The 2013/2014 regular season is winding down and many fans are poised to enjoy the upcoming playoffs. One of the main themes of the season has been the imbalance between the Eastern and Western Conferences, with 9 out of the top 11 records being held by Western teams. Many observers have complained about the performances of Eastern Conference teams and have lamented that a Western Conference team with one of the best 11 records in the NBA will miss the playoffs. Given the imbalance in records, one would expect most of the disappointing teams to be in the East and the great stories to be in the West. While the playoff push of the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns have been refreshing, there have been a number of disappointing teams out West.
This article lists the five most disappointing NBA teams so far. Two of these teams play in the Western Conference and one of them will surely play in the playoffs. This list is subjective and it took into account the expectations surrounding these teams before the season started. The worst team in the NBA this season has been the Philadelphia 76ers, but most observers expected them to have the worst record in the NBA. Their over/under for wins this season was 16.5 and they are pretty much where the odds-makers expected them to be and, thus, are not on the list. Teams that have been accused of tanking or under any suspicion have also been omitted from this list as have teams that lost significant players for extended periods of time through injury. The records and statistics in this article are valid as of April 2nd, 2014.
5 Golden State Warriors
The most surprising and exciting team of the 2013 NBA playoffs had to be Golden State. The Warriors were last season's sixth seed and upset the Denver Nuggets in the first round in five games before narrowly losing to the San Antonio Spurs. Last season's playoffs showcased how exciting the team was and how good a player Stephen Curry had developed into. The following summer the Warriors signed Andre Iguodala and had David Lee return to full health after being injured in the playoffs. Most prognosticators believed the Warriors had a punchers chance to win the 2014 NBA title and at least expected them to challenge for the Western Conference championship.
4 Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves have one of the NBA's best players on their roster in Kevin Love. Love is averaging 26.0 PPG and 12.6 RPG this season. Yet the team is only 36-37 and has been virtually eliminated from playoff contention. This season actually is an improvement for the Timberwolves as they have not won more than 35 games since the 2004/2005 season when they won 44 games. Yet despite the All-Star play from Love and the addition of wing scorer Kevin Martin, the Timberwolves are destined to miss the playoffs again. Another reason the Timberwolves have been disappointing this year is they have actually been statistically good. They have the ninth best point differential in the league which is higher than the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns, which are the teams directly above them in the standings. Their coach is Rick Adelman who has made two NBA Finals appearances and has won over 1000 regular season games.
3 New York Knicks
The 2013 NBA season was a highly successful one for the New York Knicks. The Knicks posted a 54-28 record, won the Atlantic Division title and managed to win a playoff series for the first time since the 2000 NBA playoffs. After the season, several key veterans such as Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas left the team. Their key off-season move was trading for Andrea Bargnani. Most observers expected the Knicks to take a step back as other Eastern Conference teams such as the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers were expected to challenge the Miami Heat for a place in the NBA Finals. What nobody expected was the Knicks to be struggling to make the playoffs in a really weak Eastern Conference.
2 Cleveland Cavaliers
The 2013/2014 season was expected to be a positive one for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team had just landed the number one overall pick in the 2014 draft and selected Anthony Bennett. Bennett was expected to join a young core of high draft picks including Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and all-star guard Kyrie Irving. Some observers went so far as to say that if the the Cavaliers had a good season and showed promise, they could be a potential destination for LeBron James in free agency. Implicit in all these projections was the expectation of the Cavaliers making the playoffs.
1 Detroit Pistons
This season's most disappointing team has to be the Detroit Pistons. Before the NBA season started almost every pundit or analyst expected the Pistons to make the playoffs. Their was a feel good factor around the franchise with the hiring of new coach Maurice Cheeks and the acquisition of free agents Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. Coupled with the development of young big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, the Pistons would not have surprised anyone if they were the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The only positive thing to take out of this season is the play of second year center Drummond who has emerged as one of the leagues best young big men and is second in the league in rebounding with 12.8 RPG. Far from being the sixth seed, the Pistons currently lie in eleventh place with a record of 27-47. The team has had trouble stopping opponents from scoring at will, and allow the fourth most points per game this season. Their key off-season signings, Jennings and Smith, do not seem to enjoy sharing the ball and have been amongst the most disappointing players this season. Maurice Cheeks got fired after just 50 games. The Pistons are 5-18 since he was replaced and sunk to a new low when they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers on March 29th, a team that had lost its previous 26 games.
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