The National Basketball Association is one of the most profitable sports leagues in the United States. With athletes receiving countless lucrative deals and fans filing into sold-out arenas, the NBA continues to grow in the financial space.
Even a worldwide pandemic, which saw NBA arenas closed around the country, couldn't slow down the ever-growing organization that is the NBA. Every franchise in the league is worth at least $1 billion, and the top three franchises are worth over $6 billion, which continues to rise yearly.
Here's a look at what each NBA franchise is worth from least to greatest, according to Sportico's total valuations up to December 2022:
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30. New Orleans Pelicans - $1.63 billion
The Pelicans are ranked as the lowest-valued franchise in the league at $1.63 billion despite drafting Zion Williamson as the overall No. 1 pick at the 2019 NBA Draft. Signings like Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum still haven’t been enough to push the Pelicans franchise out of the last spot.
29. Memphis Grizzlies - $1.67 billion
The Grizzlies are becoming one of the best-developed franchises in the league at the hands of Ja Morant, but they still hold the second-lowest spot for the lowest-valued franchise in the league.
Golden State Warriors
28. Minnesota Timberwolves - $1.7 billion
The $1.5 billion sale of the Timberwolves to entrepreneur and investor Marc Lore and retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez was approved by the NBA last year. However, the team still falls into the bottom five least-valued teams in the league, despite the undeniable talent of Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards.
27. Oklahoma City Thunder - $1.75 billion
The Thunder franchise is worth $1.75 billion, which puts them 27th in the league. That’s about 5 times more than the $350 million Clay Bennett paid to purchase the franchise in 2006, when it was the Seattle SuperSonics, along with the WNBA Seattle Storm. While the team has made 10 playoff appearances in the last 14 seasons, they still rank among the lowest-valued franchises.
26. Charlotte Hornets - $1.77 billion
The Hornets franchise is owned by the GOAT, but that doesn’t make them the greatest-valued franchise in the league. Michael Jordan bought the Hornets (then known as the Bobcats) in 2010 for around $275 million, and they're currently valued at $1.77 billion, making them the fifth-lowest NBA team by value. They have not appeared in the NBA playoffs since 2016 and have never won an NBA title.
25. Detroit Pistons - $1.82 billion
The Pistons franchise is among the lowest-valued franchises in the league despite winning three NBA championships (1989, 1990, 2004) and making 41 playoff appearances since their NBA inception - although they were swept in the last three times they made the playoffs.
24. Orlando Magic - $1.91 billion
While Orlando (particularly Walt Disney World) is widely considered the happiest place on Earth, it doesn’t translate to the NBA team that falls at the No. 24 spot amongst the lowest-valued teams in the league. The team has only made the playoffs twice in the past 10 years and was handed the gentleman's sweep in both appearances. They have also never won an NBA title.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers - $1.95 billion
The Cavaliers have quite the Cinderella story, from a team that didn’t have a title to their name to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving making history happen in the championship-winning run of 2016. Cleveland has come a long way, but the glory days may be behind them. The team hasn’t made a playoff appearance since James’ exit in 2018.
22. Indiana Pacers - $2.02 billion
The Pacers are many years removed from the glorious Reggie Miller days and a ways off from a successful playoff run. The Pacers missed the playoffs in the last three years and were swept in the first round in 2019 and 2020. Hopefully, the value of the team will take a more positive ride than the team’s on-court success.
21. Denver Nuggets - $2.13 billion
In 2000, Stan Kroenke became full owner of both the Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, purchasing the teams for $450 million. Since then, the Nuggets have been able to make four straight playoff appearances, despite not being able to win an NBA title.
20. Utah Jazz - $2.15 billion
Franchise majority owner Ryan Smith bought 80% of the Jazz for $1.66 billion from the Miller family in December 2020 and since then, the team’s value has risen. The Jazz was able to make six-straight playoff appearances and are still on the hunt for the team’s first NBA title.
19. San Antonio Spurs - $2.16 billion
The Spurs are among some of the most successful teams on this list with five NBA titles in six finals appearances. Peter Holt of the Holt Family purchased the San Antonio Spurs in 1993 for $76 million.
18. Atlanta Hawks - $2.19 billion
The Hawks were one of the original franchises of the NBA when the league was established in 1949. Since then, the team was able to win one title in 1958 but hasn’t had much luck since. Trae Young and the young Hawks core have become contenders, causing the franchise’s value to rise.
17. Portland Trail Blazers - $2.29 billion
The Trail Blazers have come a long way since entering the league as an expansion team in 1970. Since then, they have only one NBA title (1977) under their belt and 37 postseason appearances.
16. Sacramento Kings - $2.32 billion
The Kings haven’t appeared in the NBA playoffs since the 2005-06 postseason, but that hasn’t stopped the franchise from handling their business off the court. They hold the No. 16 spot for the most valued franchises in the league.
