Which state has won the most professional sports championships?

Which states (along with the nation’s capital Washington D.C.) have the most professional championships in the five biggest team sports in America? For the purposes of this article, I counted all championships won in each of the leagues listed below for football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer.

Which leagues are counted towards championships? 

Football (American Football): NFL, AFL, AAFC, USFL, Arena League, CFL

Basketball: NBA, ABA, NBL, WNBA

Baseball: MLB (NL+AL), NAPBBP, Union Association, American Association

*For baseball before the World Series (1903, 1905-present), I counted championships for which team won the pennant for that year. All World Series before 1903 were considered exhibitions, so I did not count them.

Hockey: NHL, WHA, PCHA, WCHA

Soccer (Football): MLS, NWSL (plus predecessors WPS and WUSA)

States with the most championships

Out of the 50 states and D.C., only 26/51 (50.98%) have one at least one championship in any of these five sports. The top four states of New York, California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania 223 championships. All other states and D.C. combined have 268.

Out of New York’s 66 championships, the Yankees have 27 (40.90%) of them. In fact, the Yankees alone have more World Series titles than all but six states (counting NY minus the Yankees total) have fewer total championships across these five sports.

States with the most professional championships

Below is a table showing the number of championships each state has won in each sport. The states with N/A never had a team in that sport in any of the above leagues mentioned.

State Football Basketball Baseball Hockey Soccer Total
Alabama 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Alaska N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Arizona 5 3 1 0 N/A 9
Arkansas N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
California 14 20 18 3 9 64
Colorado 5 0 0 2 1 8
Connecticut 0 0 0 0 N/A 0
Delaware N/A N/A 0 N/A N/A 0
Florida 11 3 2 1 0 17
Georgia 0 0 1 0 0 1
Hawaii N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Idaho N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Illinois 12 7 13 6 1 39
Indiana 1 7 N/A N/A N/A 8
Iowa 0 0 0 N/A N/A 0
Kansas N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Kentucky 0 1 1 N/A N/A 2
Louisiana 1 0 N/A N/A N/A 1
Maine N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Maryland 7 1 6 N/A 0 14
Massachusetts 5 17 22 6 0 50
Michigan 10 6 5 11 N/A 32
Minnesota 0 10 2 0 0 12
Mississippi N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Missouri 2 1 16 0 4 23
Montana N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Nebraska N/A 0 N/A N/A N/A 0
Nevada 0 0 N/A 0 N/A 0
New Hampshire N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
New Jersey 0 0 0 3 1 4
New Mexico N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
New York 12 7 37 8 2 66
North Carolina 0 0 N/A 1 1 2
North Dakota N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Ohio 13 4 8 0 1 26
Oklahoma 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Oregon 0 1 N/A 0 3 4
Pennsylvania 15 4 17 7 0 43
Rhode Island 1 0 2 N/A N/A 3
South Carolina N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
South Dakota N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Tennessee 0 0 N/A 0 N/A 0
Texas 8 12 1 1 2 24
Utah N/A 1 N/A N/A 1 2
Vermont N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Virginia N/A N/A 0 N/A N/A 0
Washington 2 3 0 1 1 7
Washington D.C. 5 1 1 1 5 13
West Virginia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Wisconsin 13 4 1 N/A N/A 18
Wyoming N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0

States with three or fewer championships

Georgia: Atlanta Braves 1995 World Series (MLB)

Louisiana: New Orleans Saints 2009 Super Bowl (NFL)

Kentucky: Kentucky Colonels 1975 ABA Champions (ABA), Louisville Colonels 1890 pennant winners (AA)

Utah: Utah Stars 1971 ABA Champions (ABA), Real Salt Lake 2009 MLS Cup (MLS)

North Carolina: Carolina Hurricanes 2006 Stanley Cup (NHL), Carolina Courage 2002 Founders Cup Champions (WUSA)

Rhode Island: Providence Steam Roller 1928 NFL Championship (NFL), Providence Grays 1879 and 1884 pennant winners (NL)

Some interesting facts from this information

  • Pennsylvania has the most football championships (15)
  • California has the most basketball championships (20)
  • California has the most soccer championships (9)
  • New York has the most baseball championships (37)
  • Michigan has the most hockey championships (11)
  • Ohio is tied for the 3rd most football championships even though a team from the state has not won since the Browns captured their last NFL Championship in 1964.
  • Rhode Island has as many or more football championships then North Carolina, Georgia, Minnesota, Louisiana, Indiana, and Tennessee. This is despite all these states currently having NFL teams.
  • Despite being the smallest state, Rhode Island has more championships than 31 states.
  • Maryland is the only state to have won a Grey Cup when the Baltimore Stallions won it in 1995 during the CFL’s brief expansion into America.
  • 17 states have never had a professional team in any of the five major sports.

 

Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “USA State Flag Map” by WonderWhy is licensed under CC BY-2.0

All graphs and tables made using Google Spreadsheet

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/

http://www.remembertheafl.com/AFL.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-America_Football_Conference

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Football_League#1983

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Grey_Cup_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArenaBowl

http://www.nba.com/history/nba-season-recaps/

http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ABA_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Basketball_League_(United_States)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WNBA_Finals

http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Association_of_Professional_Base_Ball_Players

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_League_pennant_winners

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_League_pennant_winners

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Association

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Association_(19th_century)

http://www.nhl.com/ice/page.htm?id=25426

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Hockey_Association

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Canada_Hockey_League

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Coast_Hockey_Association

http://www.mlssoccer.com/history/mls-cup

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Women%27s_Soccer_League

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Professional_Soccer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_United_Soccer_Association

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Comparing every team’s playoff record since 2000 in the four major sports

After taking an individual look at each of the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL) it is time to see how all of these team compared to each other in terms of playoff success. This article will look at the every NBA, NFL and NHL season starting with 1999-00 and every MLB season since 2000.

Playoff Appearances and totals for each sport

The graph below shows the total number of playoff appearances for all 123 franchises between the four major sports since the 2000 playoffs.

Number of playoff appearances by each team in the four major sports since 2000

Click here for larger version of the above graph

*Did not count Vegas toward NHL total for at least 5 and 9 playoff appearances in the table below since they have only played one season as a franchise.

Sport At least 1 Playoff App. At least 5 Playoff App. At least 9 Playoff App.
MLB 30/30 (100%) 16/30 (53.33%) 5/30 (16.66%)
NBA 30/30 (100%) 30/30 (100%) 21/30 (70%)
NHL 31/31 (100%) 26/30* (86.67%) 20/30* (66.67%)
NFL 32/32 (100%) 24/32 (75%) 8/32 (25%)

The table below shows the only five teams to have at least 15 playoff appearances since 2000, as well as the Yankees who have the most of any MLB team. While the next table shows all of the teams who have two or fewer playoff appearances.

Team Sport # of Playoff Appearances
San Antonio Spurs NBA 19
Detriot Red Wings NHL 16
San Jose Sharks NHL 16
New England Patriots NFL 15
Dallas Mavericks NBA 15
New York Yankees MLB 14

*The NBA teams with the fewest playoff appearances are the Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and New York Knicks with six each.

*Vegas has only played one season. After them, the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets have the fewest in the NHL with three appearances.

