Good news Wizards fan(s)! This season, the NBA is only playing 66 games! With that caveat, this years Wizards might not be one of the all time NBA losers. Even better news for the Wizards is that the Charlotte Bobcats, in the same division, are even worse.
Who's worse? And are they among the NBA's worst ever?
Since we're in a shortened season, we'll have to look at a number of factors aside from number of losses. And I'm not even going to bother with expansion teams, since they're generally awful anyway. I want bad teams that shouldn't be bad, hence, no expansion teams.
For now, Charlotte gets the crown. For now. The Bobcats winning percentage is .143. Right now, they're on pace to win nine games this season. If this were a regular 82 game season, the Bobcats would be on pace to win . . . 12 games.
12 victories would put them in rare air with some of the worst teams ever.
1972-73 Sixers: 9-73, .110 %
1986-87 Clippers: 12-70, .150%
2009-10 Nets: 12-70, .150%
You can see where we're going with this. But it's not all about winning percentage.
The 2004-05 Hawks won only 13 games, but averaged a -9.7 point differential over the season. The 2005-06 Trailblazers had a differential of -9.5, but somehow won 21 games. The same Nets team mentioned above were at -9.1 per game. What the Bobcats are doing this year is something special. They have a -11.7 differential.
But that doesn't even compete with what might be the worst of all time. The 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks. They finished with a 11-71 record and a -15.2 point differential. The 1997-98 Nuggets, 11 game winners as well, had a differential of -11.8. Even the 1972-73 Sixers, maybe one of the worst teams ever, only had a differential of -12. The Clippers, as many bad seasons as they've had, only get as close to about -12 on one or two occasions.
What makes this season truly special for the NBA is that there are four teams that are close to the -10 number or worse. The Detroit Pistons, Bobcats, Sacramento Kings, and Wizards are all hovering around the magic number. Since the 2001-02 season, there hasn't been a season where more than two teams finished with worse than a -9.0 differential. This year, there could be four.
While you may have talking heads trying to talk up recent contract extensions to Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook as examples of small market teams that can do well, it seems that the re-organization of star power by the players will certainly take its toll on the Association. Just because two guys sign contracts with what are considered smedium market teams, that doesn't collectively mean "all is well." Any pro sports league does well when there is at the illusion of competitive balance. This is far from it.
TSR will do our best this year to give occasional updates on the awfulness of the NBA. Stay tuned.