With the NBA regular season coming to a close, 14 fan bases will see their favorite team’s season end. Some of these fanbases will be happy with the way the season went while others will be crushed with disappointment. With that in mind, I decided to rank all of the teams by order of the misery of their fan bases.
Two criteria were considered for these rankings: expectations coming into the season and direction of the franchise. If the latter were the only criterion, the Brooklyn Nets might be first, but no one had high expectations for the Nets coming into the season. Part 1 and Part 2 have already been covered. We continue with teams 6-3 in Part 3.
6. New Orleans Pelicans
Positives: Anthony Davis may have been hurt and ineffective enough to not invoke the Derrick Rose rule in his contract, and that could save the team $24 million. Seriously, that’s all I got.
Negatives: The whole team, including Davis, was hurt, Alvin Gentry didn’t have a great first year, Omer Asik looks like a sunk cost already, there’s still only one player on the team who is a certain part of the future
Best Moment: Anthony Davis was unstoppable against the Detroit Pistons on February 29th, pouring in 59 points and reminding everyone how dominant he could be.
Worst Moment: Russell Westbrook went off for 43 points against the Pelicans on November 18th to give the Oklahoma City Thunder the victory and drop New Orleans to 1-11. The playoffs were already a long shot after 12 games.
New Orleans was a total disaster this year. Looking to build on the team’s playoff bid last year, the Pelicans were done in by injuries within the first month of the year. In fact, in the season opener, a team with real playoff aspirations started Nate Robinson and Kendrick Perkins!
It’d be easier to put New Orleans higher on this list given the expectations to start the year, but the team still has Anthony Davis moving forward. Granted, his health issues are starting to be concerning, but he still has the potential to be one of the best players in the league.
5. Sacramento Kings
Positives: Vlade Divac has had the sense not to trade DeMarcus Cousins for pennies on the dollar, Willie Cauley-Stein has shown flashes of being a good player in his rookie year, Omri Casspi has been a steal on his contract
Negatives: The front office still looks like it doesn’t know what it’s doing, and Divac was extended, Cousins and George Karl took passive-aggressive shots at each other all year, the team made win-now moves and missed the playoffs.
Best Moment: Cousins dropped 48 points on the Indiana Pacers on January 23rd, moving the Kings win streak to five.
Worst Moment: Divac made a colossal mistake in trading a future first-round pick and swap rights with Philadelphia to clear salary cap space. The rumor was that Sacramento did this to open up space for Wesley Matthews, who then signed with the Dallas Mavericks.
Sacramento had another terrible season and doesn’t have a clear avenue forward to success. The team does have Cousins for two more years, but management hasn’t shown it can be trusted to put a real team around him.
The Kings would be higher, except no one outside of Sacramento saw them as a playoff favorite. Most thought the team would be better, but all of the team’s above Sacramento had more realistic playoff hopes.
4. Phoenix SunsPositives: Devin Booker looks like a lock to outperform his draft position, Mirza Teletovic was solid.
Negatives: Eric Bledsoe tore his meniscus, Brandon Knight was injured a lot as well, Tyson Chandler looks like a disaster, the Markieff Morris saga happened.
Best Moment: The Suns scored a big road win against the Toronto Raptors on November 29th to move to 8-9 and were still very much in the playoff race.
Worst Moment: Bledsoe’s injury sent this team into a tailspin, and Phoenix reached its low point by dropping a game to the Brooklyn Nets on February 25th. It was the team’s 19th loss in 20 games.
Once upon a time, Phoenix was a team several people picked to make the playoffs. Instead, the Suns will finish the year with the third or fourth worst record in the league.
Injuries were a huge issue, and the Tyson Chandler signing hasn’t worked out at all. Phoenix has some major question marks moving forward, and, unless it moves up in the lottery, will likely not be a playoff contender once again in 2016-17. For a team that seemed on the rise just two years ago, it was a miserable year for the Phoenix Suns.
3. Washington Wizards
Positives: John Wall rebounded from a slow start to have another good year.
Negatives: Bradley Beal couldn’t stay healthy again, the team’s switch to an uptempo pace backfired, Otto Porter didn’t take the projected leap forward.
Best Moment: The team got back to .500 and back in the playoff hunt with an 117-102 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on March 21st.
Worst Moment: A little over a week later, the playoffs seemed like a long shot. The Wizards lost to the Kings on Marc 30th for their fourth loss in five games.
Washington was supposed to be a dark horse contender in the Eastern Conference. Wall is great, Beal would finally be healthy, and Porter would build on his solid playoff performance in 2015.
That didn’t happen, as the team took a huge step backward. This summer was supposed to be about Washington courting Kevin Durant, but the Wizards may have blown their chances with a terrible year.