Team Sport # of Playoff Appearances
Buffalo Bills NFL 2
Kansas City Royals MLB 2
Milwaukee Brewers MLB 2
San Diego Padres MLB 2
Seattle Mariners MLB 2
Toronto Blue Jays MLB 2
Vegas Golden Knights* NHL 1
Miami Marlins MLB 1
Cleveland Browns NFL 1

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Best and worst performing playoff teams since 2000 by game

Out of the 123 teams, only 12 (4 NFL, 4 MLB, 3 NBA 1 NHL) have won at least 60% of there playoff games. In contrast, 13 (8 NFL, 3 MLB, 2 NHL) have won less than 30% of them.

Team Sport # of Playoff App Win % (record)
New England Patriots NFL 15 73% (27-10)
Kansas City Royals MLB 2 71% (22-9)
Golden State Warriors NBA 7 68.1% (77-36)
Baltimore Ravens NFL 10 65.2% (15-8)
Vegas Golden Knights NHL 1 65% (13-7)
Miami Marlins MLB 1 64.7% (11-6)
Cleveland Cavaliers NBA 9 63.8% (97-55)
Chicago White Sox MLB 3 63.2% (12-7)
New York Giants NFL 8 62.5% (10-6)
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 13 62.1% (123-75)
San Fransico Giants MLB 7 61.5% (48-30)
Pittsburgh Steelers NFL 12 60% (15-10)

*Lowest NBA team is the Denver Nuggets at 34.4% win percentage (22-42 record in 10 playoff appearances).

Team Sport # of Playoff App Win % (record)
Florida Panthers NHL 3 29.4% (5-12)
Miami Dolphins NFL 5 28.6% (2-5)
Washington Redskins NFL 5 28.6% (2-5)
Blue Jackets NHL 4 23.8% (5-16)
Dallas Cowboys NFL 7 22.2% (2-7)
Cincinnati Reds MLB 3 22.2% (2-7)
Minnesota Twins MLB 7 21.4% (6-22)
San Diego Padres MLB 2 14.3% (1-6)
Kansa City Chiefs NFL 7 12.5% (1-7)
Cincinnati Bengals NFL 7 0% (0-7)
Detroit Lions NFL 4 0% (0-4)
Buffalo Bills NFL 2 0% (0-2)
Cleveland Browns NFL 1 0% (0-1)

The graph below shows the winning percentage of every single team in this time frame by playoff game.

Percentage of playoff games won in 4 major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) since 2000 playoffs (2000 season for MLB, 1999-00 season for other sports)

Click here to view the larger version of this graph

Team with the most and least total games won in each sport

Team Sport # of Playoff App Games Won Win % (Record)
San Antonio Spurs NBA 19 148 59% (148-103)
New England Patriots NFL 15 27 73% (27-10)
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 14 112 56.3% (112-87)
New York Yankees MLB 14 69 53.1% (69-61)
Team Sport # of Playoff App Games Won Win % (Record)
Cincinnati Bengals NFL 7 0 0% (0-7)
Charlotte Hornets NBA 6 14 36.8% (14-24)
Blue Jackets NHL 4 5 23.8% (5-16)
Detroit Lions NFL 4 0 0% (0-4)
Florida Panthers NHL 3 5 29.4% (5-12)
San Diego Padres MLB 2 1 14.3% (1-6)
Buffalo Bills NFL 2 0 0% (0-2)
Cleveland Browns NFL 1 0 0% (0-1)

Best and worst performing playoff teams by series

Since the NFL does not have playoff series, this next section will only focus on MLB, NBA and NHL teams in terms of their playoff series success. While the NBA and NHL have four rounds of playoff series, MLB only has three. For MLB I did not count the play-in wild-card games towards series wins/losses.

The next two tables below show every team that has won at least 65% of there playoff series and won less than 20% of there playoff series.

Team Sport # of Playoff App Series Win % (record)
Miami Marlins MLB 1 100% (3-0)
Kansas City Royals MLB 2 83.3% (5-1)
Golden State Warriors NBA 7 81% (17-4)
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 13 78.9% (30-8)
Carolina Hurricanes NHL 4 75% (9-3)
Vegas Golden Knights NHL 1 75% (3-1)
San Fransico Giants MLB 7 73.3% (11-4)
Cleveland Cavaliers NBA 9 72.4% (21-8)
Chicago Blackhawks NHL 10 69.6% (16-7)
San Antonio Spurs NBA 19 68.1% (32-15)
Miami Heat NBA 14 67.6% (23-11)
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 14 67.6% (23-11)
Team Sports # of Playoff App Series Win % (record)
Denver Nuggets NBA 10 16.7% (2-10)
Milwaukee Bucks NBA 10 16.7% (2-10)
Minnesota Twins MLB 7 14.3% (1-6)
Oakland Athletics MLB 8 12.5% (1-7)
New York Islanders NHL 7 12.5% (1-7)
Atlanta Braves MLB 9 11.1% (1-8)
Washington Nationals MLB 4 0% (0-4)
Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 4 0% (0-4)
Florida Panthers NHL 3 0% (0-3)
Cincinnati Reds MLB 3 0% (0-2)
San Diego Padres MLB 2 0% (0-2)
Pittsburgh Pirates MLB 3 0% (0-1)

The chart below shows every MLB, NBA and NHL team’s winning percentage by series.

Percentage of playoff series won by MLB, NBA and NHL since 2000

Click here to view larger version of above graph

*Did not count Vegas toward NHL total for at least 5 and 9 playoff series since they have only played one season as a franchise.

Sport At least 1 Series Won At least 5 Series Won At least 10 Series Won
MLB* 26/30 (86.67%) 12/30 (40%) 4/30 (13.33%)
NBA 30/30 (100%) 20/30 (66.67%) 11/30 (36.67%)
NHL 29/31 (93.54%) 22/30 (73.33%) 14/30 (46.67%)

The first table shows the top team in the MLB, NBA, and NHL in terms of playoff series won. Meanwhile, the next table shows the bottom teams in each of these sports in terms of series won.

Team Sport # of Playoff App Series Won Series % (Record)
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 14 23 67.6% (23-11)
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 13 30 78.9% (30-8)
St. Louis Cardinals MLB 12 15 60% (15-10)
Team Sport # of Playoff App Series Won Series % (Record)
Charlotte Hornets NBA 6 2 25% (2-6)
Minnesota Timberwolves NBA 6 2 25% (2-6)
New Orleans Pelicans NBA 7 2 22.2% (2-7)
Denver Nuggets NBA 10 2 16.7% (2-10)
Milwaukee Bucks NBA 10 2 16.7% (2-10)
Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 4 0 0% (0-4)
Florida Panthers NHL 3 0 0% (0-3)
Washington Nationals MLB 4 0 0% (0-4)
Cincinnati Reds MLB 3 0 0% (0-2)
San Diego Padres MLB 2 0 0% (0-2)
Pittsburgh Pirates MLB 3 0 0% (0-1)

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Playoff sweeps

In the time frame of this article, these have been a total of 116 playoff sweeps between the NBA (53), NHL (31) and MLB (32). Eight of the 91 teams in these three sports have accounted for 46 (41.07%) of these sweeps.

Team Sport # of Playoff App # of Sweeps # of times Swept
Cleveland Cavaliers NBA 9 10 2
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 13 7 2
San Antonio Spurs NBA 19 7 3
Golden State Warriors NBA 7 5 0
Anaheim Ducks NHL 12 5 1
Detroit Red Wings NHL 16 4 1
Miami Heat NBA 14 4 2
Boston Red Sox MLB 9 4 3

On the opposite side of the spectrum, only ten teams have been swept at least three times. However, no NHL has been swept more than two times. These ten teams account for 36 (31.03%) of these sweeps.

