The NBA is where amazing happens. Every year, from October through June, 30 teams try to win the most coveted trophy for any basketball player. Initially, there were fewer teams that 30 but the league has reached levels of popularity that were unthinkable back in the day, prompting them to add more franchises.
Here, we'll show you how many NBA teams are there and the story behind each one of them. However, not all NBA franchises have been as lucky in terms of landing top-tier players, or as competent to surround their stars with capable role players that help them compete for a championship.
Needless to say, that means that some franchises have struggled to get supporters or even become financially sustainable, thus leading to their relocation or disappearance. So, after all the teams that have passed through the league, how many NBA teams are left?
As of the 2019-20 season, there are 30 NBA franchises, 15 in the Western Conference, and 15 in the Eastern Conference. Nevertheless, it hasn't always been like that. The NBA has had seasons with 11, 8, 22 teams, and has gone through several major expansions. In the following paragraphs, we're going to let you know everything there is about all NBA teams:
Defunct NBA teams: Anderson Packers, Baltimore Bullets (original franchise), BAA Buffalo, Chicago Stags, Cleveland Rebels, Denver Nuggets (original franchise, Detroit Falcons, BAA Indianapolis, Indianapolis Jets, Indianapolis Olympians, Pittsburgh Ironmen, Providence Steamrollers, Sheboygan Redskins, St. Louis Bombers, Toronto Huskies, Washington Capitols, Waterloo Hawks.
List of NBA teams:
Former Names: Buffalo Bisons (1946), Tri-Citi Blackhawks (1946-51), Milwaukee Hawks (1951-55), St. Louis Hawks (1955-68), Atlanta Hawks (1968-Present)
Arena: State Farm Arena
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Hall of Famers: 24 (20 players, 4 coaches)
Championships: 1 (1958)
The Atlanta Hawks were originally a member of the NBL and joined the NBA in 1949 when that league and the BAA merged. They were a dominant force in the '50s and early '60s but have struggled to compete over the past couple of decades.
They're currently going through a promising rebuilding process. Led by Trae Young, John Collins, De'Andre Hunter, and Cam Reddish; they have quite an interesting future ahead of them, assuming they can hold on to their young stars.
Former Names: Boston Celtics
Arena: TD Garden
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Hall of Famers: 38 (34 players, 4 coaches)
Championships: 17 (1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986, 2008)
The Boston Celtics are the winningest franchise in NBA history. Led by Bill Russell, they completely dominated the 60's by winning 10 straight championships and 11 over his 13-year playing career.
The Celtics haven't been as dominant since the Larry Bird days in the '80s. However, they're a perennial force out of the Eastern Conference and currently have a stacked core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Smart.
Former Names: New Jersey Americans (1967-68), New York Nets (1968-1977), New Jersey Nets (1977-2012), Brooklyn Nets (2012-Present)
Arena: Barclays Center
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Hall of Famers: 16 (10 players, 6 coaches)
Championships: 2 ABA (1974, 1976), 0 NBA
The Brooklyn Nets entered the NBA as one of the strongest teams when the league merged with the ABA in the mid-'70s. However, that kind of success has never replicated to the Association ever since.
The Nets recently signed Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan to try and win their first-ever NBA Championship. They've built a strong winning culture recently and will be one of the teams for many years to come.
Former Names: Charlotte Hornets (1988-2002, 2014-Present), Charlotte Bobcats (2004-14)
Arena: Spectrum Center
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Hall of Famers: 4 (3 players, 1 coach)
The Charlotte Hornets have had their fair share of struggles throughout their history. They've never won a division title or conference title, meaning they're one of the few franchises that have never made it to the NBA Finals. They were an expansion team in 1988 until 2002 when they were shipped to New Orleans.
The original franchise became the New Orleans Hornets, but then the league approved a replacement team for Charlotte. The Bobcats were born until the New Orleans teams rebranded to the Pelicans. The NBA allowed them to go back to being the Hornets and all the former team records were granted to them again.
