The Most Disappointing NBA Teams Since 2000, Ranked

The Most Disappointing NBA Teams Since 2000, Ranked

With the Brooklyn Nets trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a one week span, many people have already deemed this era of Nets basketball as one of the biggest disappointments in recent history. A team that once featured three of the greatest scoring talents in league history with Durant, Harden, and Irving, has now closed its title window and is in rebuild mode. The Nets are not the only team that came into an era with high expectations and ended it with minimal results. In fact, they’re not the only Nets team that disappointed. The 2013-14 Nets are infamously known for giving the Celtics Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in exchange for one playoff series win.

The Nets are also not the only franchise with failed superteams. The Lakers have their share of disappointing teams but it often gets overshadowed by the history of their winning franchise. Their counterparts in LA, the Clippers, don’t have the history of success the Lakers but they certainly have similar failures. The aforementioned Celtics featuring Brown and Tatum jumped into the category as well after failing to reach the NBA Finals again with a favorable matchup in front of them. Most recently, the new-look Phoenix Suns’ “Big 3” bowed out of the postseason after an embarrassing sweep to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

We put together a list of NBA teams since 2000 that have underachieved or disappointed whether it was due to performance, injuries, age or the business of basketball getting in the way of these teams not capitalizing on their championship windows.

13. 2022-23 Milwaukee Bucks

While Giannis may not see this season as a failure, we respectfully do. The Bucks entered the postseason with the best record in the NBA. While Giannis missed multiple games in the series, we still saw the Bucks dominate a game without his presence. The team should be capable of winning a first round series with or without Giannis. Yes, it was the heroics of Jimmy Butler that ultimately decided the series to go along with this Heat team having a lot of playoff experience but this was a Miami team that limped into the postseason. They nearly missed the postseason after surviving the Chicago Bulls in their second Play-In Game. The Heat even lost one of the leading scorers at the beginning series in Tyler Herro. The narrative around the 2021-22 Bucks was “if Khris Middleton was healthy, the Bucks would’ve repeated as champs.” Well, Middleton was healthy this year and they lost in the first round to a No. 8 seed. That’s a disappointment.

12. 7 Seconds or Less Suns (2004-2010)

Led by the dynamic duo of two-time MVP Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire, the Phoenix Suns from 2004 to 2010 averaged 55 wins per season, made three Western Conference Finals in six years, and helped revolutionize modern offensive basketball as we know it, but ultimately were never able to get over the hump. Untimely injuries to key players such as Joe Johnson in the 2005 Playoffs and Amar’e Stoudemire in the 2006 season, combined with the controversial hip check game against the Spurs in 2007, resulted in missed opportunity after missed opportunity from one of the most talented teams of that era.

11. 2012-16 OKC Thunder

When the Thunder made the Finals in June of 2012, there was a feeling that as long as they kept the core of Durant, Westbrook, Harden, and Ibaka together a dynasty was inevitable. Just a few months later, they traded future MVP James Harden to the Houston Rockets and not only did the Thunder never win a championship in that window, they never even made it back to the Finals. Injuries played a huge role in that as Westbrook tore his meniscus in the 2013 Playoffs, Serge Ibaka was dealing with a calf injury in the 2014 Western Conference Finals, and Kevin Durant missed most of the 2015 season with a Jones fracture. Following the Harden trade, the only time the Thunder had a healthy playoff run was in 2016 when they infamously blew a 3-1 lead to the 73-win Warriors. Injuries, poor roster construction, in addition to agreeing to one of the regrettable trades ever are the reasons they were a disappointment.

10. 2003-04 Lakers

Despite 56 wins and a Finals appearance, the 2004 Lakers will always be known as a team that started four Hall of Famers and went into the Finals as favorites, only to suffer a shocking defeat at the hands of the Detroit Pistons. The 2004 Finals was also the last series Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant played together as teammates as Shaq was traded to the Heat in the 2004 offseason, and the Lakers fully committed to building around Kobe Bryant.

9. 2018-19 Celtics

Fresh off pushing the Cavs 7 games in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals without their stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics were the overwhelming favorite to win the Eastern Conference prior to the 18-19 season when their stars were set to return. With talented young players on the roster, such as Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum emerging, and veterans such as Al Horford and Marcus Morris still on the roster, the notion was that the return of Irving and Hayward made them the biggest threat to taking down the Warriors Dynasty. As we know, that didn’t happen; the Celtics had a subpar regular season, lost in five to the Bucks in the second round, and Irving’s leadership skills were much maligned by the media all season.

8. 2021-22 Lakers

When the Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook from the Wizards via trade and made multiple splash free agent signings, most NBA fans had their eyes set on June 2022 with a Lakers-Nets Finals considered more likely than not. The 21-22 Lakers were an older team that couldn’t defend, and the trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook were never able to clique offensively. The season quickly went from a season that started with championship aspirations to an embarrassment as the Lakers finished 33-49 and missed the playoffs.