Team Sport # of Playoff App # of times Swept # of Sweeps
Memphis Grizzlies NBA 10 5 0
Toronto Raptors NBA 10 4 0
Atlanta Hawks NBA 10 4 0
Portland Trail Blazers NBA 12 4 0
Detroit Pistons NBA 10 4 1
Chicago Cubs MLB 6 3 0
Minnesota Twins MLB 7 3 0
Arizona Diamondbacks
MLB 5 3 1
Los Angeles Angels MLB 7 3 1
Boston Red Sox MLB 9 3 4

The table below compares sweeps in each sport, as well as how many teams have yet to sweep or be swept.

Sport Teams to sweep opp Teams to be swept
Teams neither sweep or been swept
MLB 19/30 19/30 5/30
NBA 18/30 24/30 2/30
NHL 17/31 23/31 3/31

Conference Championships and Championships

The table below shows how each sport compares in terms of what percentage of there teams have appeared in a conference championship, championship and won a championship.

Sport Conf. Champ App. Champ App. Champ Won
MLB 26/30 (86.67%) 19/30 (63.33) 12/30 (40%)
NBA 26/30 (86.67%) 13/32 (40.62%) 8/32 (25%)
NHL 28/31 (90.32%) 21/31 (67.74%) 11/31 (35.48%)
NFL 23/32 (71.87%) 19/32 (59.37%) 12/32 (37.5%)

Between the 123 teams in the four major sports, only 17 have appeared in at least five conference championship games. The New England Patriots led the way with 12 appearances and eight wins.

Team Sport Conf Champ. App Won Lost
New England Patriots NFL 12 8 4
San Antonio Spurs NBA 9 5 4
St. Louis Cardinals MLB 9 4 5
New York Yankees MLB 8 4 4
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 7 7 0
Cleveland Cavaliers NBA 6 5 1
Miami Heat NBA 6 5 1
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 6 4 2
Pittsburgh Steelers NFL 6 3 3
Philadelphia Eagles NFL 6 2 4
Boston Celtics NBA 6 2 4
Detroit Pistons NBA 6 2 4
Boston Red Sox MLB 5 3 2
Chicago Blackhawks NHL 5 3 2
Anaheim Ducks NHL 5 2 3
Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 5 2 3
Los Angeles Dodgers MLB 5 1 4

There have also been ten teams to appear in multiple conference championship games without losing one with the Los Angeles Lakers being an impressive 7-0. On the flipside, there have been ten teams to appear in multiple conference championship games and not win one.

Team Sport Conf Champ. App Won Lost
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 7 7 0
Golden State Warriors NBA 4 4 0
San Francisco Giants MLB 4 4 0
New Jersey Devils NHL 4 4 0
New York Giants NFL 3 3 0
Seattle Seahawks NFL 3 3 0
Kansas City Royals MLB 2 2 0
Boston Bruins NHL 2 2 0
Texas Rangers MLB 2 2 0
Los Angeles Rams NFL 2 2 0
Team Sport Conf Champ. App Won Lost
Minnesota Vikings NFL 3 0 3
Phoenix Suns NBA 3 0 3
Buffalo Sabres NHL 2 0 2
Houston Rockets NBA 2 0 2
Jacksonville Jaguars NFL 2 0 2
New York Jets NFL 2 0 2
Montreal Canadiens NHL 2 0 2
Seattle Mariners MLB 2 0 2
St. Louis Blues NHL 2 0 2
Toronto Blue Jays MLB 2 0 2

Every team to win multiple championships

Team Sport Playoff App Champ App. Champ Record Game record
New England Patriots NFL 15 8 5-3 5-3
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 13 7 5-2 23-15
San Antonio Spurs NBA 19 5 4-1 19-10
Miami Heat NBA 14 5 3-2 15-14
Golden State Warriors NBA 7 4 3-1 15-7
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 14 4 3-1 14-11
San Francisco Giants MLB 7 4 3-1 15-8
Boston Red Sox MLB 9 3 3-0 12-2
Chicago Blackhawks NHL 10 3 3-0 12-6
New York Yankees MLB 14 4 2-2 13-11
New Jersey Devils NHL 12 4 2-2 13-13
St. Louis Cardinals MLB 12 4 2-2 10-12
Detroit Red Wings NHL 16 3 2-1 11-7
Pittsburgh Steelers NFL 12 3 2-1 2-1
New York Giants NFL 8 3 2-1 2-1
Baltimore Ravens NFL 10 3 2-0 2-0
Los Angeles Kings NHL 10 3 2-0 8-3

Every team with one championship

Team Sport Playoff App Champ App Champ Record Game Record
Cleveland Cavaliers NBA 9 5 1-4 7-19
Seattle Seahawks NFL 12 3 1-2 1-2
Dallas Mavericks NBA 15 2 1-1 6-6
Boston Celtics NBA 14 2 1-1 7-6
Indianapolis Colts NFL 14 2 1-1 1-1
Anaheim Ducks NHL 12 2 1-1 7-5
Boston Bruins NHL 12 2 1-1 6-7
Philadelphia Eagles NFL 11 2 1-1 1-1
Detroit Pistons NBA 10 2 1-1 7-5
Denver Broncos NFL 9 2 1-1 1-1
Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 9 2 1-1 6-7
Los Angeles Rams NFL 6 2 1-1 1-1
Philadelphia Phillies MLB 5 2 1-1 6-5
Houston Astros MLB 5 2 1-1 4-7
Carolina Hurricanes NHL 4 2 1-1 5-7
Kansas City Royals MLB 2 2 1-1 7-5
Green Bay Packers NFL 13 1 1-0 1-0
Washington Capitals NHL 13 1 1-0 4-1
Colorado Avalanche NHL 10 1 1-0 4-3
Los Angeles Angels NFL 7 1 1-0 4-3
New Orleans Saints NFL 7 1 1-0 1-0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL 6 1 1-0 1-0
Chicago Cubs MLB 6 1 1-0 4-3
Arizona Diamondbacks MLB 5 1 1-0 4-3
Chicago White Sox MLB 3 1 1-0 4-0
Miami Marlins MLB 1 1 1-0 4-2

Teams with no championship

Team Sport Playoff App Champ App Champ Record Game Record
Brooklyn Nets NBA 9 2 0-2 2-8
Carolina Panthers NFL 7 2 0-2 0-2
Detroit Tigers MLB 5 2 0-2 1-8
Texas Rangers MLB 5 2 0-2 4-8
New York Mets MLB 4 2 0-2 2-8
San Jose Sharks NHL 16 1 0-1 2-4
Philadelphia Flyers NHL 14 1 0-1 2-4
Indiana Pacers NBA 14 1 0-1 2-4
Ottawa Senators NHL 13 1 0-1 1-4
Nashville Predators NHL 11 1 0-1 2-4
New York Rangers NHL 11 1 0-1 1-4
Vancouver Canucks NHL 11 1 0-1 3-4
Oklahoma City Thunder NBA 11 1 0-1 1-4
Philadelphia 76ers NBA 10 1 0-1 1-4
Orlando Magic NBA 9 1 0-1 1-4
Los Angeles Dodgers MLB 9 1 0-1 3-4
Dallas Stars NHL 9 1 0-1 2-4
Atlanta Falcons NFL 8 1 0-1 0-1
Calgary Flames NHL 7 1 0-1 3-4
Tennessee Titans NFL 7 1 0-1 0-1
Edmonton Oilers NHL 5 1 0-1 3-4
San Francisco 49ers NFL 5 1 0-1 0-1
Cleveland Indians MLB 5 1 0-1 3-4
Tampa Bay Rays MLB 4 1 0-1 1-4
Arizona Cardinals NFL 4 1 0-1 0-1
Chicago Bears NFL 4 1 0-1 0-1
Oakland Raiders NFL 4 1 0-1 0-1
Colorado Rockies MLB 3 1 0-1 0-4
Vegas Golden Knights NHL 1 1 0-1 1-4

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Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)

Featured Image: Featured Image: “Sports” by Charly W. Karl is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/index.htm (Used to get playoff information for each team)

https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/

https://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/index.html

https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/

https://www.printyourbrackets.com/winning-percentage-calculator.php (Used to find win percentage for each team)

Used Google Spreadsheet to make charts and tables

 

NBA Draft: Comparing the careers of each No. 1 pick

The 72nd NBA Draft takes place tomorrow and the Phoenix Suns have the top pick for the first time in franchise history. With the draft having always been an important time for teams to hopefully revitalize their franchises, let’s take a look back at the past careers that former No. 1 overall picks have had.

