What happens the year following an NBA team winning less than 20 games in a season?
Two NBA teams last year won less than 20 games: the Milwaukee Bucks (with a league-low 15 wins) and the Philadelphia 76ers (19 wins).
So, the questions becomes: What can we expect from the Bucks and 76ers this year? Better stated, how many wins will these teams have for the 2014-15 season?
Based on past history, we can expect these teams to increase their win totals by about nine wins. Since the 1976-77 NBA-ABA merger, there have been only three teams that went from less than 20 wins in a season to fewer wins the following year. In 1995-96, Vancouver won 15 games; the following year the win-total was 14. In 1999-2000, the Chicago Bulls had only 17 wins. Next year that total decreased to 15. In that same season, the Golden State Warriors had 19 wins and won two less, 17, the following year.
Forty-eight teams since the merger have won less than 20 games in a season. Of those 48, two were last year, while seven of those teams played in shortened seasons the following campaign. Of the remaining 39 teams, nine of those teams went from under 20 wins one season to 30 or ore the following year. They were:
1989-90: Orlando (18 wins to 31 wins)
1993-94: Dallas (13 wins to 36 wins)
1996-97: Boston (15 wins to 36 wins)
1999-2000: L.A. Clippers (15 wins to 31 wins)
2000-01: Washington (19 wins to 37 wins)
2002-03: Cleveland (17 wins to 35 wins)
2002-03: Denver (17 wins to 43 wins)
2004-05: New Orleans (18 wins to 38 wins)
2007-08: Miami (15 wins to 43 wins)
The 39 teams that played a full schedule the following year increased their wins by a total of 366 wins, an increase of 9.4 wins. With only two teams going from under 20 wins to over 40 the following year (2002-03 Denver and the 2007-08 Miami Heat) there’s only a slim chance that either the Bucks or 76ers will make the playoffs this year.
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