As of this writing the Charlotte Bobcats have a record of 7-53, which works out to a meager winning percentage of .117. (And a more impressive losing percentage of .883.) Should they lose the rest of their games – a not inconceivable prospect – their success rate would be .106.
Does this abysmal performance qualify the 2011-12 Bobcats as the worst team in the history of the NBA?
Only the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers compiled a lower winning percentage: .110 to go with an infamous record of 9-73. So, then, the focus here is to compare the respective rosters of the six NBA teams that sported winning percentages of .160 or less with the Bobcats.
First, the Bobcats:
With three seasons of tallying twenty-plus points on his resume, Corey Maggette is the only proven scorer. However, he plays phantom defense and only has eyes for the basket.
Gerald Henderson has taken advantage of the quantum jump in his playing time to demonstrate his potential as a big-league point-maker. Even so, he remains a diver-slasher who lacks shooting range.
Kemba Walker is having a moderately successful rookie season and may have a moderately successful future.
DJ Augustine is a smallish point guard who has trouble finishing but can plug uncontested treys at a satisfactory rate. His true role is as a backup.
Byron Mullens is a jump-shooting, no-passing, impotent-rebounding seven-footer who should be the fifth-man in a four-man frontcourt rotation.
Reggie Williams is a D-League All-Star.
Derrick Brown is a big man with no outstanding skills, but who always works hard.
DJ White can run and board, and is a career tenth-man.
Bismack Biyombo has raw center-skills that include rebounding, shot-blocking, and dunking. Too bad he's only 6-8 and is a long-term (very long) project.
Tyrus Thomas's brilliant talents are compromised by his dull basketball IQ and his poor work ethic.
Cory Higgins is another D-League player.
Matt Carroll is a veteran three-ball specialist who would be best-served as a utility player on a smart team.
DeSagana Diop can play defense but not without fouling. He's a useful third-string center.
Eduardo Najera once was a valuable banger with three-point range, but injuries have made him more valuable in the locker room than on the court.
All together, this team can't shoot from either near or far; attack the offensive glass with more fervor than they protect their defensive glass; and are incapable of playing sustained defense. No surprise, then, that Charlotte is currently engaged in a 17-game losing streak.
1998-99 VANCOUVER GRIZZLIES, 8-42 .160
In this lockout-shortened season, there were three past-present-and future legitimate players on the squad:
Shareef Abdur-Rahim's 23.0 points per game ranked him fourth among the league's leading scorers. Of course, A-R only shot .432 and hoisted 289 more shots than any of his teammates.
Mike Bibby was a rookie, scoring 13.2 ppg but only converting on 20.3 percent of his treys.
Tony Massenburg played in 43 games while battling various injuries that soon ended his career. Even so, his 11.2 ppg represented his best season ever.
Otherwise, Bryant Reeves lumbered up and down the court for 28 games, and Pete Chilcutt was a career sub. Rounding out those who played in a significant number of games, Michael Smith, DeJaun Wheat, and Rodrick Rhodes are imminently forgettable.
PROJECTED OUTCOME: Charlotte goes to the limit and wins a seven-game series.
1993-94 DALLAS MAVERICKS, 13-69 .159
Jim Jackson and rookie Jamal Mashburn both scored 19.2 ppg and were dynamic wing-men.
Sean Rooks (11.4) was a capable scorer in the middle who was hampered by lingering injuries.
Marginally useful bench players included the thick-bodied but undersized Randy White; Popeye Jones (now an assistant coach with the Nets), who specialized in having his scoring mojo ready at the get-go while his teammates were still getting loose; and Lucious Harris, who later became a steady, if underrated player with the Nets.
Elsewhere, this edition of the Mavs didn't field much of a supporting cast.
Tim Legler was a terrific one-on-none shooter, but is a much better analyst than he was a player. Derek Harper was on his last legs. If Tony Campbell had been forced to eat only with his left hand he would have starved to death. Fat Lever was at the end of the line. Donald Hodge and Greg Dreiling were non-entities.
PROJECTED OUTCOME: Dallas in six games.
2004-05 ATLANTA HAWKS, 13-69 .159
Antoine Walker hadn't developed his shimmy yet still put up 20.4 ppg, and was abetted by Al Harrington's 17.5 ppg. The otherwise capable Tony Delk was plagued by injuries. Josh Childress was a high-flying rookie (10.1 ppg), and another rookie, Josh Smith, averaged 9.7 but soared even higher.
