For the 4th time in 8 years, the Golden State Warriors are NBA Champions.
Led by two of the best shooters in league history, it’s evident that the Warriors played the game differently than ever before to create their dynasty. But how would they compare to the other dynasties in basketball history after inflation?
For this comparison, we’ll look at the four other teams to win 4 or more titles in ten years: the Spurs, Bulls, and Lakers twice.
We’ll take the average of their team season statistics and inflate them to the same league average to see how each team would perform in the same era, ranking them from worst to first on Pythagorean Win Percentage.
|GSW (’15-’22)||SAS (’99-’07)||CHI|
|LAL (’80-’88)||LAL (’00-’10)|
|Opponent Total Points||67,038||67,995||62,911||84,205||91,457|
First, let’s start with the 2000-2010 Lakers.
The Lakers defined basketball in the early 2000s, winning five titles in eleven years, beginning with a three-peat from 2000-2002, then going back-to-back in 2009 and 2010.
But, after inflation, their win/loss record falls to 63.4%. But if anyone in this group deserves the benefit of the doubt for off years in the dynasty, it’s this Lakers team. Their run stretched for 902 total games, the most of the group by far.
In terms of inflation, the Lakers do not see drastic changes to their numbers, as their per-game scoring actually rose by about 3.7 points per game since they were never truly reliant on the three-point shot.
Between having prime Shaq in the initial three-peat, then the likes of Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard for numbers 4 and 5, the 6.9% raise of field goal attempts inside the arc was a plus for their makeup.
The biggest change from the early 2000’s to this balanced league average was the growth of assists, which rose 8.3%, however, I’m not sure how much this would have mattered for one of the greatest unassisted scorers in league history.
Right in front of the 2000’s Lakers is the team in this demonstration who receives the greatest bump with inflation: the 1980-88 Lakers.
The Showtime Lakers never won consecutive titles, but were always in the mix, winning it all in 1980, 1982, 1985, and 1988. They produced a 72.1% winning percentage over 820 games, which after inflation turns in a 64.7% Pythagorean Win-Loss percentage.
This Lakers team could score the ball better than any team discussed in this comparison, averaging 115.2 points a game over these eight years. Despite three-point attempts inflating 389.3%, their scoring actually falls 8 points a game when it’s all said and done.
This is due mostly to the inability to hit those increased attempts from the outside, which was understandably not a part of their game during the dynasty. Over the timespan, they averaged just 3.5 attempts from deep on 30.2% shooting, which after inflation would still only lead to 5.2 threes a game, which is still 1.1 less a night than the Warriors who were deflated 49.1%.
Outside of Michael Cooper, who was the only player in this era to average over a made three per game, nobody was attempting threes regularly. Instead, the Lakers capitalized on pace and won the track race, which allowed Magic Johnson to shine the way he did, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the force he was inside.
However, after inflation, their per-game figures would drop, since both pace and inside scoring takes a steep drop-off in a balanced era.
The next team in the example is the team who soon after dethroned Showtime, making one of the greatest dynasties ever. The only team to win six titles in 8 years since the installation of the three-point line is the Chicago Bulls.
If anyone doesn’t know their story, there are a million articles out there that can describe it better than I can. All you need to know is from 1991-1998, the Bulls won six rings on a 74.7% winning percentage.
After inflation, however, which saw numbers like a 29% increase in threes, pace increase by 2%, but two-point attempts and free throws drop 3% each, their Pythagorean Win/Loss stays exactly the same.
This shows just how balanced this team was, keeping both their per-game scoring of 103.7 right around the same mark, while their defensive metrics still had the opponents scoring less than 96 a night against them.
And this has been highlighted in past videos about MJ, with the fact that he can score at volume in just about any era of basketball, and so could Pippen.
As the league continued to trend into more of a shooter’s league, Pippen and MJ were both able to increase their percentage from the outside. Pippen, for example, transitioned from a 25% shooter from the outside in the first three-peat, to 36.1% in the second three-peat.
But, despite the best run of titles we’ve seen since the three-point line was added, they fall to second place in terms of Pythagorean Win/Loss percentage, being replaced by the team that won it the following season: the San Antonio Spurs.
In a span of 738 games, they posted a 70.7% winning percentage with four rings, despite only one of those eight seasons featuring a team record with less than 20 wins.
However, they were the picture of consistency, thus creating a core of players with postseason talent and the ability to buy into Gregg Popovich’s system, which was highlighted by defense.
Even after inflation, which increased their per-game scoring by 3.9 points, they still averaged under 100 points per night.
Their field goal percentage, 2-point field goal percentage and free-throw percentage rank last compare to the other four teams, despite having debatably five Hall of Famers in the era.
This all goes to show how incredible they were defensive, allowing their opponents to average just 92.1 points per game on 42% shooting after inflation over eight years.
This allows their below-average offensive production to not really matter when equating Pythagorean win-loss, as they are expected to win 74.8% of their games with these figures.
While Tim Duncan and for part David Robinson lead the charge of above-average interior defense, the emphasis on perimeter defense was also apparent from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who both averaged over a steal per season during the stretch.
And this formula always seemed to work even past the end of their title-winning dynasty and into the mid 2010’s, as San Antonio was determined to hold off on the three-point revolution the league was heading in. And if it were not for the dynasty the Warriors are currently on, teams may still be attempting to win the way Popovich made it so successful.
But, the Warriors redesigned the game altogether, posting a 66.8% winning percentage in 629 games, despite a 2020 season where Golden State went 15-50 without most of their starting 5.
As expected with inflation, since the team is clearly more reliant on threes than a team has ever been, their Pythagorean Win-Loss takes a hit to 57.9%.
While they have the best per-game scoring of the group, at 109 points per game after inflation, their lack of defensive eliteness outside of this past season is a major factor in their poor projected record, especially if in this league average that interior scoring would take more precedence.
But, Pythagorean Win-Loss is just a simple numeric way to rank their team’s success after inflation, and should not be the final judgment of the greatest dynasty in NBA history. Most front offices would trade a season or two of sub-.500 play for a ring or two, as opposed to .500 play for four years.
But, this demonstration goes to show how the makeup of a championship-caliber has changed, from the up-and-down style of the Lakers, to the Bulls triangle offense, to the instinctual play of the 2000’s Lakers, to the fundamentals and defensive intensity of San Antonio, and finally to the greatest shooting display we’ve ever seen in Golden State: there’s only a matter of time until the next style for success is upon us.
The only question is if Steph, Klay, and Draymond are ready to give this one up yet.