Ranking the most relevant NBA franchises since 2010


Liam Jackson, Sports Editor

The 2021-22 NBA season has concluded and the Golden State Warriors have won its fourth title in eight years. Although the dynastic Warriors have reclaimed the Larry O’Brien Trophy, a new era of NBA stars and breakout teams is on the horizon.

Before this new era is ushered in, looking back on what transpired seems necessary. This is a ranking of the most relevant NBA franchises since 2010.

Point system (relevancy points)

Relevancy was ranked based on a point system. The three main categories are team success, player success and attendance.

For team success points were awarded for playoff appearances the farther the playoff run, the more points. Teams that finished the regular season as the one seed in its respective conference were also awarded points.

Players who were selected to an All-NBA team gained points for their team. The MVP of the league gained their team six points. 

Finally, teams that had top 10 attendance in a given year were awarded one point.

NBA Finals victories = 10pts

NBA Finals appearances = 7pts

Conference finals appearances = 5pts

Conference semifinals appearances = 3pts

Playoff appearances = 1pts

One seeds = 4pts

MVPs = 6pts

All-NBA First Team = 3pts

All-NBA Second Team = 2pts

All-NBA Third Team = 1pts

Attendance (top 10 of league) = 1pts 

Green = team success

Red = player success

Blue = fan engagement 

Bottom tier

  1. (tie) Detroit Pistons: 4 points

Oof. After two finals appearances and six straight eastern conference finals appearances during the 2000’s, the Pistons have been in the basement of the league since 2010. Playoff appearances in 2016 and 2019 ended in two first round exits. The Pistons were swept in both series. 

  1. (tie) Sacramento Kings: 4 points

Tied with Detroit at the bottom are the Kings. Sacramento has not been to the playoffs since the 2005-06 season. 

The Kings saving grace since 2010 was DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins. He was selected to the All-NBA second team in 2015 and 2016. Boogie was a dominant offensive force and averaged over 24 points per game and 10 rebounds per game in both seasons.

  1. Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets: 5 points

Charlotte had two playoff appearances since 2010, one in the 2013-14 season and the other in the 2015-16 season when they took the Miami Heat, minus LeBron James, to six games.

Kemba Walker was the franchise’s best player over this time frame and he was honored with an All-NBA third team selection in 2019. Walker averaged nearly 26 points a game while playing in all 82 contests. 

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves: 9 points

Minnesota took a sizable stride in the right direction in the 2021-22 season. Led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, the Timberwolves earned a playoff berth.

Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler and Towns all had All-NBA team appearances in their time with Minnesota.

  1. Orlando Magic: 13 points 

Orlando had a good mix of relevancy points since 2010. Team success, player success and attendance. The Magic sprinkled just a little of each.

Dwight Howard was the best center in basketball for a time in the 2000’s and into the 2010’s. He averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game and was one of the best defensive players in the league at the same time during his All-NBA first team seasons in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Four playoff appearances and three top 10 finishes in attendance add the final seven relevancy points.

  1. (tie) New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets: 16 points

For as much talent that the Nets have acquired since 2010, the fact that Brooklyn is this low on the list is a major disappointment. 

The Nets have won two playoff series since 2010 and Kyrie Irving in 2021 and Kevin Durant in 2022 are the only All-NBA players.

  1. (tie) Washington Wizards: 16 points

Washington has the most playoff success of any team to this point on the list. Five playoff appearances and three conference semifinal appearances vault the Wizards over the six teams below them.

John Wall and Bradley Beal each have one All-NBA third team nomination.

  1. New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans: 18 points

New Orleans was lucky enough to win the 2012 draft lottery and receive the first pick. Anthony Davis was the pick and he has proven to be a generational talent. Davis racked up nine relevancy points by earning All-NBA first team honors three times. 

Hall of famer Chris Paul started his career in New Orleans as well. His 18 point and 10 assist per game averages in 2010-11 were good enough for an All-NBA third team. 

Intermediate tier

  1. New York Knicks: 26 points

New York has a very strong case to make for having the best fanbase in the NBA. The Knicks boasted top 10 attendance rankings in every season since 2010 with the exception of the 2020-21 season. 

Those fans were treated to All-NBA seasons from Carmelo Anthony, Julius Randle, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.

As far as team success goes, New York was just mediocre. The Knicks had four playoff appearances and one conference semifinals appearance

  1. Phoenix Suns: 31 points

Phoenix is the first team on the list with an NBA Finals appearance since 2010 on the list. After the run to the Finals in 2021, the Suns clinched the one seed in the Western Conference with a record of 64-18 in 2021-22.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker both made All-NBA teams in 2022, but were not able to get past the second round of the playoffs.

