Being the most renown basketball league in the world, NBA (National Basketball Association) built up its reputation since 1946 and its foundation as the Basketball Association of America. The league constitutes the highest tier in the American basketball system. It comprises 29 teams from the U.S. and one from Canada (Toronto Raptors).
Established in 1946, the league was named the Basketball Association of America and comprised firstly 11 teams, of which four dropped before the second season. The league owes its contemporary name since the merging with the competing National Basketball League (NBL) on August 3, 1949. Then the league had 17 teams competing, including both squads from major and smaller cities, playing on big arenas, as well as local gyms. Due to various kinds of problems, the set of teams shrunk, reaching its lowest number in 1953, when only 8 teams decided to play. These were New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia Warriors, Minneapolis Lakers, Rochester Royals, Fort Wayne Pistons, Tri-Cities Blackhawks, and Syracuse Nationals, all of which remained in the league up to this day, having sometimes different names, though. In 1954, the league’s authorities decided to introduce the 24-second rule, while building an action. It was supposed to encourage the teams to play more spectacular, dynamic actions.
The current league roster comprises 30 teams, divided into two conferences of three divisions with five teams each. This contemporary alignment was introduced in the 2004-05 season. The divisions are Atlantic, Central, Southeast, Northwest, Pacific and Southwest. In the regular season, the teams from the same division play 4 matches against each of their division rivals, 3 or 4 matches against each of teams from the following two divisions and 30 matches against the teams from the opposite Conference. This way, throughout the season each of the teams plays 82 matches, 52 of which are in the boundaries of its own Conference. Some of the teams complain about the fatigue resulting from the bigger amounts of games played against teams from other divisions. The NBA Playoffs season begins in late April, including top eight teams in each conference, regardless of divisional alignment. Together they compete for the NBA Championship. The seeds are awarded strictly accordingly to their regular-season record (with a tiebreaker system used as needed).
Around the end of April (when regular season ends), the voting for the individual awards begins. This is the time, when the prizes for The Sixth Man of the Year Award, The Rookie of the Year Award, The Most Improved Player Award, the Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Coach of the Year Award and The Most Valuable Player Award are being decided. Additionally, there is a post-season tradition to choose the All-NBA Team, the All-Defensive Team, and the All-Rookie Team. Each team comprises 5 players, being the crème de la crème on their positions.
Throughout 72 years of league’s history, some of the teams shown remarkable performance, distinguishing themselves among the others. The most rewarded are the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers (known before as Minneapolis). The famous Celts have won the Championship 17 times. The Lakers are breathing down their neck, as they have 16 titles on their account. Thanks to the recent successes Golden State Warriors (known formerly as Philadelphia Warrior) have jumped on the podium, having 6 wins (3 in the last 4 years!). Equal number of league titles belongs to the Chicago Bulls. San Antonio Spurs Is right behind them with 5 league championships. Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers have 3 final wins. However, there are still some teams, which haven’t got a singular appearance in the Season Finals. The list includes Charlotte Hornets (known before as Bobcats), Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, L.A. Clippers, Minnesota Timbervolves, New Orleans Pelicans and Toronto Raptors.
The list here is dominated by Boston Celtics players, who triumphed during the golden era of Boston’s basketball. The players with most league titles are Bill Russell and Sam Jones (respectively 11 and 10 championships). Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Satch Sanders and John Havlicek have 8 NBA titles on their account. The top 10 is also filled with the Robert Horry, winning the league with Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from Milwaukee Bucks, and L.A. Lakers.
Among last season’s stars, some of the players noted remarkable performance in some fields. These are i.e. James Harden (Houston Rockets) in the points per game average, scoring usually around 28,7 points. Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs) turned out to be the best 3-pointer, with an unbelievable accuracy of 57,1%. Andre Drummond from Detroit Pistons had an impressive record of 15.29 rebounds per game. Russell Westbrook can be considered as best playmaker. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard noted 10.06 assists per match. The best defensive players were Anthony Davis from New Orleans Pelicans and with the highest number of blocks (2.33) and Victor Oladipo from the pacers with 2.35 steals per game.
After the regular season in the Eastern Conference, the podium was composed of Toronto Raptors (59-23), Boston Celtics (55-27) and Philadelphia 76ers (52-30). Cleveland Cavaliers ended 4th with a balance of 50-32. Going to the West, we have Houston Rockets on the 1st place (65-17), Golden State Warriors on the second (58-24) and Portland Trail Blazers as the third team (49-33). Right behind them finished Oklahoma City Thunder with 48 wins and 34 losses. Golden State Warriors proved to be the best team in terms of points gained through 3-point throws, field goals, as well as successful blocks (6.9 per match!) Philadelphia 76ers has the best rebounders (47.7 rebounds per game). They also have the highest average of turnovers – 16.3 per game.