Former Names: Chicago Bulls
Arena: United Center
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Hall of Famers: 13 (9 players, 4 coaches)
Championships: 6 (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)
The Chicago Bulls weren't much of a contending team through most of their history. Artis Gilmore led the way early but they couldn't win a ring until some guy called Michael Jeffrey Jordan showed up in 1984. The rest, as you may know by now, is history.
Jordan led the Bulls to 2 three-peats and the team became one of the most popular franchises around the world. Up to this day, there are still countless Bulls fans of all ages, all thanks to the Michael Jordan era. Hopefully, they'll go back to championship contention rather sooner than later.
Former Names: Cleveland Cavaliers
Arena: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Hall of Famers: 7 (4 players, 3 coaches)
Championships: 1 (2016)
The Cleveland Cavaliers joined the NBA as an expansion team in 1970. Led by Mark Price, the team was a perennial contender out of the Eastern Conference, even though they constantly fell short of their goal of making the Finals.
That all changed when they drafted LeBron James in 2003. James led them to the Finals in 2007 before leaving for the Heat. He came back in 2014 and took them to 4 straight Finals, winning the franchise's only title in 2016 vs. the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.
Former Names: Dallas Mavericks
Arena: American Airlines Center
Location: Dallas, Texas
Hall of Famers: 7 (5 players, 2 coaches)
Championships: 1 (2011)
The Dallas Mavericks have had plenty of legends on their roster but no one has shined as brightly as Dirk Nowitzki, the greatest foreign scorer to ever set foot on an NBA hardwood. Led by his signature fadeaway shot, they pulled off a huge upset in 2011 and won their first-ever title.
Now, with Nowitzki no longer in the picture, the Mavericks are leaning towards the promising duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, who can lead them back to championship contention for many years to come.
Former Names: Denver Larks (1967), Denver Rockets (1967-76), Denver Nuggets (1976-Present)
Arena: Pepsi Center
Location: Denver, Colorado
Hall of Famers: 12 (9 players, 3 coaches)
The Denver Nuggets made it to the ABA as the Denver Rockets but later changed their name to gauge the fans from the defunct NBA franchise. They've had some success since entering the league in 1976 but are yet to win their first championship.
The Nuggets have had some superstars like Alex English and Carmelo Anthony but they've constantly fell at the hand of powerhouse franchises like the Spurs or Lakers. Now, Nikola Jokic will try to put an end to that story.
Former Names: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons (1941-48), Fort Wayne Pistons (1948-57), Detroit Pistons (1975-Present)
Arena: Little Caesars Arena
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Hall of Famers: 22 (20 players, 2 coaches)
Championships: 3 (1989, 1990, 2004)
The Detroit Pistons have some of the most loyal and diehard fans across the NBA. This team has always lived up to the spirit of the city, putting together strong, physical, and defensive-oriented teams.
The Pistons were the team to beat in the Eastern Conference (and Michael Jordan's nemesis) in the late '80s. They haven't been actually competitive over the past decade or so and are currently going through a seemingly endless rebuild.
Golden State Warriors
Former Names: Philadelphia Warriors (1946-62), San Francisco Warriors (1962-71), Golden State Warriors (1971-Present)
Arena: Chase Center
Location: San Francisco, California
Hall of Famers: 24 (19 players, 5 coaches)
Championships: 6 (1947, 1956, 1975, 2015, 2017, 2018)
The Golden State Warriors were a perennial contender in the league during their early days. Wilt Chamberlain always put the team in a position to contend but constantly struggled to finish the job in the Finals, and then the dark years came.
The Warriors struggled for most of their history except for a couple of somewhat good seasons. Then, the Splash Brothers and the Steve Kerr era came along and they became the strongest dynasty in modern basketball, making it to 5 straight Finals and winning 3 rings.
Former Names: San Diego Rockets (1967-71), Houston Rockets (1971-Present)
Arena: Toyota Center
Location: Houston, Texas
Hall of Famers: 14 (12 players, 2 coaches)
Championships: 2 (1994, 1995)
The Houston Rockets were founded in San Diego but decided to keep the 'Rockets' name when they relocated to Houston because of the NASA headquarters. They've had some legends on their roster but haven't found much success in the playoffs.