7. 2013-14 Nets

The 2013-14 Nets have become the poster child for failed superteams. As we all know the Nets traded three unprotected first-rounders, Marshon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, and Gerald Wallace, to the Celtics for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry. Those picks eventually became James Young, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum. Paul Pierce and Jason Terry only spent one season with the Nets before leaving in free agency, and Garnett was traded back to the Timberwolves just one and a half years into his Nets tenure. All the Nets got to show for going all in was a 44-38 season, and one playoff series win.

6. 2022-23 Boston Celtics

This was a not a team expected to ever enter this conversation. After last season, it seemed as if the Celtics built the perfect blueprint to become a championship team in this league. They were two wins away from the NBA Finals with a core built from homegrown talent. A core that went through the highs and lows of being young but always flashed the ability to lead a franchise to the highest level. Even after falling in the NBA Finals, last season’s run projected that the Celtics were just beginning a long stretch of pure dominance in the East even though they’ve always been at the top. It seemed as if they finally broke through as the premier team in the league.

Even after losing Ime Udoka, the Celtics still finished with the second best record in the NBA. While Miami had remarkable run through the playoffs, the Celtics had no business losing a series to a No. 8 seed as the defending Eastern Conference champs especially when you factor in the depleted Heat roster compared to last season and the Celtics adding the Sixth Man of the Year in Malcolm Brogdon. Will this be the end of “the Jays” run in Boston? Only time will tell but for this season, it was a disappointment.

5. 2019-23 Kawhi-PG Clippers

While the Clippers duo is still intact, the results warrant a spot on this list. When the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George in the 2019 offseason, fresh off of a 48-34 season in 2018-19 without them, they immediately became the championship favorites for a lot of basketball pundits. The 2019-20 Clippers were supposed to have the “best player in the world” in Kawhi Leonard, the best wing duo since Jordan and Pippen in Kawhi and PG, and the deepest team in basketball. Ultimately, their pieces never meshed as well as anticipated, their rim protection was lackluster, and they ended up blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets in the bubble. Outside of that season, we’ve never seen the Clippers at full strength when postseason play begins. This year without Paul George, Kawhi Leonard teased NBA fans with his brilliant early series performance against the Suns but ultimately ended up tearing meniscus, putting a close on the Clippers’ season.

4. Lob City Clippers (2011-2017)

Whether it was 2014 against OKC or 2015 against Houston, the Lob City Clippers became known for epic playoff collapses as much as they became known for their elite and entertaining offenses. The trade for Chris Paul put the Clippers on the map, and he immediately made them one of the best teams in the league. When they fired Vinny Del Negro and traded for Doc Rivers in 2013, Doc was supposed to be the coach that transformed the Clippers from a good to a great team like Steve Kerr ended up doing for the Warriors when Kerr took over for Mark Jackson. Ultimately under Doc, the Clippers never went further than they did with Vinny. The Warriors Dynasty shut their window in 2015, and they blew the team up after the 2016-17 season.

3. 2023-24 Phoenix Suns

The 2023-24 Phoenix Suns were a disaster from start to finish. Despite having three of the league’s elite scorers in Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, and Devin Booker, the team was dominated by a young up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves team in the first round of the playoffs. While the T’Wolves were one of the best teams in the association all regular season, there’s no excuse for a team with the firepower the Suns had to get swept in the first round. The roster had its holes but that comes with trying to a build with three guys making nearly $50 million per year. While Frank Vogel will likely lose his job, there’s really no solution to fixing this roster besides blowing it up completely and collecting some of the draft picks lost in the deals for KD and Beal. Beal has a no-trade clause to make things even worse. This was a experiment that just looked good on paper but the era of stacking non-homegrown stars together might end with this team. Giannis can say there’s no failure in sports all he wants but this team failed.

2. 2012-13 Lakers

The Lakers’ trades for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the 2012 off-season were supposed to reopen their championship window and most importantly, Kobe Bryant’s championship window. Instead, injuries played a large role in derailing their season, as Nash only played 50 games, and Dwight Howard never seemed fully healthy from his offseason surgery.

In addition to the injuries, they fired Mike Brown and hired Mike D’Antoni; there were reports of friction between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, and Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles at the end of the season. Dwight Howard signed with the Rockets after the 2012-13 season, and the Lakers’ title window shut as quickly as it reopened.

1. “7-11” Nets (2019-2023)

When Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the Nets in the 2019 offseason, there were a lot of risks involved. Durant was coming off a gruesome torn Achilles, Kyrie Irving’s durability and leadership skills were in question at the time, but ultimately the Nets thought that signing KD/Kyrie was worth the “risks.” Less than four years later, neither Irving nor Durant are on the Nets as both stars have been traded. During their time as teammates, they only played 74 games together, only won one playoff series, had a potential Dynasty slammed shut due to injuries, Irving refused to get vaccinated, which had a significant role in James Harden asking to be traded. There was as much dialogue about off-court drama then there was about on-court production during 7/11’s tenure with the Nets.

Via – Complex

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