB Nation, ESPN, Men’s Journal)

With so many championship teams in history, many would argue which are the top 10, but here are our choices:

In the NBA: 

  • 1995-96 Chicago Bulls
  • 2016-17 Golden State Warriors
  • 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1985-86 Boston Celtics
  • 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers

In college:

  • 1972 UCLA
  • 1996 Kentucky
  • 1968 UCLA
  • 1976 Indiana
  • 1992 Duke

Will 2021-22 give us another team on that list? We’ll have to wait. 

For the Buzzer-Beater

Basketball is thrilling and fast-paced, which is why it is No.1 for many of the 150 million Americans that watch live sports

However, not all teams are the same — some get to write their name in the history books. Whether the 2017 Golden State Warriors, or the 1996 Chicago Bulls, or maybe UCLA in 1968 or 1972, they are all part of the best basketball teams in history. 

Sources

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