The Rockets lost their first two Finals appearances and besides the two rings Hakeem Olajuwon got them in the mid-'90s, they haven't made it back to the ultimate stage. Hopefully, James Harden will put an end to that drought.
Former Names: Indiana Pacers
Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Hall of Famers: 8 (5 players, 3 coaches)
Championships: 3 ABA (1970, 1972, 1973), 0 NBA
The Indiana Pacers entered the ABA in 1967 and later joined the NBA in 1976 but, like most of their predecessors, they struggled to get people to attend their home games. That changed when they traded Don Buse for Jon Spoelstra, the vice-president of marketing of the Miami Heat.
The Pacers had some strong teams in the '90s and almost took down Michael Jordan in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. Other than that, they've had plenty of ups and downs but have been a perennial playoff team lately.
Los Angeles Clippers
Former Names: Buffalo Braves (1970-78), San Diego Clippers (1978-84), Los Angeles Clippers (1984-Present)
Arena: Staples Center
Location: Los Angeles, California
Hall of Famers: 10 (7 players, 3 coaches)
The Los Angeles Clippers have always been deemed as one of the worst teams in the NBA. They've never made it to the Finals and have constantly lived under the shadow of the Los Angeles Lakers since their move to Los Angeles.
Gladly for them, new owner Steve Ballmer has done wonders to build a winning culture around the team. Following the 2019/20 season, the Clippers are once again trying to create that culture that will propel them in the NBA. They lived one of their worst seasons to date and the next campaign will be huge for them.
Los Angeles Lakers
Former Names: Minneapolis Lakers (1947–1960), Los Angeles Lakers (1960-Present)
Arena: Staples Center
Location: Los Angeles, California
Hall of Famers: 30 (26 players, 4 coaches)
Championships: 16 (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
Led by George Mikan, the Los Angeles Lakers were a dominant team since day one. Later, Bill Russell and the Celtics dominated through the '60s and had the Lakers as their favorite victim in the NBA Finals. Then, the Showtime Lakers showed up and turned the tables again.
The Lakers are the winningest NBA team of the modern era and only trail the Celtics as the winningest franchise overall. LeBron James and Anthony Davis took them to the promised land in the NBA bubble, beating the Miami Heat in six games to earn their 17th NBA championship.
Former Names: Vancouver Grizzlies (1995 -01), (Memphis Grizzlies (2001-Present)
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Hall of Famers: 1 (1 player)
The Memphis Grizzlies were born as an expansion team and were supposed to lure Canadian fans to the arena. However, their subpar performances and the predominance of hockey made them relocate to Memphis in 2001.
The Grizzlies have had a lot of ups and downs throughout their history. The 'Grit and Grind' era with Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Mike Conley made them a dark horse in the Western Conference for years but they're yet to make their first Finals appearance.
Former Names: Miami Heat
Arena: American Airlines Arena
Location: Miami, Florida
Hall of Famers: 5 (4 players, 1 coach)
Championships: 3 (2006, 2012, 2013)
The Miami Heat entered the league in 1988-89 as an expansion team but it wasn't until the mid-'90s that they were able to compete at a high level thanks to Pat Riley's work in the front office.
Then, Dywane Wade came along in 2003 and turned the franchise around for good. He led them to their first Championship in 2006 and then played a major part in their back-to-back rings in 2012, and 2013. They returned to the Finals this year, losing against the Lakers in six games.
Former Names: Milwaukee Bucks
Arena: Fiserv Forum
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Hall of Famers: 14 (13 players, 1 coach)
The Milwaukee Bucks vastly struggled throughout their first couple of seasons. Then, they won a coin-flip to get the first overall pick of the 1969 Draft and used it to get Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) out of UCLA.
With Alcindor and Oscar Robertson, the Bucks instantly became a powerhouse in the league and even won the championship in 1971. Now, Giannis Antetokounmpo is trying to lead them back to the Finals for the first time since 1974.
