With 2019 in its final months and heading into a new decade, why not reminisce on the previous decade. The 2010s gave us everything, from the rise of new dynasties, to teams breaking narratives, we had quite the entertaining decade. So which organizations in North America were the best, what teams showed consistency throughout the decade and of course, which teams won their fair share of titles? Here are the Top 10 best ran North American teams of the 2010s.
10. Miami Heat
Oh how long ago it feels that the Miami Heat “Big Three” formed and became the center of the basketball world. After falling in the first round to the eventual eastern conference champion Boston Celtics in the 2010 playoffs, the Heat entered the summer of 2010 with a big idea in mind. Assemble three of the top 15 players in the league on one team, all of them in their prime, and win as much as they can. As history went, they did just that.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh would agree to come to Miami and play with Dwyane Wade, with the ultimate goal being to win NBA championships together. Again they would succeed, from 2010-2014 the Heat would make it to four straight NBA Finals, proving that they were the definitive best team in the East during the “Big Three” era.
After faltering in the 2011 Finals to the Dallas Mavericks, the Heat would regroup and retool their roster, adding role players like Shane Battier, Norris Cole, Ray Allen, and Rashard Lewis that would play roles in the team winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013. The “Big Three” era ultimately ended after their 2014 Finals loss to the Spurs.
After the departure of James, the Heat have alternated between having good seasons and bad ones. 2015 saw them miss the playoffs in part due to the first of two blood clots issues Chris Bosh would have. The Heat would actually win their division in 2016 make the playoffs as the 3rd seed in the East, winning in seven games over the Charlotte Hornets before falling to the Raptors in seven. The team would then miss the playoffs in 2017, make them in 2018 and miss out in 2019.
While the end of the 2010s was not as strong as their start, the Heat have consistently been in the playoff conversation even without the “Big Three”. They also never completely fell off a cliff. The team still had meetings over the years with several of the top market free agents like LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, etc. They also found several players through the draft like Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Bam Adebayo, and through the G-League like Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, and Derric Jones Jr. that have become solid NBA players.
Another credit to the team has been the leadership. Pat Riley was the executive throughout the entire decade and Erik Spoelstra has remained head coach as well. Riley on his part has made several trades that most would have thought impossible for the Heat, like the Goran Dragic deal at the 2015 deadline, or the Jimmy Butler trade in the 2019 offseason, where despite having no cap space, the team was able to acquire a bonafide all-star. Riley also helped repair relations with Dwyane Wade, which helped lead to a proper farewell season for the shooting guard in 2019.
Spoelstra has done his job keeping the team competitive every year, especially in the 16-17 season where the Heat started 11-30 and went 30-11 to finish 41-41. He helped Dion Waiters and James Johnson have career years that season and has helped orchestrate the transition to the new era of the franchise. While they may not be viewed the same way that they were years ago, the team did not fall off the face of the earth like most would, and that takes strong leadership.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers
After a rough start to the decade with missing the playoffs for three straight seasons, the Dodgers hit their stride beginning in 2013. Since then the team has rattled off seven straight divisional titles, made back-to-back World Series appearances in 2017 and 2018, haven’t had less than 90 wins in a season during the last seven years and more recently in 2019, set the franchise record for most wins in a season with 106. Despite the rough ending to the decade, losing in the 2019 NLDS to the Washington Nationals 3-2, the team transformed itself during the decade.
For years the Dodgers were viewed as one of the teams in the league that would blindly throw money to players with talent, or trade for high salary players in order to add names to the roster in order to compete. This was especially true when they jumped from 12th on opening day in 2012 to 2nd on opening day in 2013. However the culture and mindset slowly began to change, as after they lost to the Cardinals in the 2014 NLDS, the team signed Andrew Friedman to be their new President of Baseball Operations.
