Top NBA Super Teams of the modern era

For starters, we will not dive into the concepts and ignorant comments of Julius “Dr. J” Erving. For context, you can listen to Dr. J on “Posted Up” a podcast featuring Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. Erving made a comment (while picking his All-Time First & Second NBA Teams), alluding to LeBron James being left off because he is the reason for super teams in the NBA. To hell with Dr. J however, we will instead discuss some of the best NBA Super Teams of the modern era.

“He’s the guy who led the charge in terms of superteams being put together when he put together a team in Miami,” said Erving of the four-time MVP James. “He put together a team in Cleveland as well and put together a team in Los Angeles. He can pick his own team. I ain’t gonna pick his team.”

Source: Watch on YouTube if you want to cringe

Top NBA Super Teams Criteria

  • Three or more All-Star players (or All-Star caliber players) in the season referenced
  • Teams from 2010 onward considered (the 2008 Celtics miss the cut they’re old and retired anyways)
  • No NBA Championship necessary – talent and individual player success considered to justify the “Super” aspect of the team
  • Must have assembled team through free-agent signings, trades, or achieve highly unattainable NBA records

2012-2013 Miami Heat

One of the biggest offensive rebounds and three-point field goals came in the 2013 NBA Finals. It was Ray Allen who would tie up the game with 5.5 seconds left in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals. Sure enough, it was Allen who had the ropes and the Larry O’Brien trophy temporarily placed back behind the scenes until overtime was played. In overtime with just under two minutes left, the 2013 MVP, LeBron James would put the Heat up for good 101-100 and never look back. In other words, Miami forced a Game 7 to eventually win the 2012-2013 NBA Championship.

LeBron James26.8 PTS | 8.0 REB | 7.2 AST | 31.67 PER
Dywane Wade21.2 PTS | 5.0 REB | 5.1 AST | 24.04 PER
Chris Bosh16.6 PTS | 6.8 REB | 1.7 AST | 20.08 PER

2012-2013 Miami Heat season highlights:

  • Winners of 27 games in a ROW (and the second most wins a row in NBA history in the regular season)
  • LeBron James wins his fourth MVP Award
  • The Heat won a league-high 66 games in the 2012-2013 regular season
  • Miami led the NBA in shooting percentage average with 49.6 percent per game
  • LeBron James made the All-NBA First Team and All-NBA Defensive First Team

2016-2017 Golden State Warriors

How else can I describe a modern NBA Super Team without mentioning the Warriors? This one is an intriguing match-up if this roster could have faced off against the 2013 Heat squad. Don’t you agree? Arguably, on paper, this Warrior team is one for the ages. Now the previous season they did go 73-9 (and still hold the best record in the regular season). However, with Kevin Durant on the roster, I gotta say that this team is the BEST Warrior team obviously. Remember we’re tracking the BEST teams overall. In conclusion, that means a KD-less Warrior team at 73-9 isn’t the best Warrior team of the modern era.

Stephen Curry25.3 PTS | 4.5 REB | 6.6 AST | 24.74 PER
Kevin Durant25.1 PTS | 8.3 REB | 4.8 AST | 27.68 PER
Klay Thompson22.3 PTS | 3.7 REB | 2.1 AST | 17.53 PER

2016-2017 Golden State Warriors season highlights

  • 16-1 in the 2017 NBA Playoffs (swept all three rounds in the Western Conference playoff rounds)
  • Draymond Green won Defensive Player of the Year
  • Warriors won a league-high 67 games in the 2016-2017 regular season
  • Bob Myers wins Executive of the Year Award
  • Curry, Durant, Green, and Thompson all were 2017 NBA All-Stars

2015-2016 Golden State Warriors

I know what you’re thinking. Chev, you just told us the Warriors without KD isn’t the best Warrior team. Yeah, they’re not the BEST Warrior team of the modern era. Both sides of history tell us this Warriors team is the rare one apart of the good and bad sides. Losing a 3-1 NBA Finals lead is still the worse in NBA history. Since 2016 no NBA team has gone up 3-1 and lost (and the 2017 Finals was revenge for the Warriors). Again, it is hard to ignore how good this team was and quite frankly one of the best teams we have witnessed in the last decade in 2021. Most importantly, a nice note about the assembly of this team? All of the players listed below were drafted by the Warriors and with the right veteran guys, their success was rapid.

