After a 73-win campaign and well-deserved consideration for the best team in NBA history, the Golden State Warriors stumbled in the NBA Finals, squandering away a 3-1 series lead to fall to the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the defeat, the Warriors will go down as one of the best teams to lose in the Finals. But where do they rank among past runner-ups? We used WhatIfSports.com’s NBA simulation engine to find out, placing the Warriors in a round-robin tournament with the last 25 NBA Finals losers. Every team in the tournament played every other team 51 times. Check out how the Warriors fared:
2015-16 Golden State Warriors vs. Last 25 NBA Finals Runner-Ups
It’s another runner-up finish for the Warriors, with the 1994-95 Orlando Magic claiming the top spot in the tournament. Shaq and Penny’s squad, which was swept by the Houston Rockets in 1995, won 69.2 percent of their matchups and averaged a simulation-best 106.0 points per game. Golden State wasn’t far behind, with a 66.5 winning percentage. The Warriors’ 103.9 points per game ranked as the third-most, behind the Magic and the 1992-93 Phoenix Suns (105.4 PPG).
Bringing up the rear in the tournament was the 1998-99 New York Knicks. Following the lockout-shortened season, the Knicks became the only No. 8 seed to advance to an NBA Finals, losing to the San Antonio Spurs in five games. In the simulation, the Knicks won just 13.5 percent of the time and were outscored by more than 15 points per game.