Friedman had a lot of success in Tamp Bay, where despite not having all the resources in the world, helped the Rays become a playoff-caliber team, which included an appearance in the 2008 World Series. The Dodgers were already changing their way slowly in 2013, bringing in international talents in Hyun-Jin Ryu and Yasiel Puig, but after bringing in Friedman, the team’s philosophy changed completely.
Year by year the team committed itself to start being smarter with their money. While the team would still spend, they would be smarter with the decisions they’d make due to analytics. The Warriors and Rockets would use analytics in the NBA to improve, and the Dodgers did their own work. Beginning after the 2014 season, Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramírez, and Dee Gordon would all be sent away, as the Dodgers acquired back solid players while they began to really build up their farm system.
The next few years would see Friedman make calculating moves, like adding Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Josh Reddick in 2016, and Manny Machado in 2018. During these years the Dodgers would begin to hold back during free agency and keep their own players like Hill, Justin Turner, and Kenley Jensen. They would also take chances and find guys like Chris Taylor, Max Muncy, and Enrique Hernández. Changing the culture also extended to the staff, after years of being good but not performing in the postseason, the team let Don Mattingly go and hired Dave Roberts.
The biggest thing that Friedman did was keep the farm system and not sell away his top young assets. Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, and others have been brought up over the years and have all performed well for the team at times and have yet to reach their peaks. They also have players like Julio Urias, Dustin May, and Alex Verdugo who have all gotten some MLB experience and are one their way to being regulars on the team. Despite the lack of a championship in the decade, the Dodgers have become one of the most consistent teams in all of sports for seven years now, and with how they are presently constructed and ran, they are likely to continue this in the 2020s and will have a chance at getting a World Series title in the next decade too because of the new way they are ran.
8. San Antonio Spurs
The epitome of being a first-class organization over the last couple of decades, the San Antonio Spurs are the model to follow. Their leadership duo of R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich have long guided the Spurs to be the most consistent franchise in the NBA and one of the most consistent in all of sports for two decades now. The 2010s continued that as they made the playoffs every year during the decade while extending their consecutive years making the playoffs streak, which currently sits at 22.
This decade may not have had as many championships as the 2000s had, but it was marked by one of the greatest draft steals of all time. The 2011 draft saw the Spurs trade George Hill for the 15th overall pick which ended up being Kawhi Leonard. Leonard eventually developed from a solid player taken to an all-star and face of the franchise for the team. This development helped lead to the team making the final in 2013 before winning the title in 2014. The team would then have three consecutive 55+ win seasons, which included 67 wins in the 2015-2016 season. The team also did something that they normally wouldn’t do, signing LaMarcus Aldridge during the 2015 offseason, ensuring they had a high-level big man after Tim Duncan would eventually retire.
Another thing the Spurs did right was allowing their hall of fame veterans to retire properly, well two out of the three anyway. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginóbili retired in 2016 and 2018 respectively and got their jersey numbers retired. Tony Parker, while he did not retire with the team, will be getting his jersey number retired sooner rather than later.
The Spurs transition during this decade that allowed the aging “Big Three” of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili to age gracefully was also well done. The team developed an outstanding role of supporting bench players to keep them strong, including Danny Green, Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Marco Bellinelli, Tiago Splitter, and others helped the older core while also being there for when Leonard would eventually take over.
The one flaw that the Spurs made as an organization during the decade was mishandling the Kawhi Leonard injury situation. Despite the situation ending in them having to trade Leonard, they still ended up making the playoffs the year he missed due to injury and the year after they traded him. Despite losing their superstar they’ve retooled themselves to have a solid roster, as they got back Demar DeRozan and Jakob Pöltl back while having Aldridge be their number two while keeping a solid supporting cast. The Spurs have also continued being masters at drafting and developing good young players like Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, and had a good 2019 draft in getting Luka Šamanić and Keldon Johnson. While they might not be the same power they were in the previous decade, the Spurs are still the most respected team in the NBA and still have the leadership in place to be good in the 2020s.
