Pivot Points: The NBA's Worst Are a Pitiful Lot

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer INovember 22, 2009

NEW YORK - MARCH 18:  Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks reacts at a referee against the New Jersey Nets at Madison Square Garden March 18, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Until last night, the New York Yankees had won more games in November than either the New York Knicks or the New Jersey Nets. In Charlotte, the Bobcats are trying their hardest to challenge the record for the worst field goal percentage in NBA history.

Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers remain locked in a fierce battle to see who will finish in the Pacific division cellar, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, bless their hearts, at least they show up to play the games.

If this season will be will be remembered for one of the most competitive in the race for playoff seeding, then it shall equally be remembered for the race to see who gets the most ping-pong balls in June.

There was a time when teams could expect a challenge regardless of who they were playing, but those times seem to be a distant memory of NBA seasons past.

Out of the teams that I mentioned, none can really say they have an honest shot at the postseason, and there are actually a few teams like the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies who should join their ranks.

If by some small stretch of the imagination, one of them should make the postseason, then they are the closest things to a sure bet for getting swept out of the playoffs.

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In the Eastern Conference, the futility is to be expected, because the gap between the best and the rest is actually a chasm, similar to the Grand Canyon in width.

The Western Conference is usually a bit deeper and this season is no different except you have three annual playoff teams, the San Antonio Spurs, the Utah Jazz, and the New Orleans Hornets, that are struggling at or below the .500 mark.

There is a chance that those teams will turn their seasons around, and in all probability are safe bets to make the playoffs, but for the others, the end of the season can't arrive soon enough.

Mike D'Antoni is finding out the hard way that his run-and-gun style of play may not be suited for the rough and tumble east, and it sure works a lot better when you have a point guard like Steve Nash at the helm.

In the matchup of Eastern bottom-feeders the only thing we knew for sure is that someone had to win, and it was the Knicks that were eventually able to outlast the just as dysfunctional Nets.

For Madison Square Garden to be the mecca of basketball, there sure hasn't been much of the professional variety played there for a while. For both teams, their only hopes seem to lie in the free-agent bonanza of 2010. It can't arrive soon enough.

The Nets can take solace in the fact that there was another team that started the season 0-13, and later went on to the playoffs. The Phoenix Suns accomplished the feat in 1996-97, but these Nets look nothing like that team.

Along those same lines, the only team to finish the season with a worst shooting percentage than the Charlotte Bobcats have now were the Boston Celtics, and that team won a championship.

I should probably mention that those Celtics were one of the best defensive teams to ever play the game and were anchored in the middle by a guy named Bill Russell.

As I scan the roster of the Bobcats none of the players stand out to me as having those Russell like qualities, and they are far from the best defensive team in basketball, so maybe that comparison is a little unfair.

There is nothing unfair to say about the worst of the West, who have taken turns looking like teams of various high school qualities. Well, actually I may have seen some high schools that competed a little better.

The best thing the hapless Clippers have going for them is the fact that they share a building with the defending champion Lakers, and they are a much cheaper ticket. Plus, the eventual return of rookie forward Blake Griffin is not a bad thing.

Too bad the same can't be said for Golden State, who have looked anything but golden the first part of the season. There is no rookie sensation waiting to step in and salvage the Warriors' season, and if there was, he would probably turn the other way and run.

The Warriors are, in essence, the New York Knicks West, in that they are capable of putting up big numbers, but every night is also their opponents best offensive night of the season.

You would think that Warrior and defense are two words that would go together, but it seems like the word is foreign to this bunch of guys whose best defense seems to be taking the ball out of bounds after a score.

Everyone knew the Timberpups would be bad, but really? This bad? I can't understand how their fans are even able to watch them play, and for that reason, the Minnesota fans have to be the best in the league.

It's a shame, too, because point guard Johnny Flynn is a joy to watch and Al Jefferson is a stud, but the Wolves might play the worst brand of basketball outside of New Jersey, and it's not an exaggeration either.

So, as this season plays out and our attention is held by the teams competing for playoff spots, we should cast an occasional glance at the league's worst. After all, isn't it important to see who will win the race to be the first to shake David Stern's hand in June?

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