Since the ABA/NBA merger the NBA has been known as a players league. The common conception is the NBA is a league where the superstar players have all the power. Despite this commonly held notion, more often than not, it is the teams, that have renewed success more than the individual players. With this in mind I wanted to go through the best organizations in the league that continue to win even with the personnel changing year to year.
1. The San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have made the playoffs 16 seasons in a row! That is six more seasons in a row than any other active playoff streak. San Antonio has been a fixture in the Western conference playoffs for so long because of their continuity. Greg Popovich has been around since 1996 as a constant voice, Tim Duncan has excelled as the team leader since 1998. Since those two have paired up the Spurs have had a specific strategy in place, they draft players, fit them into a specific niche and allow them to grow with the organization. This philosophy held by everyone in the organization allows them consistently refresh their talent pool and stay competitive.
2. The Oklahoma City Thunder
Sam Presti has shown himself to be one of the best general managers in the NBA. When the Thunder traded away James Harden they were killed by almost all basketball pundits. After Harden showed himself to be a top 10 player the outcry against Presti grew even stronger (despite the Thunder winning 13 more games the year after the trade). When, Kevin Martin, the main piece in the Harden trade left in free agency sports writers had a field day. What have the Thunder done since then? Oh, just have the best record in the league while developing a whole new slew of young players (Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Steven Adams) to keep them contending for the foreseeable future)
3. Boston Celtics:
The Celtics lead the NBA in titles (with 17), but have only won one title in the last 27 years. Despite this, the Celtics lead the Eastern Conference in consecutive playoff appearances (six in a row). Since the addition of Kevin Garnett, the Celtics have not missed the playoffs, and now with him playing in Brooklyn, the Celtics are still leading the Atlantic division. With Boston not a free agent destination the Celtics need to draft well and then develop players that other teams passed on. In Jared Sullinger, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, the Celtics have found diamonds in the ruff to rebuild with. WIth the benefit of 8 first round picks in the next four years, they will continue to contend the way they always have, player development.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have the second most titles in the NBA with 16 (although as a Celtics fan I would like to point out that some were won in Minneapolis not LA, which shouldn’t count for their total). With the death of Jerry Buss the Lakers might have a void at the top of their organization but they will persevere in the same way they always have. The Lakers will always be in contention because they are the biggest free agent destination in the NBA.
5. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are a team in an area with a rabid basketball loving fan base. Indiana is lead by a general manager who is nicknamed “The Basketball Jesus” in Larry Bird. They have taken what were viewed as a group of mediocre talent and developed them into a contender. With Paul George leading the charge and Larry Legend replenishing the ranks with undervalued talent the Pacers should be in the title hunt for years to come.