Both Ends of the Spectrum in the NBA

Bobby Amarant

In the 95’-96’ season, the Chicago Bulls stunned the world by breaking their own record for the best regular season record of all time with 72 wins. In the 11’-12’ season, the Charlotte Bobcats had an all-time worst winning percentage at 10.6%, albeit in a shortened lockout season with only 66 games. In the 72’-73’ season, the Philadelphia 76ers had the worst record in a full season at 9 wins and 73 losses. In the 15’-16’ season, we have two teams on pace to break records; the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers.
As it stands right now, the Warriors are 36-2 and 76ers are 4-36, incredible and utterly terrible respectively. In terms of pace, the Sixers are on pace to finish at 8 wins and 74 losses, and the Warriors are on pace for an astonishing 77 wins. However, the Warriors could realistically fall short and the 76ers could also reasonably improve enough to not break their own record.
With the reigning-champion Warriors, the problem lies in scheduling. Many of their challenging games lie on the back-end of their schedule, leaving a tough task to conclude their historic campaign. The other members of the top five NBA teams right now include the Spurs, Cavaliers, Thunder, and the Clippers. These five teams play the Warriors a combined ten times in the last stretch of the season, four of these games being against the second best team, the Spurs. However, even if we assume they lose half of these games and throw in an extra two based on the fact that they have already given two away to teams outside of the top 5, they would still have 73 wins and break the record. So, you may be asking, why are the Warriors not yet a lock to break the record? The easy answer is simply bad luck. All it takes is one Stephen Curry ankle injury, one Draymond Green torn ACL, one Klay Thompson broken arm, and the dream is over. Without their core three in tact, not to mention their astounding supporting cast, injuries could be crushing to their team. However, injuries are caused usually by misfortunate plays and they can happen to anybody, so the Warriors very much have a chance of breaking the record.
At the same time, we now have the bottom-feeding Sixers. With many fans trusting in Sam Hinkie and “The Process”, hope remains for the team despite their abysmal record. Their current pace would put them on pace to break both the 12’ Bobcats’ and 73’ Sixers’ record for the worst winning percentage in a season and the worst record in a season respectively. There has certainly been a glimmer of hope for Philly though, and his name is Ish Smith. One of the best players on the 76ers, Nerlens Noel, claimed that Ish Smith is the “first pure point guard” he had ever played with. After acquiring him from the Pelicans for two second round draft picks on Christmas Eve, the Sixers have gone 3-6, much improved over the prior 1-30. If their current pace from then on keeps up, they will finish with 18 wins. However, such thinking is unrealistic. While Ish has undoubtedly helped the team become more competitive, a career backup player in a greater role will likely not lead to such a major impact.
In conclusion, both teams are making history to this point but the sustainability of their level of play is hard to substantiate due to the chance of misfortune and scheduling. The Warriors being the best team ever is probably a safer bet at this point than the Sixers being the worst because the pace for the Warriors shattered the record while the Sixers squeak by with the loss column by a mere one loss. While it could happen in both ways, it is in no ways a lock like some fans perceive it to be.