The two who never played in the NBA

Clifton McNeeley was the first player ever selected in the NBA (then known as the BAA) Draft by the Pittsburgh Ironmen in 1947. Just like his NFL counterpart, McNeeley never played in the NBA. He had no interest in playing for the team and Pittsburgh ended up folding before the season started.

In the 1951 NBA Draft, the Baltimore Bullets selected Gene Melchiorre with the No. 1 pick. However, he never played in the league as Melchiorre was barred for life from the league due to a point-shaving scandal he admitted to being involved in during his college years at Bradley.

 

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All-Star Appearances

The 71 players to have been selected with the 1st pick have made a combined 257 All-Star appearances between them. Out of the 71 No. 1 picks, 27 were never All-Stars, while 44 were at least once. Below is a pie chart showing how many times each of those 44 was an All-Star.

All-Star

The first player taken with the top pick to be an All-Star was Ray Felix, who did so his rookie season in 1953-54.

David Thompson is the only No. 1 pick to be an NBA All-Star (x4) and an ABA All-Star (x1). For the above pie chart, I did not count his ABA All-Star appearance.

Players selected 1st overall with the at least 10 All-Star appearances

Player All-Star App Career Length
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 19 1969-89
Shaquille O’Neal 15 1992-2011
Tim Duncan 15 1997-2016
LeBron James 14 2003-present
Oscar Robertson 12 1960-74
Elvin Hayes 12 1968-84
Magic Johnson 12 1979-91, 95-96
Hakeem Olajuwon 12 1984-2002
Elgin Baylor 11 1958-72
Patrick Ewing 11 1985-2002
Allen Iverson 11 1996-2010
David Robinson 10 1987-2003

All-NBA teams

Out of the 71 players taken with the top pick, 30 made at least one of the NBA’s three All-NBA teams. It is important to note that the All-NBA Third Team was not added until the 1988-89 season.

All-NBA

Elgin Baylor was the first No. 1 pick to make an All-NBA Team (and All-NBA First Team) in 1958-59, his rookie season. Oscar Robertson was the first to make the All-NBA Second Team in 1969-70. James Worthy and David Robinson were the first to make the All-NBA Third Team in 1989-90.

David Thompson is the only No. 1 pick to make an All-NBA Team (x2) and an All-ABA Team (x1). For the above pie chart, I did not count his All-ABA Team appearance.

Andrew Bogut is the only No. 1 overall pick to make an All-NBA Team but never be an All-Star.

Most All-NBA appearances by 1st overall picks 

Player All-NBA Teams First Team Second Team Third Team
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 15 10 5 Started his last season
Tim Duncan 15 10 3 2
Shaquille O’Neal 14 8 2 4
LeBron James 14 12 2 0
Hakeem Olajuwon 12 6 3 3
Oscar Robertson 11 9 2 Did not exist
Elgin Baylor 10 10 0 Did not exist
Magic Johnson 10 9 1 0
David Robinson 10 4 2 4

LeBron James has the most All-NBA First Teams by a No. 1 pick. Patrick Ewing (6) has the most All-NBA Second Team appearances. Shaquille O’Neal and David Robinson have the most All-NBA Third Teams.

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ROY, DPOY, Sixth Man and MIP

Since the 1952-53 season, the NBA has given out the Rookie of the Year (ROY) to the player deemed the best rookie. Out of the 65* players drafted No. 1 overall, 22 (33.84%) have won the ROY award.

*Does not the first five No. 1 overall picks who played before the award started, as well as Ben Simmons since he is a finalist for the 2017-18 ROY Award.

Player ROY Year
Ray Felix 1953-54
Elgin Baylor 1958-59
Oscar Robertson 1960-61
Walt Bellamy 1961-62
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1969-70
David Thompson 1975-76 (ABA)
Ralph Sampson 1983-84
Patrick Ewing 1985-86
David Robinson 1989-90
Derrick Coleman 1990-91
Larry Johnson 1991-92
Shaquille O’Neal 1992-93
Chris Webber 1993-94
Allen Iverson 1996-97
Tim Duncan 1997-98
Elton Brand 1999-00
LeBron James 2003-04
Derrick Rose 2008-09
Blake Griffin 2010-11
Kyrie Irving 2011-12
Andrew Wiggins 2014-15
Karl-Anthony Towns 2015-16

Starting in the 1982-83 season, the NBA has given out the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) and the Sixth Man of the Year Awards. In 1985-86, they started giving out the award for Most Improved Player (MIP). Since the inception of these three awards, only six No. 1 overall picks have won one of them.

 Player Sixth Man MIP DPOY
Bill Walton 1 0 0
Danny Manning 1 0 0
Pervis Ellison 0 1 0
Hakeem Olajuwon 0 0 2
David Robinson 0 0 1
Dwight Howard 0 0 3


MVP

The NBA MVP award was first given out in the 1955-56 season. Oscar Robertson was the first No. 1 overall pick to win the award in 1963-64. In total, only 10 top picks have won the award.

*LeBron is one of three finalists for MVP this year and has a chance to win his fifth.

Player MVP (Years Won)
Kareem Abdul Jabbar 6 (1970-71, 1971-72, 1973-74, 1975-76, 1976-77, 1979-80)
LeBron James* 4 (2008-09, 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13)
Magic Johnson 3 (1986-87, 1988-89, 1989-90)
Tim Duncan 2 (2001-02, 2002-03)
Oscar Robertson 1 (1963-64)
Bill Walton 1 (1977-78)
Hakeem Olajuwon 1 (1993-94)
Shaquille O’Neal 1 (1999-00)
Allen Iverson 1 (2000-01)
Derrick Rose 1 (2010-11)

Championships and Finals MVP

Out of the 71 players taken with the first pick in the NBA draft, 21* (29.57%) of them have won wither an NBA Championship or an ABA Championship*.

*Elgin Baylor played nine games in the 1971-72 season before retiring due to nagging knee problems which had limited him to only two games the prior season. That year the Lakers finally broke through and won the NBA championship, but Baylor was not an active player on the roster. The team did give him a ring but he is not listed as an NBA Champion on Pro-Basketball Reference so I did not count him.