Former Names: Minnesota Timberwolves
Arena: Target Center
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hall of Famers: 0
The Minnesota Timberwolves entered the league in 1989 and became a massive success among fans, constantly selling out their home games despite their early struggles. Now, it doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
The Timberwolves broke the league's rules and were fined with the loss of several Draft picks, thus failing to surround Kevin Garnett with star-caliber players to help him compete. Now, they're slowly putting together a competitive squad following years of never-ending rebuilding.
New Orleans Pelicans
Former Names: New Orleans Hornets (2002-05, 2007-13), New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (2005-07), New Orleans Pelicans (2013-Present)
Arena: Smoothie King Center
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Hall of Famers: 0
The New Orleans Hornets were originally supposed to be just a rebranded, relocated version of the original Charlotte Hornets. However, the team decided to go in a different direction and start from scratch in 2013, when they became the Pelicans.
The franchise has won the heart of the fans in little time and has had some future Hall of Famers like Chris Paul or Anthony Davis, but their constant struggles as a small market team have made it difficult for them to hold on to their All-Stars. Hopefully, that won't be the case with Zion Williamson.
New York Knicks
Former Names: New York Knicks
Arena: Madison Square Garden
Location: New York City, New York
Hall of Famers: 29 (22 players, 7 coaches)
Championships: 2 (1970, 1973)
The New York Knickerbockers (Knicks) were one of the founding teams of the defunct BAA and were perennial championship contenders during their early days. However, it wasn't until the Walt Frazier era in the early '70s that they were able to win a championship.
The Knicks have constantly put together strong teams but somehow manage to underperform when it matters the most. They haven't been to the Finals since 1999 and haven't even made the playoffs since 2013. They still have one of the most loyal fanbases in the world.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Former Names: Seattle Supersonics (1967-2008), Oklahoma City Thunder (2008-Present)
Arena: Chesapeake Energy Arena
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Hall of Famers: 13 (12 players, 1 coach)
Championships: 1 (1979)
The Oklahoma City Thunder gives us some mixed feelings. On one hand, we're glad to see the winning culture they've built since their relocation as a perennial championship contender. On the other, we truly miss the Seattle Supersonics and believe Seattle should have an NBA team again.
The Sonics moved to Oklahoma City following a lawsuit in 2008, breaking the heart of one of the most iconic fan bases in the nation. They made it to the Finals in 2012 but lost to LeBron James and the Heat and haven't been back to that stage ever since.
Former Names: Orlando Magic
Arena: Amway Center
Location: Orlando, Florida
Hall of Famers: 6 (5 players, 1 coach)
The Orlando Magic entered the NBA in 1989 and even though they have never won an NBA championship, they've had plenty of legendary players like Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, and Dwight Howard.
Both Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard led the Magic to the Finals in their prime but the team ended up empty-handed. Now, they're slowly trying to work their way back to contention but they haven't found much success.
Former Names: Syracuse Nationals (1946-63), Philadelphia 76ers (1963-Present)
Arena: Wells Fargo Center
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hall of Famers: 21 (17 players, 4 coaches)
Championships: 3 (1955, 1967, 1983)
Long before arriving at the City of Brotherly Love, the Philadelphia 76ers played upstate New York in Syracuse. They even won an NBL championship under that name but relocated to Philly to fill the void the Philadelphia Warriors left when they moved to San Francisco.
The franchise instantly drew the attention of the diehard basketball fans of the city and up to this day, they still have one of the strongest fanbases in the world. They haven't been int he Finals since 2001 so there's a lot of pressure on Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Former Names: Phoenix Suns
Arena: Talking Stick Resort Arena
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Hall of Famers: 13 (11 players, 2 coaches)
The Phoenix Suns are currently one of the worst-managed franchises in the league. They've struggled to get back to contention since Steve Nash left the team and have constantly struck out in the Draft with underperforming prospects.
The Suns were a perennial contender in the '90s and mid-'00s but haven't even been back to the Finals since 2003, even though there are some conspiracy theories claiming the referees rigged some of their games in the playoffs.
