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NBA PM: Longest NBA Losing Streaks

The Philadelphia 76ers’ losing streak is officially among the five longest ever, but which teams have topped them?… Isaiah Thomas thought he would be a Los Angeles Laker

Joel Brigham



Longest NBA Losing Streaks Ever

The Philadelphia 76ers will play the New York Knicks on Friday night for what could be their 23rd straight loss, an atrocious number that, while ugly, is still a ways away from the worst losing streak ever. They’ve still got a little “work” to do if they want to take sole ownership of the most dismal streak ever, but while we all wait to see when the next win comes for the Sixers, here’s a look at the longest losing streaks in NBA history:

#5 – 2013-2014 Philadelphia 76ers – 22 games – The Sixers haven’t won a game since January, and since they’re basically trotting out a D-League team every night, there doesn’t look to be much relief in sight. Trading away Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes certainly didn’t help anything, but this is a rough-looking group apparently doing everything they can to earn the most ping-pong balls for this spring’s lottery.

#4 – 1995-1996 Vancouver Grizzlies – 23 games – Expansion teams are supposed to be bad, but a single-season 23-game losing streak in the Grizzlies’ first campaign came dangerously close to being historically bad. While the team did have five guys average double-figures that season, only one topped 14 PPG (Greg Anthony), and the Grizzlies only managed a scant 15 wins all season. Despite all that, the low point was definitely spending over a quarter of the season doing nothing but losing.

#3 – 1997-1998 Denver Nuggets – 23 games – This 11-win team not only posted the second-lowest regular season win total in league history (only two losses away from tying the record), but until 2011 they also held the record for longest single-season losing streak in NBA history. LaPhonso Ellis was arguably the team’s best all-around player that year, if that helps put into perspective just how rough things were for Denver basketball fans in the late ‘90s.

#2 – 1981-1982 and 1982-1983 Cleveland Cavaliers – 24 games – Cleveland had a couple of players top 20 PPG in 1981-1982, but scoring doesn’t always equate to wins—a fact that was never made more clear than when Mike Mitchell and Ron Brewer led the charge in kicking off the second-most embarrassing losing streak of all time. The next season Cliff Robinson got healthy and the Cavs added World B. Free, which was enough to snap the streak pretty early on in 1982-1983, but despite that, these two seasons resulted in a combined 38 wins.

But if you thought these Cavaliers were bad, hold onto your seats because it gets worse:

#1 – 2010-2011 Cleveland Cavaliers – 26 games – Back in 2010, Cleveland was reeling in the wake of losing LeBron James to the Miami HEAT, and the results were not pretty. No other team in NBA history has won 40 games one year only to lose 40 games the next, and at one point Cleveland had won only a single game in 37 tries. The Chicago Bulls were pretty bad the year after Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan retired, but they weren’t quite this bad. Apparently losing LeBron is a much bigger blow.

Honorable Mention

1979-1980 & 1980-1981 Detroit Pistons;– 21 games – The Pistons group saw their historic losing streak spread over the course of a couple seasons, but it was the 1979-1980 group, which won only 16 games, that proved responsible for the majority of those consecutive losses. This streak was broken by October of 1980, but having to wait an entire summer to even have a chance to snap it must have been a real treat for Pistons fans.

1972-1973 Philadelphia 76ers – 20 games – This was the infamous Philly team that managed to lose a record 73 games in a season, so it’s no real surprise that they’re somewhere on this list. Mathematically, they almost had to be.

1993-1994 Dallas Mavericks – 20 games – In 1992-1993, the Mavericks won only 11 games, but it was the following year (when they won 13) that proved awful enough to push them into a 20-game losing streak. At least all those bad games netted them Jason Kidd in that summer’s draft, and things got markedly better after that.

1984-1985 & 1985-1986 New York Knicks – 20 games – The 1985 Knicks finished their season on a 12-game losing streak, which was enough to land Patrick Ewing in the league’s first-ever draft lottery later in the spring. It took Ewing a couple weeks to get his first professional win, though, as that 12-game streak extended to 20 in the early part of Ewing’s prolific NBA career.

1993-1994 & 1994-1995 L.A. Clippers – 20 games – Most of the blame for this one falls on the shoulders of Loy Vaught, Lamond Murray and the rest of this disappointing 1994-1995 Clippers squad that won only 17 games, because this streak was non-story the previous season, which ended on a non-newsworthy four-game skid.