*Art Heyman won an ABA Championship in 1967-68 with the Pittsburgh Pipers

No. 1 overall picks with multiple NBA Championships

Player Championships Teams
Kareem Abdul Jabbar 6 Lakers (5), Bucks (1)
Magic Johnson 5 Lakers (5)
Tim Duncan 5 Spurs (5)
Shaquille O’Neal 4 Lakers (3), Heat (1)
James Worthy 3 Lakers (3)
LeBron James 3 Heat (2), Cavs (1)
Bill Walton 2 Trail Blazers (1), Celtics (1)
Mychal Thompson 2 Lakers (2)
Mark Aguirre 2 Pistons (2)
Hakeem Olajuwon 2 Rockets (2)
David Robinson 2 Spurs (2)

Of course, the group of players gets even smaller when just looking who has won an NBA Finals MVP. Only eight players taken with the first overall pick have won the award.

Player Number of Finals MVPs
Magic Johnson 3
Shaquille O’Neal 3
Tim Duncan 3
LeBron James 3
Kareem Abdul Jabbar 2
Hakeem Olajuwon 2
Bill Walton 1
James Worthy 1

Hall of Fame

17 of the players who have been selected with the first pick in the NBA Draft have been enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Player Year Drafted Year Inducted
Elgin Baylor 1958 1977
Oscar Robertson 1960 1980
Walt Bellamy 1961 1993
Elvin Hayes 1968 1990
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1969 1995
Bob Lanier 1970 1992
Bill Walton 1974 1993
David Thompson 1975 1996
Magic Johnson 1979 2002
James Worthy 1982 2003
Ralph Sampson 1983 2012
Hakeem Olajuwon 1984 2008
Patrick Ewing 1985 2008
David Robinson 1987 2009
Shaquille O’Neal 1992 2016
Allen Iverson 1996 2016
Yao Ming 2002 2016

*Retired No. 1 picks not yet eligible for HOF: Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, Kenyon Martin, Andrea Bargnani, Greg Oden

*No. 1 picks still playing in NBA: LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Anthony Bennet (G-League),  Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz

*No. 1 picks playing overseas: Andrew Bogut

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Info and Notes:

Featured Image: “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1974” by Frank Bryan is a public domain image

https://www.basketball-reference.com/draft/ (used to take note of honors for each player taken with the 1st pick)

https://www.basketball-reference.com/awards/hof.html (Find when players were inducted into Hall of Fame)

All charts and tables made using Google Spreadsheet

NBA Draft: Who selects the No. 1 pick and from where?

The 72nd NBA Draft is taking place on Thursday and for the first time in franchise history, the Phoenix Suns will select the top pick in the draft, assuming they don’t trade it away. However, what does history have to say about who most often selects the first overall pick and from where?

Which teams have most often had the No. 1 pick?

The Cleveland Cavaliers have selected the top pick in the NBA draft six times, with four of those coming since 2000 (LeBron James in 2003, Kyrie Irving in 2011, Anthony Bennett in 2013 and Andrew Wiggins in 2014).

Teams to never select the No. 1 pick: Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz

 

Number of times each team selected the No. 1 overall pick

*The Pittsburgh Ironmen (1946-47), Providence Steam Rollers (1946-49) and Baltimore Bullets (1947-54) are all defunct NBA franchises.

*The Hawks made one of their No. 1 selections as Milwaukee (1952) and another as St. Louis (1955).

*The Kings made one of their No. 1 selections as the Rochester Royals (1956) and three as the Cincinnati Royals (1957, 59 and 60).

*The Wizards made one of their No. 1 selections as the Chicago Packers (1961) and one as the Chicago Zephyrs (1962).

*The Lakers made their No. 1 selection as Minneapolis (1958).

*The Nets made one of their No. 1 selections as New Jersey (1990, 2000).

*The Pelicans made their No. 1 selection as the New Orleans Hornets (2012).

*The Rockets made one of their No. 1 selections as the San Deigo (1968).

*The Warriors made one of their No. 1 selections as San Franscico (1965).

What colleges have produced the most No. 1 picks?

Over the last 71 NBA drafts, there have been 19 colleges that have had at least two players selected with the No. 1 overall pick. Duke and Kentucky both led the pack with three players.

Duke’s three players to be taken with the top pick are Art Heyman (1963), Elton Brand (1999) and Kyrie Irving (2011). Kentucky’s three players are John Wall (2010), Anthony Davis (2012) and Karl-Anthony Towns (2015).

Colleges with at least two players taken

Schools to have one player taken No. 1 include: Bowling Green, Bradley, Davidson, DePaul, Furman, Illinois State, Long Island University, Louisville, Loyola University of Chicago, Marshall, Memphis, Michigan State, Minnesota, Navy, NC State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, University of the Pacific, Providence, Seattle University, St. Bonaventure, Syracuse, Virginia, Wake Forest, Washington

Where are No. 1 picks born?

Out of the 71 players that have been selected No. 1 in the NBA draft, 59 (83.09%) of them were born in the United States. If you include territories, it is 60 since Tim Duncan was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

New York and Illinois have produced 14 of those 59 (23.72%) top picks from America. 24 of the 50 states (48%) have never produced a player who was selected with the top pick in the NBA draft.

US MAP

There have also been 12 players who were not born in the United States who were taken with the No. 1 overall pick.

 

World Map.png

Australia: Andrew Bogut (2005), Kyrie Irving (2011), Ben Simmons (2016)

Canada: Anthony Bennett (2013), Andrew Wiggins (2014)

Nigeria: Hakeem Olajuwon (1984), Michael Olowokandi (1998)

Bahamas: Mychal Thompson (1978)

China: Yao Ming (2002)

Italy: Andrea Bargnani (2006)

Jamacia: Patrick Ewing (1985)

US Virgin Islands: Tim Duncan (1997)

Cities who have produced multiple No. 1 overall picks

There are a few cities in the United States and across the world that have produced multiple No. 1 overall picks. They, along with the players from them, are listed in the table below.

City State/Country Player (Year)
Chicago Illinois Cazzie Russell (1966), LaRue Martin (1972), Mark Aguirre (1981), Derrick Rose (2008), Anthony Davis (2012)
New York New York Ray Felix (1953), Si Green (1956), Art Heyman (1963), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969)
Melbourne Australia Andrew Bogut (2005), Kyrie Irving (2011), Ben Simmons (2016)
Washington D.C.  United States Elgin Baylor (1958), Fred Hetzel (1965), Austin Carr (1971)
Toronto Canada Anthony Bennett (2013), Andrew Wiggins (2014)
Lagos Nigeria Hakeem Olajuwon (1984), Michael Olowokandi (1998)
Akron Ohio Chuck Share (1950), LeBron James (2003)
Buffalo New York Bob Lanier (1970), Greg Oden (2007)

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Info and sources:

Featured Image: “DSC04904” by Brent Soderberg is licensed under CC BY-2.0

https://www.basketball-reference.com/draft/ (Use to note team and college player was drafted from, clicked on each player to find place of birth) *If the place of birth was not listed I Googled the player to find it.

Map of player’s place of birth made using https://mapchart.net/

All other graphs and tables made using Google Spreadsheet in Google Docs

Every NBA team’s playoff record since the 1999-00 season

Which NBA teams have performed the best and which have underachieved in the playoffs so far this century? Who has the most playoff appearances and who has the least? All of these questions will be answered as this article takes a look at each team’s playoff history over the last 19 postseasons (1999-2000 to 2017-18) using information gathered from Pro-Basketball Reference.

Every NBA team’s playoff record

Below is a table of every NBA team’s basic information, sorted by the number of playoff appearances that each team has. It also shows each team’s overall playoff record and their series record.

