We’re three weeks into the new NBA season and all 30 teams have played enough games to form an opinion on their performances so far. Every team has played at least ten games so far with each one either over or underperforming.
This writeup will focus on the underperformers, five teams that have fallen short of their preseason aspirations. Here are the five most disappointing teams in the NBA so far this season in alphabetical order.
I suppose it was always going to be difficult for the Atlanta Hawks to replicate last season’s success. The Hawks finished with the fifth seed and made a run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2020/21.
But they’ve followed that with a slow start this season having won just four of their 12 games so far with a .333 record. The alarming part is that they won three of their opening four games and then lost seven of the subsequent eight matches.
Five observations on the Hawks’ five-game losing streak – The defense is a shitshow – Capela’s start is affecting both ends – Collins not being featured enough – Huerter is back – The tough schedule isn’t an excuse for looking bad (Subscribe below) https://t.co/VRzIznr6O9 — Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) November 10, 2021
The Hawks are currently on a five-game losing streak and coach Nate McMillan has to find a way to tighten up the defense.
The Hawks rank fourth in the league for turnovers but 28th for both blocks and steals. Those damning stats tell all there is to know about why the Hawks are 12th in the Eastern Conference.
Right above Atlanta in the East is the Boston Celtics who are 5-6 and continue to perform below expectations. Following the restructuring that saw Brad Stevens promoted to the front office and Ime Udoka replacing him as the head coach, not much has changed on the court.
The Celtics continue to struggle as every team in the NBA has figured out their only tactic is to pass to Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown.
Starting shooting guard, Marcus Smart openly voiced out his frustration which is another sign that all is not well in Boston.
In the first 7 games, the Celtics went 2-5 while being 25th in defensive rating, at 110.3 Over the last 4 games, the Celtics are 3-1 with a league best 93.9 defensive rating (more than 4 points better than the next best team). This teams identity is on the defensive end. pic.twitter.com/u5k0Cs5d4Q — HOOPS EMPIRE (@HoopsEmpire_) November 11, 2021
The only source of optimism is that they’ve won three of the last four games. That run of form could be the springboard to the Celtics finally turning the corner.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Thanks to their voluminous recruitment in the offseason, the LA Lakers were the preseason favorites to win the championship. And while they probably still are favorites, the season has not started according to plan for them at all.
The Lakers are 7-5 in the Western Conference and currently occupying the seventh seed which doesn’t seem so bad. But by their own lofty standards, the Lakers should be flying as high as the 10-1 Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers aren't the best team in the league at this point in the season but they're certainly the most exciting team and it's not even close. — Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) November 11, 2021
Frank Vogel had better not repeat last season’s mistakes when the Lakers were lackluster towards the regular season. It backfired and they were subsequently knocked out in the first round by second-seed Phoenix Suns.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
The New Orleans Pelicans are the worst team in the NBA, which sums it all up. New Orleans has won just one of their 12 games this season, the worst record in the league.
Pelicans: — Lost to OKC at home tonight — 1-11 record, worst in the NBA — Worst net rating — Worst defense — 5th Worst offense — Confusion around Zion’s injury Oh, they also gave Steven Adams $35M and had to attach a first round pick & Eric Bledsoe to trade him a year later. pic.twitter.com/KPrkZ1v76x — StatMuse (@statmuse) November 11, 2021
Worse than the Pistons and the Rockets, do you know how hard it is to be worse than those teams? It’s also noteworthy to mention that they’ve lost eight straight games, which is unacceptable for their level of talent.
Perhaps this is all down to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram being injured or maybe they’re just tanking. Either way, it’s not a good look for head coach Willie Green and the franchise at large.
The Portland Trailblazers convinced their franchise player, Damian Lillard to stay with promises to improve the roster and become competitive. Needless to say, that didn’t happen and Lillard is playing below his lofty individual standards.
Damian Lillard is 18-of-83 from 3PT range to begin the season. That’s 21.7% on 9.2 attempts per game. — Shane Young (@YoungNBA) November 6, 2021
Damian Lillard is averaging 20 points per game over 12 games and has made just 38% of his field goals. His three-point percentage is currently 25% which further explains why Portland is 10th in the East win five wins from 12 games.
The Trailblazers have always been competitive in the West and it felt like they only needed one more piece to complement Lillard and McCollum. However, this season they look like a team rebuilding which is bad news for Dame at this stage of his career.