- Kevin Pelton
It's a compelling, fun hypothetical: If every NBA team had its players in the prime of their careers, which would be the best?
For instance, what if the Brooklyn Nets had Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson et al. during their absolute peaks? Where would that team rank among all such teams?
Readers enjoyed Friday's column attempting to answer this question by ranking this season's teams, and many of them raised the same follow-up question: What about the all-time best teams? In truth, we can't rank the best "peak value" teams ever because my wins above replacement player (WARP) metric dates only to 1977-78, when the league first tracked player turnovers. But here are the star-studded leaders since then, including a No. 1 that might surprise you.
The method remains the same as Friday's column. For each player, I've taken their best season in terms of WARP as their "prime" value, and the team's rating is made up of the 12 best players by this measure. For the purposes of this ranking, teams were only ranked once if mostly similar over the course of a few seasons.
Kevin Pelton ranks the top 10 teams post-merger if all NBA players were in their prime.