7. Houston Astros
The Astros success in this decade has established them as the new model going forward on how to build your organization up after bottoming out. From 2006-2014 the team missed the playoffs every year, 2011-2013 saw the team lose at least 106 games in all three of those seasons. This amount of losing led to a number of trades and draft selections the team would make, including three straight first overall picks. All the moves made during that span would help turn into the great team we have seen in the last three seasons.
It all began in the final years of the 2000s where the team signed an undrafted player named Jose Altuve in 2007 and drafted Dallas Keuchel in the seventh round of the 2009 draft. The smart selections would continue when the team then picked George Springer with the 11th pick of the 2011 draft, brought in Jeff Luhnow to be the new general manager, and drafted Carlos Correa with the first pick in 2012. The team then struck gold again by selecting Alex Bregman with the second overall pick in the 2015 draft, while also picking up Kyle Tucker with the fifth pick.
2015 is when the Astros began to turn things around for the franchise. Hiring a new manager in A.J. Hinch to lead the team, Altuve built upon his successful 2014 and won another silver slugger while winning a gold glove. Correa was called up that season and won AL Rookie of the Year, and Dallas Keuchel would go 20-8 en route to winning the AL Cy Young award. The team would make the playoffs that season and defeat the Yankees in the playoff game before falling to the eventual World Series Kansas City Royals in the ALDS.
After taking a step back in 2016 the team surged in 2017 with winning 101 games, the first time they won 100 or more games in franchise history. Altuve, Correa, and Keuchel were joined by a new crop of young and emerging players as George Springer was coming into his own, Alex Bregman established himself on the main roster the year prior in 2016, and Lance McCullers had an all-star season. Surrounded by veterans in Ken Giles, Mike Fiers, Carlos Beltrán, Josh Reddick and others, the team was poised to make a run. They needed one more move to really put them over the top and just before the trade deadline they acquired Justin Verlander. With these moves in place, the team dispatched the Red Sox in the ALDS 3-1 before overcoming the Yankees and Dodgers in back-to-back seven-game series to win the first World Series in team history.
The team continued to bolster the roster by trading for Gerrit Cole prior to 2018 and then acquire closer Roberto Osuna in late July of 2018. That season saw the team win 103 games, surpassing the previous seasons’ win total. The team was stacked with talent like the previous season but ran into the 2018 Red Sox who seemed like the team of destiny that season. 2018 saw the Sox win 108 games en route to the World Series that year. 2019 has seen the Astros once again surpass themselves as the team won a franchise-record 107 games. With vastly the same team as years prior but with several differences, the team easily won it’s third straight AL West title.
However, like previous years, the team wanted to bolster up more so they made two moves. One was calling up Yordan Álvarez early in June 2019. That decision paid off in spades as Alvarez hit 27 home runs in what will likely end with him winning AL Rookie of the Year. The other was at the deadline where the team traded for former Cy Young winner and 2019 all-star, Zack Greinke. As of this point, the Astros just bested the Yankees in the 2019 ALCS with a chance to win their second World Series in three years, and whether they do or don’t, the decade the Astros had was great. The team dealt with a bad stretch of time, brought in the right guys, drafted and kept key players and made big trades when they needed to. This makes the Astros the new model to copy in sport and all of their work they’ve done will keep them contending for a long time.
6. San Francisco Giants
The first half of the decade gave us some really good and interesting teams, and the even year winning San Francisco Giants were some of the best. Heading into 2010 the team had missed the playoffs for seven straight years but brought it all together that season. The trio of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, with a rookie Buster Posey and closer Brian Wilson led the Giants through the 2010 playoffs, past three easily won series to a World Series win.
After the team missed the playoffs in 2011, they came back with a much stronger roster in 2012. With the same strong trio of starters, the team boasted a much better hitting core. With Buster Posey, who would be named MVP in 2012, Bradon Belt, Bradon Crawford, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, and Melky Cabrera the Giants navigated a tough national league, beating the Red in five games in the NLDS before beating the Cardinals in seven games to make it to the World Series. There they would overpower the Detroit Tigers and capture their second title in three years.