  1. Utah Jazz: 33 points

Utah has been one of the best regular season teams in the league in recent years. The Jazz were the one seed in the Western conference in the 2020-21 season after a 52-20 record. Since 2010 however, the Jazz have not made a conference finals.

Rudy Gobert is an all-time great rim protector. His defense has earned him three defensive player of the year awards and four All-NBA selections. 

  1. Memphis Grizzlies: 34 points

Memphis is just a solid NBA organization. A small market team that drafts well puts together competitive teams year after year. The Grizzlies peak since 2010 was 2012-2013 when they made a run all the way to the Western conference finals. On top of that impressive season, the Grizz had eight playoff appearances.

Defense is the focus of this franchise. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph’s defensive prowess earned them All-NBA honors. 

Ja Morant is now the true face of the franchise and broke out in 2021-22. He earned All-NBA second team honors.

  1. Indiana Pacers: 35 points

At one point in time, the Pacers looked to be next in line for best team in the Eastern Conference. Back-to-back conference finals appearances against LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2013 and 2014 fueled that optimism.

Paul George was in the early stages of his career and competing with James on the biggest stage. George earned two All-NBA honors as a Pacer, but could never get past the Heat.

  1. Atlanta Hawks: 37 points

The Hawks have made two Eastern Conference finals since 2010 and also were the one seed in the Eastern Conference in 2015. It accomplished all of this with only two All-NBA players in that time frame. Al Horford in 2011 and Trae Young in 2022.

In 2021, Young proved to be a top point guard in the NBA for years to come after leading his team to an unlikely Conference Finals appearance. In 2021-22, Young cracked All-NBA third team by leading the league in points and assists. 

  1. Philadelphia 76ers: 40 points

Sixer fans were told to “trust the process” from 2012 to 2017. Philadelphia tanked the regular seasons to gather as much talent through the draft as possible. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were the prizes for all the losing and they have a combined five All-NBA selections.

The conference semifinals is the deepest the Sixers have been in the playoffs since 2010, but they have had seven playoff appearances and were the one seed of the East in 2020-21 with a 49-23 record.

  1. Denver Nuggets: 45 points

Nikola Jokić. What else needs to be said. Jokic is already the best player in Denver’s franchise history. He was awarded the MVP in 2021 and 2022.

The Nuggets also have had some recent playoff success by coming back from a 3-1 deficit against the Clippers to advance to the Western Conference finals in 2020. 

  1. Portland Trailblazers 50 points

The Blazers have had a good mix of relevancy points since 2010. Nine playoff appearances and a conference finals appearance contribute to the team success points. 

Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge have combined for 10 All-NBA selections. The combination of having star players and a perennial playoff team led to Portland fans showing up and the Trailblazers were top 10 in attendance 10 times. 

  1. Chicago Bulls 56 points

Chicago has some of the richest history in NBA history. Derrick Rose became the youngest MVP in NBA history in the 2010-11 and became a Bulls legend. 

The United Center held more fans than any other arena in the NBA eight times since 2010. These fans were treated to two teams that secured the one seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls also reached an Eastern Conference finals in 2011.

  1. Dallas Mavericks 65 points

The first team with an NBA Finals victory on this list is the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs past the Miami Heat as an underdog. 

Nowitzki added more relevancy points with two All-NBA appearances, but he was not the only Maverick to be selected since 2010. Luka Dončić just finished his fourth NBA season and has already made three All-NBA teams. He also led Dallas to the Western Conference finals in 2022.

  1. (tie) Los Angeles Lakers 66 points

A three team tie at No. 11 begins with the 2020 NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. 

The Lakers have been the home to a multitude of NBA superstars. Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Anthony Davis and LeBron James have all been All-NBA selections during their time on the Lakers since 2010.

Along with the 2020 championship, the Lakers had five playoff appearances, finished as the one seed in the Western Conference in 2020 and had top 10 attendance six times.

  1. (tie) Los Angeles Clippers 66 points

The city of Los Angeles is spoiled when it comes to basketball talent. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Deandre Jordan, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have combined for 15 All-NBA appearances that equate to 31 relevancy points.

A conference finals appearance in 2021 was the franchise’s only since 2010, but they have been a mainstay in the playoffs. The Clippers made the playoffs every year from 2011-21.

“Lob City,” the Clippers team consisting of Griffin, Paul and Jordan, drew packed houses at Staples Center. Top 10 rankings in attendance from 2011-17 prove it.

