0-17. That's right; 17 straight losses to begin an NBA Season. The New Jersey Nets have done the unthinkable and joined an elite list in the NBA's illustrious history. Three franchises, only three in the entire history of the NBA, have started off a season with 17 straight losses. No team has lost 18 straight. While the Nets record indicates they'd be among the worst this decade, it's hard to see where they fall with teams of the past few years. So I thought it'd be fun to do a little research and come up with my own list of the ten worst NBA teams of the last decade. Beginning in the 2000-2001 season and concluding last season (which technically only makes it 9 seasons), all teams were candidates for this list. The ten that made it had problems with youth, problems with injuries, problems with coaching, problems with talent, problems with attendance and, obviously, problems with winning. So without further adieu, here's the Ten Worst NBA Teams of the Last Decade.
10. 2006/2007 Boston Celtics (24-58) and the 2007/2008 Minnesota Timberwolves (22-60)
Head Coaches - Boston Celtics: Doc Rivers. Minnesota Timberwolves: Randy Wittman
Leading Scorers - Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce . Minnesota Timberwolves: Al Jefferson
Years In Review - The reason I group these teams together is because at least a handful of players found themselves on both squads as a result of the Kevin Garnett trade. After injuries to Paul Pierce, Tony Allen and company in 2007, frustration fully showed its face in the Boston Garden. After finishing the season with a 24-58 record in 2007 and then missing out on the top pick, which would have londed Boston Greg Oden , the Celtics traded five of their players in order to obtain one from Minnesota: franchise player Kevin Garnett. The players included in that deal (Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes , Sebastian Telfair , Gerald Green and Theo Ratliff ) would go to Minnesota and carry the same amount of inconsistency and agonizing defeat to Minnesota. Jefferson and Gomes are clearly good players, but they're not capable of taking a team and leading it to any kind of respectability. And since more than a handful of players carried the same amount of problems into Minnesota in 2007 that they had developed in Boston, these two teams will forever be joined in terms of NBA ineptitude since the turn of the century.
9. 2008/2009 Washington Wizards (19-63)
Head Coaches - Eddie Jordan (1-10) and Ed Tapscott (18-53)
Leading Scorer - Antawn Jamison
Year in Review - After investing over 100 million dollars to retain star point guard Gilbert Arenas , the Wizards, who were coming off of a 43 win season the year before. looked, at the best, destined to be regulars in the Eastern Conference Playoffs each season. An impressive trio of Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler were supposed to lead the Wizards to success in the Eastern Conference, even though the team had shown no such promise before investing that much money to Jamison and Arenas. Only a few months after handing Arenas that six year contract, the Wizards received word he would be undergoing another knee surgery and would miss, basically, the entire season. Arenas played two games and another of the big three, Caron Butler, also struggled to stay healthy; missing 15 games during the season. Additionally, starting center Brendan Haywood was only available for 6 games that season and things looked bad all season for the Wizards. Having to rely on very raw big men (Andray Blatche , JaVale McGee and Dominic McQuire), very young guards (Nick Young and Javaris Crittenton ) and career journeymen (Darius Songaila , Mike James and Juan Dixon), it's no surprise that the Wizards stumbled their way to an ugly 19 win season. They had the talent of a playoff team, but when you lose your best players, you see just how bad things can get. The Wizards were exhibit A of a top heavy team.
8. 2000/2001 Washington Wizards (19-63)
Head Coaches - Leonard Hamilton
Leading Scorer - Richard Hamilton
Year in Review - In the late 90s, the Wizards were a team with a lot of money invested in a few players but were getting few in return in terms of the win/loss column. After only one playoff appearance (in 1996/97), the Wizards looked ready to shake things up. For a few seasons they were an old, mediocre team. In 2000/2001, they became a team that imploded. Rod Strickland, Mitch Richmond and Juwan Howard all began the year as a big three for Washington, but Strickland and Howard ended the year in different locations. The team was led by a head coach, Hamilton, who was a personal hire for then head of basketball operations Michael Jordan. Hamilton could barely control the roster, famously being cussed out by Tyrone Nesby when Hamilton took Nesby out of the game. The Wizards were an ugly display of basketball on the court all season long and, the very next year, Michael Jordan would take off the sport coat and put on the cape. When the consecutive 37 win seasons that followed were considered a success, it shows how bad things had gotten in Washington; concluding with this 2000/2001 team.