The next two years followed the same script, 2013 saw the team miss the playoffs before making it back in 2014, this time as a Wild Card team. With largely the same core, minus Cabrera, the Giants again traversed their way through the NL. Beating Pirate, Nationals, and Cardinals on their way to the World Series before prevailing in a grueling seven-game series. This postseason gave them their third ring in five years and showed us the playoff brilliance of Madison Bumgarner, who won World Series MVP that year with a 2-0 record, 1 save and 0.43 era.
The Giants would again miss out in 2015 before making it back in 2016 but losing to the eventual World Series champs in the Chicago Cubs. The Giants would go on to miss the playoffs for the rest of the decade. While the Giants have had an inconsistent decade they remained a competitive and relevant team Like the other teams on this list, a big part of this is due to organizational leadership and stability. Bruce Bochy was their manager throughout the entire decade before retiring after the 2019 season. They were led by smart general managers this decade in Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans and currently Farhan Zaidi is set to have a long tenure while leading this team to a new era. When they were at their best, the Giants were the team to beat. Four playoff appearances, three World Series appearances, and three titles are a lot more then most teams can muster, and for the Giants, everyone will remember the magic they had during this decade.
5. Chicago Blackhawks
In a sport that had not seen a dynasty during the 2000s, the Chicago Blackhawks helped fixed that problem during the 2010s. The argument for the Blackhawks being on this list speaks for itself, three Stanley Cups in six years is impressive on its own. However, the process of maintaining the team during most of the 2010s was a challenge and general manager Stan Bowman and now former head coach Joel Quenneville deserve a lot of credit.
The Hawks started the decade strong, as the 2009-10 seasons’ playoffs concluded, the young core of the team won the 2010 Stanley Cup over the Philadelphia Flyers in six games. It was a momentous occasion as the team had not won the Cup since 1961, but they couldn’t celebrate for long. Weeks after the finals the new cap for the following season was set at $59.4 million. While the extra $2.6 million from the year prior was a nice increase it was nowhere near enough for the Hawks to maintain the roster they had for the long term. Soon key pieces were traded away as the team had to find out how to keep the team in contender status around the core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Marián Hossa.
Unlike many teams, instead of wildly throwing around money the team, the team began focusing on scouting and draft picks and relying on rookies when they were ready. After Cup-winning goaltender Antti Niemi left and signing journeymen Marty Turco, the team eventually turned to Corey Crawford to be the new starter in the 10-11 season. The team also made a key trade in acquiring winger Michael Frolík. The team would make the 2011 playoffs before pushing the eventual western conference champion Vancouver Canucks to game seven before falling in overtime. The 2011 draft saw the team select Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw with mid-round picks, the two would eventually become regulars during the 12-13 season.
After falling in the first round of the 2012 playoffs the team re-established themselves during the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season. With new faces establishing themselves like Saad, and Shaw along with Nick Leddy, Marcus Kruger and some 2010 holdovers like Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland surrounding the main core, the Hawks took the league by storm. The team began the season 21-0-3, setting a new record for most consecutive games with getting at least a point to start a season. The team finished 36-7-5 on their way to winning the President Trophy. After an easy first-round win, the team found itself trailing 3-1 against the Detroit Red Wings. The team would win the next three to then take care of the then defending cup champion LA Kings in five games before defeating the Bruins in six to win their second cup in four years.
