Most Valuable NBA Teams in 2021 Revealed

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out basketball is a numbers game. From the statistics to the betting lines and everything in between, NBA is derived from data and more often than not, its most valuable players are justified by their performance on paper, not on-court. So it should come as no surprise that the organisations behind the teams are judged just as harshly by their numbers, and thanks to the latest report from Forbes we know who the big winners are.

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2 most valuable nba teams in 2021

The Business of Balling

After a strange season that saw false starts and postponed games, the NBA has managed to come through the pandemic in remarkable shape. According to Forbes‘ report into the most valuable NBA teams in 2021, average team values are up 4 per cent and while most businesses would gladly take that, the result is actually the smallest gain since 2010. And things are on the up.

Despite only playing 80 per cent of the scheduled regular-season games and missing out on lucrative arena revenues, average team profits only fell by 12 per cent to USD$62 million, Forbes reports. Massive television contracts and a reduction in player salaries did much of the heavy lifting here, but the big takeaway is that every team in the NBA delivered positive operating income over the last 12 months.

With crowds returning to games and the COVID vaccine being rapidly rolled out across the country, it may only be a matter of months before we see NBA stadiums at full capacity. One such stadium is the recently-opened Chase Center, the $1 billion arena that is home to Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors. Last year, despite having the worst record in the NBA, the team posted an NBA-record USD$474 million in revenue, which Forbes suggests in a normal season, including one round of playoff games and a sold-out arena would top USD$700 million. In fact, after five straight trips to the NBA Finals, the team has managed to break the stranglehold the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers have held on the NBA’s Most Valuable Teams, slipping into second spot in the list. But still, the Big Apple means big business.

Despite losing nearly 70 per cent of their games over the past six seasons, winning just one playoff series since 2000, the New York Knicks have held on to the most valuable NBA team title for six years. This year, the struggling team, which is surprisingly on the up, managed to hit the USD$5 billion valuation, just the third sports club in the world to do so. With a playoff birth on the horizon, the Knicks look certain to swell that figure by an enormous amount. Hold on to your pretzels, Madison Square Garden is about to erupt.

Most Valuable NBA Teams 2021

While the Knicks, Warriors and Lakers remain at the top of the totem pole in 2021, the rest of the pack aren’t doing too badly either. For the first time in a long time, the season is evenly spread, meaning that interest in fringe teams is swelling. Here is a list of the most valuable NBA teams in 2021.

New york knicks

1. New York Knicks

For the sixth year in a row, the New York Knicks were named as Forbes Most Valuable NBA Team for 2021, after a massive 9 per cent change in value. The team managed to secure a whopping USD$178 million in operating income, despite failing to make the bubble-playoffs and suffering another stagnant season. This year, things look to be on the improve and we could see that number swell.

Value: USD$5 billion
One-Year Change: 9%
Owner: Madison Square Garden Sports
Operating Income: USD$178 million

Golden state warriors

2. Golden State Warriors

Steve Kerr’s team has a fresh stadium and a fresh spot on the most valuable NBA teams list, jumping one spot to second in 2021. Like the Knicks, the Warriors achieved a 9 per cent swing, copping a USD$4.7 billion valuation for this year. With Steph Curry back in the MVP race and stadiums returning to capacity, a trip to the Chase Center is one hot ticket.

Value: USD$4.7 billion
One-Year Change: 9%
Owner: Joe Lacob, Peter Gruber
Operating Income: USD$200 million

Los angeles lakers

3. Los Angeles Lakers

Last year’s champions and a perennial fan-favourite, the Los Angeles Lakers dropped one spot on this year’s list, despite managing to secure USD$155 million in operating income. With LeBron James at the helm and an All-Star lineup to back him up, you can expect to see fans back in the Staples Center in no time.

Value: USD$4.6 billion
One-Year Change: 6%
Owner: Jerry Buss Family Trusts, Philip Anschutz
Operating Income: USD$155 million

Chicago bulls

4. Chicago Bulls

The lingering success of the MJ-Bulls continues to make Chicago a money maker. The team is going through struggles on the court, however, a 3 per cent swing in valuation this year saw the Bulls hit USD$3.3 billion.

Value: USD$3.3 billion
One-Year Change: 3%
Owner: Jerry Reinsdorf
Operating Income: USD$115 million

Boston celtics

5. Boston Celtics

A true sporting town, Boston is built on Celtic, Bruins and Red Sox blood. In 2021, the Celtics remain one of the biggest and most valuable teams in the NBA, thanks to an operating income of USD$86 million over the calendar year. The rise in income saw the Celtics manage to hit a USD$3.2 billion valuation for the first time

Value: USD$3.2 billion
One-Year Change: 3%
Owner: Wycliffe & Irving Grousebeck, Robert Epstein, Stephen Pagliuca
Operating Income: USD$86 million

Los angeles clippers

6. Los Angeles Clippers

Led by one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the Los Angeles Clippers scrape into sixth position in this year’s most valuable NBA teams list. A solid 6 per cent jump in valuation sees the team now worth USD$2.75 billion, which equates to just 4 per cent of Ballmer’s personal worth.

