With less than a third of games left in the 2020-21 NBA regular season, time is running out for faltering teams to reverse their fortunes. While some teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets have lived up to expectations, a few others are well off the pace and struggling to remain in postseason contention.
While a lot of attention is understandably focused on teams performing well this NBA season, it's worth having a look at a few underperforming ones. On that note, let's have a look at the three most disappointing teams in the 2020-21 NBA season.
Although these teams are necessarily the worst in the competition, they had high expectations coming into the season but have failed to live up to them.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at the three teams who have disappointed the most in the ongoing 2020-21 NBA campaign.
#1 Toronto Raptors (2020-21 NBA season record: 20-30)
After getting off to one of the worst starts in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors have largely struggled to get going in the 2020-21 NBA season.
Although losing Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in the off-season has had an obvious impact on their performances, franchise stars Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam have all played 38+ games.
Therefore, it has been as disappointing as it has been surprising that the Toronto Raptors find themselves 4.5 games off the playoff pace in the 2020-21 NBA Eastern Conference.
In a span of 16 games dating back to the 4th of March, the Toronto Raptors have won only thrice, which includes three losses to their conference's worst team, the Detroit Pistons.
Prior to that run, the Raptors had a .500 record on the season as they looked to turn their campaign around after an indifferent start. However, since then, they have had the 6th-worst defensive rating in the 2020-21 NBA, the least defensive boards made by any team and have posted a net rating of -3.4 (22nd in the league).
Gary Trent Jr. will inevitably help the Raptors backcourt, but the 2019 NBA champions still lack the depth in quality to help them reach the playoffs, let alone go dee0 if they get there.
The Toronto Raptors' bench is averaging just 31.5 points per game (4th-worst in the league) and has the second-lowest number of assists.
#2 Boston Celtics (2020-21 NBA season record: 25-25)
After yet another conference finals appearance, the Boston Celtics would have been quietly optimistic about their chances of having another deep postseason run, with stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continuing their development.
However, a multitude of issues have stunted the C's progress, and Brad Stevens' side find themselves just a game inside the East's top eight.
Although they only stand a game behind fourth-placed Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics' struggles this campaign have been in sharp contrast to the well-rounded performances of the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers atop their conference.
Back in preseason, the Celtics addressed their needs in the paint by bringing in Tristan Thompson to pair with Daniel Theis.
The C's were one of the most defensively solid teams in the NBA last season, and holding the Toronto Raptors to only 95.8 points per 48 minutes in their 7-game playoff series. However, they have massively disappointed this campaign. Their defense is the 18th-best in the competition, while they have grabbed the sixth-fewest defensive boards per matchup.
While Marcus Smart's absence has sorely impacted their solidity, the Boston Celtics could undoubtedly struggle against the likes of Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant in the playoffs - should they reach there.
The Boston Celtics are underperforming in all aspects. The fact that they have already lost more games than they did in the entirety of last season only drives home that point.
Although the Boston Celtics are still expected to make the playoffs, their lack of scoring depth (their bench is the fifth-worst in the NBA for points) and their drop-off in defensive concentration have been disconcerting.
#3 New Orleans Pelicans (2020-21 NBA season record: 22-27)
Another team who had a lot of hype prior to the 2020-21 NBA season are the New Orleans Pelicans.
With an offensive trio of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, the Pels were expected to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2018. However, a lack of consistency has tempered the Pelicans' postseason aspirations, while their defense has been a striking disappointment.
Stan Van Gundy was expected to put his defensive stamp on the New Orleans team. The pickup of veteran Steven Adams could have helped with that.
However, both Adams and the Pels' starting lineup are far too passive in defense, allowing 113.2 points per matchup - the 3rd-worst in this season's NBA. They have allowed the most three-point efforts from opposition shooters and have conceded the fifth-most points in the final quarter of games.
While their offensive efficiency has been decent, the Pelicans have been let down by a lack of experience in their roster. Although they have the assets to still make a late run for a postseason place, they are seriously running out of time.