2015-16 Warriors vs. 1995-96 Bulls: settling the debate

WhatIfSports.com used its NBA simulation engine to play 1,001 games between the Warriors and '95-96 Bulls.

Who would win a game between the 73-win 2015-16 Warriors and the 72-win 1995-96 Bulls?

By this point, it seems nearly everyone has weighed in on the debate, including poor Steve Kerr, who has to toe the line as both the coach of the Warriors and a member of the mid-90s Bulls. But all of the prognosticators have lacked the power of WhatIfSports.com’s NBA simulation engine, which can generate play-by-play and box scores for games between any two teams in NBA history. With apologies to Doc Brown, this is the closest we’ve come to inventing a time machine.

We simulated 1,001 games between the Bulls and the Warriors, producing a cumulative win percentage, average score and player stats from the games. The Bulls’ lineup and minutes distribution were set to match the team’s depth chart during the 1996 NBA Finals against the Seattle SuperSonics. For the Warriors, we deferred to the team’s recent rotation tendencies.

Disagree with our depth charts? Simulate the matchup yourself and select "Edit Depth Chart" to create your own lineup. 


2015-16 Golden State vs. 1995-96 Chicago
Matchup Win % Avg. Score
2015-16 Warriors 45.6 101.8  
1995-96 Bulls 54.4 101.9 Simulate Game

It doesn’t get much closer than this. The Bulls won 54.4 percent of simulations and outscored Golden State by just 0.1 points. If we were lucky enough to witness a playoff matchup between the two teams, a seven-game series would be a near-certainty. Check out the simulation’s player statistics:

1995-96 Chicago Bulls – Simulation Stats
Name PPG RPG APG FGPct FG3Pct SPG BPG TOPG
Michael Jordan 29.5 8.1 4.6 46.0 40.0 2.0 0.5 3.1
Scottie Pippen 20.1 7.7 6.3 43.5 34.8 1.7 0.7 2.9
Dennis Rodman 7.1 17.6 2.5 48.0 11.2 0.6 0.4 2.0
Luc Longley 9.8 5.8 2.0 46.1 5.6 0.3 1.3 1.8
Toni Kukoc 12.8 4.9 3.3 47.9 38.1 0.7 0.4 1.4
Ron Harper 5.9 2.5 2.4 42.7 22.2 1.1 0.3 0.9
Steve Kerr 5.9 1.2 1.8 46.5 48.1 0.5 0.0 0.5
Randy Brown 2.0 0.9 0.8 37.5 4.7 0.6 0.1 0.4
Bill Wennington 2.7 1.5 0.3 45.8 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.3
Jud Buechler 3.6 1.3 0.5 40.0 39.6 0.3 0.1 0.5
John Salley 0.8 1.0 0.3 34.2 0.0 0.1 0.3 0.3
2015-16 Golden State Warriors – Simulation Stats
Name PPG RPG APG FGPct FG3Pct SPG BPG TOPG
Steph Curry 26.7 5.4 6.4 45.3% 40.9% 2.1 0.2 3.6
Klay Thompson 19.1 3.8 2.1 42.1% 38.3% 0.7 0.7 2.2
Draymond Green 12.3 8.8 6.0 45.4% 33.0% 1.3 1.4 2.5
Harrison Barnes 10.2 4.8 1.6 42.1% 34.9% 0.6 0.2 1.0
Andre Iguodala 6.0 3.9 2.8 42.9% 31.3% 0.9 0.3 1.1
Andrew Bogut 5.7 7.4 2.1 60.0% 14.9% 0.5 1.9 1.0
Shaun Livingston 4.2 1.5 1.8 48.2% 16.0% 0.5 0.3 0.7
Leandro Barbosa 4.7 1.5 1.0 41.3% 31.9% 0.5 0.1 0.8
Festus Ezeli 4.3 3.5 0.4 52.9% 14.3% 0.2 0.7 0.5
Marreese Speights 4.1 2.3 0.5 40.8% 35.1% 0.2 0.3 0.5

Try building a team of players throughout NBA history and test your squad against other teams in an 82-game schedule with SimLeague Basketball. You can play SimLeague Basketball for FREE using the promo code NBA2016. (First-time users only; valid throughout the 2016 NBA Playoffs.)