Out of the 30 NBA teams, 18 have made the playoffs at least 10 times. The San Antonio Spurs have made the playoff every single year. In contrast, the New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Charlotte Hornets have the least appearances having only made it six times.

Team Playoff App Playoff Record Series Record
San Antonio Spurs 19 148-103 (59%) 32-15 (68.1%)
Dallas Mavericks 15 70-78 (47.3%) 13-14 (48.1%)
Miami Heat 14 110-76 (59.1%) 23-11 (67.6%)
Boston Celtics 14 94-89 (51.4%) 17-13 (56.7%)
Indiana Pacers 14 70-75 (48.3%) 11-14 (44%)
Los Angeles Lakers 13 123-75 (62.1%) 30-8 (78.9%)
Portland Trail Blazers 12 30-52 (36.6%) 4-12 (25%)
Oklahoma City Thunder 11 63-60 (51.2%) 11-11 (50%)
Houston Rockets 11 47-53 (47%) 6-11 (35.3%)
Chicago Bulls 11 39-52 (42.9%) 5-11 (31.3%)
Utah Jazz 11 37-57 (39.4%) 7-11 (38.9%)
Detroit Pistons 10 73-64 (53.3%) 16-9 (64%)
Philadelphia 76ers 10 44-52 (45.8%) 7-10 (41.2%)
Atlanta Hawks 10 38-54 (41.3%) 6-10 (37.5%)
Toronto Raptors 10 32-50 (39%) 5-10 (33.3%)
Memphis Grizzlies 10 29-46 (38.7%) 4-10 (28.6%)
Milwaukee Bucks 10 26-43 (37.7%) 2-10 (16.7%)
Denver Nuggets 10 22-42 (34.4%) 2-10 (16.7%)
Cleveland Cavaliers 9 97-55 (63.8%) 21-8 (72.4%)
Brooklyn Nets 9 53-50 (51.5%) 10-9 (52.6%)
Orlando Magic 9 36-42 (46.2%) 6-9 (40%)
Phoenix Suns 8 43-43 (50%) 8-8 (50%)
Washington Wizards 8 29-37 (43.9%) 4-8 (33.3%)
Golden State Warriors 7 77-36 (68.1%) 17-4 (81%)
Sacramento Kings 7 32-32 (50%) 5-7 (41.7%)
New Orleans Pelicans 7 20-29 (40.8%) 2-7 (22.2%)
Los Angeles Clippers 7 31-38 (44.9%) 4-7 (36.4%)
New York Knicks 6 18-28 (39.1%) 3-6 (33.3%)
Minnesota Timberwolves 6 15-25 (37.5%) 2-6 (25%)
Charlotte Hornets 6 14-24 (36.8%) 2-6 (25%)

The Spurs have more playoff appearances this century then seven NBA franchises have in their entire histories. They also have as many or more playoff losses (103) this century then 20 NBA franchises have total playoff games in the same span.
Jetpack

Best and worst performing playoff teams this century

Over the 19 playoffs that have taken place so far this century only five teams have won at least 55% of their games. The top two teams are the Warriors and the Cavaliers, which is unsurprising considering both have dominated the league in the last four seasons.

On the other end of the spectrum, there have been 10 teams that have won less than 40% of their playoff games. The five worst teams are listed in the table below, with the Nuggets occupying the bottom spot.

Team Playoff Record
Golden State Warriors 77-36 (68.1%)
Cleveland Cavaliers 97-55 (63.8%)
Los Angeles Lakers 123-75 (62.1%)
Miami Heat 110-76 (59.1%)
San Antonio Spurs 148-103 (59%)
Minnesota Timberwolves 15-25 (37.5%)
Charlotte Hornets 14-24 (36.8%)
Portland Trail Blazers 30-52 (36.6%)
Los Angeles Clippers 21-38 (35.6%)
Denver Nuggets 22-42 (34.4%)

Every NBA team's playoff wining percentage this century (2000-2018 playoffs, by game not series) (1)

In terms of winning playoff series, only six teams have won over 60% of the ones they have played in this century. Unsurprisingly, it is the same five teams from the above table, plus the Detroit Pistons. Only six teams have worst than a 25% series win rate, with the Bucks and Nuggets tying for last place.

Team Series Record
Golden State Warriors 17-4 (81%)
Los Angeles Lakers 30-8 (78.9%)
Cleveland Cavaliers 21-8 (72.4%)
San Antonio Spurs 32-15 (68.1%)
Miami Heat 23-11 (67.6%)
Detroit Pistons 16-9 (64%)
Minnesota Timberwolves 2-6 (25%)
Charlotte Hornets 2-6 (25%)
Portland Trail Blazers 4-12 (25%)
New Orleans Pelicans 2-7 (22.2%)
Milwaukee Bucks 2-10 (16.7%)
Denver Nuggets 2-10 (16.7%)

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Playoff sweeps so far this century

Out the 285 series to be played over these past 19 playoffs, there has been a total of 53 sweeps to take place. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the most accounting for 10 (18.86%) of all sweeps. Golden State has the most sweeps (5) without having been swept.

Meanwhile, the Hoston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers stand out for having not swept anyone or gotten swept this century. The Memphis Grizzlies have been swept the most (five times), one more than Toronto, Atlanta, and Portland.

Team Swept Opponent Got Swept
Cleveland Cavaliers 10 2
Los Angeles Lakers 7 2
San Antonio Spurs 7 3
Golden State Warriors 5 0
Miami Heat 5 2
Dallas Mavericks 3 1
Brooklyn Nets 3 2
Phoenix Suns 2 0
Orlando Magic 2 1
Oklahoma City Thunder 1 0
Chicago Bulls 1 0
Indiana Pacers 1 1
New Orleans Pelicans 1 1
Washington Wizards 1 2
New York Knicks 1 2
Charlotte Hornets 1 2
Boston Celtics 1 3
Detroit Pistons 1 4
Houston Rockets 0 0
Philadelphia 76ers 0 0
Milwaukee Bucks 0 1
Minnesota Timberwolves 0 1
Los Angeles Clippers 0 1
Denver Nuggets 0 1
Sacramento Kings 0 1
Utah Jazz 0 3
Atlanta Hawks 0 4
Toronto Raptors 0 4
Portland Trail Blazers 0 4
Memphis Grizzlies 0 5

Getting to each playoff round

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team to advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs everytime they have made the playoffs. Detroit has the best ratio of making it out of the 2nd round, having done so 6/7 times. Meanwhile, the Lakers are the best at getting to the Finals, having made it there every time (7/7) they got to the conference championship round.

Only four teams have never made it to the conference championship round so far this century. The Washington Wizards have the most playoff appearances (8), without having reached the conference championship round. Meanwhile, the Portland Trail Blazers have the most playoff appearances (12) without having reached the Finals.

