Breaking Down the Most Talented Teams in the NBA

October 24, 2012
By Eric Palutsis


Everybody has heard the old adage that “games aren’t won on paper.” While this is certainly true, one also cannot deny that having the most talent on the roster is the key to winning games in the long run. With that in mind, who are the most talent-laden teams in the NBA today? Who (on paper) has the best chance of making a run to the NBA Finals next summer?


Using ESPN’s recent ranking of the top 100 players in the NBA, each of the league’s 30 teams were ranked on basis of pure talent. Teams were ranked based on how many players they had in the league’s top five, top ten, top 25, top 50, etc. Players at the top of the list were obviously given more value than players found near the bottom of the rankings. For example, the Denver Nuggets surprisingly had the highest number of players in the top 100 but only two qualified to be in the top 50. However, the Nuggets still ranked well below the Los Angeles Lakers, who had only four players in the top 100, since all four of those players were also in the league’s top 50 players.


Based on this player value formula, each of the NBA’s 30 teams were ranked from highest to lowest. The results are displayed as each teams percentage of the potential “perfect score,” if a team had the top five players in the NBA on one team. The league naturally divides into three distinct tiers of talent:


Tier 1

To no one’s surprise, the three most talented teams in the league are the defending conference champions and a revamped Laker team that is on every analyst’s short list to compete for an NBA title. The other two teams in this upper echelon, the Bulls and Celtics, also boast a top five player and three more players in the NBA top 50. These five teams may not sport the same depth as some of the teams in the lower tiers but the quality of their talent separates them from the rest of the league.


1.   Los Angeles Lakers


2.   Oklahoma City Thunder


3.   Miami Heat


4.   Boston Celtics


5.   Chicago Bulls




Tier 2

The NBA’s second talent tier is defined by teams with multiple solid contributors but lacking a bona fide star, as only the Nets (Deron Williams) and Timberwolves (Kevin Love) have players ranked in the top ten. However, each of the eleven teams have at least three players in the top 100, including the Nuggets who lead the league with seven top 100 players.


6.   Memphis Grizzlies


7.   Brooklyn Nets


8.   San Antonio Spurs


9.   Denver Nuggets


10. New York Knicks


11. Indiana Pacers


12. Minnesota Timberwolves


13. Golden State Warriors


14. New Orleans Hornets


15. Los Angeles Clippers







Tier 3

Teams in the third tier are fringe teams that will be competing for the final few playoff spots in each conference. These nine teams lack true stars, as their most talented players are only top 25 players. They do not have the same amount of depth as the second tier teams; no team has more than three top 100 players except for the Mavericks (5).




16. Atlanta Hawks


17. Milwaukee Bucks


18. Philadelphia 76ers


19. Dallas Mavericks


20. Cleveland Cavaliers


21. Portland Trail Blazers


22. Utah Jazz


23. Sacramento Kings



Tier 4

The NBA’s bottom tier is characterized by a dearth of talent, as none of the seven teams even have a player in the league’s top 25 and only the Kings and Pistons have a player ranked in the top 50. The Rockets and Magic, both “losers” in the Dwight Howard saga during the summer, are suffering from the lack of talent, as they have no players even in the top 75. Finally, the woeful Charlotte Bobcats are in for another tough year, as they do not have a single player in the league’s top 100.


24. Phoenix Suns


25. Toronto Raptors


26. Washington Wizards


27. Detroit Pistons


28. Houston Rockets


29. Orlando Magic


30. Charlotte Bobcats