Top 5 Worst NBA Records of All Time

Teams have their good and bad times, but the teams listed have the worst NBA records the world of basketball has ever seen.

There are bad NBA teams. There are worse NBA teams with the worst NBA records. Then there are the 2011–12 Charlotte Bobcats. For nearly 40 years, the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers set the standard for National Basketball Association futility, waiting for the day when another team would rise—er, sink—and trump their 9-73 win-loss record. Finally, in the lockout-shortened 2011–12 season, the 7-59 Bobcats managed the feat, making them the worst of the worst in NBA history.

Here are the Top 5 Teams With the Worst NBA Records in the History of the NBA:

Tied for 5th: 2009-10 New Jersey Nets (12-70)

New Jersey Nets set one of the worst MBA records in the 2009-10 season

Troy Record

The 2009-10 Nets set the bar low for season-opening futility, starting off the year with an NBA record of 0-for-18. This made this NBA season one of the worst for the Nets.

On the other hand, they managed to win an even dozen games by season’s end despite only four victories in the first 52 games—a mark even worse than the 76ers in 1973. At least the Nets’ best player, center Brook Lopez, proved he was a cornerstone for the future, offering something most of the other teams on the list didn’t have: hope.

In the 2009–10 season, the New Jersey Nets were the lowest-scoring team in the NBA, averaging 90 points per game. During the same season, the Nets were regarded as the team with the most terrible shooting record. The team hit less than 50% of their shots and only 28% of their three-point shots.

After losing to the Detroit Pistons on February 6, 2010, the Nets tied the record for the worst 50-game record in the history of the three major sports (NBA, MLB, and NHL) with seasons that long.

The New Jersey Nets changed their name in 2012. The team is now known as the Brooklyn Nets.

Tied for 5th: 1986-1987 Los Angeles Clippers (12-70)

Clips Nation

With a miserable 12-70 record, the Clippers managed to carve their name in the annals of NBA anguish, displaying a level of ineptitude that rivaled even the most hopeless franchises. The 1986–87 Los Angeles Clippers season was a masterclass in basketball misfortune, setting a standard for on-court struggles rarely matched in NBA history.

The Clippers’ season began with a string of losses that only got worse as the season went on. The team was so bad that they finished the season with a win total in the single digits for an uncomfortable amount of time. This was a team that never seemed to be in sync, whether it was because of injuries, internal strife, or a lack of players capable of competing in the NBA.

Not many struggling teams could point to a rising star or an aging captain who offered a glimmer of hope; the Clippers lacked a marquee player who could turn a game around or spur teammates to improve their play. Their top scorers, Mike Woodson and Marques Johnson, were respectable players in their own right, but neither had the ability to turn the tide of a game or inspire teammates to elevate their play.

While the Clippers’ offense was an exercise in inefficiency, with poor shot selection and a lack of cohesiveness that made scoring runs rare, the team’s defense was a sieve, often enabling opponents to rack up scores that transformed games into blowouts.

Tied for 4th: 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks (11-71)

Dallas Mavericks during a game in one of their worst NBA seasons yet (1992-93)

Dallas News

Like the ’97-98 Nuggets, the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks managed a measly 11-71 record. And like the Nuggets, the season was a disaster from the start. One star got suspended by the NBA for drug abuse; another got hurt and was never the same. The best player got traded, and the first-round pick hardly played.

Also, the Dallas Mavericks had an average of -15.2 points per game, making them have one of the worst average point differentials in the history of the NBA.

All of these problems added up to a start that would even have the ’73 Sixers shaking their heads: four wins in the first 61 games.

Tied for 4th: 1997-98 Denver Nuggets (11-71)

The 1997-98 season for the Denver Nuggets set one of the worst NBA records

It was a close call for the Denver Nuggets. Just two wins saved them from having one of the worst NBA seasons.

What do bad teams have in common? Firing the coach and, apparently, 23-game losing streaks. The 1997-98 Denver squad managed to reach 11 wins, but it wasn’t enough to save Bill Hanzlik’s job after his squad posted losses for nearly a quarter of the season in a row. The Nuggets went into the season thinking they had a young team full of potential, but as it turned out, that statement was only half right. And not the good half.

The 1997-98 season was the Nuggets 22nd Season in the NBA, and the team was believed to have a lot of potentials after they reached the Western Conference Finals against the Utah Jazz in the 1993-94 season. However, there were indications of the team’s faltering state when in the 1995-96 season, the Nuggets only recorded 21 wins and 61 losses. The 1997-98 season confirmed the state of the team after newly acquired player, Eric Williams, suffered a knee injury that ruled him out of the season.

