We all know defense wins championships, but offense wins the fans over. So we're going to talk about most people's favorite part of the NBA, offense. We could easily talk about the top individual scorers to play the game, but basketball is a team sport and teams usually thrive when they play as a cohesive unit.
In this article, we'll remember the past great offenses in the NBA. Like the original "Lob City." Even Gary Payton said they created "Lob City" in an interview. Take a look yourself:
“When people say Lob City or stuff like that, we were the original Lob City,” Payton said. “We don’t want to call it Lob City, we just called it Reign Man and the Glove.”
Interesting. We also remember the Steve Nash-led Phoenix Suns and Mike D'Antoni's "Seven Seconds Or Less" offense. They forever changed the game and would speed basketball games up. On that Suns team, the Suns had six players averaging double figures in points per game. Talk about playing as a team.
In today's game, we have the privilege of watching the San Antonio Spurs spread the ball around more than anyone has ever seen. The San Antonio Spurs are always in constant motion, as players are moving without the ball and trust each player on their team. The future of NBA team offense is bright with the Dallas Mavericks sharing the rock, as they always have, and with the new-look Atlanta Hawks.
Usually when a team shares the ball on offense, it leads to winning, but there will be no negative marks because of records for this list. This list will be based on offensive rating and team play/talent. Of course there will be teams from different eras, but debate is always fun.
20 Milwaukee Bucks, 1970-1971
Offensive Rating: 103.9
19 Indiana Pacers, 1998-1999
Offensive Rating: 108.7
The 1998-1999 season was cut short before it even started because of a lockout situation. That did not stop this offense from ranking among the greats.
The 1998-1999 Indiana Pacers did not play at a fast PACE.
Sorry for the horrible joke, but the above statement is true. They were 26th in the league in pace of offense. How did they become great? By maximizing every possession on the offensive side. Mark Jackson was at the helm of the offense and Reggie Miller was the star of the team. Jackson was a great facilitator and knew how to get an offense running. Take him and shooters like Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, and Jalen Rose, and this offense knew how to put it in the net. They would go on to lose to the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals, but they made this list. Not a bad consolation we hope.
18 Sacramento Kings, 2003-2004
Offensive Rating: 110.3
The Kings has an incredibly balanced attack in 2004/04, as six different players averaged double-figures. Vlade Divac averaged 9.9 points per game, so he could have been the seventh player on the roster to average double figures. So close. Mike Bibby was at point and Chris Webber was dominating the paint. Oh and they had this guy Peja Stojakovic that shot over 43 percent from the perimeter and averaged 24.2 points per game. There had a plethora of weapons and defenses could not stop every single one of them.
17 Dallas Mavericks, 2002-2003
Offensive Rating: 110.7
The Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash days were truly great times for NBA fans. The early 2000's were a struggle for offenses to be efficient, but with these two running the show and a respectable Michael Finley being the third scoring option, how could they not be great? This Dallas Mavericks team had five regular players shooting over 37% from the three-point line, which is an incredible statistic. All that shooting, and a power forward that changed the way we see the position, saw the Mavs put up great numbers offensively. They hit the 60 win mark, but lost in the Western Conference Finals.
16 Seattle SuperSonics, 1997-1998
Offensive Rating: 111.6
15 Los Angeles Lakers, 1997-1998
Offensive Rating: 111.9
14 Dallas Mavericks, 2001-2002
Offensive Rating: 112.2
13 Utah Jazz, 1997-1998
Offensive Rating: 112.7
If you are a fan of fast-paced basketball, then this was not the team for you. The Utah Jazz's stars: John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, and Karl Malone were all at least 34 years-old. Yikes. Still, they put together a dominating offense that only the Chicago Bulls could stop.
Spoiler alert: Utah Jazz lost to the Bulls in the NBA finals that year.
12 Utah Jazz, 1996-1997
Offensive Rating: 113.6
... and that was one year earlier.
11 Phoenix Suns, 2006-2007
Offensive Rating: 113.9
10 Denver Nuggets, 1981-1982
Offensive Rating: 114.3
9 Chicago Bulls, 1996-1997
Offensive Rating: 114.4
It's pretty easy to have a good offense when you have Michael Jordan on the floor. Don't forget to throw in other scoring contributors like Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc. Those were the only players to average double figures in the scoring department, but this offense knew how to get second chance points on offensive rebounds. The Bulls can thank Dennis Rodman and Luc Longley for second chance opportunities.
8 Phoenix Suns, 2004-2005
Offensive Rating: 114.5
7 Orlando Magic, 1994-1995
Offensive Rating: 115.1
Who would figure one of the greatest offenses of all time would be a team that was led by a 22 and 23-year-old? Now what if we told you those players were Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal?
Now it makes sense.
6 Phoenix Suns, 2009-2010
Offensive Rating: 115.3
5 Chicago Bulls, 1995-1996
Offensive Rating: 115.2
The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls posted the best record in NBA history at 72-10 and it had a lot to do with their offense. It really does help to have Michael Jordan on your team, as he averaged over 30 points again this season. Scottie Pippen was working his magic alongside of Jordan and Dennis Rodman did all the dirty work on the boards. Also, Steve Kerr shot over 51% from three, which is not shocking at all.
4 Boston Celtics, 1987-1988
Offensive Rating: 115.4
3 Dallas Mavericks, 2003-2004
Offensive Rating: 112.1
2 Chicago Bulls, 1991-1992
Offensive Rating: 115.5
1 Los Angeles Lakers, 1986-1987
Offensive Rating: 115.6
Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, and Byron Scott made for a true Big Four.. They all averaged 17 points or more a game. Johnson was magical, if you will, by averaging 23.9 points and 12.2 assists a night. Abdul-Jabbar's hook shot was still unstoppable. James Worthy was a scoring machine with 19.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Byron Scott was a dead-eye from the perimeter, shooting over 43% from beyond the arc. On top of that, the Lakers had three other players average over 10 points. They completed their historic season by winning the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. Name one weakness this team had on the offensive side. We'll wait....
Exactly. That is why they are the greatest offense to ever play the game of basketball.
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