September 02, 2009
OK, we know the first decade of the 21st century doesn't really end until 2011. We think. But we also know there have been 10 full NBA seasons played since the phrase "Y2K" was on all of our lips (1999-2000), and here at Ball Don't Lie we've decided to use this as an offseason excuse to rank some of the best and not-so-brightest of the 10 campaigns in question. The result? Why, top 10 lists!
We're well aware of the champions, and even the best also-rans. But what of the worst, the absolute worst, teams of the decade?
10. 2007-08 New York Knicks
Probably the most pitiable, and easily (nearly by a two-to-one margin) the most compensated losers on this list, that season's Knicks actually lost by an average of only 6.6 points per game on their way to 23 wins. Not the worst we've ever seen, but considering the massive payroll, the way coach Isiah Thomas essentially stopped practicing around the All-Star break and the sheer ridiculousness of the outfit, it deserves inclusion amongst the top 10.
9. 2004-05 New Orleans Hornets
They won only 18 games, their leading scorer (with Baron Davis(notes) playing in just 18 contests) was something called a "Lee Nailon," and the their entire season could ably be summed up by Chris Andersen's(notes) eight missed dunks (amongst several failed attempts to actually start the dunking process) during the 2005 All-Star break.
8. 2002-03 Denver Nuggets
I'm not being flip when I tell you I don't know how a roster like this won even half of its 17 games. This is probably the worst collection of talent on the list, and one of the many reasons I think coach Jeff Bzdelik would be a hell of an NBA coach if given the proper chance. Also, Vincent Yarbrough and Junior Harrington(notes) (36 percent shooting) had to combine to start 90 games. Who would you have gone with, Chris Whitney and John Crotty? They tried that, too.
7. 2007-08 Miami Heat
Plenty of stars — Dwyane Wade(notes), Shaquille O'Neal(notes), Shawn Marion(notes), Anfernee Hardaway(notes) — though they combined to play just 116 games between them. In what will be his coaching swan song (until the Heat get really good again), Pat Riley was consistently forced to draw up plays for Daequan Cook(notes), Chris Quinn(notes) and a litany of NBDL call-ups. The entire second half of the season was essentially an extended training camp (something I applaud the Heat for, actually), and the squad won only 15 times.
6. 2007-08 Seattle SuperSonics
A terrible team that probably could have come in at merely pretty poor, the last SuperSonics outfit probably underachieved a bit as they dealt with their unofficial lame-duck status in Seattle. Kevin Durant(notes) scored over 20 a game in his rookie year, but the team couldn't defend to save its life (see above), and it was off to Oklahoma City by 2008-09.
5. 2008-09 Sacramento Kings
Little sticks out about this team other than the fact it ranked 30th in defensive efficiency in 2008-09, and 25th in offense. That's ... that's hard to do. That's pretty bad. Throw in an off-year from Kevin Martin(notes), iffy crowd support, and some pretty uninspiring games (awful teams can often be entertaining teams; not these Kings), and you have a 17-win team that lost by an average of 8.7 points per game.
4. 2002-03 Cleveland Cavaliers
John Lucas(notes) was brought in to do one thing, and one thing well. Lose. Blow the whole season. Deal with awful uniforms, Dajuan Wagner(notes) as your lottery pick, Ricky Davis(notes), Darius Miles(notes), Smush Parker(notes) and all the pingpong balls you can handle by May. This was one messed-up team.
3. 2000-01 Chicago Bulls
Remember, the summer of 2000 was supposed to be it. Actually, scratch that, Chicago had big designs on the summer of 1999, if we're honest. And, if we're to be completely accurate, the summer of 1998 was supposed to see all sorts of free agents flock to Chicago to eat up the team's cap space. The summer of 1998 didn't happen, for anyone. GM Jerry Krause saw the writing on the wall when most FAs signed with their old teams for more money in the truncated post-lockout offseason, and after talking up the 1999 offseason, he decided to make a few more cap-clearing moves and parlay that money (and two lottery picks) to the 2000 offseason.
2. 2004-05 Atlanta Hawks
A bit of under-the-radar suck, 'ere. These Hawks lost a whopping 69 games by an average of 9.8 points per contest, and that's about as miserable as NBA seasons get. Par for the course, when you start Tyronn Lue(notes) and Kenny Anderson as much as you did (66 times), and let Antoine Walker(notes) launch over five 3s a game despite shooting 31.7 percent. The reward for all that? Not Deron Williams(notes). Not Chris Paul(notes). But Marvin Williams(notes). Solid.
1. 1999-2000 Los Angeles Clippers
This team was just all kinds of pathetic. Last in defense, second-to-last in offense; the Clippers came through with a season's worth of miserable ball just as their new flatmates (the eventual champion, Los Angeles Lakers) were winning the first of their three consecutive titles. The team topped off a season that saw it lose 67 games by an average of 11.5 points (far and away the worst on this list) by drafting Darius Miles, and watching as backup center Keith Closs (pictured, barely awake, above) earned himself a deserved beatdown the following summer.
And with the first pick in the 2009 draft, this decade is ending just as it started ...
Questions? Comments? Furious and righteous anger at a world, not to mention top 10 list, gone wrong? Swing by later today at about 2 p.m. Eastern for a BDL mini-chat regarding this very list.