The 2013 offseason saw moves to stay under the cap like in 2010, the team couldn’t keep players like Bolland and Frolik, but they were able to maintain much of the winning core, which including extending Bickell. The team had a good year, that season Duncan Keith was named best defenseman coach Quenneville became the third-winningest coach in NHL history at the time, but the team fell in seven games to the eventual 2014 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. The team stayed relatively intact the next season, aside from trading away Nick Leddy, and mid-season acquisition Antoine Vermette and call-up Teuvo Teravainen helped bolster the depth even further. The team eventually made their way through the playoffs, overcoming a 3-2 deficit in the western conference finals to eventually capture the 2015 Stanley Cup in six games over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Since the last Cup victory, things have taken a decline in Chicago. While there have been nice individual moments like Patrick Kane winning MVP for the 15-16 season and Quenneville becoming the 2nd winningest coach in NHL history while in Chicago, the teams’ fortunes haven’t been the same. After playoff appearances in 2016 and 2017, they missed out in 2018 and 2019. The roster itself has gone through massive changes, many of the older pieces are gone and Hossa was forced to stop playing due to a skin disorder, while starter Corey Crawford has suffered a number of serious injuries in recent years. It all culminated when early on in the 18-19 season, long-time head coach Joel Quenneville was fired.
The season marked a new era for Chicago, the team recommitted back to the mindset of being smarter with picks and contracts. The team traded for reclamation prospect Dylan Strome who had a breakthrough year and their home-grown prospect Alex Debrincat had a breakout sophomore campaign. While it might take another few years to return to their old level, the team is doing it’s best to end of the decade respectably, and that doesn’t take away from how good they were throughout.
4. Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota pro sports team has not had a lot of success in this decade (save for a Vikings NFC title game appearance and the Twins recent season). Luckily for the city, they’ve had the greatest dynasty the WNBA has seen since the 97-00 Houston Comets, the Minnesota Lynx. Whatever your opinion is on the WNBA it can’t be denied, the Lynx were indisputably the best team the best pro sports team in Minnesota during the decade.
After missing out on the playoffs in 2010 the Lynx got the #1 pick in the 2011 WNBA draft to select the University of Connecticut standout, Maya Moore. Joining a roster that included Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, and Rebekkah Brunson and led by coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve the Lynx went 27-7 and would win the 2011 WNBA championship, losing only one playoff game in the process. This same core would reach the finals again the next two seasons, falling in the 2012 WNBA final before reclaiming there crown in 2013.
After falling in the 2014 Finals to the Pheonix Mercury, the team knew a move had to be made, so during the 2015 season, a trade was executed to acquire Sylvia Fowles. The trade would prove to be the difference as in those playoffs the Lynx swept the then-defending champion Mercury and won a hard-fought WNBA Finals over the Indiana Fever to win their third title in five years. Fowles, who was named Finals MVP for her great series which included the 20 points and 11 rebounds title-clinching performance in game five, resigned with the team after the season.
The new playoff format the WNBA implemented the very next season in 2016 didn’t stop the team from succeding, sporting a 28-6 record, good for best in the league and best in franchise history, the Lynx made it to the Finals before losing at the buzzer in game 5 to the Los Angeles Sparks. The team would exact revenge in 2017 when they met up with the Sparks in the Finals again and beat them in five games. 2018 and 2019 saw the Lynx take a step back as they did make the playoffs both years but fall in the first round both times.
Of all the teams on this list, the Lynx have won the most championships in this decade with four, and again, no matter your opinion on the WNBA, that means something. From 2011-17 the Lynx was one of the top two seeds entering the playoffs, not just in their conference (prior to format change), but in the whole league. During this stretch, they made the finals every year and averaged 26 wins per season. Even if you conclude their down seasons (10,18 and 19) they still averaged 23 wins a season, which 23 wins out of 34 game schedule is very good.
During this stretch, they also deserve a lot of credit to their consistency. The trio of Moore, Augustus, and Brunson was there for all four titles, and Fowles has remained in Minnesota since being traded there. All four have made the all-star game several times and have won individual accolades during their time together. Another credit is that the team did all this with the same head coach, Cheryl Reeve, who has made sure to get the most out of this talented core as she has been able to, and four titles in seven years is not bad at all.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
Two hockey teams in the top five? Yes, you are reading this correctly. While the Hawks won the most cups in this decade, the Penguins were the most consistent NHL team in the entire decade.
