Past And Present: Top 16 NBA Teams' All-Time Greatest Roster

We all love the drama and excitement of the NBA Playoffs. However, as much as we enjoy watching the stars of today and salivate for the new season to see greats like LeBron, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant go at it, there’s something even bigger that would eclipse them all: the ultimate NBA playoffs featuring the greatest all-time stars of each franchise.

Here we have created a 10 player roster for 16 NBA Teams consisting of each franchise's best players. The rosters span multiple generations of superstars who made their mark on each franchise to see which team would reign supreme over all. Imagine a lineup of Magic, Kobe, Baylor, Shaq and Kareem for the Lakers. A scary front court of Dr. J, Charles Barkley and Mose Malone for the Sixers with Allen Iverson running point. Derrick Rose and Michael Jordan holding down the backcourt for the Bulls.

The only rule: a player could appear on only one roster. The criteria was a combination of the longest tenure with a team mixed with largest individual accolades with a team (for example, that's why we put Abdul-Jabbar on the Lakers instead of the Bucks, and Barkley on the Sixers instead of the Suns).

If a 16 team tournament were to go down between these massively stacked teams, anything could happen, but based on talent alone we’ve listed who has the biggest chance of coming out on top. Here goes!

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

16 The Sacramento Kings

via foxsports.com / Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

PG – Oscar Robertson; SG – Mitch Richmond; SF – Peja Stojakovic; PF – Chris Webber; C – DeMarcus Cousins; Backup PG – Tiny Archibald; Backup SG – Doug Christie;Backup SF – Jack Twyman; Backup PF – Jerry Lucas; Backup C – Vlade Divac

Scouting Report: The Kings became famous in the early 2000s for their motion offense and this scary lineup would have the ultimate personnel to carry out that playbook. Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson and Nate Archibald would be very difficult to guard and the front court is also something to behold with the talented twosome of Webber and Cousins. The only concern would be if Cousins would be able to keep his composure for the good of the team.

15 Atlanta Hawks

via slamonline.com / Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

PG - Pete Maravich; SG - Lou Hudson; SF - Dominique Wilkins; PF - Bob Pettit; C - Dikembe Mutombo; Backup PG – Jeff Teague; Backup SG – Kyle Korver; Backup SF – Joe Johnson; Backup PF – Josh Smith; Backup C – Al Horford

Scouting Report: Could this team be the most underrated team in the bracket? This star-studded team boasts a fine mixture of past and present players as well as two of the league's all-time great scorers in Dominique and Pettit. And the Hawks are also one of the few teams who match up well in the size department with Mutombo, Horford, Pettit and Josh Smith. Pistol Pete is perfectly slotted at the point to establish a run and gun offense they have some great high volume scorers and shooters in Hudson, Joe Johnson and Kyle Korver. We may have them pretty low on the list but this team could definitely shock some people.

14 Indiana Pacers

via celebritywc.com / Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

PG – Mark Jackson; SG - Reggie Miller; SF - Paul George; PF - George McGinnis; C - Jermaine O'Neal; Backup PG – George Hill; Backup SG – Metta World Peace; Backup SF – Danny Granger; Backup PF – Dale Davis; Backup C – Rik Smits

Scouting Report: While the Pacers have a plethora of talent at their disposal, the big question is: Do the Pacers have a superstar? Miller, O'Neal and George are nice weapons, but are they good enough to lead the Pacers past a team like the Bulls? Look for Indiana to put Artest/World Peace on the high scorers on the opposite team, with McGinnis and Dale Davis providing muscle at forward and O'Neal and Smits clogging the middle with their shot-blocking skills. Lack of a reliable scorer at point guard hurts.

13 Cleveland Cavaliers

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

PG - Mark Price; SG - Kyrie Irving; SF - LeBron James; PF - Larry Nance; C - Brad Daugherty; Backup PG – Maurice Williams; Backup G - World B. Free; Backup SG - Austin Carr; Backup PF – Tristan Thompson; Backup C - Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Scouting Report: A few other NBA all-time team rosters that have been snubbed from this bracket may have looked a little bit better talent wise but you can’t exclude any team that includes King James. Just like any other time in James’ career, he will be relied upon to carry the team but this time around he has less pressure on himself to do it all. With a true PG like Mark Price running the point, Irving can switch to a role as SG to wear he’d be more comfortable. The bench while not outstanding, provides solid talent to give the starters a rest. The PF/C position would probably be the Cavs biggest weak point against the other heavyweights on the bracket.

12 Oklahoma City Thunder / Seattle Supersonics

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

PG - Gary Payton; SG - Russell Westbrook; SF - Kevin Durant; PF - Spencer Haywood; C - Jack Sikma; Backup PG - Lenny Wilkins; Backup SG - Ray Allen; Backup SF - Detlef Schrempf; Backup PF/C - Shawn Kemp; Backup PF/C- Serge Ibaka

Scouting Report: Imagine a fast break with Payton, Westbrook and Durant—absolutely unstoppable. The Thunder also feature two of the game's all-time best deep shooters in Allen and Detlef Schrempf. When players like Ray Allen and Shawn Kemp have to be on your bench because of the sheer talent of the starters, you know you have a ridiculously deep team. And if you make an effort to keep OKC from shooting the 3, Haywood and Kemp provide plenty of scoring inside. Interior defense may be an issue as Sikma wasn't a great shot blocker while Kemp had a tendency to get into foul trouble.

