We're not quite a quarter of the way through the NBA season, and yet we have already seen several teams go to great lengths to prove that any faith you might have had in them heading into the season was misplaced. You might have thought they were going to be good, but they are working hard to show you that that might not be the case. Here, up to this point, are the five most disappointing teams in the NBA according to my eyes:
Washington Wizards (6-11): I was skeptical about this team coming into the season - I questioned the frontcourt depth, and it's a concern when your two very expensive guards, Bradley Beal and John Wall, don't seem to like each other much. When I looked at the 42.5 season win total more and more, though, I started to convince myself that maybe the addition of Scott Brooks would help get this team back on track and produce at least a decent season. It sure felt like there was an opportunity in their division to win some games and recover from last year's disappointments. It sure hasn't been pretty so far, though. The bench has, if anything, been worse than I feared, and that has really had a negative impact on the team. Wall and Beal are both scoring, but the team is less than the sum of the starting parts. Most strikingly, the team is just a disaster when it comes to closing out games. It feels almost as if Beal and Wall are both too focused on who will get to take the heroic final shot to worry about holding leads. They have squandered late leads in their last two, and that's just par for the course this year.
Detroit Pistons (10-10): The season win total was set at 45.5. That means that they are really only a couple of wins off of that pace, but it sure doesn't feel like it right now. They have been a really streaky team this year that can't seem to get out of their own way when it matters most. Last year they were a playoff team, and even though they were swept by the Cavs they put up a good fight. It seemed like they were ready to take a big step forward. They just haven't, though. Now, Reggie Jackson hasn't played yet this year, and he is obviously missed offensively. His return soon will be a big boost. That's not the only issue, though. Tobias Harris is leading the team in scoring, but he still hasn't blossomed in this role like I had hoped. Ish Smith has similarly failed to excite while filling in for Jackson. Late last year it felt like this was a team on the verge of something. Now, though, it feels more like a team treading water. They are in a playoff spot now and will quite probably stay there, but this version of the Pistons won't scare anyone. On one hand I guess that the Pistons are the least disappointing team on this list because they are the one that will almost certainly finish with the best record. Because I expected the most of them, though, the flat start is the most frustrating.
Philadelphia 76ers (4-14): It's not really a surprise that the Sixers are in the cellar of the league because they have been there for years now. What's disappointing, though, is that injuries have gotten in the way of us finally seeing if this ridiculous journey they have been on has been worthwhile or not. Ben Simmons is out, and they aren't talking about his status openly right now. That sure isn't a good sign, and you have to believe that the team could be without their first overall pick for most or all of the year. Nerlens Noel hasn't played yet, either, though his time away due to a knee injury is about to end. And then you have issues on the court - Jahlil Okafor is not rapidly developing into a star, Dario Saric isn't blowing folks away as a rookie, they have point guard issues without Simmons, and they clearly don't yet have answers at small forward or shooting guard. Their season win total was set at just 27.5 heading into the season, but at their current pace they won't even get to 20 wins.
Dallas Mavericks (3-14): I struggled about whether to put this team on this list or not. Sure, their league-worst record is a disappointment. I knew coming into the season, though - as did anyone with eyes - that this was a team built to be mediocre at best. They have not recognized that it is time to rebuild and reload, and they have instead kept patching holes and hoping they could still keep floating. So, I guess I am disappointed that they suck as badly as they do, but I always expected them to suck to some extent.
Minnesota Timberwolves (5-13): The season win total for the team before the season was 41.5. In other words, oddsmakers thought that they were positioned to finish above .500 this year. That's not impossible still, but they would have to play dramatically better ball than they are now, and it sure doesn't feel like they can do that. Karl-Anthony Towns is the beast we expected him to be, Andrew Wiggins is playing well, and Zach LaVine has been a really pleasant offensive surprise. Beyond that, though, guys just haven't taken steps forward as needed, and the depth hasn't proven to be the asset it should have been. Under the new leadership of Tom Thibodeau it felt like this could be a team to make some noise, and they were a popular wiseguy pick heading into the season. New coaching staffs take time to establish and all, but this has been a very disappointing start to the season.
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