Coming off their Stanley Cup win in 2009 and a game 7 loss in the 2nd round of the 2010 playoffs, the Penguins were looking to build upon their success with their young core and take over the next decade. Things didn’t start that smooth, however. The team was doing well during the 2010-11 season and were a lock for the playoffs throughout the season, however, injuries to superstar forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin hampered the ceiling of the team. To fill in for their loss, and to be an important piece going forward, the team acquired forward James Neal.
After a first-round loss in the 2011 playoffs, the team looked to the 2011-12 season to try to bounce back. Despite captain Sidney Crosby missing about half the season due to concussion-like symptoms from the year prior the team still finished 2nd in the east and Evgeni Malkin broke out to lead the league in scoring and win the MVP award. Despite this, the team still lost in the first round to in-state rival Philadelphia Flyers. Things began to change the next two years, the team changed around the roster a bit, which included trading Jordan Staal, while also giving Crosby a 12-year contract extension that summer. The next two years would see the Penguins, now with a healthy Crosby and Malkin surrounded by a solid core with players like Neal, Kris Letang, and longtime goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the team would go deep in the 2013 and 2014 playoffs but fall in both years to the eventually eastern conference champions (Bruins 2013, Rangers 2014).
Again the team realized it was time to make moves, the 2014 offseason saw the Penguins co-owners bring in a new general manager in Jim Rutherford, a new coach in Mike Johnston, and trade James Neal for Patric Hornqvist. The 2014-15 season saw the team also begin working in younger players from their minor-league team, Brian Dumoulin, who was acquired in the Staal deal, and Bryan Rust were both brought up and gained some NHL experience before becoming regulars the next season. Again the 2015 playoffs ended in disappointment when the team fell in the first round.
2015-16 and 2016-17 finally saw the Penguins breakthrough, the 2015 offseason saw the team bring in star winger Phil Kessel via trade, as well as trade for depth forward Nick Bonino. The team also executed several trades to bring in supporting pieces like forward Carl Hagelin and defensemen Trevor Daley, and Justin Schultz, and call up forward Connor Sheary and goalie Matt Murray. However, the biggest change that season was changing coaches 28 games into the season, Johnston was fired and Mike Sullivan was hired. This move mirrored the coaching change they made in the 2008-09 cup-winning season, and the results repeated as well.
The 2016 playoffs saw the team enter without Marc-Andre Fleury due to suffering a season-ending injury towards the end of the regular season. Despite having to start rookie goalie Matt Murray, the team beat the Rangers in five games, defeated the Capitals in six games, and conquered the 2015 eastern conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning in seven to advance to the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals. In the end, the team defeated the Sharks to hoist the Cup. Offseason acquisition like Kessel and Bonino paid off as they finished first and third in playoff points for the team respectively.
2017 saw a similar pattern, the team brought back largely the same core with some new additions. Murray got more time and began getting more starting time, sharing the net with Fleury. The team also brought up forward Jake Guentzel, who played extremely well with 33 points in 40 regular-season games. Then in the 2017 playoffs, the team had to play without top defenseman Kris Letang, who got ended up missing half of the regular season as well. Despite that and an injury to Murray, the team navigated there way through the east and returned to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they would defeat the Nashville Predators in six games to win back-to-back Stanley Cup titles.
The back-to-back cup wins meant a lot because no team had repeated as Stanley Cup winners since the 97-97 Detroit Red Wings, but for the Penguins, the win was more special because they became the first team in the salary cap era to do this. Teams like the Blackhawks and Kings won multiple cups during the 2010s, but neither could get to a repeat. In an era where teams need to manage their cap situations carefully, the Penguins got hot at the right time and with a combination of stars, veteran depth, and prospects, made history.
