It's every NBA team's goal to play better than the year before.
But as the 2012-13 season approaches, it's time to start thinking about which teams will not get to accomplish that goal.
Keeping in mind that last season only had 66 games, here are the teams that are destined to finish as bad or worse than they did in 2011-12—in terms of win percentage and/or conference ranking—and a few teams that could go either way.
The Bobcats may have finally struck gold by picking Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in this year's draft, but that doesn't mean he alone can make this team better.
The Bobcats are much more than one good draft pick away from being a good NBA team.
They did manage to add guards Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon, along with center Brendan Haywood this offseason. However, they lost guards D.J. Augustin and Corey Maggette, and forward Derrick Brown—three of their top seven scorers last season—in the process.
The Bobcats finished with the worst winning percentage in NBA history last year at .106, compiling a measly seven wins out of 66 games, and I just don't see how their offseason moves will make them better—even if they only have one really good team in their division, the Miami Heat.
Charlotte's in the midst of another coaching change, and its young squad still lacks any real leadership on the court.
So while in a normal 82-game regular season the Bobcats will technically win more games, I don't see them moving up from the bottom of the Eastern conference—or the bottom of the entire NBA, for that matter.
The "Dwightmare" over the past year forced the Magic to trade away the best center in the NBA for virtually nothing.
That "nothing" they traded for will hopefully work out in the long run in the form of future draft picks, but for the coming season the Magic are nothing short of screwed.
Seriously, take a look at their roster and tell me who stands out to you besides Jameer Nelson, Al Harrington and, maybe, Aaron Afflalo?
On top of that, the Magic will have to deal with breaking in a new coach, Jacque Vaughn, the season after they lost the winningest coach in franchise history.
The only thing the Magic have to look forward to this season is playing against the Bobcats in their division.
The future may look bright for the Magic if young players, draft picks and coaching changes work out for them down the road, but the immediate present looks bleak, very bleak.
It is going to take a lot more than the addition of Linsanity to make up for what the Rockets have lost this offseason.
First, Jeremy Lin will have to prove that what he accomplished in a short stint with the New York Knicks can be repeated. But the Rockets will also have to make up for the loss of talent (Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic) traded away to acquire draft picks in a possible effort to land Dwight Howard—only to then bear witness to Howard being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sure, Kevin Martin is still bound to put up his usual 15-20 points per game.
And sure, the first-round draft picks acquired in the aforementioned trades were used to draft Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones—talented prospects could who could pay dividends down the road.
But for the coming season, the Rockets will not be able to immediately replace the production of Lowry, Scola and Dragic, which will make them worse than they were last year.
The Cavaliers had a decent draft this year.
They likely have another budding young star in Dion Waiters—who will help form an athletic young backcourt alongside last season's Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving—and they picked up a seven-footer, Tyler Zeller, who was able to score and rebound well in college.
But those two alone won't be enough to pull this team out of the bottom of the Central Division.
Head Coach Byron Scott still has a very raw pool of talent to work with. I think this team could be a lot more fun to watch, but inexperience will cost them games in the fourth quarter.
The team's best player, Irving, is to enter only his second year in the league.
Perhaps the Cavs can score big in the draft for a third year in a row and start climbing the Eastern Conference ranks in 2013-2014, but for the coming year they will still have a lot to figure out on the court.
The Mavericks lost everyone not named Dirk Nowitzki.
Well, not everyone. But not much remains from their 2011 championship team: Tyson Chandler is gone; both Jasons—Kidd and Terry—are gone; DeShawn Stevenson is gone; J.J. Barea is gone.
Again, you catch my drift.
In their place this coming season is O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison, who are both young and athletic. Also joining the Mavs this year are Elton Brand and Chris Kaman, who are upgrades over Brendan Haywood but aren't exactly spring chickens.
Moreover, without Kidd, the stability and veteran presence at guard is gone. Without Terry they don't have the same amount of firepower off of the bench.
In last year's shortened season, the Bulls were one of only two teams to reach 50 wins.
They finished with the Eastern Conference's top seed and were expected to meet up with the Miami Heat in the conference finals.
But everything changed for the Bulls when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the first game of the playoffs.
This team will go as Derrick Rose goes, and Rose is expected to miss much of the coming season, according to an Associated Press article on the Huffington Post.
The Bulls showed they could play well without Rose for stretches of last season, but they don't stand a chance of competing for a top seed—much less a title—without him.
The losses of C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik and Ronnie Brewer don't help, as the Bulls simply opted for lesser versions of them in Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed and Vladimir Radmanovic.
The newly acquired Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, along with a healthy Rip Hamilton could make up for those losses offensively. But Carlos Boozer's health could again be an issue as he and Luol Deng will be the team's best offensive options this year.
In summary, no Rose equals no ring. It also equals falling from the top spot in the East.
While this team could certainly end up at the bottom of the Pacific Division and Western Conference again, the additions of guard Aaron Brooks, forwards James Johnson and this year's top draft pick, Thomas Robinson, give this team a deeper roster than last year.
Center DeMarcus Cousins could emerge as an All-Star candidate. Guards Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton should each put up 15-20 points per game. Isaiah Thomas seems motivated and ready to add to his rookie campaign. And they have a coach that has the trust of the players.
Overall, I don't think the Kings will be a great team, but they should be better than last year. But since the Kings haven't made the postseason since 2005-06 season, seeing will be believing.
Tyreke Evans' jump shot and the team's maturity will be in question, as well.
I wanted to put them as a team that would finish just as bad as last year, but size is a commodity nowadays in the NBA. With the maturation of Greg Monroe and the addition of Andre Drummond, the Pistons could be nasty down low (Yeah, yeah, I know. "That's what she said.").
The addition of Corey Maggette will give them a little extra firepower, too.