The 10 Worst NBA Teams of All Time

13 Nov 2023

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in America and the NBA is arguably the most entertaining sports league in the world. From tanking to get the next Tim Duncan or because of poor form, we take a look at the 10 worst NBA teams of all time based on season winning percentage.

10. 1998-99 Vancouver Grizzlies - 8-42 (.160)

The Vancouver Grizzlies fortunes hadn't improved from their inaugural 15-67 season of 1995-96. The 1998-99 Grizzlies could only manage to win 16% of their games in a season cut short by a 6-month NBA lockout. Despite Vancouver starting the season 4-6, they finished 8-42 with only Shareef Abdur-Rahim and rookie Mike Bibby making an impact.

Vancouver were never able to build a competitive roster in Vancouver and its depressing for fans know they left Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett on the board in the 1995 draft. The Grizzlies relocated to Memphis in 2001 but Vancouver is ready again to host the next NBA expansion team.

9. 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks - 13-69 (.159)

Rookie coach Quinn Buckner led the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks to becoming one of the worst NBA teams of all time. Dallas simply didn't have the talent to compete and started the season 1-23. During the season Dallas tied the record for longest losing streak in the NBA at the time with 20 consecutive losses.

Buckner bizarrely survived the season leading Dallas to a winning percentage of 15.9% but would never coach again after that. Taking into account the previous season the Mavericks had a two-season record of 24-140. Dallas was "rewarded" with the second pick of the 1994 draft and picked Jason Kidd.

8. 2004-05 Atlanta Hawks - 13-69 (.159)

The 2004-05 Atlanta Hawks were horrible at both ends of the ball posting losing streaks of 13 and 14 games, and a winning percentage of only 15.9%. Before the season started they traded away Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Theo Ratliff. Coach Mike Woodson was in his first season after arriving from Detroit where he was an assistant coach.

The Hawks were simply outclassed and were ranked second last in the league in both offense and defense, losing 32 of their last 35 game. Atlanta did have success with rookies Josh Childress and Josh Smith who both made the All-Rookie Second Team.

7. 1986-87 Los Angeles Clippers - 12-70 (.146)

The Los Angeles Clippers were doomed from the start in their third season after relocation from San Diego. They were without a first round pick in the 1986 draft and owner Donald Sterling wasn't willing to spend big on top talent. The major issue with the 1986-87 Clippers was that the players didn't gel.

Five-time All-Star Marques Johnson was injured for almost the entire season and it had a devastating impact. The Clippers suffered losing streaks of 12, 14 and 16 games. They also had the third worst offense, second worst defense and a winning percentage of just 14.6%.

6. 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks - 11-71 (.134)

The 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks were obviously tanking. Only Derek Harper had five or more years of NBA experience. Statistically the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks are the worst NBA team ever, the only team ever to finish a season with a -1000 points or worse differential. In the end they averaged a -15.2 points differential per game.

Two-time All-Star guard Fat Lever was out for the entire season due to injury and star forward Roy Tarpley was suspended because of drug and alcohol abuse. The Mavericks at one stage were sitting on 4-57 following a 19-game losing streak but somehow managed to recover with a winning percentage of 13.4%.

5. 2009-10 New Jersey Nets - 12-70 (.146)

The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets had the worst ever start to an NBA season with 18 straight losses, a record the Philadelphia 76ers matched in 2015-16. Head Coach Lawrence Frank was sacked after just 16 games in charge.

On defense the Nets were decent. Devin Harris just came off an All-Star season and a young Brook Lopez was having a break out year. Offensively the Nets were horrific, finishing dead last for points per game with an average of 92.4. They also finished last for field goal percentage with a 42.9% success rate from the floor, and last for assists.

4. 1997-98 Denver Nuggets - 11-71 (.134)

After failing to re-sign superstar Dikembe Mutombo the 1997-98 Denver Nuggets could only manage a winning percentage of 13.4%. After opening the season with a 12-game losing streak, their issues were compounded by a losing streak stretching 23 games, one of the longest losing streaks in NBA history.

To make matters worse the Nuggets were in one of the weakest divisions alongside the Vancouver Grizzlies (19-63) and Dallas Mavericks (20-62). The Nuggets were "rewarded" with the third pick of the 1998 draft but picked Raef LaFrentz instead of Dirk Nowitzki.

3. 2015-16 Philadelphia 76ers - 10-72 (.122)

The Philadelphia Sixers 2015-16 season was the peak of "The Process". Rookie Jahlil Okafor became their immediate go-to player and only Elton Brand, Ish Smith and Carl Landry had more than five years of NBA experience. The 76ers lost 41 games by 10-plus points, with 16 of those by 20 points or more.

Philadelphia finished with a 12.2% winning percentage and were one of the worst NBA teams of all time. Going back to the prior season the 76ers had lost 28 games straight, the longest losing streak in American major professional sports history.

2. 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers - 9-73 (.110)

One of the worst NBA teams of all time, the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, earned the nickname the "Nine and 73ers". To start the season they lost All-Star Billy Cunningham to the ABA and legendary coach Jack Ramsey was fired. He was replaced with head coach Roy Rubin who hadn't even coached a major college team.

Philadelphia started the season with a 15-game losing streak and backed it up with losing 20 consecutive games. The 72-73 Philadelphia 76ers finished with a -12.1 points per game point differential and an 11% winning percentage. It was an amazing fall from grace for a team that had won an NBA title five years earlier with Wilt Chamberlain.

1. 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats - 7-59 (.106)

With a winning percentage of just 10.6% the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats are the worst NBA team of all time. Michael Jordan became the controlling owner of the Bobcats just a year earlier and they were outscored by 14 points on average.

Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo were in their rookie years and were forced into major starting roles, surrounded by washed-up veterans. The Bobcats ranked dead last in points scored, points conceded, offensive rating, defensive rating, field goal percentage, and second last in steals and rebounds.

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Thanks for the article, very interesting!
It's a dream to watch a NBA game !! especially finals !!