Worst NBA Teams Ever – Who Is the Worst Team in History?

worst nba teams

8 minutes

Last Updated: May 25, 2024


In sports, we celebrate winners and success, and the National Basketball Association is no different.

Carving your name and the name of your team in the record books is one of the most fulfilling emotions an athlete can feel.

On the other hand, where there are positive records, there are also negative ones, and while they are no reason for celebration they, people tend to remember them, too!

Without further ado, here are the 10 worst NBA teams in history.

10. 2004-05 Atlanta Hawks (13-69)

Winning percentage: .159

We start our list of the worst NBA teams ever with the 2004-2005 Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks did not waste any time showing the rest of the league how bad they.

They lost the season opener by a 30-point margin.

During the next 16 games, they came on top only in two games and even the many roster changes did not help them as they switched between 15 different players in the starting lineup.

They also traded Antoine Walker for Gary Payton who was at the end of his career only to waive him as soon as he arrived.

Giving up Walker proved to be another big mistake in what was already a terrible season, and the team lost 26 of the 29 games they played without their star forward.

9. Worst NBA Teams Ever: 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks (13-69)

Winning percentage: .159

It is pretty hard to outdo a 16-game losing streak even in the NBA where the competition is fierce, however, the 1993-1994 Dallas Mavericks managed to do that not once but twice.

In one of their worst seasons in history, the Mavs had stretches where they lost 16, 17, and 20 games in a row.

After half of the season was played, they had a pretty incredible record of 2 wins and 39 losses, something that NBA fans were used to seeing only in amateur leagues and certainly not in the best basketball league in the world.

The front office tried to change things by trading for Doc Rivers and signing free agent Lorenzo Williams. However, this was too little, too late, not only to save the season but to save the team from becoming a part of every list that contained the worst teams in NBA history.

The situation in the organization was so bad that two of the players, Fat Lever and Randy White, went into early retirement to avoid being on the team the next season.

8. 2009-10 New Jersey Nets (12-70)

Winning percentage: .146

Like most teams that go into the category of the worst teams in NBA history, the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets did not waste any time on their way to one of the worst seasons in NBA history.

They were winless after the first 18 games of the season, which is tied for most consecutive losses at the beginning of the season in NBA history.

In fact, Nets would be much higher on this list if they didn’t manage to close out the season on a strong note by winning five of their last 12 games.

This is pretty impressive if we take into account that 70 games into the season they had only seven wins.

After the season was over, the new owner of the Nets traded all but four players from the season before in an effort to rebuild the team, and who could blame him?

7. 1986-87 Los Angeles Clippers (12-70) – One of the Worst NBA Teams in History

Winning percentage: .146

The 1986-87 Los Angeles Clippers started the season much better than the previous team on this list and managed to win four of their first 21 NBA games.

Unfortunately for them, things didn’t go any better from that point on and this squad still has the worst record in Clippers history. This trend would continue for several more years, with the team never having an over 0.390 winning percentage.

But the worst part is that they didn’t even win the first pick in the 1987 draft.

In fact, they went all the way down to the 4th selection and finished with Reggie Williams instead of franchise cornerstones that were available in drafts such as David Robinson or Scottie Pippen.

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

Winning percentage: .134

Before the start of the 1992-93 season things looked pretty good for the Mavericks as they managed to secure a top draft prospect in Jim Jackson.

However, things went south pretty fast after he refused to suit up because of a contract dispute.

Mavericks went on to be the last team in major categories such as offensive, defensive and net rating.

By mid-December, they already managed to lose 19 consecutive games.

It was pretty amazing that they even managed to collect 11 wins by the end of the season when we consider that one of their key players, Derek Harper, missed 20 games that season.

Some of the more complex rating systems even rank this Mavericks squad as the worst team in NBA history, which is no surprise when the team lost with an average margin of over 15 points per game and even managed to lose with a 58-point difference to the Sacramento Kings in late December.

All in all, of the 71 games, they lost 58 games with a double-digit margin.

5. 1997-98 Denver Nuggets (11-71)

Winning percentage: .134

In the 80s and 90s, the Denver Nuggets with Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe was one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the loaded Western Conference. However, after these two players left the team, things soon changed.

While they had some bad seasons during that period, the 1997-1998 season was the worst one in franchise history.

The Nuggets started the season with only two wins after 30 games and managed to lose 12 consecutive games on more than three separate occasions during the season. The worst one was a 23-game losing streak that happened from early December to late January.

They also did not manage to win a single game against teams who finished the season with at least 47 wins.

Even worse than the infamous record is that the Nuggets failed to capitalize on the fact that they had the 3rd overall pick in the following NBA draft.

Instead of choosing franchise players like Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, or Paul Pierce, the Nuggets choose Raef LaFrentz.

This mistake cost them another six seasons, which is how long it took to become an over .500-win team.

4. Worst NBA Teams in History: 1947-48 Providence Steamrollers (6-42)

Winning percentage: .125

Not many people remember that Providence Steamrollers were an NBA team, and maybe it is better that way as the team holds the 4th worst record in NBA history.

Due to bad players and an even worse front office, the 1947-1948 Steamrollers were perfectly awful.

They won only six of their 48 games. The team struggled on both ends of the floor as they couldn’t stop opponents from scoring and they were also having trouble putting the ball into the basket.

After running out of ideas on how to improve their play, the Steamrollers coach Nat Hickey even came out of retirement and played a few games to try and improve the team’s record but to no avail.

The team changed ownership after this season, but they managed to play only one more season in the NBA before stepping out of the league.

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

Winning percentage: .122

When a 13-game losing streak isn’t even your worst losing streak of the season, you know how bad things are going. This is exactly how awful the 2015-2016 Philadelphia 76ers were.

To be fair, the main reason why the 76ers were so bad during this period is tanking.

The front office decided not to try and improve the team so that they could get the best possible draft selection in the next NBA draft.

They traded their ROY Michael Carter-Williams for first-draft picks as they waited for Joel Embiid to come back from an injury.

The team started the season with zero wins in their first 18 games and continued to struggle all season long. In the end, they achieved what they wanted and got a chance to draft Ben Simmons as the 1st overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft.

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

Winning percentage: 0.110

Just six years after winning an NBA championship, the 1972-1973 Philadelphia 76ers finished as by far the worst team in the league.

This was mostly due to their Hall of Fame Coach Jack Ramsey leaving the team and their All-Star player Archie Clark being traded a year before.

During this season the 76ers were ranked last in both field goal percentage and opponent field gold percentage, two of the most important stats in basketball. So, it is easy to see how they managed to compile one of the worst campaigns the NBA has ever seen.

The 76ers were bad from the get-go and didn’t manage to record a single win in their first 15 games.

If we consider that at one point in the season the team had only 4fourwins and 54 losses, we can safely say that they managed to pick up their game in the last part of the season and avoided being the worst team in the NBA history for a hair.

1. The Worst NBA Team Ever: 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats (7-59)

Winning percentage: .106

With a 7-59 record, the title of the worst NBA team in history goes to the 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats.

If we look at the Bobcat’s roster from this season, it is easy to understand why they had trouble winning games.

Without a true scorer on the team, they finished as the last team in the NBA in terms of offensive ranking.

It could be said that they were lucky as they lost the last 23 games of the season but managed to keep their losing total at 59 games thanks to the fact that it was a shortened season.

In the end, they were 23 games behind the next worse team in the league.

However, they were not so fortunate when it came to the Draft lottery as they only managed to get the 2nd pick. Their front office managed to make it even worse by passing on Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal to select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who did not turn out to be a franchise player.

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