As is the case in professional sports, someone has to suffer the shame of finishing at the bottom, but at least they get a shot at drafting an elite prospect out of it in the NBA. The Houston Rockets had the unfortunate distinction last year as they finished with a 20-62 record, which enabled them to land Jabari Smith Jr. The Orlando Magic finished at the bottom in the East, and their reward for that was the first pick of the 2022 NBA Draft, with which they picked Paolo Banchero.
With Victor Wembanyama being the big prize next year, the race to finish at the bottom will be as tightly contested as ever, so when Legion Hoops asked the question of who's going to be the worst team in the league next season, fans were quite divided.
"Depending on what happens with Mitchell it could be the Jazz. If he stays I’d say either Kings or Pacers."
"Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, and Houston Rockets"
"in terms of expectations? probably the Lakers as there's still 2 much hype around them considering how poorly constructed, injury prone n old they are they are a LeBron injury away from the lottery"
"Spurs for the Wembanyama tank"
"Orlando.. PG are suspect, not proven. Too many one or two year players. Wendell at C is proven not to work. He even said it when he was with Bulls. Detroit is close but they have very talented young players"
"Us spurs are prepared to tank cause we getting Victor!"
"As of right now I’d say San Antonio but if/when the Jazz trade Mitchell I think I get have a solid chance of being at the bottom depending on the return they get"
"Worst: Kings. I mean they always are at the bottom. Disappointing: Lakers/ Magic/ Hornets"
"Orlando, Houston, San Antonio bottom 3 imo"
"Pacers not getting mentioned a ton…..they seem like full rebuild coming"
"Spurs, thunder, or rockets but if I had to go with 1 I’d say thunder"
"Idk feels like everything is breaking wrong for charlotte"
"I just can't see the Pop letting the Spurs be THAT awful. They'll be competent. Might take Houston."
"Nets if they trade everyone lol if not I'll say pistons."
"@Lakers if Westbrook still on the team and if AD is fragile"
"#Rockets and hopefully they could take the #1 pick next year - Victor Wembanyama."
"My hot take is that the jerami grant trade goes wrong, Dame gets hurt, and blazers could end up last"
"Probably Houston, just because of how young they are."
"If Mitchell gets traded I bet it’s the Jazz"
"Same as every other year, the Kings."
Along with our usual suspects, the Spurs will also be in the mix after they traded away Dejounte Murray basically for three first-round draft picks, but would Gregg Popovich at this stage of his career really hang around to see them actively tank? He has done that once, to land Tim Duncan in 1997, but that was before he became one of the best coaches in the history of the league. His pride might not let them bottom out as long as he is around.
The Jazz are also a contender, depending on what happens with Donovan Mitchell, as some pointed out. They have already traded away Rudy Gobert for a massive haul of picks and are looking for something similar with Donovan. They re-engaged in trade talks with the Knicks recently, and if Mitchell does end up moving, then the Jazz are primed to finish at the bottom. It should be an interesting tankathon once again next season.