City Without a King: Are the Cleveland Cavaliers the Worst Team in NBA History?

Michael GrofsickContributor IFebruary 5, 2011

This look pretty much sums up the Cavs season
This look pretty much sums up the Cavs season

Things aren't going too well for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Hell, things haven't been too good in the city of Cleveland for a very long time. Sure, things seemed good for a while with LeBron leading the Cavs to a few top seeds and some deep playoff runs, but the Cavs were still unable to bring home a championship. 

The Cavs started the year with one of the biggest "feel good" stories in a while, when in their first game without LeBron, they were able to beat the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics, 95-87. Everyone's thought was, "Take that LeBron! We don't need you to win." Unfortunately, everything pretty much went downhill from there.

Things didn't start out too rough. After a three-game losing streak, the Cavs reeled off three straight road wins—albeit against three very poor teams—and were able to get their record to 4-3. This would be the last time the Cavs would be over .500, and after a few weeks, they wouldn't be anywhere close to it. 

The Cavs were 7-10 when it was time for one of the biggest regular season games in years, when Cleveland welcomed back LeBron James and the Miami Heat for the firsttime. The crazy thing about this game was that it matched a very good team (although it was struggling at the time) against a very poor team.

Even with that fact, the game was hugely anticipated by fans across the country. No one was sure what would happen, but for the most part though, violence was expected. Cleveland fans can be quite harsh at times, and that game featured a lot of extra security. Stadium staff were hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.

Unfortunately, LeBron showed the Cavs why they loved him for so many years, as he dropped 38 on his old team to go with eight assists and five rebounds in a 118-90 Heat blowout win. That seemed like the turning point for both teams. Miami went on to win 12 in a row and 21 of 22, and the Cavs lost 10 in a row, 33 of 34 and are currently on a 23-game losing streak, tying the longest single season losing streak in NBA history.

The Cavs are making a strong statement for being the worst team of all time. They have the seventh-worst record of all time through 50 games, at 8-42, and the problem is that this happened with them winning four of their first seven games. Since that point, they are 4-39.

The Cavs have a chance today to break one of the records that no one wants to break. If they lose tonight to the Trail Blazers, they would set the record for consecutive losses in a single season at 24.

At first, it seemed like the Cavs were struggling because of a "LeBron hangover." The problem is that it never went away. The Cavs have had some bad luck this year, losing Anderson Varejao most likely for the year and Mo Williams for chunks of time. Even considering that, however, the Cavs don't have a roster that's going to open any eyes. Their leading scorer is 34-year-old Antawn Jamison at 17.2 PPG. With Varejao out, their leading rebounder is J.J. Hickson, coming in at a 6.9 RPG.

The Cavs are projected to finish the season at 13-69, but that's assuming they ever win another game. While that's obviously a joke, it might be a while before that actually happens. The Cavs finish the rest of the year with an average schedule, so it's possible they could steal a few wins from poor teams, like they did at the start of the season.

The problem is that the Cavs started the year with at least a false sense of confidence and by this point, I'm not sure how much they have left. The Cavs are saying all the right things, indicating that they are still giving 100 percent every night. It seems like they are, but they're just plain bad right now. 

The 13-69 season-ending projection would tie them with the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks and 2004-05 Atlanta Hawks for having the sixth-worst record of all time, four games behind (or ahead, depending on which way you look at it) the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers. The Cavs would need to win two of their next 32 games in order to finish with a better record than those 76ers. Seems easy enough, except for the fact that the Cavs have lost 33 of their last 34.

At this point, I still think that the Cavs shouldn't be considered the worst NBA team of all time. But by the time game No. 82 rolls around, they could be playing a game that decides it.