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5 Worst teams in NBA history

Gautam Varier
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 23 Dec 2019, 19:14 IST

The 2015-16 Philadelphia 76ers (Image courtesy:
The 2015-16 Philadelphia 76ers (Image courtesy:

We've seen plenty of eye sore teams over the years in the NBA but the ones on this list stand out among the pack. You can understand how god awful these teams are considering that the recent Brooklyn Nets teams don't even come close to making the list. What makes the entrants on this list even worse is that none of these teams were in their 1st NBA season. Expansion franchises mightily struggle in their 1st season but none of them were as bad as this lot.

Also read: 10 Greatest NBA Dynasties of All Time

Here's, the five worst teams in NBA history:

5. 1997-98 Denver Nuggets (11-71)

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In the 1993-94 season, the Denver Nuggets were one game away from reaching the Western Conference Finals but lost Game 7 to Utah. There was excitement regarding the team's future but it would be all downhill from that point.

After the 1995-96 season, Dikembe Mutombo left in free agency and the Nuggets plummeted, finishing 21-61 but the worst was yet to come. In the following offseason, they traded away promising young Center Antonio McDyess for future draft picks. They acquired Eric Williams from Boston and Johnny Newman from Milwaukee.

Williams led the team in scoring with 19.8 PPG but played just 4 games as a Knee injury ruled him out for the season and boy did they struggle without him. The Nuggets started off the season 0-12. They won 2 of their next 5 but lost 23 in a row after that. 40 games in, they were 2-38 and looked set to have the worst record in NBA history. A 16 game losing streak, later on, didn't help. They avoided finishing with the worst record in NBA history by winning 6 of the last 19 games.

The following seasons wouldn't be much better. The Nuggets passed on Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and Vince Carter in the 1998 draft and kept messing up until the 2003 draft when they selected Carmelo Anthony.

4. 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks: (11-71)

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While today we know of the Mavericks as a relatively well-run organization, they were pretty much a joke throughout the 90s. They made it to the playoffs in the 1989-90 season but wouldn't make it back for the next 10 years.

Problems began for the Mavericks before the 1991-92 season, as Roy Tarpley was banned from the league because of his 3rd violation of the drug-use policy of the league. Two-time All-Star Fat Lever, acquired in 1990 would struggle mightily with injuries. Following a 22-60 season in 1991-92, the Mavs also traded leading scorer Rolando Blackman in the offseason.

The 92-93 season started disastrously. Lever was ruled out for the whole season and the 4th pick in the draft, Jim Jackson refused to join due to a contract dispute which would go on until March. They started the season 1-15, were 2-30 at one point and had a record of 4-50 when Jackson finally joined the team.

It's safe to say these Mavs would have certainly ended up with the worst record had he not joined. Jackson helped them win 7 out of the last 28 games including the final 2 of the season to ensure they wouldn't end up with the worst record in NBA history. This disastrous season for the Mavs included 3 losing streaks of over 10 games, with the longest being 19. They finished with the worst point differential in NBA history at -15.2 Points per game.

3. 2015-16 Philadelphia 76ers (10-72)

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While "Trust the Process" finally seems to have rewarded the 76ers with two franchise cornerstones in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, the process sure was painful. Philly went through one of the worst 3-year stretches in NBA history, winning 47 games in 3 seasons which started in 2013-14 and culminated with the horrific 15-16 season.

The Sixers fortunes started to take a downturn after they traded away Andre Iguodala for Andrew Bynum in a 3 team trade in 2012. Bynum would never play a game for Philly due to injuries. The Sixers then started tanking in the 13/14 season by trading away Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and a 2014 draft pick.

Noel would miss the whole season but fellow rookie Michael Carter-Williams would win ROY. In 14-15, they drafted Embiid who wouldn't play an NBA game for his first 2 seasons and traded away Williams for draft picks. Injuries and trading away their best players ensured that the following season would be a disaster.

Despite rookie Jahlil Okafor having a solid season, they started off 0-18, which when combined with a 10 game losing streak from last season, led to a record 28 game losing streak. Further, they had 2 losing streaks of 12 games that season and another of 13. They secured win no. 10 in their 78th game to ensure they wouldn't end up with the worst record in NBA history.

2. 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers (9-73)

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The Sixers enjoy the dubious distinction of having 2 of the 5 worst seasons in NBA history. Philly won the NBA title in 1967 and set the then record of 68 wins in the regular season. Just six seasons later, they recorded what was the worst season in NBA history.

The Sixers demise that season is easy to explain. Before the 1972-73 season, Hall of Fame Coach Jack Ramsay left the team for the Buffalo Braves and Hall of Famer Billy Cunningham bolted for the ABA. They had also traded away All-Star Archie Clark a season before.

They started off the season by losing the first 15 games. A 14 game and a then-record 20 game losing streak meant the Sixers after 62 games were 4-58, a 0.065 winning percentage, a pace which would mean they would end up 5-77. Rather surprisingly, however, they won 5 of their next 7 games, even beating the eventual champion Knicks. The optimism wouldn't last any longer as they lost the final 13 games to end up with the worst record in an 82 game season in NBA history.

They would, however, rebound quickly from the disappointment and reach 4 NBA Finals and win 1 title in the 10 years that followed this horrific season. There is hope that the current Sixers bunch can follow their footsteps and return to the top.

1. 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats (7-59)

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Charlotte Bobcats is considered as the worst team in NBA history. The 2011-12 Bobcats were just god awful and thankfully for them, it was the lock-out shortened season with just 66 games. A combination of Injuries and the lack of talent meant they were completely outmatched and it should have never come to this.

In 2009/10, Larry Brown led the Bobcats incarnation of the franchise to its 1st winning record and a Playoff appearance. Then, Tyson Chandler was traded away before the start of the 10-11 season and Gerald Wallace was traded during the season, with the Bobcats getting marginal players in return. Brown was fired/resigned during the 10-11 season and the Bobcats eventually missed the playoffs. Leading scorer Stephen Jackson was then traded for Corey Maggette and a draft pick before the start of the 11-12 season.

They started off the season 2-4 but went 5-55 rest of the way. Maggette only played 32 games due to injury and D.J. Augustin also missed some time. The 2 players drafted, Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo had decent rookie campaigns but nothing spectacular.

After the 2-4 start, the Bobcats were 7-36 thanks to a 16 game losing streak but were seemingly in no danger of posting the worst record percentage-wise in NBA history but they did. The Bobcats lost their final 23 games to end with a woeful winning percentage of .106, just lower than the 1972-73 Sixers. To their credit, they have rebounded well from the disaster and made 2 playoff appearances in the following 4 seasons.

Published 01 Dec 2017, 10:49 IST
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