The worst NBA records of all time involved teams who were plagued by injuries or just outright lacked the talent. These teams nosedived to the bottom and simply couldn’t figure it out to win games.
Worst NBA records ever
Teams such as the 95-96 Bulls and the 16-17 Warriors were immortalized as some of the greatest teams in NBA history. Now, we’ll do the inverse and tackle the worst NBA teams ever. Some of them can’t even win more than 10 out of 82 games.
Here are the seven worst NBA records ever…
Winning percentage: 15.9%
Head coach: Mike Woodson
The 04-05 Hawks were a mess. A lot of trades and roster shake-ups happened but they still couldn’t find the dub.
Their best player, Antoine Walker, provided some life to this squad with numbers of 20.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Walker played 52 games before getting traded. Al Harrington supported him with 17.5 points and 7 rebounds per game on 46% shooting.
Injuries didn’t help either. Childress was the only one who was healthy enough to play at least 80 games in the season.
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) February 19, 2021
Atlanta finished the season with the second-worst offensive rating (100.6), defensive rating (111.1), and opponent points allowed per game (102.5).
While it was a disastrous season for the Hawks, at least they got Marvin Williams in the next year’s NBA Draft with the second-overall pick.
Winning percentage: 14.6%
Head coach: Don Chaney
It was dark times for the Clippers in the 1980s. They didn’t crack the .500 for the entire decade, and not until the 91-92 season. In this span, their 86-87 season is the worst.
Michael Cage was the lone bright spot for the Clippers. The sophomore averaged 15.7 points and 11.5 rebounds on 52% shooting. The rest of the roster was actually good but the team hadn’t meshed that well to warrant winning against tougher teams in the league. Plus, the morale was low at this point.
The Clippers finished dead last in offensive (101.2) and defensive rating (112.3). This roster also allowed 115.9 points per game which was the second-worst in the league.
Winning percentage: 14.6%
Head coach: Lawrence Frank, Tom Barisse, Kiki Vandeweghe
The Nets started the season 0-18, tied with the 15-16 Sixers as the worst start in NBA history. It was rough for New Jersey as they started from scratch that season. Only four players remained from their previous season—Brook Lopez, Terrence Williams, Devin Harris, and Kris Humphries.
It was a breakout year for Brook Lopez as he averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks on 50% shooting. However, it was just his sophomore year and he couldn’t carry that team alone.
New Jersey suffered five losing streaks at least eight games long. They eventually salvaged their record before the regular season ended—winning five of their last 12 games. Still, they ended up with one of the worst team records over an 82-game season (12-70).
They finished with the worst offensive rating (100.6) and the fifth-worst in defensive rating (110.5). Their 12-70 record is one of the worst NBA records of all time.
Winning percentage: 13.4%
Head coach: Richie Adubato, Gar Heard
In terms of statistics, the 92-93 Mavericks is the worst NBA team ever. Dallas finished as the worst team in the league when it comes to offensive rating (99.5), defensive rating (114.7), and opponent points per game (114.5). They also finished dead last in Basketball Reference’s Simple Rating System with -14.68 that season.
This team was simply inexperienced and lacked veteran leadership. Only Derek Harper had five or more years of experience on this roster. The 31-year old averaged 18.2 points and 5.4 assists per game, but even he missed 20 games in the regular season. It was a disaster every night for Dallas.
Tanking in the NBA has been notorious to get high draft picks and the Mavericks did well. They just played their young guys on the court freely as if it was a pickup game. After a disastrous season, at least they drafted Jason Kidd and Jamal Mashburn respectively over the next two NBA Drafts.
Winning percentage: 13.4%
Head coach: Bill Hanzlik
The 97-98 Nuggets were going nowhere after they failed to re-sign their rising star, Dikembe Mutombo, one season prior. Mutombo could’ve been a franchise cornerstone if he decided to stay in Denver.
Apart from LaPhonso Ellis and Johnny Newman, the Nuggets simply lacked the talent to compete against bigger and better teams in the late 90s. Losing streaks piled up from 12 to 16 and later on to a whopping 23 games.
The Nuggets finished the regular season with the worst defensive rating (112.1) and the second-worst offensive rating (99.0). They also allowed 100.8 points per game which was the fourth-worst in the league.
After an awful season, they got the third-overall pick in the lottery. However, that pick didn’t turn out well as they picked Raef LaFrentz over Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, or Paul Pierce. It was indeed tough for Nuggets fans in the late 90s.
Winning percentage: 12.2%
Head coach: Brett Brown
This Sixer team was young and inexperienced. Only three players—Elton Brand, Carl Landry, and Ish Smith had five or more years of experience. The rest were a bunch of rookies and sophomores who were still adjusting to NBA speed. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid was yet to play a single NBA game as he was still recovering from his foot injury.
Their best player this season was one of their rookies, Jahlil Okafor. Okafor averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds on 51% shooting in 53 games. He eventually went down with a knee injury that forced him to miss the rest of the season.
Being a young team has its perks but it would be a mess without the guidance of veterans. This is why they finished the regular season with the worst offensive rating (90.2) and second-worst in opponent points allowed with 107.6 points per game. Their 10-72 is one of the worst NBA records ever.
Perhaps the good news to this season is that they got Ben Simmons the year after with the first overall pick. Philly fans had to stomach this awful season and just trust the process.
Winning percentage: 11%
Head coach: Roy Rubin, Kevin Loughery
The Sixers again? Yes, that’s right. The 72-73 Sixers is the worst NBA team over an 82-game season. Ouch.
Things were looking grim right from the start when their legendary head coach Jack Ramsay announced that he was going to step down as head coach and general manager. All of their key players were also over 30 years old.
Their best player, Fred Carter, averaged 20 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. Carter led the team in scoring each night but of course, he couldn’t carry everything alone.
Philadelphia opted to sign Roy Rubin to a three-year, fully guaranteed $300,000 contract. That’s a huge amount for a coach who didn’t have an impressive resume and had no experience in professional basketball.
Rubin only lasted for 51 games before they ultimately fired him. He was replaced by Kevin Loughery but even he couldn’t turn things around. The team was outright bad.
The Sixers finished the regular season with the worst offensive rating (90.2) and the fourth-worst defensive rating (100.6). They were also allowing their opponents to score 116.2 points per game, the worst in the league.