7. 2005/2006 New York Knicks (23-59)
Head Coach - Larry Brown
Leading Scorer - Stephon Marbury
Year in Review - Trying desperately to recapture respectability, the Knicks handed Isiah Thomas the keys to the franchise in 2008. He followed that up by making a plethora of moves to bring in all kinds of new players in an attempt to shake up the New York franchise. While it initially ended in a playoff appearance for the Knicks in 2004, the Knicks quickly looked like a makeshift team thrown together in an attempt at a quick fix with no real plans for the future. Isiah then pulled out the ace of spades and hired the coach who would take the Knicks back to respectability: Larry Brown. With Brown at the helm, pundits and fans alike immediately predicted big improvements for a Knicks franchise that looked very discombobulated the year before. What ensued was an insanely ugly season in the city that never sleeps. Brown immediately clashed with Stephon Marbury and the Knicks actually regressed, losing eleven more games than they had the previous year. Brown bashed the team publicly, looked very uninterested as the season wore on and would eventually be fired in the offseason. With insane money being given to a recently retired Alan Houston (20 million), Stephon Marbury (17 million), Jalen Rose (16 million), Steve Francis (14 million), Maurice Taylor (9 million), Eddy Curry (8 million), Quentin Richardson (7 million), Jerome James (5 million), Jamaal Crawford (7 million), and Malike Rose (7 million), the Knicks were officially a severely bad NBA team that was spending an insanely bad amount of money.
6. 2007/2008 Miami Heat (15-67)
Head Coach - Pat Riley
Leading Scorer - Dwyane Wade
Year In Review - When your leading scorer for the season only plays 51 games, things are more than likely going to be tough for your franchise. The fact that this team was only two years removed from an NBA championship made things incredibly worse. Entering the season with the duo of Wade and Shaquille O'Neal still on the roster, few could have predicted the futility and agony that would be bestowed upon Miami Heat fans the next season. With starters Udonis Haslem , Jason Williams , Wade and O'Neal missing a major amount of time early in the season, the Heat were immediately far behind schedule in terms of success. To make matters worse, because big things were anticipated for the Heat that season, they were regulars on national television and fans were forced to watch the putrid display of basketball put on by the squad. Even when the Heat traded O'Neal for Shawn Marion , a player who had stayed relatively healthy his entire career, even if caught the injury bug and missed a majority of his time with the Heat. At the end of the year, only Ricky Davis played in all 82 games for Miami. But with Davis, Mark Blount , Daequan Cook and Chris Quinn becoming regulars in Miami's rotation, the losses piled up. Mercifully, Wade would be healthy the next season and Miami would make the playoffs. But that season remains a painful one to observe for NBA fans alike.
5. 2000/2001 Golden State Warriors (17-65)
Head Coach - Dave Cowens
Leading Scorer - Antawn Jamison
Year in Review - Entering the year with really past their prime players like Mookie Blaylock and John Starks still on the roster, Golden State was quickly becoming a regular among the bottom of the NBA. Things would peak, though, in the 2000/2001 season for the Warriors in terms of futility. Antawn Jamison was still a young player, currently in his third season, but the rest of the team around him was not producing at all. Midseason trades for Larry Hughes and Bob Sura were made with intentions fo building for the future, but things were really bad all season long. With Blaylock, Adam Keefe, Erick Dampier , Adonal Foyle , Chris Porter and Vonteego Cummings **** becoming regulars in the Golden State rotation, things were tough for the fans in the Oracle. Things would eventually get bright in Golden State for a couple of seasons, but unfortunately for one of the better fan bases in the NBA, things are tough again in San Francisco.
