NBA Finals: Ranking the Last 10 NBA Championship Teams

NBA Finals: Ranking the Last 10 NBA Championship Teams

Edwin Kiplagat
June 2, 2023 at 8:06 AM
  • There have been some iconic NBA championship teams in the last decade
  • The Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and the Miami Heat come to mind
  • Sports Brief ranks the last 10 NBA champions as Denver and Miami battle it out

The Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat are battling for the 2023 NBA championship, and history beckons for both sides.

The Nuggets are looking to win their first-ever NBA championship, while the Heat are attempting to lift their fourth title and first since 2013. We've witnessed some great teams this century, like the Golden State Warriors and the Miami Heat.

Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, NBA Finals
The 2017 Warriors went 16-1 in the playoffs. Photos by Mike Ehrmann and Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE.
Source: Getty Images

The Warriors won the title last season, their fourth in eight years, but were knocked out in the second round, meaning we'll have a new champion this month. The Nuggets are overwhelming favorites to win it this season, but the Heat have shown they are no pushovers.

The Warriors had arguably the best team of all time a few years ago, but where do their championship teams rank?

Ranking previous NBA Championship teams

10. Los Angeles Lakers - 2019/2020

The 2019/2020 season was different because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted the league. The pandemic shut down the league, which went on a five-month break. The Lakers, led by LeBron James, breezed through the postseason after finishing with a 52-19 regular season record. Their playoff run wasn't the most difficult on this list. They won their first three series 4-1 before defeating the Miami Heat 4-2 in the NBA Finals.

9. Milwaukee Bucks - 2020/21

In the 2021 playoffs, the Bucks swept the Miami Heat to begin the postseason. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, they toppled the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, and Phoenix Suns in the next rounds to win their first title in 50 years.

8. Golden State Warriors - 2021/22

After two disappointing seasons, one of which they finished with the worst record in the NBA, the Warriors dynasty returned to the 2022 NBA Finals. They ended the regular season with the league's best defensive rating, but its offense wasn't that great. However, they stepped up in the postseason, comfortably winning all their series to win another title.

7. Toronto Raptors - 2018/19

The 2019 postseason was historic for the Raptors. Led by Kawhi Leonard, they had to overcome a solid Philadelphia 76ers in seven games. In Game 7, Leonard hit one of the greatest game-winning buzzer-beaters in NBA history, per USA Today. They also beat top seed Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals in six games. They also toppled the Warriors in six games in the finals to win their first and only NBA championship.

6. Golden State Warriors - 2014/15

This is the campaign that started the Warriors dynasty. In his debut season as a coach, Steve Kerr unleashed a Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson-led offense. Their defense was the best in the league. They furnished a 67-15 regular season record before going 16-5 in the playoffs to win their first title in 40 years.

5. San Antonio Spurs - 2013/14

The Spurs painfully lost the 2013 title to the Miami Heat and had a chance to avenge that defeat in 2014. After finishing the regular season with a 62-20 record, they survived a seven-game series with the Dallas Mavericks in the first round before dispatching Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Heat in five, six, and five games, respectively, per Bleacher Report.

4. Golden State Warriors - 2017/18

The Warriors were coming off a near-perfect championship run in 2017 and were looking to go back-to-back. And they did. Aside from surviving two elimination games against the Houston Rockets, their run was flawless. They swept the Cavaliers in the finals to secure back-to-back titles.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers - 2015/16

The Cavaliers registered the greatest comeback in NBA history in the 2016 NBA Finals. After losing to the Warriors in 2015, they wanted to avenge that loss. Their run in the East was straightforward, but in the finals, they faced a 73-9 Warriors juggernaut. They went 1-3 down but stunned the world of sports with an astonishing comeback to win their first NBA title.

2. Miami Heat - 2012/13

The Heat were coming off their first title in the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh era, but in 2013, they faced a tough San Antonio Spurs team. They won 66 games in the regular season and easily won their first two series. However, they went to seven games against the Indiana Pacers in the conference finals before facing the Spurs in the finals. A Ray Allen clutch three-pointer saw the Heat win Game 6 in overtime before winning Game 7 and the title, per Sporting News.

1. Golden State Warriors - 2016/17

The 2017 Warriors might be the best NBA team of all time, per Fox Sports. They won 67 games in the regular season and tallied a 12-0 record in the first three rounds in the first season with Kevin Durant. In the finals, they won the first three games, but the Cavaliers had to break several NBA records to take Game 4. The Warriors were too much for the Cavs as they won Game 5 at home to win the series.

Teams without an NBA title

Sports Brief earlier looked at NBA teams without a title or an NBA Finals appearance.

11 NBA teams have never won and the Phoenix Suns made the most finals without winning.

The Denver Nuggets can end their drought this season if they beat Miami Heat in the finals.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Editor- Other Sports