California is a place where legends are born, and championships are won. With the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers being two of the league’s most successful and highly-regarded franchises, California holds a special place in the hearts of many basketball fans.
But it’s not just these two teams that make California a basketball hotbed. The Clippers and Kings also call the state home, each offering their own unique blend of talent and excitement.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of one of these teams or just a casual observer of the league, there’s no denying these franchises’ impact on the NBA over the years.
So let’s dive in and examine what each of these teams brings to the table. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these California-based teams? Who has the best chance of making a deep playoff run this season? And what makes each of these teams unique to fans in California and beyond?
Chart for Comparing Four NBA Teams in California
|Golden 1 Center
|Los Angeles Clippers
|Golden State Warriors
|Los Angeles Lakers
4 NBA Teams In California
1. Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are one of the oldest and most storied franchises in the NBA, with a rich history that dates back to their founding in 1945. Despite some lean years in recent decades, the Kings have a talented roster and a commitment to winning that has them poised for a bright future.
Early Years: The Rochester Royals (1945-1957)
- 1945: The team is founded as the Rochester Royals and becomes a member of the NBA.
- 1957: The team moves to Cincinnati and becomes the Cincinnati Royals.
The Kansas City-Omaha Kings Era (1972-1985)
- 1972: The team moves to Kansas City and Omaha, splitting their home games between the two cities.
- 1975-1985: The team experiences limited success, making the playoffs several times but failing to advance past the first round.
The Sacramento Kings Era (1985-Present)
- 1985: The team moves to Sacramento and becomes the Sacramento Kings.
- The 1990s: The team experiences a period of losing seasons, with limited success on the court.
- 2000-2006: The team begins to turn things around, led by star players such as Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, and Mike Bibby.
- 2006-2017: The team struggles through a period of losing seasons and limited success.
- 2017-Present: The team begins to rebuild, drafting talented young players such as De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.
Notable Players and Coaches
- Bob Cousy
- Oscar Robertson
- Nate Archibald
- Chris Webber
- Peja Stojakovic
- Mike Bibby
- De’Aaron Fox
- Buddy Hield
- Tyreke Evans
- Rick Adelman
The Kings have had a long and storied history, with many great players and coaches making a lasting impact on the team. The Kings have been a part of the National Basketball Association (NBA) for several decades and have made 10 playoff appearances in the past 57 seasons. Their most recent appearance in the playoffs was in 2006, 17 years ago.
One of the most notable players in the history of the Kings is Oscar Robertson, a 12-time All-Star and one of the greatest guards in the game’s history. Another player who made a big impact on the team was Nate Archibald, a multiple-time All-Star and considered one of the best point guards in the history of the NBA. Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, and Tyreke Evans were other All-Stars who played for the Kings and helped to lead the team to success.
The Kings have had two 50-win seasons, both of which came in the early 2000s. At that time, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, and Mike Bibby formed one of the most potent offenses in the league and led the Kings to their most successful era in franchise history. The team reached the Western Conference Finals in 2002 but unfortunately fell short of making it to the NBA Finals.
The Kings have also had several successful coaches throughout their history, with Rick Adelman being one of the most notable. Adelman led the Kings to eight consecutive playoff appearances in the early 2000s, which was a significant accomplishment for the franchise.
Adelman’s coaching style helped the team to play a fast-paced, uptempo brand of basketball that was both entertaining and effective. His tenure with the Kings was one of the most successful in franchise history, and he remains a beloved figure among team fans.
2. Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers have undergone a major transformation in recent years, evolving from one of the league’s doormats to a legitimate championship contender. With a talented roster and a commitment to winning, the Clippers are one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NBA today.
Early Years: The Buffalo Braves (1970-1978) and the San Diego Clippers (1978-1984)
- 1970: The team is founded as the Buffalo Braves and becomes a member of the NBA as an expansion team.
- 1978: The team moves to San Diego and becomes the San Diego Clippers.
The Los Angeles Clippers Era (1984-Present)
- 1984: The team moves to Los Angeles and becomes the Los Angeles Clippers.
- 1991-1999: The team struggles through a period of losing seasons and limited success.
- The 2000s: The team begins to turn things around, led by star players such as Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, and Chris Kaman.
- 2011: The team acquires All-Star point guard Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets.
- 2013-2017: The team becomes a playoff staple, led by the “Lob City” duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
- 2018: The team acquires All-Star forward Tobias Harris from the Detroit Pistons.
- 2019: The team acquires All-Star forwards Paul George and Kawhi Leonard in separate trades, forming one of the league’s most talented trios.