4. 2002/2003 Denver Nuggets (17-65)
Head Coach - Jeff Bzdelik
Leading Scorer - Juwan Howard
Year in Review - Similar to the situation above, the Nuggets were a consistently mediocre NBA franchise by the time the 2002/2003 season came along. Similar to the situation above, things peaked in a negative way in 2003 when the Denver Nuggets only won 17 games. After a trade in the offseason for Marcus Camby and rookie Nene Hilario, the Nuggets were expected to make more of a push towards respectability than had previously been experienced in Denver. However, injuries to Camby quickly followed and the Nuggets became a really bad team really fast. Players like Mark Bryant, Junior Harrington, Ryan Bowen, Rodney White, Donnell Harvey, Nikoloz Tskitishvilli and Vincent Yarbrouugh (I had to look that up) were receing heavy minutes in Denver's rotation. Top to bottom, this is a tough looking roster that really could not score (84.2 PPG). Carmelo Anthony would follow, however, and the Nuggets luck would change just one season later.
3. 2004/2005 New Orleans Hornets (18-64)
Head Coach - Byron Scott
Leading Scorer - Lee Nailon
Year in Review - Going into the 2004 season, the Hornets had been a regular in the NBA postseason. Although they were entering the Western Conference, they had been to the finals 7 of their previous 8 years. However, it was becoming increasingly evident that the team as constructed was not going to win a championship. For Hornets fans, the incredibly bad 2004/2005 season began. With new head coach Byron Scott and general manager Jeff Bower leading the way, the Hornets underwent an incredibly swift rebuilding process and shed contracts of Baron Davis , David Wesley, Darrell Armstrong and Jamal Mashburn along the season. The Hornets other all star player, Jamaal Magloire , was only available for 26 games. As a result of all the trades, the team was regularly led by Lee Nailon, Bostjan Nachbar, Dan Dickau, Casey Jacobsen, Chris Andersen , Jackson Vroman, Maciej Lampe and a rookie J.R. Smith . Not surprisingly, wins weren't regular in the Crescent City. P.J. Brown was the only Hornet to play in all 82 games and the Hornets consistently played in front of some of the smallest crowds in recent memory. In the offseason, Hurricane Katrina would hit New Orleans and things could have gotten much worse for the franchise. But they drafted Chris Paul , got David West healthy and made a quick turnaround to respectability.
2. 2004/2005 Atlanta Hawks (13-69)
Head Coach - Mike Woodson
Leading Scorer - Al Harrington
Year in Review - The Hawks were regulars at the bottom of the league every year at the beginning of the decade. It was a slow, painful process and things looked bleak for many years in Atlanta. After hiring new coach Mike Woodson, drafting Josh Childress and Josh Smith , and trading for Al Harrington, the Hawks were now looking for plan A, B, C, D or E at the time to try and turn things around. It didn't work. Harrington responded with career highs in scoring and rebounding, but the team was completely bad, losing games by an average of 10 PPG. The Hawks would acquire Tyronn Lue during the season and subtract Jon Barry, Kevin Willis and Kenny Anderson during the year but the defeats remained. In the offseason, the Hawks would acquire Joe Johnson for Boris Diaw and would start the process to becoming the much better team that they are now. But for those few years, and especially this season, the Hawks were regulars among the worst teams in the NBA.
1. 2002/2003 Cleveland Cavaliers (17-65)
Head Coach - John Lucas (8-34), Keith Smart (9-31)
Leading Scorer - Ricky Davis
Year in Review - As is regular in this countdown, Cleveland was a consistently bad franchise for a number of years entering the 2002/2003 NBA season. Things weren't promising at all entering the 2002 season for the Cavs, but they did get worse really fast in Cleveland. With Davis and Zydrunas Ilgauskas leading the way, the Cavaliers consistently turned the ball over, got blown out, played horrid defense and played in front of some horribly empty crowds at the Gund Arena. No transactions were really made throughout the season, no real rebuilding moves were made, a coaching change happened but the same team produced the same bad results all season long. Rookie Dajuan Wagner showed some promise but only played in 47 games. Meanwhile, rookie Carlos Boozer , Jumaine Jones, Darius Miles, Smush Parker, Chris Mihm and Milt Polacio got heavy minutes in Cleveland and none of them were capable of changing pace. The season was awfully bad but was quickly forgotten when Cleveland landed the number one pick and drafted LeBron James in the offseason. But that season was a horrible one to watch for Cleveland fans and one that's only forgotten because of the talent of James.