Two more strangers in paradise were both mostly bench-bound – Boris Diaw and Royal Ivey. The ghost of Kenny Anderson still wore a uniform, while only hardcore NBA-watchers can recall the names and games of Predraj Drobnjak and Jason Collier.
PROJECTED OUTCOME: Atlanta in five games.
1997-98 DENVER NUGGETS, 11-71 .134
The two featured players were Johnny Newman, a steady scorer throughout his career, whose 14.7 ppg represented the last of his nine seasons in which he tallied double-figures. The long, leansome LaPhonso Ellis had put up 21.9 ppg for the Hawks in the previous season and was heralded as a future franchise player, but his body was breaking down, he scored a disappointing 14.3 ppg, and was destined to play in the fragments of only two more NBA campaigns.
Danny Fortson (10.2) was an undersized power player, whose active career lasted 10 years. Anthony Goldwire (currently an assistant coach with Milwaukee) was quick, and, then as now, rookie Tony Battie was a 6-11 big man who played small.
Non-noteworthy bench fodder included Bryant Stith, Dean Garrett, Harold Ellis, plus Joe Wolf, who is now an assistant coach with Milwaukee, and one guy who should be remembered only because of his name – Priest Lauderdale.
PROJECTED OUTCOME: Denver in six games.
1992-93 DALLAS MAVERICKS, 11-71 .134
Derek Harper (18.2) and Jim Jackson (16.3) were solid. Sean Rooks (13.5) and Terry Davis (12.7) were more than adequate. Doug Smith (12.7) was a career underachiever.
The rest of the roster was a collection of never-weres: Mike Iuzzolino, Walter Bond, Tracy Moore, Dexter Cambridge, Brian Howard, Morlon Wiley, and Donald Hodge.
This most woeful edition of the Mavs finished last in league defense (allowing 114.5 ppg), and twenty-seventh in offense (99.3).
PROJECTED OUTCOME: Dallas in six games.
1986-87 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS, 12-70 .146
The often lackadaisical Benoit Benjamin (11.5 ppg) and the lefty slants of Michael Cage (15.7) formed an above-average front-line – especially considering that the former swatted 2.6 shots per game (fourth-best in the league), while the latter's 11.5 rebounds per ranked sixth.
Darnell Valentine was the proud possessor of a CBA championship ring, and scored 11.2 ppg off LAC's bench. The pre-drugged (and pre-CBA star) Quintin Dailey contributed 10.6 ppg.
Lancaster Gordon was virtually useless, Tim Kempton was a mostly immobile big man, while Earl Cureton is best remembered for his nickname – The Twirl.
Still, the Clippers had more brains than talent since two key players went on to coach in the NBA (Mike Woodson, 17.1) and Larry Drew (12.4). Moreover, Rory White (11.7) eventually coached in several minor leagues.
PROJECTED OUTCOME: LA in five games.
1972-73 PHILADELPHIA 76ERS, 9-73 .110
After general manager Don DeJardin engineered a series of disastrous trades that sent John Block and Bill Bridges elsewhere, Philly had only two bonafide NBA players: Fred “Mad Dog” Carter (20.0 ppg), and, for the last thirty games, Tom Van Ardsdale (17.3).
Otherwise, Kevin Loughery limped around on a lame leg (13.7) and retired to replace Roy Rubin at the command seat. Hal Greer was a future Hall-of-Famer who had run out of gas. Measuring 6-11 and only 210 pounds, LeRoy Ellis was a runner and jump shooter. Manny Leaks was a game but undersized center. Freddie Boyd was a rookie, whose 10.5 ppg marked the most lofty achievement of his career.
Donnie May had scored an admirable 20.2 ppg for the expansionist 1970-71 Buffalo Braves, but his lack of speed and athleticism proved costly when he played for more established teams that opponents took more seriously. Indeed, May never registered more than 7.9 ppg for the duration of his seven-year tenure in the NBA.
The reigning chumps had the lowest-ranked defense (116.2) and third-worst offense (104.1).
PROJECTED OUTCOME: This imaginary series would not be decided until the third overtime of the seventh game. And the winner is… The Bobkittens, but only should they manage to win one more game this year.