Comparing the best regular seasons: The ’96 Bulls and ’16 Warriors

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May 13, 2016, 4:15 PM | Updated: May 19, 2016, 12:01 am
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The Golden State Warriors’ quest for a record 73 wins this season included drama, backstories and uncertainty intertwined with basketball history. Best of all, even though the team set the record, the storyline continues as Golden State competes in the playoffs for its second consecutive NBA title.

Sports fanatics can make sure they don’t miss the Warriors or any other playoff teams with a CenturyLink’s Prism TV system with multiview and watch-and-record options.

Recently, sports sites and media outlets provided a plethora of articles, reports and broadcasts comparing the 2016 Warriors with the 1996 Chicago Bulls — the team that held the previous record of 72 regular-season wins.

Because those teams can never meet, it’s all hypothetical conjecture. Nonetheless, it makes for interesting conversation.

Here some of the facts and highlights of the two teams:

The stars

By 1996, Michael Jordan cemented his legacy as the greatest basketball player ever. In fact, he’d already played 10 seasons, won three NBA titles, retired from basketball, played professional baseball in 1993-94 and then returned to the Bulls. During the historic 72-win season, he averaged 29.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.

Stephen Curry is playing in his seventh NBA season. In this year’s regular season, he averaged 26.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per outing. He might be the best 3-point shooter the game has ever seen, setting the mark for the most treys in a season last year and again this year with 402. Ray Allen, who has the most career 3s in NBA history, says he believes Curry is on his way to taking that record.

Curry was just 8-years-old when the Bulls won 72 games. That season Curry’s father, Del, was playing for the Charlotte Hornets and averaged 14.5 points a game. Physically, the two stars are very different. Jordan was 6-feet-6 and played at 216 pounds, while Curry is 6-3 and plays at a slight 190 pounds.

Teammates

No team can win a title with one great player. In addition to Jordan, the 1996 Bulls had Scottie Pippen, who averaged more than 20 points a game, Toni Kukoc who dropped in 12.8, and Luc Longley, who averaged 9.8. Of course, there was also Dennis Rodman, who averaged more than seven points a game and was a league-leading rebounder with nearly 18 a contest.

Alongside Curry, the Warriors have three other players who average in double figures with Klay Thompson (19.1), Draymond Green (12.3) and Harrison Barnes (10.2). Golden State has seven players shooting better than 30 percent for the season from the 3-point line. Of course, it’s hard to forget Warrior coach Steve Kerr, who was a 3-point specialist on that 1996 Bulls team. (Here is an interview with Kerr about his thoughts on the two teams.)

Head-to-head hypothetical

“We simulated 1,001 games between the Bulls and the Warriors, producing a cumulative win percentage, average score and player stats from the games,” reports foxsports.com. “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.”

The results, according to Fox: the 1995-96 Bulls would win 54.4 percent of the time.

On the other hand, in a computer game between the two teams NBA writer Zach Harper writes the Warriors handily won the imaginary matchup 131-105 even though hypothetical Jordan scored 51 points.

The real comparison

Whether or not you believe the old-school Bulls could beat the new-era Warriors, you’ll want to make sure you don’t miss any basketball history during this year’s playoffs. The best way to do that might be with CenturyLink’s Prism TV. with multiview and watch-and-record options.

See how the teams compared game-by-game during their receptive seasons or see the upcoming games here.

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Comparing the best regular seasons: The ’96 Bulls and ’16 Warriors