Like any other professional sports league, the NBA has a wide variety of talent spread throughout.
First there are the big-market teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, who continually find themselves at or near the top.
Next are the rebuilding or already solid teams like the Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers, who aren't quite championship contenders but are on their way.
At the very bottom lie the embarrassments—teams that are likely years away from contending due to poor management, coaching, low player talent or a combination of all three.
These are the teams this article is about.
Here are the five most embarrassing teams in the NBA today.
What a difference a year can make.
Winners of the 2010-2011 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks are quickly on a free fall in the Western Conference.
Already in danger of falling out of the playoffs last season, the Mavericks whiffed on Deron Williams and instead did a patchwork job of replacing Jason Kidd and Jason Terry with other teams' leftover and unwanted players.
Their new starting point guard, Darren Collison, lost his job in Indiana to career backup combo guard George Hill.
Their new starting shooting guard, O.J. Mayo, has slowly been phased out in Memphis for years now and was on the free-agent market for weeks before signing a dirt-cheap deal with Dallas.
Elton Brand was amnestied by Philadelphia, where he never lived up to the expectations of his huge $80 million deal.
Chris Kaman is an average center in the league and, despite only being 30, couldn't land a multi-year deal.
For whatever reason, Dallas has become a graveyard for free agents—likely because their roster centers around now-34-year-olds Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki.
The Mavericks' climb to the top has now become an embarrassing fall toward the bottom; a place they'll likely end up if they can't find a true second star.
Whatever Houston's original plan was this offseason, it's safe to say the Rockets have failed mightily thus far.
Furiously trading and amnestying players to clear cap space and acquire draft picks to land a superstar, the best the Rockets ended up doing was paying $25 million for backup center Omer Asik.
With 20 players currently on the 15-man roster, Houston now finds itself in an awkward situation with the lowest payroll in the league and no one to spend it on.
The team has a good amount of young talent, but little-to-no balance on the roster with veterans. As it stands, Kevin Martin is the only player with a full season of starter experience.
Many thought the Rockets overspent on Jeremy Lin, who they had let go just a season before. Asik has a career average of 2.9 points per game and will be making nearly $15 million from the Rockets in 2014-2015.
It's possible Houston could pull off a big trade for a Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, Pau Gasol or someone else, but until then, the Rockets will continue to be the big embarrassment of the 2012 offseason.
Gone are the days of Mike Bibby and Chris Webber in Sacramento.
The Kings' last winning season was in 2005-2006, when most Americans had never even heard of social media.
Over the past four years, the Kings have won an average of only 22 games per year. They've also had five different head coaches in the last six seasons.
While there is a culmination of reasons why the Kings have done so poorly lately, the main reason resides on the defensive end.
Ranking dead last in the NBA in points allowed last season, the Kings gave up 104.4 points per game to opponents. For comparison, the Chicago Bulls gave up 88.2.
Tyreke Evans has taken a huge step back from his rookie season, and Jimmer Fredette is looking more and more like a complete bust.
Sacramento also made the foolish trade of Omri Casspi and a protected first-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for J.J. Hickson, who they cut before he spent even a full season on the team.
The Kings roster has talent, but no true leaders or defensive standouts to help carry them out of the Western Conference basement.
Despite an NBA-worst seven wins last season, the Bobcats still barely managed to avoid the top spot on this list.
Any way you cut it, Charlotte was flat-out terrible last season.
Winners of seven games in a 66-game season, the Bobcats were dead last in the league in scoring at 87.0 points per game. They also finished 29th overall in rebounding (39.0) and 27th in points allowed (100.9).
Almost remarkably, not one player on the entire roster had a PER of over 15.0, the league average. Six players even had a PER of under 10.
The turnover on their roster from two years ago is astounding. The Bobcats actually did have a nice collection of talent, but chose to let it slip away.
Actually making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Bobcats have seen the likes of Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Tyson Chandler, Boris Diaw, Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin all leave with little to nothing to show for it.
The good news for Charlotte is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Already under the salary cap, they stand to have even more flexibility next year with the expiring contracts of DeSagana Diop and Matt Carroll.
The Magic land at the No. 1 spot on this list even though they won 30 more games than the Bobcats last season.
This is made on the honest assumption that as they both stand, the Bobcats are actually ahead of the Magic in the rebuilding process.
The whole Dwight Howard trade situation was a mess. Orlando did too much to try to appease their star center by dealing for bad contract after bad contract, which ended up handicapping the franchise of adding any true additional talent.
What little talent and assets they got back in the Howard trade was truly astounding.
After holding off a trade to Brooklyn and then to Los Angeles for months—instead of landing Andrew Bynum, a high first-round pick or a potential young star—Orlando got back a couple of overpriced veteran players and some marginal young talent and picks.
They should have pushed harder to package Hedo Turkoglu in any potential deal, as his career has taken a nosedive the past few seasons and he still carries $24 million on his contract.
By getting Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo, the Magic did the Nuggets a huge favor by freeing up their cap space. Afflalo is a fine player, but he's definitely not worth $30 million over the next four years.
Also, with a chance to possibly have a little bit of cap space themselves, Orlando decided to pick up the $6 million option on J.J. Redick's contract and give the 30-year-old Jameer Nelson a new three-year, $24 million deal.
If Orlando thinks they can be a contender in the East with their current roster, they are sadly mistaken.
They need to scrap what veterans they have now for whatever they can get and begin to rebuild around Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson and their likely very-high 2012 first-round pick.