15. Milwaukee Bucks - $2.43 billion
The Bucks hold the No. 15 spot for the highest-valued franchise in the league, which is a stunning increase in value since the team was purchased for $450 million in 2014. The team, which holds two NBA champions (1971, 2021), continues to increase in value each year. And with Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam reportedly buying Marc Lasry's $3.5-billion stake in the Bucks, it’s only a matter of time before the franchise eclipses the 3 billion mark.
14. Washington Wizards - $2.7 billion
Bradley Beal, one of the league’s top free agents, resigned with the Wizards with a whopping five-year maximum contract worth $251 million, and the Wizards continue to prove why they are a formidable franchise in this league. While the team has only one title (1978) to its name, they hold the No. 14 spot in the league's most valued franchises.
13. Phoenix Suns - $3 billion
Earlier this year, the NBA approved the sale of the Phoenix Suns to Mat Ishbia from Robert Sarver, making Ishbia the new majority owner of the Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Sarver bought the Suns in 2004 for $401 million and now the franchise is now worth $3 billion. While the team has never won an NBA title, the new mega trade of Kevin Durant definitely pushes the team toward title contention.
12. Miami Heat - $3.2 billion
Everyone loves the Miami sun, so of course the blazing-hot south beach team ranks well as the 12th most valued franchise in the league. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James and others have done their fair share in bringing the talent and the finances to a team that Micky Arison bought for $33 million back in 1988.
11. Philadelphia 76ers - $3.21 billion
Philadelphia has some of the proudest fans in the world, which makes sense why the 76ers' value continues to rise. While the team hasn’t won a championship since 1983, superstar players like Joel Embiid continue to put fans in Wells Fargo Center.
10. Dallas Mavericks - $3.26 billion
The Mavericks are 12 years removed from the team's last, and only championship. But that didn’t stop them from rounding out the top 10 as the league's 10th most-valued franchise. The team has continued to prove itself as a financial success 23 years after majority owner Mark Cuban purchased the team for $285 million. And with the new addition of superstar guard Kyrie Irving, the team’s next title run could be closer than we think.
9. Houston Rockets - $3.3 billion
The Rockets hold the No. 9 spot in franchise valuation just six years after owner Tilman Fertitta purchased the team for $2.2 billion in 2017, which was a record sale price for an NBA team. Tilman surely will be making a return on his investment as the team’s value continues to rise each year.
8. Toronto Raptors - $3.34 billion
The Raptors are worth a reported $3.34 billion making them the country’s most valued sports franchise. The team’s 2019 championship run definitely gave the team the edge in the rising value, seeing their value grow more than 400% since 2012 when the team's estimated worth was $400 million.
7. Los Angeles Clippers - $3.73 billion
The Clippers have been on quite the journey since joining the NBA as the Buffalo Braves in 1970. Since then, the younger sibling in L.A. has seen a large increase in value over the years. It was just a few months ago that current owner Steve Ballmer purchased the Clippers for $2 billion. Even though the team doesn’t have a championship to its name, they certainly are building its own identity. Starting with the “Intuit Dome” where the Clippers look to begin playing for the 2024-25 season.
6. Brooklyn Nets - $3.86 billion
Joe Tsai bought the Nets for around $2.3 billion in 2017 and since then the Brooklyn team’s value jumped to over $1 billion more. But with superstar players Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving being traded from the team in 2023, the franchise’s star power has definitely taken a hit. Causing the team's place in the valuation to fall two spots.
5. Boston Celtics - $3.92 billion
The Celtics are tied with the Lakers with the most NBA titles in the league, but they are still ranked as the 5th highest-valued franchise in the league. The Celtics have seen many hall of famers play in TD Garden and have raised many trophies since their first title in 1957. It is without question that the Celtics are one of the most storied franchises of all time.
4. Chicago Bulls - $4.09 billion
The Bulls have come a very long way from the Michael Jordan era, but the team that holds six NBA titles sits comfortably in the fourth spot of the highest-valued franchise in the league.
3. Los Angeles Lakers - $6.44 billion
If this list ranked the NBA teams with the most championships then the Lakers would be in the No.1 spot, however, big brother in L.A. takes the third spot for being the highest-valued franchise in the league. With franchise players such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, it only makes sense for the most popular franchise to make it into the top three.
2. New York Knicks - $6.58 billion
The New York Knicks have been usurped and now hold the No. 2 spot of the most valuable franchises in the NBA. Despite not winning an NBA championship in almost 50 years, the team remains extremely lucrative. Playing in Madison Square Garden affords the team a bright spot in the business world in New York, which is in the largest media market in the U.S.
1. Golden State Warriors - $7.56 billion
A new king is in town.
The Golden State Warriors, who are the reigning NBA champions, have seen their franchise’s value rise from $450 million to over $7 billion in just 13 years. That is due to the Dubs lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy six times in the eleven Finals appearances the team has made.