Because sometimes one basketball just isn't enough...
In looking forward to the Gay-Iverson-Mayo-Randolph Era in Memphis, I decided to write about some of the worst APG teams in NBA history. I used a few crude rules in my research. First, pre-shot clock era teams were immediately disqualified. Second, I began my stat search with the 1967-68 season, which is the first year the NBA used an 82-game season. And for that reason, all 1998-99 teams were disqualified because that season was shortened to 50 games due to the player strike...and the level of play was generally pretty sucky that season.
It's worth noting, however, that the 1998-99 Hawks (15.6 APG) and Clippers (16.4 APG) ranked first and second all-time in lowest APG during the shot clock era. So, if nothing else, they deserve dishonorable mention. It's also worth noting all stats came from Basketball-Reference.com
.1. 1976-77 New York Nets:
This team averaged 17.3 APG during a season in which the league average was 23.9 APG. The Nets went 22-60, which was the worst record in the league by eight games. (The Milwaukee Bucks finished 30-52). Not surprisingly, they were the worst scoring team in the NBA at 95.9 PPG. (The league average was 106.5 PPG). Even less surprisingly, they were also the worst shooting team in the league at .429 (versus the league average of .465).Update! Trev
wrote: "The 1976-77 Nets where a special kind of bad because they are also the only team on the list to average more turnovers than assists with 19.9 per game. Good god did that team have Emeka Okafor and Yinka Dare's grandfathers running the point or something? No. Just Hall of Famer Tiny Archibald! (Well at least for 34 games)."2. 2008-09 Memphis Grizzlies:
That's right! Last year's Griz ranked second-worst all-time based on my criteria! Good times are coming, my friends. They are coming. Anyway, the Grizzlies averaged 17.4 APG, 93.9 PPG, and shot .454 from the field. The league averages were 20.9 APG, 100.0 PPG and .459. Note that they shot about the league average but were still by far the worst team in terms of APG. Oddly enough, the second-worst APG team last season was...the Orlando Magic at 19.4 APG. However, the Magic finished with 59 wins and the Grizzlies had only 24.3. 2005-06 New York Knicks:
And Isiah Thomas finally rears his ugly head. Although he "only" put this squad together. Larry Brown coached it (against the will of his players of course). Stephon Marbury led these Knicks with 6.3 of their 17.9 APG. The team also featured other noted non-passers such as Eddy Curry, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson and Quentin Richardson. (At 23-59, they finished with the league's second-worst record (to the 21-61 Portland Trail Blazers). For the record, the league average in APG that season was 20.6. Here's the crazy part: the 05-06 Knicks were the 12th best shooting team in the league (.455).4. 1999-00 Los Angeles Clippers:
No "Worst Evers" list would be complete without a mention of the Clippers, right? These Clips dished out 18.0 APG during a season in which the average team was dishing out 22.3. They were the second-worst (to the dreadful post-Jordan Bulls) scoring team (92.0), the third-worst shooting team (.426), and they had the worst record (15-67). They truly were who we thought they were.5. 1989-90 New Jersey Nets:
Speaking of teams who are who we thought they were...the 89-90 Nets also averaged 18.0 APG when the league average was 24.9. That's right. These Nets had almost seven fewer APG than an "average" team. This fact looks even worse when you consider that they were the eighth-best shooting team in the league that season (.485). At 17-65, they were even worse than the expansion Heat (18-64), Magic (18-64), Hornets (19-63), and Timberwolves (22-60).6. 2005-06 Dallas Mavericks:
Here's where things get wonky. Like the 1999-00 Clippers and 1989-90 Nets, these Mavericks averaged 18.0 APG. They finished with only five more total assists than the Knicks squad that ranks third on this list. However, they won 60 games, which gave them the third-best record in the league behind the Pistons (64-18) and Spurs (63-19). Moreover, the Mavs went all the way to the NBA Finals...which they might have won if not for a few
iffy foul calls that went in Dwyane Wade's favor. So, basically, they bucked every trend associated with teams who don't pass the ball.7. 2004-05 Seattle Supersonics:
Another trend-bucking team, these Sonics -- led by Ray "I'm open!" Allen (3.7 APG) and Rashard "NO, I'M OPEN, PASS IT TO MEEEEEEE!" Lewis (1.3 APG), the Sonics went 52-30, won the Northwest Division and made it to the Western Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual champion Spurs in six games. Mind you, Rashard Lewis missed the last three games of that series with a sprained left toe. But despite the loss of their second-leading scorer, they came within a few points of forcing a seventh game
. Note that, in that final game, the Sonics dished out only 13 assists...well below their season average of 18.1.8. 2001-02 Houston Rockets:
This is more like it! The 01-02 Rockets began the season with a starting lineup of Cuttino Mobley, Steve Francis, Kenny Thomas, Glen Rice and Kevin Cato, and they ended the season with a starting squad of Tierre Brown, Oscar Torres, Kenny Thomas, Terence Morris and Kelvin Cato. No wonder they dished out only 18.1 APG and won a mere 28 games. It's also not surprising that this was Rudy Tomjanovich's next-to-last season with the team.9. 2005-06 Portland Trail Blazers:
Note that this is the third 2005-06 team in this list. Coincidence? I think not. The 21-win Blazers averaged 18.2 APG and were the worst team in the league that season, worse even than the Isiah Thomas-assembled Knicks. And just check out this roster
: Zach Randolph, Darius Miles, Juan Dixon, Ruben Patterson, Sebastian Telfair...if you're a Portland fan, I'm sure your mouth is filled with throw-up right now. But they, things are SO much better now, right? See. It all paid off.10. 2005-06 Orlando Magic:
Fittingly enough, we round out this list with yet another team from the 2005-06 season, which shall hereafter be referred to as "The Year Passing Died." Steve Francis, the leader of that 2001-02 Rockets team from two paragraphs ago, led this 36-win squad (which featured Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglue, Jameer Nelson and Grant Hill) with 5.7 of the team's 18.2 APG.
Labels: assists, Gay-Iverson-Mayo-Randolph Era, Memphis Grizzlies, Worst Evers