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Which NBA teams are worth the most? Lakers, Warriors, Knicks and who else?

While there are several variables that can affect a team’s valuation, it might suprise you to know that on court performance isn’t the most important one.

Which NBA teams are worth the most? Lakers, Warriors, Knicks and who else?
Maddie MeyerAFP

There’s no business like the business of basketball. At least that’s the way it looks when considering the kind of valuations that franchises in the league have today. Join us for a look at who valuable teams in the NBA are.

The New York Knicks still lead the way

Though the Golden State Warriors latest championship will likely help them to make up some ground, the New York Knicks are still officially the most valuable franchise in the league. According to Forbes 2022 “Business of Basketball,” the Knicks still reign supreme with a value of $5.8 billion while the Golden State Warriors come in just behind, being valued at $5.6 billion. The Los Angeles Lakers, perhaps the most famous franchise of all round out the top 3 with their value currently standing at $5.5 billion.

What’s curious about this is that the valuations don’t seem to be a reflection of on court success. As we all know the Warriors are a modern dynasty, having won four of the last eight NBA championships. The Knicks on the other hand, have not won a title since 1973. With that said, some believe that should Steph Curry and co. keep winning titles they could well close the gap. “It’s tough to say the Warriors will surpass [the Knicks]. But can they come close to matching them? Yes. If they keep on performing like this, they will have substantial upside,” said Lee Berke, chief executive officer of LHB Sports, Entertainment & Media.

Revenue, Income and Market size affect NBA team valuations

When looking at the valuation of teams in the league, it’s important to understand the varying factors that can affect it. The Knicks for example, have a revenue of $299 million and an operating Income of $71 million. While this is not significantly to that of the Warriors - as we will see - the Knicks have the advantage of playing in the nation’s largest media market, with a metropolitan area population of over 19 million people. The Warriors on the other hand, despite Arctos Sports Partners acquiring minority stake last year, play in a much smaller market of just 4 million individuals. That of course has a limiting effect on the team which currently has revenue of $258 million alongside their operating income of $44 million. Then we have the Lakers who boast a revenue of $316 million, an operating income of $63 million, have LeBron James on their roster and play in the nation’s second-biggest market.

When looking at these circumstances it becomes easier to understand how the Knicks even in the face of decades of on court struggles, can still be the team worth the most. It’s not just market size and revenue stream, but also performance and sponsorship. Those two in particular go hand in hand, as winning more usually attracts greater sponsorship. “Certainly, the Warriors have had a remarkable performance over the last decade. But the reality is the Knicks still are in the nation’s No. 1 DMA (designated market area). That’s always going to be a factor for their valuation,” said Berke.

Top Ten NBA teams by valuation

In case you were wondering what the value of other teams in the league looks like, we’ve put together the top ten list for you. Take a look as you might be surprised who makes the list and where they sit:

1New York Knicks$5.8 billion
2Golden State Warriors$5.6 billion
3Los Angeles Lakers$5.5 billion
4Chicago Bulls$3.65 billion
5Boston Celtics$3.55 billion
6Los Angeles Clippers$3.3 billion
7Brooklyn Nets$3.2 billion
8Houston Rockets$2.75 billion
9Dallas Mavericks$2.7 billion
10Toronto Raptors$2.48 billion

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