- 2020: The team makes its first appearance in the Western Conference Finals, led by the play of Leonard and George.
Notable Players and Coaches
- Bob McAdoo
- Randy Smith
- Blake Griffin
- Chris Paul
- DeAndre Jordan
- Tobias Harris
- Paul George
- Kawhi Leonard
- Doc Rivers
In recent years, the Los Angeles Clippers have established themselves as a dominant force in the Western Conference of the NBA. Over the past 18 seasons, the team has made the playoffs 16 times, with an impressive run of 8 consecutive appearances from 2012 to 2019. This run of success highlights the talent and consistency of the players on the roster, as well as the effectiveness of the coaches and management behind the scenes.
In 2020, the Clippers reached new heights by advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. Despite a tough battle against the Denver Nuggets, the team ultimately fell short in a seven-game series. Nevertheless, this deep playoff run solidified the team’s position as a top contender and showcased the immense talent of the players.
Throughout its history, the Clippers have had several All-Stars, including Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Tobias Harris, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard. These players have been instrumental in the team’s success, and their contributions have not gone unnoticed.
In the past three years, the Clippers have had two 50-win seasons, including a franchise-record 57 wins in the 2019-20 season. This record-breaking performance was a testament to the team’s success and the quality of the players and coaching staff.
In addition to talented players, the Clippers have had several award-winning coaches, including Glenn “Doc” Rivers. Rivers was named Coach of the Year in 2000 with the Orlando Magic and has continued to lead the team to success in recent years.
3. Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are one of the most dominant and successful franchises in the NBA, with a rich history that dates back to their founding in 1946. The Warriors are a dynasty in the making with a talented roster, a championship pedigree, and a commitment to winning.
Early Years (1946-1971)
- 1946: The team is founded as the Philadelphia Warriors and becomes a member of the NBA.
- 1956: The team moves to San Francisco and becomes the San Francisco Warriors.
- 1962: The team wins its first championship, led by Wilt Chamberlain.
- 1971: The team moves to Oakland and becomes the Golden State Warriors.
The Run TMC Era (1989-1997)
- 1989: The team drafts guard Mitch Richmond, who joins Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin to form the high-scoring trio known as “Run TMC.”
- 1990-1997: The team experiences limited success, making the playoffs several times but failing to advance past the second round.
The Steph Curry Era (2009-Present)
- 2009: The team drafts guard Steph Curry, who begins to revolutionize the game with his playmaking and shooting ability.
- 2014-2018: The team experiences a period of dominance, winning three championships and making five straight NBA Finals appearances.
- 2019-Present: The team experiences a period of change, with the departures of several key players and the addition of new talent.
Notable Players and Coaches
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Rick Barry
- Nate Thurmond
- Tim Hardaway
- Chris Mullin
- Mitch Richmond
- Steph Curry
- Klay Thompson
- Draymond Green
- Steve Kerr
The Warriors have a long and storied history of success. They’ve won six championships since their formation in 1946, with their most recent title coming in 2018.
The team has also seen some of the most talented players to step onto a court and don their jerseys over the years, including Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. These stars played an essential part in the team’s growth and accomplishments.
The Warriors have achieved three 60-win seasons throughout its history – all of which resulted from the incredible talents of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green during the 2010s. This “Big Three” spearheaded an era that saw the Warriors become a consistently successful franchise on a national level.
In addition to championship teams, the team has also had great coaches, such as Steve Kerr, who led them to three championships in five years after taking over in 2014. Also worth noting includes Al Attles, who became the longest-tenured franchise coach, leading them to two titles during his 16-year tenure with the club (1970-86).
Undoubtedly there is no denying how crucial each piece has been in seeing the Warriors reach unprecedented heights across various eras. Players to coaches have each played an integral part in this journey to greatness over decades past, and it looks set to continue into those ahead too!
4. Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most iconic and successful franchises in the NBA, with a rich history that dates back to their founding in 1948. With a talented roster, a championship pedigree, and a commitment to winning, the Lakers are a true powerhouse in the league.
Early Years (1948-1971)
- 1948: The team is founded as the Minneapolis Lakers and becomes a member of the NBA.
- 1960: The team moves to Los Angeles and becomes the Los Angeles Lakers.
- 1972: The team wins its first championship in Los Angeles, led by Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West.
The Showtime Era (1979-1991)
- 1979: The team hires coach Pat Riley and acquires center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, launching the “Showtime” era of fast-paced, flashy basketball.