With four more straight losses, the Sixers can top the all-time mark for futility, set only a few years ago by Cleveland, but as bad as they want to land a good pick in June’s draft, they probably don’t want to find themselves at the top of this list for the next several years.

However they finish up the season, this has not been a good year for the Sixers, but we knew that would be the case heading into the campaign. It wasn’t clear that things would be quite this bad, but after that deadline fire sale anything was possible. “Anything,” in this case, appears to be setting the record for longest losing streak in league history.

Isaiah Thomas Thought He’d Be a Laker

The story about Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas being “Mr. Irrelevant,” the 60th and final selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, is pretty well-documented, because while second-round picks having success in the league is nothing new, eventual starters taken that late are considerably more rare.

Only 5’9, Thomas was recognized by several NBA scouts as being undeniably talented, but his height kept him from being selected sooner. Despite that, Thomas headed into that draft feeling confident he’d be drafted, though his stomach dropped as picks in the 50s kept rattling off and his name still wasn’t called.

“I think the Lakers had four second-round picks, and after their last pick (58th overall), that’s when it hit me that I might not get drafted,” Thomas said. “I had a good workout with them, and they had talked to me about their need at the point guard position.”

He waited out the second round in the gym that night, hoisting up jumpers to occupy himself and keep his nerves at bay, but when it became clear that the Lakers thing wasn’t going to happen, he allowed himself to sulk, accepting what he believed was the inevitable.

“Once it started getting later in the draft I headed home,” Thomas explained. “My mom called me and she was like, ‘Are you alright?’ I said no. She said, ‘Just remember everything happens for a reason.’ That was around the 56-57th pick.

“Then my agent had called me and told me. I actually had forgotten all about Sacramento; that was my first workout. When they said they were going to pick me, I was just happy. Like I told everybody else, all I wanted was a chance. I didn’t care if I was drafted the first pick or the last pick like I was. I just wanted a chance, and I got that chance with the Sacramento Kings.”

And has he ever made the most of that opportunity. Thomas is currently averaging 20.6 PPG for the Kings (17th in the NBA) and 6.4 APG (11th in the NBA), and while the Kings are still losing a lot of games, he feels like the group is on the right track and is optimistic about what the future will bring in Sacramento.

“We have the talent to be a playoff team, I think everybody knows that,” Thomas said. “We can compete with anyone in the NBA. It’s about putting the effort each and every night and knowing that this team is going to play their heart out and defend and do the things that they can control.”

Doing the things he can control is what got Thomas here in the first place, and he hopes that rubs off on his teammates as the team continues its struggle to make it back into the perennial playoff picture.

“I just keep fighting and keep working hard,” he said. “Every chance that I got and every opportunity that I got I just take it and take advantage of it. Whether it is the last five minutes of a blowout or at the beginning of the game, whatever it may have been I just took advantage of every opportunity.

“When my name was called to become a starter I didn’t look back. That’s how my whole life has been. I’m always about the next opportunity.”

The next opportunity for the Kings is some more wins, but as hard as this season has been for them, it certainly could have been a whole lot harder had they not gambled on the tiny guard from Washington with their last pick a few years ago. If they can strike that kind of gold with their lottery pick this year, they’ll be well on their way to massive improvements.


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Emeka Okafor Impacting 2018 Western Conference Playoff Race

Sidelined for several years with a neck injury, Emeka Okafor is back in the NBA and helping the Pelicans fight for a playoff seed.

Jesse Blancarte



When DeMarcus Cousins ruptured his Achilles tendon, most people in and around the league assumed the New Orleans Pelicans would eventually fall out of the Western Conference Playoff race. It was a fair assumption. In 48 games this season, Cousins averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks while shooting 47 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Anthony Davis and the Pelicans had other plans. Davis put the team on his shoulders, played at an elite level and, arguably, has forced his way into the MVP race. Behind Davis’ efforts, the Pelicans are currently 39-29, have won 7 of their last 10 games and hold the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

While Davis has been carrying the team since the loss of Cousins, he has received significant help from his teammates, including Emeka Okafor.

More recent NBA fans may be less familiar with Okafor since he has been out of the league since the end of the 2012-13 season. For context, in Okafor’s last season, David Lee led the league in double-doubles, Luol Deng led the league in minutes per game and Joakim Noah made the NBA All-Defensive First Team. However, Okafor entered the NBA with a lot of excited and expectations. He was drafted second overall, right behind Dwight Howard. Okafor played in 9 relatively successful NBA seasons until being sidelined indefinitely with a herniated disc in his neck prior to the start of the 2013-14 season.

