2017 Warriors vs. Prior NBA Champs

After the Warriors steamrolled their way to their second championship in three years, there has been a lot of discussion about how this Warriors team would stack up against past NBA champions. Guys like Magic Johnson, Rasheed Wallace, and even Raja Bell have claimed that their former teams would beat the ’17 Warriors. Unless MJ pulls a Brett Favre and un-retires again, we will likely never see the Warriors play any of the great teams from the past. As an alternative, we thought it might be fun to run these hypothetical matchups of 2017 Warriors vs. Prior NBA Champions through our NBA Playoff Model.

It is important to keep in mind how much the NBA has changed since the early 90’s, and that team statistics can be vastly different depending on the era in which they played. For example, in 2017, the median team 3-point attempts per game was 26.1, compared to a median of 6.8 attempts in 1991. While our models do account for these differences, it should be noted that these cross-year matchups are not how the models are intended to be used. With this caveat in mind, the table below shows all NBA Champions since 1991, and their modeled probability of beating the 2017 Warriors in a playoff series – our model only favored two teams to beat the 2017 Warriors.

Prior Champs vs. 2017 Warriors

TeamProb of Beating
2017 Warriors
Projected
Winner
1991 Bulls27.4%2017 Warriors
1992 Bulls41.6%2017 Warriors
1993 Bulls11.2%2017 Warriors
1994 Rockets18.6%2017 Warriors
1995 Rockets12.4%2017 Warriors
1996 Bulls84.2%1996 Bulls
1997 Bulls78.0%1997 Bulls
1998 Bulls34.8%2017 Warriors
1999 Spurs27.9%2017 Warriors
2000 Lakers47.1%2017 Warriors
2001 Lakers16.3%2017 Warriors
2002 Lakers28.5%2017 Warriors
2003 Spurs24.0%2017 Warriors
2004 Pistons12.7%2017 Warriors
2005 Spurs30.4%2017 Warriors
2006 Heat13.5%2017 Warriors
2007 Spurs15.8%2017 Warriors
2008 Celtics37.0%2017 Warriors
2009 Lakers24.8%2017 Warriors
2010 Lakers11.2%2017 Warriors
2011 Mavericks15.0%2017 Warriors
2012 Heat21.7%2017 Warriors
2013 Heat43.5%2017 Warriors
2014 Spurs25.0%2017 Warriors
2015 Warriors44.9%2017 Warriors
2016 Cavaliers16.8%2017 Warriors

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