Value: USD$2.75 billion
One-Year Change: 6%
Operating Income: USD$57 million
Owner: Steve Ballmer

Brooklyn nets

7. Brooklyn Nets

The biggest year in Nets history has seen Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin team up in the ultimate on-team super team. Off the court, however, Brooklyn is making bank, with Forbes estimating the team’s valuation to be around USD$2.65 billion.  Unlike some of the other teams in 2021, the Nets weren’t able to capitalise from an operating income perspective, at just USD$44 million for the year.

Value: USD$2.65 billion
One-Year Change: 6%
Owner: Joseph Tsai
Operating Income: USD$44 million

Houston rockets

8. Houston Rockets

Losing James Harden and having the worst record in the NBA hasn’t been enough to stop the Houston Rockets from achieving a USD$2.5 billion valuation. While fans aren’t particularly happy with how owner Tilman Fertitta is handling the operations, the team still managed to secure USD$94 million in operating income in 2021.

Value: USD$2.5 billion
One-Year Change: 1%
Owner: Tilman Fertitta
Operating Income: USD$94 million

Dallas mavericks

9. Dallas Mavericks

Billionaire Mark Cuban has a habit of making great business decisions and buying the Dallas Mavericks may have been his best. With a host of fresh international stars leading the charge, the Mavericks are well on their way to massive growth period.

Value: USD$2.45 billion
One-Year Change: 2%
Owner: Mark Cuban
Operating Income: USD$84 million

Toronto raptors

10. Toronto Raptors

Two years after winning it all, the Toronto Raptors are still flying high. Forbes puts the Canadian team tenth in its list of most valuable NBA teams in 2021, with a valuation of USD$2.15 billion. It’s been a challenging year for Toronto on the court, however, with the team forced to relocate to Tampa due to travel restrictions.

Value: USD$2.15 billion
One-Year Change: 2%
Owner: Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, Larry Tanenbaum
Operating Income: USD$79 million

Philadelphia 76ers

11. Philadelphia 76ers

Trusting the Process has seen the Philadelphia 76ers raise its valuation by four per cent to USD$2.075 billion in 2021. The growth is being led by a solid performance on the court which was reflected in the USD$51 million operating income result.

Value: USD$2.075 billion
One-Year Change: 4%
Owner: Joshua Harris, David Blitzer
Operating Income: USD$51 million

Miami heat

12. Miami Heat

Last year’s finalist, the Miami Heat only achieved an operating income of USD$38 million this year, landing them in 12th on Forbes list of most valuable NBA teams. The marginal growth now sees Jimmy Butler and co worth a solid USD$2 billion.

Value: USD$2 billion
One-Year Change: 3%
Owner: Micky Arison
Operating Income: USD$38 million

Portland trailblazers

13. Portland Trailblazers

Owned by the trust belonging to lifelong Trailblazers fan and late Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, Portland has a rich history, literally. In 2021, the team achieved a valuation of USD$1.9 billion, up 3 per cent on last year.

Value: USD$1.9 billion
One-Year Change: 3%
Owner: Paul G. Allen Trust
Operating Income: USD$27 million

San antonio spurs

14. San Antonio Spurs

Despite being one of the most successful NBA teams in recent history, the San Antonio Spurs weren’t major movers on the court or off it over the last 12 months. The organisation swelled its valuation to USD$1.85 billion thanks to an operating income result of USD$63 million, Forbes reports.

Value: USD$1.85 billion
One-Year Change: 3%
Owner: Holt Family
Operating Income: USD$63 million

Sacramento kings

15. Sacramento Kings

The only Californian team to miss out on a playoff birth over the past few seasons, the Sacramento Kings have had their struggles on the court. Despite this, the team grew its valuation by 3 per cent to USD$1.825 billion in 2021.

Value: USD$1.825 billion
One-Year Change: 3%
Owner: Vivek Ranadive
Operating Income: USD$45 million

Washington wizards

16. Washington Wizards

Another perennial battler, the Washington Wizards are having a forgettable season. Off the court, the team is growing solidly, achieving an average result and finishing with a valuation of USD$1.8 billion.

Value: USD$1.8 billion
One-Year Change: 3%
Owner: Ted Leonsis
Operating Income: USD$39 million

Phoenix suns

17. Phoenix Suns

For the first time in a long time, Phoenix is actually good. The addition of Chris Paul to the lineup has helped the team get back in playoff contention and the fans are responding. With more televised home games than in previous seasons, the Suns are back in the mix, financially and form-wise.

Value: USD$1.7 billion
One-Year Change: 5%
Owner: Robert Sarver
Operating Income: USD$20 million

Utah jazz

18. Utah Jazz

The best team currently in the NBA, the Utah Jazz are having a stand-out season. Forbes has listed the team as having a valuation of USD$1.66 billion which is precisely what owners Ryan and Ashley Smith paid for the team back in December last year. Amazingly, Ryan was apparently extremely close to purchasing the Timberwolves, however, was talked out of it by Ashley.

