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John Schuhmann

Kemba Walker has been one of the few bright spots in a dismal season in Charlotte.
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Floundering Bobcats scrapping to avoid ultimate NBA infamy

Posted Apr 19 2012 11:42AM

The Charlotte Bobcats are clearly not very good. But historically bad?

They are the worst team by far this season, registering only seven victories through 61 games. Every other team has more than double that, and half of the league's 30 teams had more than seven wins a full three months ago, when the season was just 25 days old.

The Bobcats aren't going to set the record for fewest wins in NBA history, a mark that belongs to the 1947-48 Providence Steamrollers, who went 6-42 in the league's second season (when it was still known as the Basketball Association of America). So the Bobcats have that going for them.

But they are in danger of setting the record for the lowest winning percentage in league history.

Paltry percentages
The worst winning percentages in NBA history
Team Season G W L PCT
Philadelphia 1972-73 82 9 73 0.110
Charlotte 2011-12 61 7 54 0.115
Providence 1947-48 48 6 42 0.125
Dallas 1992-93 82 11 71 0.134
Denver 1997-98 82 11 71 0.134
L.A. Clippers 1986-87 82 12 70 0.146
New Jersey 2009-10 82 12 70 0.146
Atlanta 2004-05 82 13 69 0.159
Dallas 1993-94 82 13 69 0.159
Vancouver 1998-99 50 8 42 0.160

With five games left, the Bobcats need one win to avoid finishing with the worst record ever. If they lose out (finishing the season on a 23-game losing streak), they'll surpass the '72-73 Sixers with a winning percentage of just 0.106.

The pressure is on, but one win is all it takes to avoid making history. A 8-58 (0.121) finish is better than a 9-73 (0.110) one, so if the Bobcats can just beat the Grizzlies, Kings, Wizards, Magic or Knicks, they'll leave the '72-73 Sixers in their place as the Worst Team Ever.

Doubly bad

When it comes to bad teams, some can't score (see Raptors, Toronto) and some can't defend (see Warriors, Golden State). The Bobcats can't do either. They're the league's worst offensive team and the league's worst defensive team, a double-dip that has been accomplished only two other times in the last 35 years.

The league started tracking turnovers in 1977. Since then, only two teams have finished last in both offensive and defensive efficiency: The '86-87 Clippers and the '92-93 Mavericks.

The league had only 23 teams in '86-87 and 27 in '92-93, so the Bobcats will be the first and only members of the NBA's 30/30 Club ... unless they can shut down two or three of their final five opponents (they're more likely to catch the Kings in defensive efficiency than the Wizards in offensive efficiency).

Bad players + bad shots = really bad offense

They rank last on both ends, but the Bobcats are worse offensively, scoring 9.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than the league average. That makes them the eighth-worst offensive team of the last 35 years.

No 'O'
Worst offenses since 1977-78
Season Team W L PCT OffRtg League Diff.
2002-03 Denver 17 65 0.207 88.9 100.7 -11.8
1987-88 L.A. Clippers 17 65 0.207 94.8 105.0 -10.2
1999-00 Chicago 17 65 0.207 91.2 101.2 -10.1
1988-89 Miami 15 67 0.183 94.7 104.6 -9.8
1995-96 Vancouver 15 67 0.183 95.0 104.7 -9.8
1998-99 Chicago 13 37 0.260 89.8 99.2 -9.4
1997-98 Golden State 19 63 0.232 92.7 102.0 -9.3
2011-12 Charlotte 7 54 0.115 92.7 101.9 -9.2
1992-93 Dallas 11 71 0.134 96.6 105.3 -8.7
1989-90 Miami 18 64 0.220 96.4 105.0 -8.6
Biggest differential in offenisve efficiency between team and league avg.
OffRtg=Points scored per 100 possessions

The Bobcats are about average in taking care of the ball and getting to the free throw line. But they rank 27th in offensive rebounding percentage and are, by far, the worst shooting team in the league, ranking dead last in both 2-point and 3-point percentage. The last team to rank last in both was the 2002-03 Nuggets. (Their prize in the 2003 Draft? Carmelo Anthony.)

The Bobcats are obviously lacking talent. Their leading scorer is Corey Maggette. But they also take the wrong kinds of shots.

The least efficient shots are those taken from mid-range, between the paint and the 3-point line. And the Bobcats take 39.7 percent of their shots from that area, a rate which leads the league.

Further, we all know by now that corner 3-pointers (made at a 37.5 percent clip this season) are much better shots than threes taken from other spots on the floor (33.9 percent). But the Bobcats take only 15.2 percent of their threes from the corner, the lowest rate in the league by far. The league average is 27 percent.

They parted ways with Boris Diaw, who attempted only two of his 86 threes from the corner, but rookie Kemba Walker's three selection is almost as bad. Only 13 of Walkers 206 threes (6.3 percent) have come from the corners.

Bad offense + bad defense = bad differential

Defensively, the Bobcats are allowing 5.9 more points per 100 possessions than the league average, which makes them the 18th-worst defensive team of the last 35 years. The last team that was worse was the 2008-09 Kings, who allowed 6.4 points per 100 possessions more than the league average.

When you're bad both offensively and defensively, you have an ugly point differential. The Bobcats are getting outscored by 15.1 points per 100 possessions, which is twice as bad as the next worst team in the league, Washington at minus-7.5. And since '77, only one team has been worse on a per-possession basis.

Point gap
Worst point differential since 1977-78
Season Team W L PCT OffRtg RK DefRtg RK NetRtg
1992-93 Dallas 11 71 0.134 96.6 27 112.9 27 -16.3
2011-12 Charlotte 7 54 0.115 92.7 30 107.8 30 -15.1
1997-98 Denver 11 71 0.134 95.7 28 109.1 28 -13.4
1999-00 L.A. Clippers 15 67 0.183 95.2 28 107.3 29 -12.2
1982-83 Houston 14 68 0.171 94.0 23 105.8 19 -11.8
2005-06 Portland 21 61 0.256 97.9 30 109.4 28 -11.5
1996-97 Vancouver 14 68 0.171 97.6 29 108.9 28 -11.3
1988-89 Miami 15 67 0.183 94.7 25 106.0 18 -11.2
1999-00 Chicago 17 65 0.207 91.2 29 102.3 17 -11.1
1986-87 L.A. Clippers 12 70 0.146 98.5 23 109.1 23 -10.7
OffRtg=Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg=Points allowed per 100 possessions

With five games left, the Bobcats are entrenched in that second-worst spot. So even if they lose out and finish with the worst winning percentage in NBA history, they can make the argument that they were better than the '92-93 Mavs on a per-possession basis.

All it takes is one

If the Bobcats want to avoid infamy, they have to win one more game.

They seemingly have two decent chances to do that. On Sunday, they host the Kings, who have won just three of their last 16 games. And on Monday, they visit the 16-46 Wizards.

But Washington has played better with Nene, who returned from a 10-game absence in Wednesday's win over the Bucks. And even though the Kings have been outscored by more than 11 points per 100 possessions in April, the Bobcats are on a whole 'nother level of futility.

To win that game, to finish the season with a little pride, and to avoid being known as the worst team ever, Charlotte will need to show us something that's been missing for the last month.

No pressure. It's just NBA history on the line.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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