Okafor was medically cleared to play in May of last year and played in five preseason games with the Philadelphia 76ers but was ultimately waived in October, prior to the start of the regular season. However, with the injury to Cousins, the Pelicans were in need of help at the center position and signed Okafor to a 10-day contract. Okafor earned a second 10-day contract and ultimately landed a contract for the rest of this season.

Okafor has played in 14 games so far for the Pelicans has is receiving limited playing time thus far. Despite the lack of playing time, Okafor is making his presence felt when he is on the court. Known as a defensive specialist, Okafor has provided some much needed rim protection and has rebounded effectively as well.

He has been [helpful] since the day he got here,” Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said about Okafor after New Orleans’ recent victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. “I think his rim protection has been great. But, he’s capable of making a little jump shot and you can see that today. But just having him in there, his presence there has been great.”

Okafor has never been known as an elite offensive player, but he did average 15.1 points per game in his rookie season and has shown glimpses of an improved jump shot in his limited run with the Pelicans.

“You know, I’m happy it’s falling,” Okafor said after he helped seal the victory over the Clippers. “Kept in my back pocket. I was invoked to use it, so figured I’d dust it off and show it.”

Okafor was then asked if he has any other moves in his back pocket that he hasn’t displayed so far this season.

“A little bit. I don’t want to give it all,” Okafor told Basketball Insiders. “There’s a couple shots still. But we’ll see what opportunities unveil themselves coming forward.”

Okafor will never have the elite offensive skill set that Cousins has but his overall contributions have had a positive impact for a New Orleans squad that was desperate for additional production after Cousin’s Achilles tear.

“It’s impossible to replace a guy that was playing at an MVP level,” Gentry said recently. “For us, Emeka’s giving us something that we desperately missed with Cousins. The same thing with Niko. Niko’s given us something as far as spacing the floor. Between those guys, they’ve done the best they could to fill in for that. But we didn’t expect anyone to fill in and replace what Cousins was doing for us.”

Okafor is currently averaging 6.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 54.5 percent from the field. While his averages don’t jump off the page, it should be noted that his per minute production is surprisingly impressive. Per 36 minutes, Okafor is averaging 13.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. Those numbers are nearly identical to his averages from the 2012-13 season, though he is averaging twice as many blocks (up from 1.4).

The Pelicans have exceeded expectations and currently are ahead of teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers in the extremely tight Western Conference Playoff race. Okafor is doing more than could have reasonably been expected when he first signed with the Pelicans, though he would be the first person to pass the credit toward Anthony Davis.

When asked about Davis’ recent play, Okafor enthusiastically heaped praise toward his superstar teammate.

“It’s to the point where it’s like, ‘Alright, he has 40 doesn’t he?’ It’s impressive,” Okafor said about Davis. But it’s becoming so commonplace now.

He’s just an impressive individual. He gives it all. He’s relentless. And then off the court too, he’s a very, very nice kid. He really takes the leadership role seriously. I’m even more impressed with that part.”

There is still plenty of regular season basketball to be played and even a two-game losing streak can drastic consequences. But the Pelicans have proved to be very resilient and Okafor is confident in the team’s potential and outlook.

“I think we’re all hitting a good grove here and we’re playing very good basketball, said Okafor.”

Whether the Pelicans make the playoffs or not, it’s great to see Okafor back in the NBA and playing meaningful minutes for a team in the playoff race.

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NBA Daily: Nothing’s Promised, Not Even For The Warriors

The Warriors are wounded, and with Chris Paul, the Rockets may be equipped to take advantage.

Moke Hamilton



The Warriors are wounded, and for those that thought their waltzing into a four consecutive NBA Finals was a given, the Houston Rockets may have other ideas. Especially when one considers that the beloved Dubs are trying to buck history.

Steph Curry has ankle problems, Klay has a fractured thumb and Kevin Durant—the most recent of the team’s lynchpins to find himself on the disabled list—has a rib injury.

Sure, the Dubs might shake off their injuries and find themselves at or near 100 percent once the playoffs begin, but seldom do teams in the NBA get healthier as the year progresses.

