As one of the most densely populated states in the US, California is home to a vast many professional sports teams.
The number itself might be higher than you think. The NBA alone has four teams: Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings. And Major League Baseball actually has five organizations: Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants.
Almost needless to say, California is a sports-crazed state. It has to be to support so many teams. This isn’t just a matter of the state’s size. There’s palpable popularity. Look at the attendance on most teams, regardless of their league. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a down year. California squads draw crowds. They also draw in lucrative TV deals. Along similar lines, sports betting in California may not be legal, but it’s considered an untapped billion-dollar market. California also has a way of appealing to the biggest names in every sport because of it’s warm-weather climate and popularity among Hollywood celebrities.
Anyway, with so many sports teams in play, you might be wondering which franchise ranks as the very best. Well, wonder no more. We’ve taken care of that for you. Here are the top five pro sports teams who call California home, with rankings based on the current success and direction of these teams at this writing.
5. Los Angeles Rams (NFL)
Though the Rams just wrapped up a disappointing season, they are very clearly one of the top teams in the state—even if they aren’t the most supported.
Their defense is among the very best in the NFL. They even have a fairly deep receiver core on the offensive side. They’ve just struggled to get consistent play out of their quarterback position.
That won’t be a problem anymore. The Rams just traded for Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions, one of the most steady QB1s in football. They’re now a bonafide Super Bowl contender again.
“Los Angeles Rams” by CS is licensed under CC BY 3.0
4. San Diego Padres (MLB)
The sheer number of players in Major League Baseball makes it difficult to compile two of the top-most stars in the game. And yet, the Padres have done just that.
Between Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, their lineup includes two of the top 10 baseball players on the planet. That’s absolutely brain-bending.
Some are now questioning whether the Padres have usurped the reigning World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. We’re not ready to go that far. We need to see more out of their pitching staff.
Rest assured, though, it’s not out of the question.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (NBA)
Once upon a time, the Clippers were the laughingstock of California sports. Now, they’re among the toast of the state.
Things changed years ago after they traded for Chris Paul, but the Clippers’ biggest break came during the 2019 offseason, when they bagged both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, two of the five best wings in the NBA. They are now uniquely built to dominate at both ends of the floor.
On paper, in fact, the Clippers look like they could be the best California team, period. But after flaming out of last year’s playoffs, and given the weird defense they’ve played this season, we’ll conservatively rank them No. 3.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
What did the Dodgers do after winning the 2020 World Series?
They went and signed ace pitcher Trevor Bauer.
Never mind that they have World Series MVP Mookie Betts, who is as close to a one-man offense as MLB players get. The Dodgers’ pitching staff is beyond stacked. They already had Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and David Price populating the top three spots, and now they’ll add another stud in Bauer.
If it wasn’t for the rising average age of this pitching staff, we’d have the Dodgers at No. 1.
“Los Angeles Dodgers” by Juan Ocampo is licensed under CC BY 3.0
1. Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
Plenty of you had to see this coming.
The Lakers have LeBron James, who remains the NBA’s best player, even at age 36. They have Anthony Davis, another top-10 player who is only 27. They added impact veterans like Dennis Schroder, Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell over the offseason—after winning the 2020 NBA Finals. They currently have the league’s best defense and second-best record.
There are no sure things in sports, and the NBA has a host of other title contenders—including the fellow Los Angeles-based Clippers. At the same time, it’s presently tough to imagine any team other than the Lakers taking home the 2021 NBA championship.