Products You May Like
The NBA announced a new trophy to recognize the team with the best regular-season record. The question is who will actually want it?
Yesterday, the NBA announced it was going to begin recognizing the team with the best regular-season record each year with the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. (This likely means the MVP trophy will be renamed since it’s currently the Maurice Podoloff MVP — Podoloff is the NBA’s first commissioner.)
This season, the Boston Celtics have a healthy lead for the best regular-season record but you can imagine that won’t matter to them too much with their ultimate goal of winning a championship still to come. And that highlights the underlying problem here. This makes sense as a retrospective award — when the playoffs are over it might be nice for a team who came up short to be recognized for an exceptional regular season but it’s hard to imagine this actually motivating teams to chase that regular-season excellence any more than they otherwise would.
However, I thought it would be fun to take a look back and see which teams would have won the Maurice Podoloff Trophy if it had existed in the modern era. Going back to the advent of the 3-point line, here are the teams who finished each regular season with the best record:
Who has finished with the best regular-season record each NBA season?
- 2021-22: Phoenix Suns
- 2020-21: Utah Jazz
- 2019-20: Milwaukee Bucks
- 2018-19: Milwaukee Bucks
- 2017-18: Houston Rockets
- 2016-17: Golden State Warriors
- 2015-16: Golden State Warriors
- 2014-15: Golden State Warriors
- 2013-14: San Antonio Spurs
- 2012-13: Miami Heat
- 2011-12: Chicago Bulls/San Antonio Spurs
- 2010-11: Chicago Bulls
- 2009-10: Cleveland Cavaliers
- 2008-09: Cleveland Cavaliers
- 2007-08: Boston Celtics
- 2006-07: Dallas Mavericks
- 2005-06: Detroit Pistons
- 2004-05: Phoenix Suns
- 2003-04: Indiana Pacers
- 2002-03: San Antonio Spurs/Dallas Mavericks
Just six times over the last two decades did the team with best regular-season record actually win the title (bolded above) and the current run we’re in of five-in-a-row falling short isn’t entirely unprecedented.
In here, you can also see the traces of a few players whose individual legacies might be elevated slightly. The Derrick Rose/Joakim Noah Bulls twice finished with the best regular season record without a title, as did the LeBron Cavs of the late 2000s. Steve Nash was point guard for two different teams that would have won a share of the trophy — the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns and the 2002-03 Mavericks. And then, there is Giannis Antetokounmpo who would have two Maurice Podoloff Trophies to go with the actual title the Bucks won in 2020-21.
In the end, this is, unfortunately, what this new NBA award is likely to mark — curiosities, trivia answers and great teams who weren’t quite great enough.
Subscribe to The Whiteboard, FanSided’s daily email newsletter on everything basketball. If you like The Whiteboard, share it with someone you love! If you don’t like The Whiteboard, share it with someone you loathe!
Check out the newest episode of The Step Back Podcast
Content from around the NBA network
James Wiseman is on his way back up to the Warriors
Former No. 2 pick, James Wiseman just completed a G League stint and could play against the Utah Jazz this evening. Here’s everything you need to know:
- Beyond the Box Score: Wiseman put up decent box score stats with the Warriors but struggled defensively and they were outscored by an average of 22.6 points per 100 possessions during the 143 minutes he played.
- Producing in the G League: In 7 games with the Santa Cruz Warriors, Wiseman averaged 15.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, shooting 62.2 percent from the field. Santa Cruz won four of the seven games he played.
- What’s next: It’s not clear how many minutes are available for Wiseman in Golden State and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back in Santa Cruz this season as the team works to get him more developmental minutes.
The Cavs smash the Lakers in crunchtime
The Lakers dropped an extremely winnable game against the Cavaliers, falling apart down the stretch. Here’s everything you need to know:
- That darn fourth quarter: The Lakers trailed by two points entering the final frame but were outscored 31-19 by Cleveland. Donovan Mitchell scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, while Russell Westbrook and LeBron James combined for just 4 points on 1-of-3 from the field.
- The Lakers bench showed up: The Lakers bench combined for 52 points, including 19 points and 9 rebounds for Thomas Bryant in just his fifth game back in the lineup.
- Where does this leave the Lakers? Los Angeles had won three in a row and eight of their previous 10 games. They’re currently 10-13, 13th in the Western Conference, with a 15 percent chance of making the playoffs according to 538’s prediction model.