Portland Trail Blazers
Former Names: Portland Trail Blazers
Arena: Moda Center
Location: Portland, Oregon
Hall of Famers: 9 (6 players, 3 coaches)
Championships: 1 (1977)
The Portland Trail Blazers could have been a top-tier franchise in the NBA if they hadn't made some questionable decisions. They passed on players like Robert Parish, Kevin Durant, Bill Walton, Michael Jordan, and Charles Barkley.
Even so, the Blazers have been a somewhat successful franchise. They haven't been to the Finals in quite some time but Damian Lillard has vowed to put that drought to an end and lead RIP City back to the top of the league.
Former Names: Rochester Seagrams (1923-42), Rochester Eber Seagrams (1942-43), Rochester Pros (1943-45), Rochester Royals (1945-57), Cincinnati Royals (1957-72), Kansas City-Omaha Kings (1972-75), Kansas City Kings (1975-85), Sacramento Kings (1985-Present)
Arena: Golden 1 Center
Location: Sacramento, California
Hall of Famers: 18 (16 players, 2 coach)
Championships: 1 (1951)
Well, the Sacramento Kings have gone through more rebrandings and relocations than good seasons in the NBA. Is crazy to think that a franchise that has been around since 1923 has only 1 championship to show for.
The Kings have struggled for decades and haven't even been to the playoffs since 2006 and haven't won a playoffs series since 2004. De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III will try to turn the tables around, this time for good.
San Antonio Spurs
Former Names: Dallas Chaparrals (1967-70, 1971-73), Texas Chaparrals (1970-71), San Antonio Gunslingers (1973), San Antonio Spurs (1973-Present)
Arena: AT&T Center
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Hall of Famers: 10 (8 players, 2 coaches)
Championships: 5 (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014)
The San Antonio Spurs were born as the Dallas/Texas Chaparrals, a successful franchise on the court that struggled to pay the bills off it. They moved to San Antonio under a new administration to try and salvage the franchise.
The Spurs were an average team after the George Gervin era. They struggled to compete until David Robinson came around. However, it was Tim Duncan the one who helped them develop a winning culture, helping Gregg Popovich make it to 6 Finals and win 5 rings as one of the strongest dynasties of the '00s.
Former Names: Toronto Raptors
Arena: Scotiabank Arena
Location: Toronto, Canada
Hall of Famers: 3 (2 players, 1 coach)
Championships: 1 (2019)
Vince Carter helped basketball become a sensation in Canada, thus making the Toronto Raptors the most beloved team in the nation. However, they struggled to compete for most of their history until Masai Ujiri took over the team's front office.
The Raptors are now a perennial contender out of the Eastern Conference and even won their first-ever Larry O'Brien trophy in their first Finals appearance. Now, they must prove that their championship run wasn't just a fluke.
Former Names: New Orleans Jazz (1974-79), Utah Jazz (1979-Present)
Arena: Vivint Smart Home Arena
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Hall of Famer: 9 (8 players, 1 coach)
If you ever wondered what does the Jazz has to do with Utah, the answer is absolutely nothing. They decided to keep that name from their days in New Orleans after they overcame a bit of a financial crisis. That's it.
The Utah Jazz was a powerhouse during the late '90s but, like most teams, they just could never get past Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Now, they've put together a strong contender again but it seems like they're still lacking a superstar that can finally lead them to a ring.
Former Names: Chicago Packers (1961-62), Chicago Zephyrs (1962-63), Baltimore Bullets (1963-73), Capital Bullets (1973-74), Washington Bullets (1974-97), Washington Wizards (1997-Present)
Arena: Capital One Arena
Location: Washington, D.C.
Hall of Famers: 17 (14 players, 3 coaches)
Championships: 1 (1978)
The Washington Wizards (then known as Chicago Packers) were the first modern expansion team in NBA history. They couldn't play on a big arena due to the existence of the Chicago Majors, thus they decided to relocate to Baltimore following a couple of years in the Windy City.
The team eventually changed their name from Bullets due to the violent undertone the name had acquired over the years, thus becoming the Wizards. Thus far, they haven't found much success in the league and haven't even made the Finals since 1979.