11 Orlando Magic

via wikipedia.org / via youtube.com

PG - Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway; SG - Tracy McGrady; SF – Hedo Turkoglu; PF – Horace Grant; C - Dwight Howard; Backup PG – Jameer Nelson; Backup SG – JJ Reddick; Backup SF - Nick Anderson; Backup PF - Rashard Lewis; Backup C – Bo Outlaw

Scouting Report: No Shaq Diesel in this lineup, the Center position belongs to Dwight. Either way you have a solid defensive lineup on the front court to match the potent offense of the backcourt with Penny and T-Mac. Both players play a similar style of basketball, trying to contain one of them on the court at one time is a chore, but both of them sharing the court? Forget about it. The Bench leaves a little to be desired but provides a lot of 3 point assassins so other teams would have to have top of the line perimeter defense to slow down those bombs from downtown.

10 Utah Jazz

via history.com

PG - John Stockton; SG – Gordon Hayward; SF - Adrian Dantley; PF - Karl Malone; C - Mark Eaton; Backup PG - Deron Williams; Backup SG - Jeff Hornacek; Backup SF - Andrei Kirilenko; Backup PF - Carlos Boozer; Backup C – Derrick Favors

Scouting Report: So you have the greatest pick-and-roll duo of all-time in Stockton and Malone to deal with in the starting lineup and once they sit for a rest you have to deal with the new millennium rendition of the duo in a prime Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer? Yikes. Also starting is Mark Eaton, one of the great shot blockers of all time. Dantley, a two-time scoring champion and an agile current star in Hayward. That's a lethal starting five. Malone, Eaton and Kirilenko (another terrific shot blocker) were all terrific defenders. Hornacek can drain the 3-pointer with the best of them. This team would be a matchup nightmare even for the powerhouses like the Bulls and Lakers.

9 Portland Trail Blazers

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

PG - Damian Lillard; SG - Brandon Roy; SF - Clyde Drexler; PF - LaMarcus Aldridge; C - Bill Walton; Backup PG – Terry Porter; Backup SG – CJ McCollum; Backup SF- Jerome Kersey; Backup PF- Cliff Robinson; Backup PF/C - Rasheed Wallace

Scouting Report: Offensively this roster is out of this world. Look for the Blazers to attack on comers with a barrage of 3-point shooting and timely fast breaks. The Lillard/Roy/Drexler front court is downright scary. Walton and Aldridge make for a long duo who are offensive juggernauts in their own right. The bench also has sufficient firepower to keep the score going up all night. The chink in this armor is durability. How well would an injury-prone Roy and Walton hold up during the duration of the playoffs?

8 Detroit Pistons

via slamonline.com

PG - Isiah Thomas; SG - Joe Dumars; SF - Grant Hill; PF - Ben Wallace; C - Bob Lanier; Backup PG - Chauncey Billups; Backup SG – Rip Hamilton; Backup SF - Tayshaun Prince; Backup PF – Bill Laimbeer; Backup C – Andre Drummond

Scouting Report: This roster lineup contains the Bad Boys of the late 80s and early 90s—with the dynamic duo of Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars—and the defensive minded reboot of the new millennium championship run anchored by 4 time defensive player of the year Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton. A prime Grant Hill rounds out a formidable starting lineup. With Bill Laimbeer and Tayshaun Prince also added to the mix, it’ll be getting real physical with any team that has the misfortune of playing them in a series.

7 San Antonio Spurs

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

PG - Tony Parker; SG - George Gervin; SF - Kawhi Leonard; PF - Tim Duncan; C - David Robinson; Backup PG – Avery Johnson; Backup G – Alvin Robertson; Backup SG - Manu Ginobili; Backup SF - Sean Elliott; Backup SF/PF- Bruce Bowen

Scouting Report: The Spurs dynasty is probably the one franchise that has been consistently a contender for the longest stretch of time. While teams went and rebuilt and overhauled their roster, the Spurs had only needed to make mere tweaks. The Tim Duncan/Robinson duo is a frontcourt that was hard to stop during their championship run and would be hard to stop in this lineup. Rounding out the starting lineup is the Iceman and Kawhi Leonard as well as premier PG, Tony Parker. Defense has always been the Spurs strong suit and with the length they have on the court, it will be here as well.

6 Philadelphia 76ers

via philadelphia.cbslocal.com / via defpen.com

PG - Allen Iverson; SG - Hal Greer; SF - Julius Erving; PF – Charles BarkleyC - Moses Malone; Backup PG- Maurice Cheeks; Backup SG - Hershey Hawkins; Backup SF- Andre Iguodala; Backup PF – Dolph Schayes; Backup C – Darryl Dawkins

Scouting Report: Holy mother of God. The ungodly frontcourt of Dr. J, Charles Barkley and Moses Malone actually played on the same court together, but that was when both Irving and Malone were winding down in their careers. With all of them in their prime, they are sure to give opposing teams chills. And we haven’t even gotten to talk about the backcourt of AI and Hal Greer supplying assists and firepower. The bench has an impressive cast of roleplayers as well. The biggest factor would have to be Iverson. With this type of lineup, double teaming anyone is absolutely foolish so who would be able to contain the Answer?