Stephen Curry30.1 PTS | 5.4 REB | 6.7 AST | 31.56 PER
Draymond Green14.0 PTS | 9.5 REB | 7.4 AST | 19.31 PER
Klay Thompson22.1 PTS | 3.8 REB | 2.1 AST | 18.67 PER

2015-2016 Golden State Warriors season highlights

  • This Warriors team achieved the best NBA regular-season record as mentioned before. The 73-9 record tops the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls 72-10 team
  • Stephen Curry wins the NBA MVP Award. His second MVP award in back-to-back seasons
  • The Warriors were down 3-1 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2017 Western Conference Finals. They won the final three games of the series to win the Western Conference in 2017
  • Steve Kerr won the Coach of the Year Award
  • Started season 24-0 before losing their first game on December 12, 2015.

2015-2016 Cleveland Cavaliers

Furthermore, to piggyback off of the 2015-2016 Warriors the Cavaliers also make the cut in consideration that they also were arguably one of the best rosters. The fortunate part is that the Cavs make this list on the best side of history. Thus far they are the only team to go down 1-3 in the NBA finals and to come back and win eventually. LeBron James hoisted his third NBA Finals and NBA Finals MVP. The iconic Game 7 block on Andre Iguodala and the Kyrie Irving three-point shot over Stephen Curry will forever be a part of the NBA Finals montage. We are all left wondering if the Warriors-Cavaliers matchups could continue to be a well-balanced NBA Finals choice until Durant decided he wanted a piece of the Championship pie.

LeBron James25.3 PTS | 7.4 REB | 6.8 AST | 27.64 PER
Kyrie Irving19.6 PTS | 3.0 REB | 4.7 AST | 19.96 PER
Kevin Love16.0 PTS | 9.9 REB | 2.4 AST | 19.08 PER

2015-2016 Cleveland Cavaliers season highlights

  • LeBron James was elected to All-NBA First Team, became the third player in NBA history to record a triple-double in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, and became the first player in NBA history to lead both NBA Finals teams in all five statistical categories for the round
  • Cavaliers finished first place in the Eastern Conference with 57 wins
  • As mentioned, the only team to appear in the NBA Finals and come back from a 1-3 deficit to win the NBA Championship

Honorable mention

2017-2018 Houston Rockets
First, the Houston Rockets also went through a few changes before the season started. Tilman Fertitta bought the Rockets in the summer of 2017 while Morey organized trading for Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers. It was the 2017-2018 season where the Rockets won a league-high 65 games, James Harden won the MVP award and Daryl Morey, GM at the time, won the Executive of the Year award. Houston rolled up to the Western Conference Finals to face the Warriors. Paul was unable to play in Game 6 & 7 due to a hamstring injury he sustained in Game 5. The Rockets went up 3-2 in the series still. After that, the disappointing part of this team? They missed missing 27 straight 3-point shots in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals in 2018.

In addition, are we calling Chris Paul and James Harden a Super Team likewise the above? The criteria I laid out was to guide us through this journey. I think the lack of accomplishing anything extraordinary made this team underwhelming. They were the closest team that came to contesting the Warriors in the Western Conference and the East’s best was Cleveland so, slim pickings to discuss any further teams in the past.

2017-2018 Golden State Warriors
We can almost copy-paste the 2016-2017 team and call it a done deal. However, the biggest feat for this team? Was being down 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets as mentioned above. If there was a year the NBA needed to catch the Warriors slipping it was this opportunity.

On the bubble

2020-2021 Brooklyn Nets
The verdict has yet to be determined for this New York team. Interestingly enough, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden all faced some sort of super team in the last decade. We await the season-ending results but this team to me can easily be top 3 if we ranked the above mentioned. I sound like a broken record writing about the Nets lately but they have secured a playoff spot and currently sitting number one in the Eastern Conference. Having a trio of superstars in the NBA means you can rotate the load management and still stay afloat huh? Furthermore, word on the street is that Durant, Harden, and Irving all have played up to seven games together as of today.

In conclusion here, the lack of this trio playing together doesn’t represent the true potential of how good this team is. The scary part for today’s NBA is that it is bad news for the competition. However, there is still the potential that the Nets either end up like the 2017-2018 Houston Rockets and fail to see the Finals in year one together or if they do win it all, may be considered as the BEST Super Team ever?

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