Willams was Denver Nuggets’ lead scorer with 19.2 PPG despite playing only 4 games. The team continued its terrible run in the subsequent season until the 2003 draft when the team got Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony was a major part of team’s turnaround after they finished the previous season with a 17-65 record. In the 2003-04 season, they finished 43-39 overall record.

3. 2015-2016 Philadelphia 76ers (10-72)

Pounding the Rock

The 2015–2016 Philadelphia 76ers campaign was a journey through the NBA wilderness, marked by a record that echoed the struggles of some of the league’s most historically challenged teams. Finishing with a 10-72 record, the 76ers not only cemented themselves into the annals of basketball ignominy but also became a symbol of a franchise mired in a controversial rebuilding process famously dubbed “The Process.”

This season was the culmination of a multi-year strategy focused on accumulating draft picks and developing young talent, often at the expense of immediate on-court success. The result was a team laden with potential but lacking in experience and cohesion. The Sixers were often outmatched, leading to a streak of losses that would stretch agonizingly over weeks and months.

Philadelphia’s roster was a mix of raw, untested rookies and journeymen. Jahlil Okafor, the third overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, was one of the few bright spots, showcasing his scoring prowess in the post. However, Okafor’s individual success did little to lift the team’s overall performance. Injuries also played a role, with promising big man Joel Embiid missing the entire season due to a foot injury, depriving the team of a potentially impactful player.

On the court, the Sixers struggled on both ends. They frequently struggled to score more than 100 points offensively because of turnovers and ineffective shooting. Defensively, the team lacked the necessary discipline and experience, frequently giving up easy baskets to opponents. The lack of veteran leadership was evident as the young team struggled to close out games, often succumbing to pressure in critical moments.

The 2015–2016 season was not just a trial by fire for the players but also for the fans, who endured a level of ineptitude that tested the patience and loyalty of even the most ardent supporters. Despite the difficulties, some people viewed the season as a necessary evil—a stepping stone toward creating a successful and long-lasting team in the future.

In retrospect, the 2015-2016 Philadelphia 76ers’ record stands as a stark reminder of the risks and challenges of a full-scale rebuild in the NBA. It was a season that pushed the boundaries of strategic team-building and forced the league to reconsider the implications of a franchise’s prolonged dive to the bottom.

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

Billy Cunningham of the Philadelphia 76ers in one of the team's worst NBA seasons

FOX Sports

The 1972-73 Philadelphia squad remains the only team to manage a single-digit win total over the course of a full NBA season. That season is the worst in the team’s history, followed closely by the 2015-2016 season when the team recorded 72 losses.

It was this 1972-73 season that earned the team the nickname “Nine and 73-ers.” The 76ers nine wins are said to be the fourth lowest win recorded in NBA history, preceded by the Providence Steamrollers in 1947-48, the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2011-12 season and the Vancouver Grizzlies with 6 wins, 7 wins and 8 wins respectively.

Unlike the Bobcats, though, the Sixers finished hot— or at least lukewarm— winning five of their last 31 games after winning only four of their first 51.

If the Bobcats’ best player was in the owner’s box, the Sixers took the opposite tack there too: the Sixers turned one of their players, Kevin Loughery, into the head coach before season’s end.

1. 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats (7-59)

The Bobcats 2011-12 season was one of the worst NBA records

At the Hive

When the best player on the team is the owner, retired all-world star Michael Jordan, you know it’s going to be a long season. Even though the season was a labor strike-shortened 66-game season for the 2011-12 Bobcats, it was still a long, long season.

Even with a lack of talent on the roster, Charlotte had a chance to avoid making a history of the wrong kind, but they lost their last 23 games to edge the ’73 Sixers with a .106 winning percentage, worst in NBA history.

The Charlotte Bobcats, which later changed their name back to the Charlotte Hornets, had one of the worst NBA records in the 2011-2012 season. The best player on the team during the 2011-2012 season was Gerald Henderson, who averaged 15.1 points per game. It was one of his best seasons ever.

Even “His Airness” felt the heat of the terrible NBA season the club had. During the final minutes of the Bobcats final game of the season, Micheal Jordan’s image was shown on the Jumbotron. The home crowd booed at the greatest NBA player of all time, whose worst NBA season was probably better than his team’s 2011-2012 season.

The team had 7 wins and 59 losses. The Charlotte Bobcats only beat the Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic, New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks.

Could the Detroit Pistons of 2024 take over the top spot for the worst record?  Only time will tell, but at the time of this article update, the Pistons record in 4-36.

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top 5 worst nba records of all time