5 Boston Celtics

via nbapassion.com / via youtube.com

PG - Bob Cousy; SG - Paul Pierce; SF - Larry Bird; PF – Dave Cowens; C - Bill Russell; Backup PG – Rajon Rondo; Backup SG – Sam Jones; Backup SF – John Havlicek; Backup PF - Kevin McHale; Backup C – Robert Parish

Scouting Report: So many championships between all these players. So much Hall of Fame talent. So what do you do about this team? You will have The Truth and Larry Legend drilling so many shots and with a 1-2 punch of Bob Cousy and Rajon Rondo off the bench, the ball will be moving seamlessly around the court. The Frontcourt is absolutely legendary on the starting lineup and on the bench. The only thing that may be a slight against this lineup is athleticism which they can make up by being scrappy on the court and crafty.

4 Golden State Warriors

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

PG - Stephen Curry; SG - Chris Mullin; SF - Rick Barry; PF - Nate Thurmond; C - Wilt Chamberlain; Backup PG – Tim Hardaway; Backup SG – Klay Thompson; Backup SF - Latrell Sprewell; Backup PF – Draymond Green; Backup C – Andrew Bogut

Scouting Report: The Warriors broke the NBA regular season record by going 73-9 this past season. But what if they had Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain at Center and Rick Barry as their starting SF? Is it safe to say 82-0? Here’s another question: Who’s going to stop Chamberlain if he decides he wants to score 100 again? Would anyone be foolish enough to leave their Steph Curry, Spreewell, Chris Mullin or Klay Thompson at the perimeter to provide help defense? Nate Thurmond takes a Gatorade break from stomping the opposing PF, only for Draymond Green to sub in? Lord have mercy.

3 Houston Rockets

via ccnmedialife.com / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

PG - Steve Francis; SG - James Harden; SF – Rudy Tomjanovich; PF – Hakeem Olajuwon; C – Yao Ming; Backup PG – Calvin Murphy; Backup SG – Vernon Maxwell; Backup SF – Trevor Ariza; Backup PF – Otis Thorpe; Backup C – Ralph Sampson

Scouting Report:First thing that jumps out at you is the jaw-dropping frontcourt. With Yao and Dream playing side-by-side, you have the Twin Towers on steroids. When Ralph Sampson comes off the bench to join Hakeem you get a little bit of the original twin towers. Harden and Francis would make for a scary backcourt duo but the only problem may be that they’d have a bit of trouble sharing the ball since both need the ball to be effective. The keys to victory is to (1) feed the big men and pound the ball inside to Yao and Hakeem (2) guard the perimeter because opposing teams trying to go in the paint are most likely going to get swatted (3) have Franchise and the Beard draw the defense in with their quickness and playmaking abilities. The bench is also solid both offensively and defensively with the likes of Maxwell, Ariza and Calvin Murphy.

2 Chicago Bulls

via history.bulls.com

PG - Derrick Rose; SG - Michael Jordan; SF - Scottie Pippen; PF – Dennis Rodman; C – Joakim Noah; Backup PG – Steve Kerr; Backup SG – Jimmy Butler; Backup SF - Luol Deng; Backup PF – Bob Love; Backup C – Artis Gilmore

Scouting Report: The Jordan Era Chicago Bulls never had a really elite point guard on their roster and did just fine, but if you add an MVP level, pre-ACL tear Derrick Rose into the mix with Jordan and Pippen, then you might as well just call it a day. Dennis Rodman and Joakim Noah are starting only to suffocate opponents with their physical defense while Rose/Jordan/Pip take the scoring load. On the bench you have a promising cast headlined by superstar in the making Jimmy Butler. The bench won’t need to play much minutes though with the starters taking the bulk of the playing time. Put this team up against any of the other all-time rosters and it would be hard to count this team out, even if you match up well with them.

1 Los Angeles Lakers

via 910cbssports.cbslocal.com

PG - Earvin "Magic" Johnson; SG - Kobe Bryant; SF – Elgin Baylor; PF - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; C - Shaquille O'Neal; Backup PG - Jerry West; Backup SG – Gail Goodrich; Backup SF - James Worthy; Backup PF - Pau Gasol; Backup C – Andrew Bynum

Scouting Report: This is just not fair. You have the “Showtime” Lakers mixed with the dominating Shaq and Kobe era. The Lakers will definitely have the size advantage over most of their opponents with Kareem and Shaq clogging the paint and giving opponents hell. Magic running the floor will likely not even need to score with all of the assists waiting to happen on the court. The bench then has a starter worthy lineup with Mr. Clutch himself Jerry West and another scary frontcourt of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. This team is built to never fail.

More in NBA