The teams’ quest for a three-peat ended in the second round of the 2018 playoffs, where they lost to the eventual 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. They took a step back in 2019 with a first-round loss to the Islanders. Like most teams, the Penguins have been forced to retool while trying to stay competitive, players like Fluery, Sheary and Kessel have all been moved to save cap while filling out the team. However, while the Penguins try to get back to the finals they can look back and be proud of the decade they had. By making the playoffs every year this decade they currently hold the longest active streak for consecutive playoff appearances (the Red Wings legendary streak ended during this decade) and as aforementioned, they won back-to-back cups in the hardest era cap-wise to repeat in, and that is plenty of history made to be praised for.
2. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors recently had arguably the greatest run of any sports franchise ever and assembled arguably the greatest collection of talent the NBA had ever seen. Like the Astros earlier on in the list, the way the Warriors built their dynasty is something that teams will look back at when trying to rebuild and go from rebuilder to champion. The Warriors put the right people in charge of building the roster, who then made the right picks and moves when they were towards the bottom of the league and allowed the group to grow together while adding supporting pieces that would play key roles for the team.
We know that the key piece to the team, Steph Curry, was drafted in the now infamous 2009 NBA draft, but it was the summers of 2010, 2011 and 2012 where the teams’ championship structure began to form. The summer of 2010 saw a group of investors led by Joe Lacob buy the Warriors, that summer also saw him approve the signing of power forward David Lee. In 2011 the team hired a man named Bob Myers to be an assistant general manager under then Warriors GM Larry Riley. Later on that summer, the team hired Mark Jackson to be the new head coach and then selected Klay Thompson in the 2011 NBA Draft. A year later things began to pick up, Myers was promoted to general manager and had a phenomenal 2012 draft that saw them select Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and at 35th, Draymond Green.
The 2012-13 season saw the breakthrough for the young Warriors team. That season saw Steph Curry break the then 3-pt record (which he would later break his own record several times), David Lee led the league in double-doubles and Klay Thompson also emerged as a deadly 3-point shooter. The 2013 playoffs saw the team upset the #3 seed Denver Nuggets in the first round before falling to the eventual western conference champion Spurs in six games. The team then made a big move in the offseason, signing Andre Iguodala to bolster their lineup. The team finished the 2013-14 year 51-31, which would be the first of six straight seasons with at least 50+ wins, but then fall to the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.
The 2014 offseason saw the team make two more moves before they took off. The team signed Shaun Livingston, who at that point had came back from his devastating knee injury, resigned Klay Thompson to a four-year extension and bring in Steve Kerr to be the new head coach. While Jackson did a good job nurturing the young core and bringing the Warriors to their first back-to-back playoff appearances since 91-92, it would be Kerr who found a way to unlock a new level to the team.
2014-15 saw the team win 67 regular-season games, Curry broke his three-pointers in a season record, Curry and Thompson were both named all-stars, and Curry was named the MVP for 2014-15 season. The team would go on to the 2015 Finals, where after trailing 2-1 to the LeBron led Cleveland Cavaliers, they used a small-ball lineup of Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Barnes, and Green to come back and win the franchise its first title since 1975. Iguodala was named Finals MVP for his defense on LeBron James in the series.
2015-16 saw the team take things to an even higher level. The team started out 24-0, good for the greatest start to a season in North American sports history, this season saw Curry make 402 three-pointers on his way to being named the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. Curry, Green, and Thompson were all named all-stars, Steve Kerr was named Coach of the Year, the team set the new consecutive home games won record by getting to 54 wins during this season and they finished the year 73-9. They charged through the first two rounds of the western conference side of the playoffs before coming back down 3-1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder to make it to the 2016 Finals. There however, they themselves would blow a 3-1 lead to the LeBron and Kyrie led Cavaliers, and fail to cap off the season with an NBA title, despite setting the total wins record for a single season with 88 games.
