The Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers have something in common. Both failed to get 20 wins in the 2010-2011 NBA regular season. While Cleveland’s record came as no surprise after losing LeBron James in the off season, the Timberwolves who are supposedly in the second year of a rebuilding phase, made little, if any progress from last season’s 15-win effort.
While Cleveland and Minnesota will reap the rewards of having the league’s worst records, which includes the best odds at landing the top draft pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, they are hardly the worst teams the NBA has ever fielded.
Here’s a look at the five worst teams in NBA history:
5. 2007-2008 Miami Heat
After making the playoffs the previous season, the Heat regressed to a 15 win season. While the Heat’s roster included big names like Alonzo Mourning, Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O’Neal, injuries and a lack of chemistry sealed the team’s fate long before the All-Star break.
4. 1982-1983 Houston Rockets
For the Rockets it was darkest before the dawn. Under Coach Del Harris, the Rockets were a collection of no-name players, other than an aging Elvin Hayes in his 14th season, that couldn’t compete with the best in the Western Conference. However, things didn’t remain stark in Houston for long. Over the next two seasons they drafted Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon and tripled their win total from 82-83 with 48 victories in the 1984-1985 campaign.
3. 1986-1987 Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have always been the red-headed step child in L.A, but no season was worse than the 12-win 86-87 season. The Clippers were miserable on the court and at the box office in their third season in Hollywood. While the other L.A. team, the Lakers, were supported by Jack Nicholson and winning titles, the best the Clippers could do was Billy Crystal.
2. 1992-1993 Dallas Mavericks
Not long before Mark Cuban took over the Mavs and went on a spending spree to pack the team with talent, the Mavericks were a perennial loser. With just 11 wins in the 92-93 season, the Mavs led by Derek Harper and Jim Jackson were an embarrassment to the few fans they could lure to Reunion Arena. Could it have been the dismal play of the Mavericks that convinced city leaders to pursue and eventually steal an NHL team from Minnesota later that year?
1. 1972-1973 Philadelphia 76ers
The gold standard for terrible NBA teams. The Sixers won just nine games in 72-72. It was fitting that they had a player on their roster named Manny Leaks, who was just one of the many leaks the Sixers had on both sides of the ball. Coaches Roy Rubin won four of 51 games and Kevin Loughery won five of 31. Both were gone by the next season when the Sixers won 25 games.