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    Since the NBA’s inception in 1947, it’s had losers. In any competition, some become the best, and others wilt away. Who owns the Association’s shameful tag passes on through generations, but some teams rot long enough for the stench of futility to stick. Those franchises are the worst the NBA has to its name.

    If you’re a fan of one of these teams, please let me be the first to offer my sincerest condolences. Sports fandom is cruel, and it has bestowed upon you something even more unusual. Let this article be a cathartic expression of your anguish. Don’t run from your problems – approach them, steadfast and head-on, to achieve a true, meaningful peace with the natural and unbreakable order of things, which is that your team sucks. Haha.

    All records as of April 10, 2023.

    The NBA’s Worst Franchises: A Trail of Woe

    5: New Orleans Pelicans

    NBA championships: 0

    NBA Finals appearances: 0

    All-time record: 782-904 (.464)

    Playoff appearances: 8

    All-time playoff record: 22-33 (.400)

    Notable players: Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, David West

    Originally the New Orleans Hornets when founded in 2002, this organization has had 20 years to do something and hasn’t done much. Like every other franchise unfortunate enough to feature here, the Pelicans have never been to the NBA Finals, let alone won an NBA championship. This franchise has just two series victories under its belt, never advanced beyond the second round, and has not yet broken the 50-win mark in a regular season.

    Given the team’s relative youth, it avoids a fate worse than fifth. But two decades should be long enough to catch lightning in a bottle at least once. You have to be one of the worst franchises in the NBA with that track record.

    4: Memphis Grizzlies

    NBA championships: 0

    NBA Finals appearances: 0

    All-time record: 971-1,258 (.436)

    Playoff appearances: 13

    All-time playoff record: 36-56 (.391)

    Notable players: Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph

    In 2023, the Grizzlies are making their 13th-ever NBA playoff appearance and look like a contender to crown themselves kings of the West for their first NBA Finals trip in history. There’s still plenty of work to be done before that becomes a reality, though, and Memphis fans are well-acquainted with the concept of their team letting them down.

    Before failing to reach the postseason in each of its first eight NBA seasons and failing to win a single playoff game – let alone series – in its introductory 15 campaigns, the franchise failed in Vancouver. The Grizzlies did finally win their initial series in 2011 in a massive first-round upset over the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs, one of four times they’ve ever reached the second round. In 2013, Memphis survived until the Western Conference Finals, the furthest it has ever played into the playoffs.

    But when the Grizzlies have been bad, they’ve been putrid. The franchise has won fewer than 30 games 12 times in its 29 seasons of history. While still in Vancouver, the Grizzlies produced one of the worst NBA regular seasons ever, posting a .160-win percentage via an 8-42 record in 1998-99.

    3: Charlotte Hornets

    NBA championships: 0

    NBA Finals appearances: 0

    All-time record: 1,153-1,478 (.438)

    Playoff appearances: 10

    All-time playoff record: 23-40 (.365)

    Notable players: Kemba Walker, Alonzo Mourning, Muggsy Bogues

    The Hornets have been around since the Reagan administration and still have only been to the playoffs 10 times, and most of those happened 25 years ago.

    First, they were the Hornets, then they were nothing, then they were the Bobcats, and then they were the Hornets again. The NBA in Charlotte carries a complicated chronology, with the original franchise leaving for New Orleans in 2002, before a reboot arrived two years later that adopted the history of the initial iteration. That means this franchise has technically undergone two expansion experiences – this is not a recipe for success.

    Charlotte boasts the longest active playoff drought in the NBA, last appearing in the postseason in 2016. Since the sequel started in 2004, the franchise has not won a playoff series. That’s two decades without a single second-round showing. In all, Charlotte has triumphed in four postseason series and never advanced to the Conference Finals.

    There is very little here to be excited about. The Hornets are unquestionably among the worst franchises the NBA has to offer.

