The Los Angeles Lakers keep losing. The San Antonio Spurs? They’re a little bit off their game, but not so much as to derail them from their annual trip to the NBA playoffs, and on the way also become, at least for now, the team with the best regular season winning percentage in NBA history.
With an NBA all-time record of 1920-1207 since joining from the ABA in 1977, the San Antonio Spurs are at 61.4% winning percentage. That puts them just above the Los Angeles Lakers, currently at 61%. Obviously, this achievement is mostly based on their success of the last 16 years, which includes five NBA championship, something the Lakers have also done. But in the regular season the Spurs don’t tie with anyone.
They’ve won 50 games or more for 15 consecutive season before this one, including in the lockout shortened 2011-2012 (exactly 50 wins). They’ve won 61% of their games or more in 21 of their last 22 seasons. This year they’ll need to win 14 of their last 23 games to reach the 50-win mark, which more or less sits with their all-time pace, at 60.8%. Basically, the Spurs are the masters of winning two out of three with consistency unparalleled in the NBA pretty much a generation, excluding the 1996-1997 season when David Robinson missed almost all of it. However, that landed Tim Duncan, and the rest is history.
But what about the Lakers? They have 16 championships. And they rarely miss the playoffs. But they’ve been having a rough time recently. They won just 45 games in 2012-2013, barely making the playoffs. Last season they won just 32.9% of their games, their worst season since 1957-1958. This season, they’re at 16-43 (27.1%) and might set a new franchise low.
And the Celtics? They might have more championships than anyone, but since 1993, they’ve missed the playoffs 10 times and are likely to get left out again this year. They haven’t won more than 60% of their games since the 2010-2011 season. In short, they might still be the one to beat when it comes to championships, but there have been plenty of dry spells in their history, which translates into just one championship since 1986.