Faraz’s comment on my post about the dreadful offense in the 2004 NBA playoffs got me thinking. Has an NBA champion ever had a worse offense than the 2004 Pistons?
Since 1974, when the NBA began tracking the stats needed to estimate possessions, no NBA champion has ranked lower in offensive rating than the Pistons, who finished 18th. But the league also had 29 teams then, which could distort the relevancy of the ranking. (I used rankings because league-wide styles have changed through the decades).
So, I looked at percentiles, and just four units for NBA champions since 1984 have ranked below the league median:
- 2001 Los Angeles Lakers defense (21st of 29 teams)
- 1979 Seattle SuperSonics offense (14th of 22 teams)
- 2004 Detroit Pistons offense (18th of 29 teams)
- 1994 Houston Rockets offense (15th of 27 teams)
So, the Pistons had the second-worst offense among NBA champions since 1974 – besting only the 1979 Sonics.
I created a chart to show how each of the 74 offenses and defenses of championship teams stack up.
Defense is blue, and offense is red. The Pistons’ titles are darker.