Predicting the NBA's Worst Teams for 2021-22 Season

Predicting the NBA's Worst Teams for 2021-22 Season

Figuring out the worst NBA team is an important process for fans with and without a betting interest. Doing so gives you an idea of the competitive landscape, particularly of which squads you should expect to contend for a spot in the playoffs and for a chance to appear in the NBA Finals.

Many will allow themselves to find out the answer in real-time, allowing for larger sample sizes before making a call on who is the worst team in the NBA. For futures bettors, though, it's imperative to get a jump on all NBA odds prior to the regular season. Investments in championship picks and win totals is best done well before opening night. You need to have a hold on the pecking order to decide how to direct yours.

Pegging the worst NBA teams early is most useful when working on win totals. And believe it or not, the 2020-21 NBA regular-season win totals are in. Let's take a look at them, courtesy of BetOnline

Eastern Conference Team betonline betonline Western Conference Team 
Atlanta Hawks 36.5  42.5 Dallas Mavericks 
Boston Celtics 46.5  43.5 Denver Nuggets 
Brooklyn Nets 45.5   38.5  Golden State Warriors 
Charlotte Hornets 25.5  Off Houston Rockets 
Chicago Bulls 29.5   46.5  Los Angeles Clippers 
Cleveland Cavaliers  22.5   50.5   Los Angeles Lakers
Detroit Pistons  23.5   30.5 Memphis Grizzlies 
 Indiana Pacers 39.5   29.5 Minnesota Timberwolves 
 Miami Heat 44.5   35.5 New Orleans Pelicans 
 Milwaukee Bucks 50.5   26.5 Oklahoma City Thunder
 New York Knicks 22.5    37.5  Phoenix Suns 
 Orlando Magic 32.5    40.5  Portland Trail Blazers 
 Philadelphia 76ers 44.5    28.5  Sacramento Kings 
 Toronto Raptors 41.5   29.5 San Antonio Spurs 
 Washington Wizards 29.5   40.5 Utah Jazz 

Remember that these win totals are based on a 72-game schedule. They will be adjusted if the NBA has to cancel contests because of the coronavirus pandemic. Also make sure to double-check these lines, as they will shift between now and opening night.

In the meantime, we have some inklings on which teams will end up with the five worst records—and what that means for their over/under stock. They are ranked in order of increasing futility.

Predicting NBA's 5 Worst Teams for 2020-21

5. Sacramento Kings (28.5)


"Kings at Magic 06" by RMTip21 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Doling out the No. 5 spot was initially difficult. The Kings have made it easier on us.

After letting Bogdan Bogdanovic walk in free agency, it is clear the front office isn't too concerned with what happens next year. Yes, they maxed out De'Aaron Fox, but that only means they will be planning out the next four to five years around him.

As presently constructed, the Kings could angle for something way better than a bottom-five finish. We're betting they're not done shedding talent. They'll be sellers at the trade deadline, which should ensure their place in the Association's basement.

OSB Prediction: Sacramento hits the under (-110)

4. Detroit Pistons (23.5)

If anyone can explain just what in the actual heck the Pistons were doing over the offseason, we would really appreciate it. 

Detroit entered free agency with more cap space than any team outside Atlanta or New York, but it wasn't supposed to matter. The Pistons are rebuilding. They wouldn't spend that money on win-now talent in a pretty terrible free-agency class.

Except they did. Detroit gave Jerami Grant $20 million a year to expand his offensive arsenals while handing center Mason Plumlee a boatload of money. They'll have a line to a slightly better record if they don't trade Blake Griffin or Derrick Rose and both of them remain healthy, but we're not banking on either scenario.

Factor in the emphasis they'll place on developing youngsters Sekou Doumbouya, Saddiq Bey, and Killian Hayes, and they figure to wallow around the town of Nowheresville. The Eastern Conference is forgiving, so their win total feels a touch low, but rest assured, the Pistons are going to be bad.

OSB Prediction: Detroit hits the over (-115)

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (22.5)


"Alonzo Gee | Cleveland Cavaliers" by Basketball Schedule is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Slotting the Cavaliers here is tough.

On the one hand, if they keep Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, and Larry Nance Jr. through the entire season, they might be a hair better than expected. On the other hand, they're still going to be giving a ton of minutes to prospects such as Collin Sexton, Kevin Porter Jr., Isaac Okoro, Dylan Windler, and Darius Garland.

This says nothing of the likelihood that they might flip Love at the trade deadline, making themselves even worse of a product. This is an extremely low odds benchmark; it's the equivalent of a 26-win season in a normal year. We'll take the over. We'll also buy into Cleveland finishing as one of the NBA's three worst squads.

OSB Prediction: Cleveland hits the over (-110

2. Oklahoma City Thunder (26.5)

The Thunder have a case to be considered the worst team in the league. They said farewell to four of their five best players over the offseason in Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder, Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari, leaving no doubt that they're rebuilding from the ground up.

At the same time, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is already a fringe All-Star and Oklahoma City has an intriguing mix of veterans and youngsters on the roster. It's possible they overachieve.

Then again, maybe not. The Western Conference is brutal. As it stands, 13 to 14 of the 15 teams may fancy themselves playoff hopefuls. That opens the door for the Thunder to be swallowed alive—in part by design.

OSB Prediction: Oklahoma City hits the under (-110)

1. New York Knicks (22.5)

Buying into a league-worst finish for the Knicks mandates you believe they don't do anything to accelerate their win total. That's not easy to do.

New York has made a habit out of short-circuiting rebuilds. They might do the same again. They've already shown interest in trading for Russell Westbrook—who, along with James Harden's trade request, is the reason sportsbooks aren't yet providing win totals for the Rockets. The Knicks' entire outlook changes if they add a superstar.

We don't think they will. They resisted the urge to do anything to stark over the offseason, and they showed that restraint for a reason: They seem to be genuinely starting over this time. Not only should that assure them of a league-worst record, but hammering the under is probably a smart play.

OSB Prediction: New York hits the under (-105)

Check out the below list of the best online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your NBA betting this season:


Meet the author

Quinn Allen

Quinn Allen is a journalist who writes betting previews across the sports world. He’s also a Senior Editor at ClutchPoints. Quinn has been writing for OSB since 2022.