Value: USD$1.66 billion
One-Year Change: 7%
Owner: Ryan & Ashley Smith
Operating Income: USD$42 million

Denver nuggets

19. Denver Nuggets

A surprise packet in last year’s playoffs, the Denver Nuggets might have the same big-ticket appeal as the Lakers or Celtics, but the team’s value has been rising steadily for over seven years. According to Statista, the team is now worth as much as five times what it was back in 2013.

Value: USD$1.65 billion
One-Year Change: 3%
Owner: Stan Kroenke
Operating Income: USD$27 million

Milwaukee bucks

20. Milwaukee Bucks

Having the reigning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year on your team certainly keeps things. The Milwaukee Bucks grew their value this year by around 3 per cent, however, that appears to be the slimmest growth for the team since 2011.

Value: USD$1.625 billion
One-Year Change: 3%
Owner: Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan
Operating Income: USD$28 million

Oklahoma city thunder

21. Oklahoma City Thunder

The first team to record essential no growth on this year’s list of NBA most valuable teams is the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC). The team has battled not being in a franchise state since relocating from Seattle and the pandemic caused a wealth of issue in the region in 2020. Despite this, the team still holds on to a USD$1.575 billion valuation.

Value: USD$1.575 billion
One-Year Change: 0%
Owner: Clayton Bennett, George Kaiser, Aubrey McClendon estate
Operating Income: USD$51 million

Cleveland cavaliers

22. Cleveland Cavaliers

With a raft of your players who have to prove themselves on the biggest stage, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a rebuilding phase. That hasn’t stopped the team from swelling its value, up 3 per cent on last year.

Value: USD$1.56 billion
One-Year Change: 3%
Owner: Dan Gilbert
Operating Income: USD$46 million

Indiana pacers

23. Indiana Pacers

Indiana is a huge basketball city and while stadiums haven’t been able to reach capacity for some time, a storm is brewing. Expect to see this figure grew if Brogon and Sabonis continue to play well.

Value: USD$1.55 billion
One-Year Change: 2%
Owner: Herbert Simon, Stephen Simon
Operating Income: USD$39 million

Atlanta hawks

24. Atlanta Hawks

A struggling team at an interesting point in its franchise history. The Atlanta Hawks find themselves in the unenviable position of being in the midst of a rebuild whilst also battling COVID restrictions in the major city.

Value: USD$1.52 billion
One-Year Change: 0%
Owner: Tony Ressler
Operating Income: USD$36 million

Charlotte hornets

25. Charlotte Hornets

Michael Jordan’s Hornets have struggled on the court in recent years and the unfortunate and abrupt end to last season did them no favours. The team’s valuation of USD$1.5 billion is impressive, however, the organisation was unable to swell the figure with any substantial results.

Value: USD$1.5 billion
One-Year Change: 0%
Owner: Michael Jordan
Operating Income: USD$36 million

Orlando magic

26. Orlando Magic

On the court, the Orlando Magic are at a crossroads. It’s difficult to see them being able to put the pieces together for a deep playoff run any time soon, however, the rise of Nikola Vucevic has helped to put the team back on the map.

Value: USD$1.46 billion
One-Year Change: 2%
Owner: DeVos Family
Operating Income: USD$37 million

Detroit pistons

27. Detroit Pistons

Another team genuinely struggling for players, the Detroit Pistons are likely to make waves this season. The city has unfortunately been hit economically over the past few years, however, the team managed to secure USD$45 in operating income.

Value: USD$1.45 billion
One-Year Change: 0%
Owner: Tom Gores
Operating Income: USD$45 million

Minnesota timberwolves

28. Minnesota Timberwolves

A team that really needs an update, the Minnesota Timberwolves have battled some serious issues. From on-court form to the tragedies faced by franchise player Karl Anthony-Towns, the team is at a crossroads.

Value: USD$1.4 billion
One-Year Change: 2%
Owner: Glen Taylor
Operating Income: USD$32 million

New orleans pelicans

29. New Orleans Pelicans

Another team that stayed relatively stagnant in its valuation this year is the New Orleans Pelicans, however, things are looking up. Two franchise players with youth and highlight appeal are growing in confidence, and when arenas open up, you can bet this will be a hot ticket.

Value: USD$1.35 billion
One-Year Change: 0%
Owner: Gayle Benson
Operating Income: USD$44 million

Memphis grizzlies

30. Memphis Grizzlies

Despite having one of the most exciting young talents in the NBA, the Memphis Grizzlies come in last place in Forbes most valuable NBA teams 2021 list. The team achieved next to no growth in its valuation and the second-lowest operating income of any team.

Value: USD$1.3 billion
One-Year Change: 0%
Owner: Robert Pera
Operating Income: USD$22 million

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General FAQs

What is the most valuable NBA team for 2021?

For the sixth season in a row, Fores has listed the New York Knicks as the most valuable NBA team for 2021. The organisation surpassed the USD$5 billion mark this year, making it just the third sports team in history to do so.

How much did the Chase Center cost to build?

According to reports, the Golden State Warriors home court, the Chase Center cost a staggering USD$1 billion to build.

Who owns the Los Angeles Lakers?

The Los Angeles Lakers are owned in part by Jerry Buss Family Trusts and Philip Anschutz.