Winning in the NBA is difficult. In order to take all the marbles, teams need a bunch of different ingredients, chief among them are good fortune and health. And in many ways, the two are entwined.

Simply put: the human body isn’t built to play as often and as hard as NBA players do. Those that we recognize as being among the greatest ever—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James among them—had one thing in common. They were all exceptionally durable.

Over the years, we’ve seen attrition and fragility cost the likes of Anfernee Hardaway, Yao Ming and Derrick Rose what seemed to be careers full of accolades and accomplishments. And the simple truth is that you never know which player, players or teams will be next to be undercut by injuries and progressive fatigue.

Just to keep things in perspective, the Warriors are attempting to become just the fifth team since 1970 to win at least three NBA championships in a four-year span.

The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals in 1985, 1987 and 1988 before Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls completed their three-peat from 1991-93. The Bulls would again do the same between 1996 and 1998, and Shaquille O’Neal and his Los Angeles Lakers accomplished the same from 2000 to 2002.

There are reasons why so few teams have been able to win as frequently as the Lakers and Bulls have, and health is certainly one of them. That’s especially interesting to note considering the fact that the Warriors may have been champions in 2016 had they had their team at full strength. Mind you, both Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala were severely limited in their abilities, while Andrew Bogut missed the fateful and decisive Game 6 and Game 7 of those Finals with injuries to his left leg.

At the end of the day, injuries are a part of the game. The best teams are often able to overcome them, while the luckiest teams often don’t have to deal with them. To this point, the Warriors have been both the best and incredibly lucky, but at a certain point, the sheer volume of basketball games is likely to have an adverse effect on at least a few members of the team.

We may be seeing that now.

En route to winning the 2015 NBA Finals, the Warriors turned in a playoff record of 16-5. In 2016, they were 15-9 and in 2017, they were 16-1. In total, the 62 playoff games would have worn a bit of tread off of their collective tires, just as their 73-9 regular season record may have.  In becoming a historically great team, the Warriors have expending the energy necessary of a team wishing to remain a contender, and that’s not easy.

As an aside, those that understand the difficulty in competing at a high level every single night are the ones who rightfully give LeBron James the respect he’s due for even having the opportunity to play into June eight consecutive years. Win or lose, in terms of consistent effort and constant production, James has shown as things we’ve never seen before.

Today, it’s fair to wonder whether the Warriors have that same capability.

We’ll find out in short order.

* * * * * *

As the Houston Rockets appear headed toward ending the Warriors’ regular season reign atop the Western Conference, there’s something awfully coincidental about the fact that the team seems to have taken the next step after the addition of Chris Paul.

Paul knows a thing or two about attrition and how unlucky bouts with injuries at inopportune times can cost a team everything. As much as anything else, it probably has something to do with why Paul continues to believe in the ability of the Rockets to achieve immortality.

On the first night of the regular season, mind you, in one horrific moment, Gordon Hayward and the Boston Celtics reminded us that on any given play, the outlook of an entire season—and perhaps, even a career—can change.

A twisted knee here, a sprained ankle there, and who knows?

With just over three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Warriors—the team that everyone knew would win the Western Conference again this season—has some concerns. Their primary weapons are hurting, their chances of securing home court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs are all but nil and their road to the Finals may end up being more difficult than they could have possibly imagined.

If the season ended today and the seeds held, the Warriors would draw the San Antonio Spurs in the first round and the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round before squaring off against the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals.

Of all teams, the Spurs are probably the last team the Warriors would want to see in the playoffs, much less the first round. While the outcome of that series would be determined by the health of Kawhi Leonard, there’s no doubt that Gregg Popovich would at least be able to effectively game plan for Golden State.

While the Blazers might not provide incredible resistance to the Warriors, the Oklahoma City Thunder will enter play on March 18 just two games behind the Blazers for the third seed out West. With the two teams squaring off against one another on March 25, it’s possible for Russell Westbrook and his crew having the opportunity to square off against the Dubs in the playoffs.

For Golden State, their path to the Finals having to go through San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Houston would absolutely be a worst case scenario. The only thing that could make it even more terrible for Steve Kerr would be having to do it with a platoon that was less than 100 percent.

Funny. In yet another season where everyone thought that it was the Warriors and everyone else, there are quite a few questions facing the defending champs heading into the final few weeks of the regular season.

Indeed, the Warriors are wounded. And whether they can be nursed back up to full strength is perhaps the most interesting thing to watch as the calendar turns to April and playoff basketball draws nearer.