  1. (tie) Houston Rockets 66 points

The last team tied with 66 points is the Houston Rockets. Houston took analytics and pushed it as far as possible. No more mid-range jumpers, only threes and layups. This style made Houston a perennial contender, but it could never break through to the Finals.

Both times the Rockets made the Western Conference finals since 2010 (2015, 2018), it ran into the Golden State Warriors and were never able to defeat them. Despite falling short in the playoffs, the Rockets changed the way NBA front offices build teams.

  1. Toronto Raptors 70 points

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors to heights the franchise had never been before from 2013 to 2018. However, three straight seasons ending at the hands of LeBron James and the Cavs was the final straw of that era.

Kawhi Leonard was acquired in 2018 and led the Raptors to its first championship in 2019. Although he only played in Toronto for one season, Leonard’s presence elevated a franchise that was consistently good to a champion. 

  1. Boston Celtics 78 points

Boston is a storied franchise. Although it has not captured a championship since 2008, the Celtics have still remained a force in the Eastern Conference. Most recently, it represented the Eastern Conference in the 2022 NBA Finals. 

Jayson Tatum joined Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas and Rajon Rondo as Celtics players on All-NBA teams since 2010. 

  1. Milwaukee Bucks 85 points

Giannis Antetokoumpo is putting together a first-ballot hall of fame career right in front of our eyes. The Greek Freak has two MVP awards to go along with six All-NBA team appearances. 

Milwaukee broke through in 2021, winning the NBA Finals and Antetokoumpo scored 50 points in game six to clinch the championship. The Bucks faced criticism in the years prior for falling short in the postseason after dominating the regular season. Milwaukee clinched the one seed in the Eastern Conference in 2019 and 2020.

Top Tier

  1. San Antonio Spurs 97 points

One word to describe the Spurs would be consistency. San Antonio made the playoffs every single season from 2010 until 2019. Its peak was a two year stretch from 2013 to 2014 when Tim Duncan and Tony Parker led the team to Finals appearances in both years and victory in 2014.

Head coach Greg Popovich recently became the winningest head coach in NBA history. He coached players like Duncan, Parker, Manu Ginóbili, Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge during their All-NBA seasons in San Antonio.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers 100 points

Once LeBron James announced he was returning home to play for Cleveland in 2014, the Cavs instantly became the best team in the East. James led the Cavs to four straight NBA Finals and won in dramatic fashion in 2016.

During the four year stretch of finals appearances, James was a mainstay on All-NBA first team ballots. Kyrie Iriving made an All-NBA third team in 2015 as well. 

Cleveland fans showed up to watch the greatness of James too. The franchise ranked within the top 10 of attendance nine times since 2010. 

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder 103 points

Oklahoma City just barely beats out Cleveland in relevancy points on the ridiculous amounts of star-power the franchise had throughout this era. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant added a combined 31 relevancy points on All-NBA team selections alone. Both players also won an MVP award during that stretch.

As for playoff success, the Thunder have reached one NBA Finals and four Western Conference finals since 2010. 

Even after the Westbrook and Durant era, OKC was able to accumulate more All-NBA level talent with Paul George and then Chris Paul. Don’t let the current rebuild the Thunder are going through now fool you, this franchise has pedigree and is used to success since 2010.

  1. Miami Heat 164 points

Playoff success? Yep. Star-power? Of course. Fan engagement? You bet. Miami has had it all since 2010.

LeBron James made a dramatic announcement in 2010 about how he was heading to South Beach to team up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Heat. Similar to his second stint with Cleveland, James led Miami to four straight NBA finals and won two.

On top of leading his team to back-to-back Finals, James also won back-to-back MVP awards in 2012 and 2013.

The post-James Heat have been headlined by Jimmy Butler. Although Miami has not won a championship since James, Butler has led the franchise back to the finals in 2020 and the Eastern Conference finals in 2022.

  1. Golden State Warriors 211 points

The Warriors are undeniably one of the greatest dynasties in the history of basketball. Although this was probably already true before the 2022 NBA Finals, a fourth championship since 2010 solidified this fact.

Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were the core of the greatest regular season team of all time in the 2015-16 season as they won 73 games. All three players were drafted by the Warriors and have been All-NBA players.

Somehow Golden State got even better after 2016 when Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the team in the offseason. 2017 and 2018 both ended with the Warriors hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy again. 

After injuries and  Durant’s departure, it seemed as if the days of the Warriors dominating the NBA were done. However, in 2022, the two-time league MVP Curry led Golden State to its fourth NBA title since 2010. Curry cemented himself as the most important player on the dynastic Golden State Warriors.