Yet, the team wasn’t done. Knowing that they could cement their legacy, the team allowed players like Harrison Barnes, Ezeli and others to walk in free agency so they could sign the 2013-14 NBA MVP, Kevin Durant. The team would go on to win back-to-back titles with winning the 2017 and 2018 finals, where Durant was named the Finals MVP both times. Highlighting this was the teams’ 15 game winning streak/15-0 start in the 2017 playoffs and overall 16-1 record in 2017 on their way to the ring. The team would make the NBA Finals again in 2019, but fell to the Toronto Raptors in six games, in part due to injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
Heading into 19-20 the Warriors aren’t as overwhelming as they’ve been the last five years, having lost Durant in the offseason and Thompson being out for most of the year the team is viewed as weak. However, they are still favored to make the playoffs and remain dangerous in part due to the roster managing of Bob Myers. Myers was able to get a sign and trade deal when losing Durant to bring in D’Angelo Russell.
The roster is filled with several role players like Kevon Looney, and Jacob Evans who the Warriors found with late-round picks who will be expected to contribute more. With the new flexibility, the team added role players that complement Curry and the other stars on the team, and have better depth heading into the new season then they did last year. While the future success is uncertain for the team, it can’t be doubted that they have earned the benefit of the doubt with how they turned the 2010s into their era and were the definitive best team in basketball, and one of the greatest sports teams ever seen.
1. New England Patriots
Did you really expect some other team to be number one? Credit to every other team on this list for the great 2010s they had, but the New England Patriots were just too good during the decade. They were the combination of consistent leadership, consistent core/philosophy, and consistent winning.
Aside from the 2011 playoffs, that occurred after the 2010 NFL regular season, the Patriots have made it to at least the AFC championship game every season during the decade. After falling to the Jets in the 2011 playoffs, the Patriots responded by going 13-3 and making it back to Super Bowl XLVI where they would face the Giants. Like the previous meeting four years prior, the Giants would prevail, winning that game 21-17.
The following year in 2012 the team went 12-4, the first of four consecutive seasons doing so (12-15), before falling in the AFC championship game to the eventual Super Bowl XLVII champions Baltimore Ravens. The next season followed a similar script when the team fell to the Denver Broncos in the AFC championship game after the 2013 season.
The 2014 season is when the Patriots brought things together for the first time this decade, after some years of acquiring players in the previous drafts like Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Logan Ryan, the team seemed poised to go further. After starting 2-2, which included getting blown out by the Kansas City Chiefs, the team would win seven straight games and finish the year 12-4. After escaping the divisional round against the Ravens, the team blasted the Colts 45-7 to advance to Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks. Trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter, the Pats scored the last 14 points of the game, and undrafted free agent Malcolm Butler intercepted a pass at the goal-line with seconds left in order to seal the first Super Bowl of the decade, and fourth overall.
The teams’ hopes for a repeat in 2015 were dashed when they lost to the Broncos the next season, the Broncos went on to win Super Bowl 50. 2016 was a year headlined by the league punishing the Pats for “Deflategate.” The team was forced to give up their 1st round pick in the 2016 NFL draft, and Brady was suspended for four games. However, that did not slow down the Pats, with their second and third-string quarterbacks they went 3-1 without Brady before finishing 2016 14-2. They advanced to Super Bowl LI where they came back down 28-3 to defeat the Atlanta Falcons. Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the fourth time in his career and he and Belichick won their fifth title together.
The team would then make the next two Super Bowls, LII and LIII, where they fell to the Eagle 41-33 in Super Bowl LII and defeated the Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII. As of this point, they’ve started the 2019 regular season 6-0.
Even without mentioning their Super Bowl appearances and wins this decade the Patriots have been a phenomenal team when it comes to finding ways to win, as they averaged 12.5 wins during the decade (not including this current season), finding value late in the draft, and never overpaying a player and just replacing players that do leave. Players like Malcolm Butler, Jamie Collins, Nate Solder, and Chandler Jones were all good players for them but they traded or let them go to preserve future cap space. This is even true with their coaches, as a number of Patriots assistants become head coaches, and the team always replaces them with the next man up. Overall the core of that team has been Brady, Belichick, and Robert Kraft, and they have made this franchise the most revered in the NFL and the best organization sports have seen in the 2010s.