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There have been plenty of bad sides struggling to compete in league history
  1. NBA

NBA: Worst ever starts to an NBA season

As the only side to lose their opening five games, the 2022/23 Lakers have made the joint-worst start to a season in franchise history.

Their last 0-5 start came in Kobe Bryant’s final year, when the Lakers lost 65 times, losing 15 of their first 17 games. For the Lakers to match that start this edition is embarrassing for a side hoping to contend this year.

However, neither of those two Lakers teams make the cut in terms of the worst-ever starts to an NBA season. There have been plenty of bad sides struggling to compete in league history and below are the five worst of all time.

1972/73 Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers are no strangers to a bad start, as this list will show. Their campaign in 1972 ended up being the worst on record, just six seasons after setting a league record for the most wins in a season. The Sixers failed to win any of their opening 15 matches of the season, which at the time matched the record held by the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Sixers pip those two into this list thanks to the fact that they went on to lose 73 of 82 games that season. To this day they still have the fewest wins in any 82-game regular season, although future Sixers did come close, as we’ll see below.

1998/99 LA Clippers

In 1994 the LA Clippers’ awful start saw them come close to the new record, as they lost their first 16 games. The Miami Heat had set a 0-17 record in 1988, although that was their maiden season as a franchise, and they weren’t in a great position to compete.

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The Clippers made another 0-16 start just four years later, but this time they lost in their 17th game, going down 94-75 to the LA Lakers.

That defeat condemned the Clippers to the joint-worst start in history at the time. Like the Sixers in ’72 the Clippers also went on to win only nine games, but they did it in a shortened 50-game season.

2014/15 Philadelphia 76ers

In 2014 the Sixers were in just the second season of ‘The Process’, which was the name for their mid-2010s tank which they used to rebuild the team. In 2014 they had just acquired a centre called Joel Embiid, but the Cameroonian missed his full first year through injury.

Without Embiid, the Sixers embarked on one of the worst starts in league history, making a 0-17 start. It was December before they won their first game of the season, with that terrible start eventually seeing them lose 64 of 18 games to secure a 14th-place finish in the East.

2009/10 New Jersey Nets

Just a couple of years before their move to Brooklyn, the New Jersey Nets became the first-ever NBA team to lose their first 18 matches of the season. That wasn’t the end of the record for the Nets, as they also became the first team to lose 28 of their opening 30 matches.

The team never recovered from that start, losing 70 of 82 games that year and finishing in last place in the Eastern Conference. Just two years prior they had been a Playoff side, but their slide down the standings was only fixed when they moved to Brooklyn.

2015/16 Philadelphia 76ers

The Nets weren’t alone for long, as just six years later a team came along to tie their record. Only a year removed from a 0-17 start, the Sixers have to stand out as the worst starters to an NBA season. This team barely beat the 1972/73 side’s terrible regular season record, as the Sixers won 10 of 82 games in 2015/16.

The Sixers’ tank was certainly effective, but it can’t have been easy to watch for fans. This was their third-straight season with under 20 wins, this time earning them the top pick in the 2016 draft, which they used on Ben Simmons.

That this Sixers’ team were so bad just to draft a player who would eventually go on strike adds to the scale of their terrible start. However, this start also saw them break the NBA record for most consecutive losses thanks to their poor end in 2014/15. After losing their 17th game of the season, they recorded a 27th consecutive regular-season loss.

The Sixers lost 30 of their opening 31 games, beating the Nets’ previous record, which makes that Philly team the NBA’s worst ever out of the blocks.

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