With the NBA salary cap on the rise, it’s hard to imagine many players and teams being unhappy. But which basketball teams and positions are the happiest? We wanted to understand what conditions made for happiest teams. Is it the city they play in? Or maybe they just win more than others?
We used recent player profile pictures from ESPN, analyzed them using Microsoft’s Cognitive Services Emotion API, and ranked them by the teams and positions that appeared the most or least happy. Who earned the title of the happiest team in the NBA? Read on to see just who is living out a baller’s dreams.
Jolly Band of B-Ballers
Before the 2015-2016 NBA season concluded, we analyzed the player photos and found that the Golden State Warriors were the happiest team in the league.
By all accounts, they should have been – given the number of records they broke (best start to a season, best ever All-Star break record, quickest playoff berth, longest ever home court winning streak, and more). “Splash City” went on a historic run, and it should have become second nature for all of their players to smile at the camera.
Golden State might have been the smiliest team throughout the majority of the season, but the eventual champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, were happy too. The team, led by LeBron James, weathered a change in head coach and adversity with grins and glee. Maybe at the beginning of next season, fresh off of enjoying their summer as champs, they’ll power past Golden State in happiness. As we know, it wouldn’t be the first time the Cavs upset the Warriors.
Happy Where They Play
Examining our analysis by positions instead of teams, we saw that small forwards were the happiest bunch of players across the entire league. This position includes athletes like Cleveland’s LeBron James, 2016 NBA Finals MVP; Golden State’s (by way of Oklahoma City) Kevin Durant, 2013-2014 league MVP; and Los Angeles Clippers’ Paul Pierce, 2008 NBA Finals MVP with the Boston Celtics.
On the opposite end of the spectrum were centers. They were possibly the grumpiest bunch. That group that includes the Sacramento Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol, and Boston Celtics’ (by way of Atlanta) Al Horford. Perhaps playing the position that’s more about defense and rebounding – and less about sweet shots from a distance – doesn’t give these players the warm and fuzzies. Don’t forget to smile, guys!
Happiness, a State of Mind
The 2015-2016 NBA season gave us plenty of amazing moments, from the Golden State Warriors’ dominating the league to the Cleveland Cavaliers restoring hope to their city with a championship. These two teams were the happiest across the entire league. When it came to positions, no group was as happy as small forwards. They’ll need to share their joy with those playing center next year.
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