Team Playoff App. 2nd Round App. Conf. Champ App. Finals App.
Los Angeles Lakers 13 10 7 7
San Antonio Spurs 19 14 9 5
Miami Heat 14 9 6 5
Cleveland Cavaliers 9 9 6 5
Golden State Warriors 7 6 4 4
Boston Celtics 14 9 6 2
Detroit Pistons 10 7 6 2
Dallas Mavericks 15 7 3 2
Brooklyn Nets 9 6 2 2
Indiana Pacers 14 6 4 1
Oklahoma City Thunder 11 6 4 1
Orlando Magic 9 3 2 1
Philadelphia 76ers 10 5 1 1
Phoenix Suns 8 5 3 0
Houston Rockets 11 4 2 0
Utah Jazz 11 6 1 0
Sacramento Kings 7 4 1 0
Toronto Raptors 10 4 1 0
Atlanta Hawks 10 5 1 0
Chicago Bulls 11 4 1 0
Portland Trail Blazers 12 3 1 0
Memphis Grizzlies 10 3 1 0
New York Knicks 6 2 1 0
Denver Nuggets 10 1 1 0
Milwaukee Bucks 10 1 1 0
Minnesota Timberwolves 6 1 1 0
Los Angeles Clippers 7 4 0 0
Washington Wizards 8 4 0 0
New Orelans Pelicans 7 2 0 0
Charlotte Hornets 6 2 0 0

NBA Finals

The Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors have dominated this century so far, winning 15/19 (78.94%) of all NBA Finals. All 19 NBA Finals have featured at least one of these four teams playing for the championship.

The Western Conference has been dominated by the Lakers, Spurs, and Warriors who have 16/19 (84.21%) total Finals appearances. Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference has been dominated by LeBron James, who has taken the Heat and Cavaliers to the Finals 9/15 (60%) times since he entered the league.

Team Finals App Finals W/L Finals Game Record
Los Angeles Lakers 7 5-2 23-15
San Antonio Spurs 5 4-1 19-10
Miami Heat 5 3-2 15-14
Cleveland Cavaliers 5 1-4 7-19
Golden State Warriors 4 3-1 15-7
Detroit Pistons 2 1-1 7-5
Boston Celtics 2 1-1 7-6
Dallas Mavericks 2 1-1 6-6
Brooklyn Nets 2 0-2 2-8
Indiana Pacers 1 0-1 2-4
Oklahoma City Thunder 1 0-1 1-4
Orlando Magic 1 0-1 1-4
Philadelphia 76ers 1 0-1 1-4

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Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)

Featured Image: “2014 NBA Playoffs” by Michael Tipton is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/ (Used to get playoff information for each team)

https://www.printyourbrackets.com/winning-percentage-calculator.php (Used to find win percentage for each team)

LeBron James: An NBA Finals history

The 2017-18 NBA Finals ended a few days ago with the Golden State Warriors sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers. While this Finals saw a lot of historical notes, it was the eighth consecutive one that LeBron James played in, an accomplishment only matched by several 1960s Boston Celtics players. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at how LeBron has performed over the 49 Finals games he has played in across nine series.

Minutes played

LeBron James has played at least 40 minutes in 40/49 (81.63%) of NBA Finals games that he has played in. His most minutes played in a Finals games was when he logged 50:20 in the Cavs game two win in 2015.

Minutes

Points

LeBron has scored at least 30 points in 21 (42.85%) Finals games and at least 20 points in 41 (83.67%) of them. His best performance came this past Finals, where he dropped 51 points in game one, while his worst showing was in game four back in 2011 when he only managed 8 points.

Points

Rebounds and Assists

LeBron has nabbed at least 10 rebounds in 26 (53.06%) Finals games. He has gotten 18 rebounds twice, in game one in 2013 and game six of the 2015 Finals. The only times he managed less then five rebounds was in game three and game six of the 2011 Finals.

Rebounds

LeBron has dished out at least 10 assists in 14 (28.57%) Finals games. His best dime dropping was in game two of the 2017 Finals when he had 14, while his worst performance was in game four of the 2014 Finals when he only managed two.

Assists

Steals, Blocks, and Turnovers

LeBron has had at least one steal in 37 (75.51%) of the Finals games he’s played in. His best performance was when he had five against the Spurs in the Heat’s game three loss in 2014.

Steals

LeBron has swatted at least one shot in 26 (53.06%) of NBA Finals games he has played in. From game seven in 2013 to game four in 2014 he had a five-game drought in the Finals without a block. LeBron recorded three blocks in game two in 2013 and four straight games to close out the 2016 series against the Warriors.

Blocks

LeBron has had 15 (30.61%) Finals games with two or fewer turnovers. He has had five games with only one, while his worst showing was the eight he had in game one of the 2017 Finals.

Turnovers

Shots taken and shooting percentages

LeBron has taken at least 30 shots in a Finals game nine times, five of which came in the 2015 Finals against the Warriors. The 19 shots he made in game one of this year’s Finals tied 2017’s game five for the most he has made. He has shot at least 50% from the field 21 times in the Finals and shot under 40% 10 times.

Field Goals

Field Goal %

LeBron made a Finals high five three-pointers in game seven of the 2013 Finals. He has also had seven games where he did not make a single one. The only time he has shot 100% from three was in game two of the 2014 Finals when he went 3-3.

3 Pointers

3P%

LeBron’s high in free throws made and attempted came in game two of the 2015 Finals when he went 14-18 from the line. His best showing was in game two of the 2012 Finals when he went a perfect 12-12. In game three of the 2013 Finals, he did not attempt a single free-throw.

Free Throws

Free Throw %

Plus/Minus

In LeBron’s 49 NBA Finals games, he has had a positive plus/minus in 19 (38.77%) of them and a negative plus/minus in 28 (57.14%) of them. He has also had a plus/minus of zero twice. His best plus/minus was +32 in game four of the 2017 Finals, while his worst was -32 in game three of the 2013 Finals.

Plus Minus

Total averages for each series

Below are LeBron’s per game averages for each NBA Finals series that he has played in. The table after that show how many double-doubles and triple-doubles he recorded in each series.

Series Result MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO
07 Spurs 0-4 42.5 22.0 7.0 6.8 1.0 0.5 5.8
11 Mavs 2-4 43.7 17.8 7.2 6.8 1.7 0.5 4.0
12 OKC 4-1 44.0 28.6 10.2 7.4 1.6 0.4 3.8
13 Spurs 4-3 43.1 25.3 10.9 7.0 2.3 0.9 2.6
14 Spurs 1-4 38.0 28.2 7.8 4.0 2.0 0.4 3.8
15 GSW 2-4 45.8 35.8 13.3 8.8 1.3 0.5 3.5
16 GSW 4-3 42.0 29.7 11.3 8.9 2.6 2.3 4.4
17 GSW 1-4 42.4 33.6 12.0 10 1.4 1.0 4.2
18 GSW 0-4 45.0 34.0 8.5 10 1.3 1.0 5.0
Series Field Goals (%) Three-Pointers (%) Free Throws (%)
07 Spurs 8.0-22.5 (35.6%) 1.0-5.0 (20.0%) 5.0-7.3 (69.0%)
11 Mavs 7.2-15 (47.8%) 1.5-4.7 (32.1%) 2.0-3.3 (60.0%)
12 OKC 10.2-21.6 (47.2%) 0.6-3.2 (18.8%) 7.6-9.2 (82.6%)
13 Spurs 9.6-21.4 (44.7%) 1.7-4.9 (35.3%) 4.4-5.6 (79.5%)
14 Spurs 10.4-18.2 (57.1%) 2.8-5.4 (51.9%) 4.6-5.8 (79.3%)
15 GSW 13.0-32.7 (39.8%) 2.2-7.0 (31.0%) 7.7-11.2 (68.7%)
16 GSW 11.7-23.7 (49.4%) 1.9-5.0 (37.1%) 4.4-6.1 (72.1%)
17 GSW 13.2-23.4 (56.4%) 2.4-6.2 (38.7%) 4.8-7.4 (64.9%)
18 GSW 12.3-23.3 (52.7%) 1.5-4.5 (33.3%) 8.0-9.5 (84.2%)
NBA Finals Series Double-Double Triple-Double
07 Spurs 1 0
11 Mavs 0 1
12 OKC 2 1
13 Spurs 3 2
14 Spurs 2 0
15 GSW 3 2
16 GSW 5 1
17 GSW 3 2
18 GSW 1 1

As I mentioned in my article looking back on the 2017-18 NBA Finals, LeBron’s 51-point performance was only the sixth in history during the Finals. This performance gave LeBron his seventh 40 plus point game in the Finals, only behind Jerry West who has ten.