- 1980-1988: The team wins five championships in nine years, including three consecutive titles from 2000-2002. Notable players from this era include Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, and Byron Scott.
The Kobe-Shaq Era (1996-2004)
- 1996: The team acquires center Shaquille O’Neal in a trade with the Orlando Magic.
- 2000-2002: The team wins three consecutive championships, led by Shaq and guard Kobe Bryant.
- 2003-2004: The team wins two more championships, solidifying their place as one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history.
The LeBron Era (2018-Present)
- 2018: The team signs forward LeBron James in free agency, beginning a new era of Lakers basketball.
- 2020: The team wins its 17th championship, led by LeBron and forward Anthony Davis.
Notable Players and Coaches
- George Mikan
- Jerry West
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Elgin Baylor
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Magic Johnson
- James Worthy
- Byron Scott
- Kobe Bryant
- Shaquille O’Neal
- LeBron James
- Pat Riley
- Phil Jackson
The Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most successful franchises in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA), have won a remarkable 17 championships over the years, making them the team with the most championships in the Western Conference and second-most in the league, surpassed only by the Boston Celtics.
Over the years, the Lakers have featured some of the most talented players in sports history as players for the team.
Some of the most notable Lakers players include George Mikan, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and LeBron James. Each of these players brought their unique skills and personalities to the Lakers, helping to build a strong team dynamic and secure multiple championships.
In addition to the talented players, the Lakers have also been blessed with some of the most successful coaches in history. Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, and current head coach Frank Vogel have significantly impacted the Lakers’ success, bringing their own strategies and philosophies to the team and helping guide them to victory.
The Lakers have won 10 conference championships in franchise history and have made 31 appearances in the NBA Finals, which is a testament to the team’s dominance over the years. The Lakers have a rich history, and their success is a result of the combination of talented players, successful coaches, and a strong team dynamic. Whether you are a Lakers fan or simply a fan of the sport, it is clear that the Lakers are a team that deserves recognition and respect for their impressive achievements in the NBA.
Why are there 4 NBA teams in California?
California is one of the largest and most populous states in the United States, with a rich history in basketball and a large and dedicated fan base. There are several reasons why there are four NBA teams in California:
- Population and Market Size: With over 39 million people, California has one of the country’s largest and most diverse markets. This large market size allows four teams to have significant fan bases and generate significant revenue through ticket sales, sponsorships, and broadcast rights.
- Basketball Culture: California has a long history of producing some of the best basketball players in the world, and has a deep love and passion for the game. From the playgrounds of Los Angeles to the high school gyms of Northern California, basketball is a way of life for many people in the state.
- Economic Opportunities: California is home to some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, and these companies are often eager to partner with the NBA and its teams. Additionally, California’s large and growing economy provides the financial resources necessary to support multiple teams and the surrounding infrastructure.
- Climate: California’s mild climate is ideal for year-round basketball and allows teams to host games and events without being impacted by harsh winter weather conditions.
A List of NBA Teams by State
|Number of NBA Teams
|Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings
|1946, 1970, 1948, 1945
|Miami Heat, Orlando Magic
|New Orleans Pelicans
|Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks
|Oklahoma City Thunder
|Portland Trail Blazers
|Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs
|1980, 1967, 1967
Frequently Asked Questions
- How many NBA teams are in California?
There are three NBA teams in California: the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most popular and successful franchises in history with sixteen world titles; the Los Angeles Clippers, a more recent addition to the league having joined in 1984; and the Sacramento Kings, who were founded as an independent team in 1945 before joining the NBA in 1985.
- What state has the most NBA teams?
The state of New York currently has nine teams that make up the National Basketball Association. This includes the Brooklyn Nets, established in 1967; the New York Knicks which have been part of the league since 1946; Philadelphia 76ers coming on board one year after that; Boston Celtics joining as part of a expansion initiative in 1946 ; Toronto Raptors who came on board as a expansion franchise way back in 1995 ; Cleveland Cavaliers becoming part of it only four years later; Detroit Pistons making their debut with George Yardley setting records back then; Indiana Pacers who joined from ABA and Milwaukee Bucks which was a expansion franchise too.
- What states have no NBA teams?
Currently, there are nine states without any NBA teams. These include Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Hawaii, Nevada and Vermont.
Robert Lions joined as the Senior Basketball Editor Basketball Owl in June 2022, leveraging his 10+ years of basketball coaching experience. Known for his innovative coaching methods and player development strategies, he has become a trusted authority in the basketball world. His extensive expertise and proven track record underscore his commitment to the sport, making him a valuable asset to the team.