The above graphic shows the remarkable consistency of Duncan’s career — a career in which the future Hall of Famer has never experienced life in the NBA on a sub 50-win team. Well, except for that pesky 1998-99 lockout season, for which you’ll have to forgive Timmy for not going undefeated over a 50-game schedule. That Spurs team only finished 37-13 and won the first of four NBA championships, so we’ll consider that a nice consolation prize. Also, one of those 16 seasons was the 66-game lockout season of 2011-12. The Spurs finished 50-16.
The four franchises that can boast as many (or more) 50-win seasons are the Lakers (32), Celtics (31), Suns (19) and, of course, the Spurs (24). Of those, only Phoenix has failed to win a championship. However, it’s worth noting that in the case of any NBA team added since 1988 — Hornets/Pelicans, Timberwolves, Heat, Grizzlies, Magic, Raptors, Bobcats — it’d be unfair to expect them to have more than a handful of 50-win seasons (winning 50 games in the NBA isn’t easy, in case you haven’t figured it out by now). Of that group, Miami has the most, with nine.
Also rounding out the bottom are some old ABA teams — Pacers, Nets — which haven’t been around nearly as long as, say, the Knicks (who, in 68 years of existence, somehow have only hit the 50 win mark 13 times). But, that excuse doesn’t hold much water when you consider that San Antonio was also an adopted ABA franchise.
So, the secret to success is basically have Tim Duncan — or the historical equivalent — on your team.