Monday, April 15, 2024
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For the first time in nearly four months, the Detroit Pistons no longer have the NBA’s worst record

Think back, Pistons fans. Do you remember a simpler time, one filled with a bit more joy and a bit less James Wiseman? Well, that time was nearly four months ago. On Nov. 11, 2023, the Detroit Pistons woke up without having the worst record in the NBA. At 2-8, their season was hardly off to a rousing start, but at least they could look at the standings and point to the 1-8 Memphis Grizzlies as being worse than they were.

But on the 12th, the Grizzlies won their second game. On the 13th, the Pistons lost their ninth. And ever since then, the Pistons have either held or been tied for the NBA’s worst record… until Thursday. On Tuesday, the Pistons won their ninth game of the year and moved to 9-49 overall. That put them in a tie with their fellow Eastern Conference doormat, the Washington Wizards

The Wizards were the next of the two to take the floor. On Thursday, they played an overtime thriller against the Los Angeles Lakers, but, ultimately, fell short in a 134-131 defeat. That pushed their record down to 9-50, giving them sole possession of the title of “NBA’s worst team.”

In the process, they knocked the Pistons out of that bottom slot. In tangible basketball terms, this means very little. The NBA’s revamped lottery odds give the three worst teams in the league the same 14% odds at the No. 1 overall pick in June. The only difference is that the team with the worst record can slip no lower than No. 5, while the team in second can slip no lower than No. 6.

Of course, not everything needs to have practical value to be meaningful. The Pistons, at one point, lost a single-season record 28 consecutive games. They got to Christmas having won only twice to that point in the season. We can’t exactly say that the Pistons have “turned things around” when they’re 9-49, but the idea that someone out there might be worse than the team that lost 28 games in a row is at least the faintest possible sign of progress. Nobody wants to be the worst team in NBA history.

Here’s where things get even spicier: The Wizards have lost 13 games in a row. Let’s say they were to lose 14 more. Their opponent in game No. 28, which would potentially tie them with the Pistons for the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history… would be the Pistons on March 29. The basketball gods are pushing these two teams towards one of the lamer rivalries the sport has ever seen.

Right now, both the Pistons and Wizards are on pace to finish 13-69. That would tie for the eighth worst record in NBA history. No single season has ever produced multiple teams with such a low winning percentage until now. 

Buckle up, folks. You’ve never seen a race for 29th quite like this one.

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