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NBA Daily: The Golden State Warriors Need to Enter Rest Mode

With a bevy of injuries to their stars, the Golden State Warriors should rest up the remainder of the regular season to avoid any playoff letdowns.

Dennis Chambers



After a three-year-long run of dominating the NBA, the Golden State Warriors are showing some cracks in their armor.

Granted, those cracks aren’t a result of a botched system or poor play, but rather the injury bug biting the team in full force as they come down the regular season stretch.

First, it was Steph Curry and the ankle that’s bothered him all season — and for most of his career — when he tweaked it yet again on March 8 against the San Antonio Spurs. Golden State announced he would miss at least four games. Then it was Klay Thompson, who fractured his thumb three days later against the Minnesota Timberwolves — he’ll miss at least two weeks.

Now it’s Kevin Durant. Last year’s Finals MVP suffered an incomplete rib cartilage fracture and was ruled out of Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. Durant is expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks. The Warriors would go on to lose that contest 95-93.

In about two weeks time, the Warriors went from having one of the most formidable offenses and scoring trios in the entire league, to having  Quinn Cook and Nick Young logging starter minutes.

Luckily for the Warriors, they’ve built up a big enough lead in the standings to achieve a 52-17 record, good for second place in the Western Conference. But the issue for the remainder of the season now becomes how healthy will the Warriors be come playoff time?

Curry and Durant have injury histories. Curry particularly has been bothered by this ankle since he entered the league. Without either of them, the Warriors — while still incredibly talented — will be on a completely even playing field with the Houston Rockets, and possibly other teams in the gauntlet that will be the Western Conference playoffs.

The bigger issue on top of the pending injury concerns becomes whether the Warriors should just pack it in for the rest of the regular season, and regroup for another expected title run.

Steve Kerr doesn’t seem to be thinking that way, however.

“All these injuries seem to be temporary,” Kerr told reporters. “A couple weeks, a week, two weeks – whatever. We’re in good shape. We’ve just got to survive this next slate of games and hopefully, start getting guys back and get rolling again for the playoffs.”

That’s true. None of the aforementioned injuries seem to be anything more serious than a few weeks of rest and relaxation. But that’s assuming the best case scenario for these players.

Should we assume that the Warriors are without their scoring trio for the next couple of weeks as their health updates have indicated, that would put their return roughly around April 1. At that time, Golden State would have six games remaining on their schedule. Four coming against playoff teams (Oklahoma City, Indiana, New Orleans, and Utah) with the other two games against Phoenix.

After missing the last few weeks on the court, with injuries that most likely won’t be at 100 percent, tossing their most valuable contributors back into the fray against a slate of playoff teams probably isn’t the smartest idea.

At this point, the Warriors postseason position is locked up. They likely won’t take the top seed away from Houston, and their lead is big enough to keep their second seed intact regardless of who’s on the court. The only thing left now is the determining who Golden State will play in the first round. With the revolving carousel that is the playoff standings out West, that’s anybody’s guess right now.

The only thing that’s certain is whichever team coming into Oracle Arena for that first round will be battle tested and talented based off of the dogfight they had to survive just to make the playoffs. The last thing the Warriors need to be is a banged up in a postseason with their first opponent smelling blood in the water.

In all likelihood, the Warriors — should everything go according to plan — will play the Houston Rockets for a chance to return to their fourth straight NBA Finals. Only this time, a potential Game 7 won’t be at Oracle Arena. It will be in downtown Houston, at the Toyota Center.

An advantage as big as the Warriors’ homecourt can never be understated. Operating in a do-or-die situation away from home will be newfound territory for this bunch. Regardless of talent or team success, at that point, it’s anybody’s game.

It won’t be easy for the Golden State Warriors as they try to extend their dynasty’s reign. This might be their most difficult year yet.

Durant, in his own words, can’t even laugh right now without feeling pain. The league’s only unanimous MVP is operating on one and a half ankles, and the team’s second Splash Brother has an injury on his shooting hand.

Resting up the team’s stars should be the team’s top priority right now, at risk of entering the postseason hobbled. Track record means nothing if the Warriors don’t have their full arsenal at disposal when the games matter most.

Hey, a 16-seed finally won a first-round game in the NCAA Tournament. Anything is possible on a basketball court, and the Warriors should do everything possible to ensure they’re not the next major upset candidate in line.

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