    2: Los Angeles Clippers

    NBA championships: 0

    NBA Finals appearances: 0

    All-time record: 1,792-2,486 (.419)

    Playoff appearances: 16

    All-time playoff record: 63-79 (.444)

    Notable players: Blake Griffin, Bob McAdoo, Elton Brand

    Recent times have been the greatest in this franchise’s history, with the Clippers reaching their first Conference Finals in 2021 and qualifying for most of the last decade’s postseasons. But it doesn’t make up for the years and years of ineptitude, nor does it equate to rings.

    This franchise’s starter home was in Upstate New York. From 1970 until 1978, the team played in Buffalo as the Braves, missing the playoffs five times and advancing beyond the first round of the playoffs once in 1976. After that failure, the franchise uprooted for San Diego, adopting the Clippers moniker in California. The Clippers went 186-306 while there and dipped for Los Angeles in 1984. It wasn’t until 2006 that the franchise won its first playoff series since the one in Buffalo 30 years prior.

    Now, as the Clippers have mandated themselves a postseason regular for the better part of 10 years, their outlook has shifted from listless to ringless as the emphasis moved from overall incompetence to playoff failures. This franchise has figured out the regular season, but it’s yet to master what comes next. With zero NBA Finals and zero NBA titles in more than 50 years of operation, this franchise is one of the league’s worst.

    1: Minnesota Timberwolves

    NBA championships: 0

    NBA Finals appearances: 0

    All-time record: 1,091-1,621 (.402)

    Playoff appearances: 10

    All-time playoff record: 20-38 (.345)

    Notable players: Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Karl-Anthony Towns

    The Timberwolves have existed since the 1989-90 season but have only won two playoff series in their entire history. If you crop out the 2003-04 campaign in which Kevin Garnett won MVP and led Minnesota to 58 regular season wins and the Western Conference Finals, the Timberwolves are left with virtually nothing else to celebrate.

    In all, Minnesota has been to the playoffs 10 times in its 34 years. The Timberwolves have the worst all-time winning percentage among all active NBA franchises and the fewest all-time playoff victories at 20 – even teams with decades less of experience have wrangled together more than that. The Twin Cities have witnessed a truly appalling performance.

    It’s been nearly 20 years since the Timberwolves won a playoff series or so much as entertained the possibility of winning a championship. I’m sorry, Minnesota, but you’re home to the worst franchise in the NBA.

    Dishonorable Mentions: Denver Nuggets, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers

    The Nuggets are the only other franchise in the Association to have never reached the NBA Finals. Denver has had since the mid-70s to make it happen and still are yet to get that close to a championship. In all, the franchise has reached the Conference Finals four times (1978, 1985, 2009, and 2020) and made the playoffs in 27 seasons. That’s enough to avoid being a bottom-five worst franchise in the NBA but not enough to escape a dishonorable mention.

    While in New York in the 1970s, the Nets nabbed two ABA championships and played in another ABA Finals, but those don’t factor into the equation here. Since transitioning to the NBA in 1976, this franchise has not won a title and appeared in the NBA Finals just twice: back-to-back in 2002 and 2003. Outside of those two runs to the Finals, the Nets have triumphed in only six playoff series in their NBA history, and the franchise possesses one of the worst regular-season win percentages among active league members.

    The Pacers also enjoyed good success in the ABA, but the NBA has been a different beast. Indiana won two ABA championships and appeared in four ABA Finals, but it’s been to just one NBA Finals (2000) since merging into the Association in 1976. The Pacers have had a handful of great teams in the NBA, with eight runs to the Eastern Conference Finals, including five in seven years from 1994 through 2000, but have never elevated beyond. Pacers fans have had the privilege of watching more decent basketball than any other team in this article, but it’s yet to translate to championships.

    NBA FAQs

    How do you win NBA pick'em pool?

    In order to win an NBA Pick'Em pool, players must have the most points at the end of the season. For each correct pick during the regular season, members will receive one point (customizable based on the pool commissioner). Some pools will choose picks based on the spread or straight up.

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    What is an NBA Playoff Bracket Pool?

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