The Detroit Pistons with a 118-112 Nov. 30 loss to the New York Knicks became the first NBA team in eight years to go winless for an entire month. Detroit finished 0-16 in November. The Pistons for the second straight year are clearly the worst team in the league, and it doesn’t look like things are going to get better.
Ironically, the last time a NBA team failed to notch a victory over the course of an entire month came in November 2015, when the “Process” 76ers went winless on their way to a 10-72 finish and the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft.
Detroit in November became just the eighth team in NBA history to lose every game it played in over the course of a month.The Pistons with the “accomplishment” join some historically bad teams. But what happened with those squads? Were they bad for an extended period, or did their fortunes change?
Following is a look at the teams that have had winless months, the month they stunk in, and what happened next.
Utah Jazz, March 1982
Utah went 0-15 on this run, and ended the 1981-82 season with a 25-57 record. The Jazz wound up with the third pick in the 1982 NBA Draft, and selected forward and future hall of famer Dominique Wilkins. Utah traded Wilkins to Atlanta, and he never played a game for the Jazz. Utah wouldn’t be a bottom-feeder for long, as the Jazz got John Stockton and Karl Malone in back-to-back drafts in 1984 and 1985.
Golden State Warriors, January 1985
The 1984-85 Warriors finished last in the league in defense. Golden State ended up with the seventh pick in the ‘85 Draft and took a wing named Chris Mullin out of St. John’s. Mullin, a hall of famer, with the Warriors had a run where he averaged at least 25 points a game for five straight years.
Orlando Magic, December 1991
The Magic, in their third season, went 21-61 and had a net rating of -7.0. Orlando won the 1992 Draft Lottery and selected Shaquille O’Neal with the first pick. Orlando in Shaq’s rookie year would see a 20-win improvement from the previous season.
Vancouver Grizzlies, March 1996
The Grizzlies’ worst month took place in the team’s first season. Vancouver finished 15-67 and “earned” the third pick in the 1996 Draft. The Grizzlies took Shareef Abdur-Rahim with the pick. Abdur-Rahim had a solid career with Vancouver, averaging 20.8 points and 8.2 rebounds over five years with the franchise. The Grizzlies would go eight more years before the franchise’s first playoff appearance.
Cleveland Cavaliers, January 2011
Many expected Cleveland to struggle in the 2010-11 season — the team’s first without LeBron James. The Cavaliers were a bottom-two team in offensive and defensive efficiency. Cleveland finished 19-63 and was rewarded with the first pick in the 2011 draft. The Cavs took Kyrie Irving with the selection. Cleveland in the following season won just 21 games, but Irving won Rookie of the Year honors. The team didn’t make the playoffs again until 2015 — with James back with the Cavs for a second time.
Charlotte Bobcats, April 2012
The Bobcats were clearly the worst team in the shortened 2012 season. Charlotte finished 7-59 and was last in points scored, points allowed, offensive and defensive efficiency, and net rating. The Bobcats finished 13 games clear of the second-worst team, but didn’t win the lottery. New Orleans won the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, and Charlotte had to settle for his teammate, wing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kidd-Gilchrist was out of the league before he was 27 years old.
Philadelphia 76ers, November 2015
At 10-72, Philadelphia finished the 2015-16 season with the third-worst record in league history. The team did not have a 20 point per game scorer. Then-rookie Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers in scoring with 17.5 points per game. Philly won the lottery and took Ben Simmons with the No. 1 pick. Simmons couldn’t lead LSU to the NCAA Tournament. That should’ve been the first red flag. Simmons, though, had a solid run in Philly. He won Rookie of the Year in 2018 after sitting out just about all of his true rookie season. Simmons with the Sixers even made an All-NBA team and two All-Defensive teams. His time with the Sixers only lasted four years, though.