In the 49 NBA Finals games, Lebron James has played in his teams have an 18-32 record and a 3-6 series record. He has recorded 21 double-doubles and an NBA Finals record 10 triple-doubles.

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Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)

Featured Image: “LeBron James” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0

https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/j/jamesle01.html (Used game log to note stats from each Finals game he played in)

http://www.espn.com/nba/player/gamelog/_/id/1966/year/2007/lebron-james (Used to get LeBron’s averages for each Finals series)

All table and graphs made using Google Spreadsheet

Looking back at the 2017-18 NBA Finals

Last night the Golden State Warriors easily defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers to pull off the NBA’s first Finals sweep in over a decade. It also gave the Warriors their third championship in four years, as they managed to once again overwhelm LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

What this means historically for the Warriors and Cavs

This win gives the Warriors their third championship in four years. This puts them in elite company in the history of the NBA in terms of teams who won three titles in four years or less. They are also only the third team to win back-to-back championships while only losing one game in the Finals.

*The early 1950s Lakers and 1960s Celtics ended up overlapping each other by definition.

Team Years (Span) Finals made in span Record in Finals
Minneapolis Lakers *Four Years (1949-52) 3 3-0
Minneapolis Lakers *Three Years (1952-54) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Four Years (1957-60) 4 3-1
Boston Celtics *Three Years (1960-62) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Three Years (1961-63) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Three Years (1962-64) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Three Years (1963-65) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Three Years (1964-66) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Four Years (1965-68) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Four Years (1966-69) 3 3-0
Los Angeles Lakers Four Years (1985-88) 4 3-1
Chicago Bulls Three Years (1991-93) 3 3-0
Chicago Bulls Three Years (1996-98) 3 3-0
Los Angeles Lakers Three Years (2000-02) 3 3-0
Golden State Warriors Four Years (2015-18) 4 3-1
Team Span Finals Record
Detriot Pistons 1988-1990 8-1
Los Angeles Lakers 2000-2002 8-1
Golden State Warriors 2016-2018 8-1

In getting swept by the Warriors, the Cavaliers became only the ninth team to get swept in the NBA Finals. Ironically, the last team to get swept in the Finals was also the LeBron led Cavs back in 2007.

Team that got swept Opponent Year
Minneapolis Lakers Boston Celtics 1959
Baltimore Bullets Milwaukee Bucks 1971
Washington Bullets Golden State Warriors 1975
Los Angeles Lakers Philadelphia 76ers 1983
Los Angeles Lakers Detroit Pistons 1989
Orlando Magic Houston Rockets 1995
New Jersey Nets Los Angeles Lakers 2002
Cleveland Cavaliers San Antonio Spurs 2007
Cleveland Cavaliers Golden State Warriors 2018

The Cavaliers also joined the small list of NBA teams who lost three Finals in a four-year span or less.

*The 1960s Lakers spans all ended up overlapping with each other.

Team Span (Years) Finals Record
New York Knicks Three Years (1951-53) 0-3
Los Angeles Lakers *Four Years (1962-65) 0-3
Los Angeles Lakers *Four Years (1963-66) 0-3
Los Angeles Lakers *Four Years (1965-68) 0-3
Los Angeles Lakers *Four Years (1966-69) 0-3
Los Angeles Lakers *Three Years (1968-70) 0-3
Cleveland Cavaliers Four Years (2015-18) 1-3

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The Ying and Yang of Steph Curry

In their game two victory, Steph Curry set the NBA playoffs and Finals record by making nine three-pointers. Since the NBA added the three-point line in 1979-80, there have only been 13 occasions where a player has made at least seven three-pointers in a playoff game. Curry is now responsible for five of those after making seven in game four on top of his game two performance.

However, he followed that up with a disastrous performance in game three. Curry was 3-16 from the field, making it only the 79th playoff game (since 1963-64) in which a player took at least that many shots and made three or fewer.

He was also 1-10 from beyond the arc. This made him only the ninth person to take at least ten three-pointers in a playoff game and make one or fewer. This game is also what likely cost him the Finals MVP.

With the Warriors third championship, Steph Curry joins a small group of eight players in the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) to win at least two MVPs and three championships in a four-year span.

*All of Russell’s years overlap with each other by definition of this, as does Gretzky’s 1987 season.

Players Sport Span MVPs Championships
Joe DiMaggio MLB 1938-41 2 3
Yogi Berra MLB 1951-54 2 3
Gordie Howe NHL 1952-55 2 3
Bill Russell NBA *1958-61 2 3
Bill Russell NBA *1961-64 3 4
Bill Russell NBA *1962-65 3 4
Bill Russell NBA *1963-66 2 4
Guy Lafleur NHL 1977-80 2 3
Wayne Gretzky NHL *1984-87 4 3
Wayne Gretzky NHL *1987-90 2 3
Michael Jordan NBA 1990-93 2 3
Michael Jordan NBA 1995-98 2 3
Steph Curry NBA 2015-18 2 3

*While this has never happened in the NFL and never took place in the AFL, it did happen in the AAFC (merged with NFL in 1949). In four years (1946-49), Otto Graham won 2 MVPs and 4 championships.

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Durant and LeBron’s historic performances

In game three of the NBA Finals, Kevin Durant dropped 43 points to give the Warriors an insurmountable 3-0 led over the Cavaliers. This game was the catalyst to him earning his second Finals MVP and a playoff career high for him.

His 43 points were the most by a Warriors player in the playoffs since Curry’s 44 point performance against the San Antonio Spurs in 2013. It was the most by a Warriors player in the Finals since 1967, when Rick Barry scored 44 in game six.

In game one of the NBA Finals, LeBron James dropped 51 points. This made LeBron only the 12th player (20th occurrence) since 1963-64 to score at 50 points in a playoff game. However, the Cavaliers lost the game in heartbreaking fashion due to some slight time mismanagement at the end of regulation before losing in overtime.

*Bob Pettit’s game log on Basketball-Reference has no assists tally for that game

Players Year (Game, Result) Series Result Points Rebounds Assists FG%
Elgin Baylor 1962 (Game 5, Win) Lost 4-3 61 22 1 47.80%
Michael Jordan 1993 (Game 4, Win) Won 4-2 55 8 4 56.80%
Rick Barry 1967 (Game 3, Win) Lost 4-2 55 12 5 45.80%
Jerry West 1969 (Game 1, Win) Lost 4-3 53 3 10 51.20%
LeBron James 2018 (Game 1, OT Loss) Lost 4-0 51 8 8 59.40%
Bob Pettit 1958 (Game 6, Win) Won 4-2 50 19 N/A* 55.90%

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Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)

Featured Image: “2014 NBA Finals logo” by Michael Tipton is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NBA_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_Most_Valuable_Player_Award

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hart_Memorial_Trophy

https://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/mvp_cya.shtml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-America_Football_Conference#Most_Valuable_Player

https://www.basketball-reference.com/ (Used to find the box score for players with over 50 points in NBA Finals)