Single Season Teams of the Decade
2008 Boston Celtics
My choice for the best single season team of the decade. They won 66 games behind three future Hall of Famers, all close to their primes, as well as great defense from their chief role players (Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, James Posey). This team has only two knocks. First, due to Garnett aging and fighting injuries, they were only great for one year. Second, they struggled in the first couple rounds of the playoffs.
2005 San Antonio Spurs
The most consistently good team of the decade. This is my pick for the best of those teams-a team that won 59 games with the best point differential in the NBA despite Tim Duncan missing 16 games. The Spurs got a great year from Manu, Tony Parker was starting to hit his peak, Duncan was his usual great self, and the Spurs had an almost perfect group of role players in Bruce Bowen, Brent Barry, Robert Horry, and Rasho Nesterovic.
The best regular season of the Shaq-Kobe Lakers (67-15). They struggled in the playoffs, nearly blowing a 3-1 lead to Portland, but still won a title. In addition, this team had the best third option of any of the Shaq-Kobe teams in Glen Rice.
2006 Miami Heat
What Happened? Dwayne Wade singlehandedly destroyed the Pistons, and then the Heat benefited from some "questionable" calls to win Games 3, 5, and 6 by a total of 6 points over Dallas.
2009 Cleveland Cavaliers
What Happened? Orlando got hot from three (41%), and Mo Williams couldn't hit the broad side of a barn during the first 4 games.
2001 San Antonio Spurs
What Happened? The Lakers decided to try, and also hit a lot of threes, 44% compared to 22% for San Antonio. (In the regular season, San Antonio hit 41% from deep and LA hit 34%).
2003 Dallas Mavericks
What Happened? Dirk got injured, and the best Nowitzki-Nash squad lost to a very good Spurs team in the conference finals
2002 Sacramento Kings
Dick Bavetta and a good Lakers team. I don't want to say anything else, except that it's a shame this team never won a title.
Dynasties of the Decade
Worst Teams of the Decade
Reasons they won 15 games: a rookie Lamar Odom, Derek Anderson, who was kinda decent, I guess.
Reasons they only won 15 games: three of their starters were Maurice Taylor, Michael Olowokandi, and Tyrone Nesby. Enough said.
Seeds for future success: They continued to suck, which allowed them to draft Tyson Chandler, who they were able to use to fleece the Bulls for Elton Brand, who led the Clippers within one game of the Western Conference Finals in 2006 in exhibit C of the "Sam Cassell makes teams better than you'd think" argument. And that's pretty much the high point of the Clippers franchise (and no, Bob McAdoo winning the '75 MVP doesn't count).
Reasons they won 15 games: The Bulls actually had a decent collection of talent-Elton Brand, Ron Artest, Brad Miller, Ron Mercer, Jamal Crawford, and supersub Fred Hoiberg.
Reasons they only won 15 games: Their problem was that, with the exception of a 21 year old Elton Brand (and Hoiberg), none of it was very good yet.
Seeds for future success: The next time the Bulls would win more than 30 games was 2005. None of the above players would be on that Bulls team. That team was built around a great defense anchored by Tyson Chandler (acquired for Elton Brand) and Kirk Hinrich (1st round pick in 2003), and molded by Scott Skiles. Other draft picks that contributed included Eddy Curry (2001-4th overall) and Ben Gordon (2004-3rd overall). What happened to all that young talent from 2001? In one of the more underrated horrible trades of the new century, Artest, Miller, and Mercer were traded for a package of Jalen Rose and three other guys that didn't do much. Two years later, the Bulls traded Rose and Donyell Marshall to the Raptors for a 35 year old Antonio Davis and two other guys who didn't do much. If you're keeping track, the Bulls managed to turn a young Ron Artest, a young Brad Miller, Ron Mercer, and Donyell Marshall into two years of Jalen Rose and an old Antonio Davis. When you factor in the Elton Brand trade, and the Jay Williams accident, it's amazing to see how much talent Chicago hemorrhaged during those years.
Reasons they won 17 games: Ricky Davis, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a young Carlos Boozer
Reasons they only won 17 games: Ricky Davis, Darius Miles, the Dajuan Wagner experience.
Seeds for future success: LeBron! LeBron! LeBron! The Cavs built a good team around LeBron and Big Z (Boozer having jumped ship to Utah), and have become a championship contender in the past couple years after adding role players like Anderson Varejao and Mo Williams. The reason? Unlike the Bulls and Clippers, they were lucky enough to bottom out in time to draft the best player of his generation.
Reasons they won 13 games: a couple good very young players in Josh Childress and Josh Smith, and 2 veteran scorers in Antoine Walker and Al Harrington.
Reasons they only won 13 games: When your veteran leader is Antoine Walker, you're in trouble.
Seeds for future success: Josh Smith is turning into an excellent player, Atlanta was able to use a combination of young talent (Boris Diaw) and draft picks to fleece the Suns for Joe Johnson, and the Hawks' continued ineptitude allowed them to draft Al Horford in 2007. In contrast to the Cavs, for example, the Hawks success has had more to do with good trades (for Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, and Jamal Crawford) than it does with picking up a great player with a high draft pick as a result of ineptitude.