The 5 worst NBA franchises

In the 1990s, the NBA decided upon expansion, adding four teams to a blossoming league. Looking back on that decision, perhaps they shouldn't have. Of the four teams added during the 1990s, only the Orlando Magic have a franchise all-time winning record. Not only do the other franchises continue to struggle, but they make up three of the five worst all-time active franchises in terms of winning percentages. In fact, only one of the five worst franchises was established pre-1990s, and I bet you can guess which one.

#. Toronto Raptors (.418)

Baron Davis in uniform for the Los Angeles Clippers
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Baron_Davis_has_the_sad.jpg

In 16 NBA seasons, the Toronto Raptors have persevered as the NBA's lone franchise above the border, but success hasn't been easy. At times, the Raptors have had talent, notably Vince Carter(notes), Chris Bosh(notes), Morris Peterson(notes) and Damon Stoudamire. Unfortunately, that talent hasn't stuck around long enough to make the Raptors consistent winners. The franchise has made the playoffs five times, equating to about once every three years. However, with only a .418 franchise winning percentage, Canadians might be better off watching hockey.

#4. Minnesota Timberwolves (.405)

In 22 seasons, Minnesota faithful might be some of the most frustrated fans of all NBA franchises. With the arrival of Kevin Garnett(notes) came hope. Eight consecutive playoff appearances, albeit brief appearances, gave fans something to cheer about. However, lately the team has been a revolving door of young talent. When Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics, the franchise hoped to get a return from the five players and two draft picks that they received. However, since Garnett was shipped to Boston, the Timberwolves have won fewer than 30 percent of their games. Surprisingly, as poor as that sounds, it is only marginally worse than their franchise's all-time winning percentage.

#3. Charlotte Bobcats (.381)

Still in the infancy stages of an NBA franchise, the Bobcats have only been playing basketball since 2005. In those six seasons, a surprise playoff appearance in season six has given fans something to cheer about after a painful first five seasons. However, early indications in 2010 suggest that the Bobcats may be returning to old form, losing about two-thirds of their games. It's tough to criticize a franchise that is still growing, so unlike the #2 franchise on this list, the Bobcats get a break.

#2. Los Angeles Clippers (.361)

The Clippers are the perpetual black hold of NBA talent. It seems like every year we hear analyst talk about the potential of the Clippers, bragging about their young superstars and how it will only be a matter of time before the franchise gets things turned around. Well—it's been 41 years and we're still waiting. The Clippers were founded in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves, then moved to San Diego and became the Clippers. In 1984, the team moved to Los Angeles, perhaps hoping to have some of the Lakers success rub off on their franchise. Unfortunately in 41 seasons, the Clippers have managed only six winning seasons, and only two of those occurred in Los Angeles. The franchise have never won more than 49 games in a season and only put together seven playoff runs, one of which happened when the team only won 36 regular season games.

#1. Memphis Grizzlies (.338)

Originally a Canadian counterpart to the Toronto Raptors, the Grizzlies moved from Vancouver to Memphis in 2001. In the same number of seasons as the Raptors, the Grizzlies have won approximately 100 fewer games, a considerable margin in just 16 seasons. The good news for the Grizzlies is that the franchise has been markedly improved since moving to Memphis, including three consecutive playoff appearances from 2004 to 2006. The bad news is that the franchise traded perhaps its most talented player ever in Pau Gasol(notes) to the Lakers, for next to nothing in return. Another problem plaguing the Grizzlies is that they have failed to keep any head coaches for more than three years, leading to inconsistency throughout the team. In fact, five of their seven coaches have only lasted two years before eventually being shown the door.

References:

Basketball Reference, Franchise Winning Percentages, Basketball-reference.com

Toronto Raptors, Raptors, NBA.com

NBA History and Records, NBA Encyclopedia, NBA.com

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Updated Thursday, Dec 9, 2010