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Sports Then and Now

Are the Current Philadelphia 76ers the Worst Team in NBA History?

Posted on November 29, 2015 by Dean Hybl
The Philadelphia 76ers will need to get moving if they hope to not finish with one of the worst records in NBA history.

The Philadelphia 76ers will need to get moving if they hope to not finish with one of the worst records in NBA history.

The Philadelphia 76ers have started the 2015-2016 season with 17 straight losses, but they have a long way to go to be considered even the worst team in franchise history.

That honor currently rests with the 1972-73 76ers squad that remains the only team in NBA history to finish a complete (82 game) season with fewer than 10 victories.

With a roster that included future Hall of Famer Hal Greer in his final season and leading scorer Fred Carter, the 76ers had won 30 games the previous season, but started with 15 straight losses and were 3-35 before the calendar turned to 1973.

Head coach Roy Rubin was fired after a 4-47 start and replaced by guard Kevin Loughery, who was nearing the end of his 11-year playing career. Loughery was listed as a player-coach having played in 32 games earlier in the season, but after not scoring in the second game he served as coach, Loughery did not see action again and focused on his coaching role.

The 76ers were marginally better playing for Loughery with a 5-26 record, but all five of those wins came during a seven game stretch in mid-February. The team lost the first 11 games coached by Loughery and the last 13 to complete their miserable campaign with a 9-73 mark.

Given that the current 76ers have not won a game since March 25th, a string that includes their final 10 games of last season and first 17 so far this campaign, they certainly have a chance to match the futility of 1972-73.

However, given that the 76ers also started last season by losing their first 17 games, but finished with 18 wins on the year, there certainly could be time for the team to achieve respectability.

In comparing the 1972-73 76ers with the current team, the most striking difference is in the experience level of the team members. In addition to Greer, who was in his 14th season, the squad included three other players with 10 years of professional experience and only one rookie.

The current 76ers are striking for their lack of experience. Only Carl Landry, a veteran of eight NBA seasons who has not yet played in a game this year, entered the season with more than two years of NBA experience.

Among the current roster are five rookies and at 25 years-old Robert Covington is the oldest player on the roster who has seen game action so far this year.

The 1972-73 76ers won only nine games despite Fred Cater averaging 20 points per contest.

The 1972-73 76ers won only nine games despite Fred Cater averaging 20 points per contest.

Fans of the 76ers know that the franchise has been “rebuilding” since their last winning record and playoff appearance following the 2011-2012 campaign. They have been stockpiling top picks, including back-to-back seasons of selecting players who missed their first season due to injuries.

Nerlens Noel has recovered from missing the 2013-2014 season and has shown signs of being a solid scorer and rebounder. Unfortunately, their first pick in 2014, Joel Embiid, has not been so fortunate and is expected to miss his second straight year in 2015-2016.

Their first pick in the most recent draft, Jahlil Okafor, has been a standout so far averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds per game. However, it is left to see if his recent off the court incidents have any impact on his career.

It is interesting to note that while the 1972-73 76ers have the worst 82-game record in league history, their claim as the worst team in league history arguably was challenged during the 2011-2012 strike-shortened season. That year, the Charlotte Bobcats lost their final 23 games to finish the 66-game season with a 7-59 record and .106 winning percentage. The 1972-73 76ers had a winning percentage of .110.

Only time will tell if the current 76ers complete the season being discussed with the 1972-73 76ers or 2011-2012 Bobcats for the dubious distinction of being the worst team in NBA history.

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