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’10 Nets vs. ’99 Clippers vs. ’89 Heat

Posted by Neil Paine on November 30, 2009

78909111111_Sixers_at_NetsLongtime readers of the BBR blog will know that, going into the 2009-10 campaign, two teams had opened the NBA season with 17 consecutive losses: the 1988-89 Miami Heat (an expansion team) and the 1998-99 L.A. Clippers (whose ignominious streak came in February and early March, thanks to the lockout). Well, move over guys, because this year's Nets are not just "in your neighborhood" or "on your block" (or whatever Mercury Morris calls it)... they're on your front porch. After predictably falling to the Lakers in L.A. last night, New Jersey has now lost their 17th straight contest to start the year, tying the Heat and Clips' all-time mark for season-opening futility -- and with the Dallas Mavericks (#5 in last week's BBR Rankings) on tap in their next game, there's a good chance we'll see an infamous kind of history made Wednesday night.

So in anticipation of New Jersey's "must-win" vs. the Mavs, let's see how their team stacks up against the other two teams whose record they're desperately trying not to break:

1988-89 Miami Heat

Coach: Ron Rothstein
Best Player by Win Shares: Grant Long
Highest-Paid Player: Rony Seikaly

Player Pos Age MP ORtg %Pos DRtg Floor% Stop% %FGA AsR ToR PPR FTr OR% DR% Blk% Stl%
Rory Sparrow G 30 2613 99.2 19.3 111.3 0.483 0.410 21.0% 25.6 19.6 3.14 10.9 2.3 7.2 0.4 1.9
Grant Long F 22 2435 106.4 18.3 107.3 0.532 0.509 15.9% 9.1 21.8 -4.18 58.7 10.7 14.7 1.2 2.4
Kevin Edwards G 23 2349 92.3 24.5 108.7 0.457 0.475 26.3% 24.3 20.7 -0.57 17.5 3.9 8.8 0.7 2.9
Billy Thompson F 25 2273 101.4 18.4 108.1 0.509 0.489 17.6% 11.8 21.8 -3.15 31.3 11.5 17.0 2.8 1.2
Rony Seikaly C 23 1962 88.9 22.4 107.0 0.461 0.516 21.2% 4.4 22.1 -8.32 47.6 11.2 20.5 3.0 1.1
Jon Sundvold G 27 1338 102.6 22.0 113.8 0.480 0.349 28.2% 17.6 14.3 0.32 8.4 1.5 6.0 0.0 1.0
Sylvester Gray F 21 1220 96.4 19.4 108.9 0.486 0.470 18.2% 14.2 20.8 -1.97 39.2 10.4 16.2 1.3 1.4
Scott Hastings F-C 28 1206 103.2 14.6 108.7 0.496 0.474 15.2% 7.1 18.7 -2.38 32.6 6.5 15.4 2.1 1.3
Pat Cummings F-C 32 1096 95.0 19.8 107.8 0.475 0.497 20.1% 6.8 24.8 -7.27 24.6 8.3 21.0 1.0 1.3
Pearl Washington G 25 1065 95.0 22.5 108.2 0.470 0.487 20.3% 32.3 24.7 2.69 26.9 5.0 8.1 0.2 3.3
John Shasky C 24 944 112.9 15.7 110.4 0.573 0.432 14.7% 3.4 15.0 -3.32 67.3 11.0 16.8 0.8 0.7
Anthony Taylor G 23 368 96.6 19.6 108.9 0.482 0.469 22.9% 18.0 13.4 2.36 21.2 3.2 7.3 0.8 2.9
Craig Neal G 24 341 89.4 18.4 111.2 0.423 0.413 14.4% 35.4 30.9 5.08 23.9 1.3 4.8 0.7 2.1
Todd Mitchell F 22 320 94.5 18.3 109.2 0.488 0.462 15.3% 9.2 24.0 -4.90 68.2 5.7 11.0 0.4 2.3
Kelvin Upshaw G 26 144 88.9 21.7 110.5 0.439 0.431 24.4% 22.0 20.2 0.23 9.5 3.0 7.3 0.0 2.4
Clinton Wheeler G 29 143 124.4 15.3 110.4 0.617 0.433 16.4% 22.8 13.3 5.59 23.8 3.8 5.7 0.0 2.7
Dave Popson F-C 24 38 77.6 21.8 112.5 0.393 0.381 22.0% 7.7 23.4 -7.02 13.3 19.9 12.3 1.6 0.0
Player Pos Age G MP MPG P/40 TS% R/40 A/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 SPM
Rory Sparrow G 30 80 2613 32.7 15.6 48.6 3.4 6.7 3.2 1.6 0.3 -3.39
Grant Long F 22 82 2435 29.7 16.3 56.1 9.1 2.5 3.4 2.0 0.8 2.43
Kevin Edwards G 23 79 2349 29.7 18.9 46.0 4.5 6.0 4.3 2.4 0.5 -2.62
Billy Thompson F 25 79 2273 28.8 15.3 52.4 10.2 3.1 3.4 1.0 1.9 -0.11
Rony Seikaly C 23 78 1962 25.2 17.6 47.1 11.4 1.1 4.1 1.0 2.0 -4.36
Jon Sundvold G 27 68 1338 19.7 21.5 50.6 2.6 4.2 2.6 0.8 0.0 -6.49
Sylvester Gray F 21 55 1220 22.2 14.7 47.1 9.5 3.9 3.4 1.2 0.8 -1.57
Scott Hastings F-C 28 75 1206 16.1 13.0 51.5 7.8 2.0 2.3 1.1 1.4 -1.68
Pat Cummings F-C 32 53 1096 20.7 17.3 53.4 10.4 1.7 4.1 1.1 0.7 -4.82
Pearl Washington G 25 54 1065 19.7 15.7 47.5 4.7 8.6 4.7 2.8 0.2 -1.05
John Shasky C 24 65 944 14.5 15.4 55.5 10.0 0.9 2.0 0.6 0.6 -3.39
Anthony Taylor G 23 21 368 17.5 15.9 43.6 3.8 4.7 2.2 2.4 0.6 -2.18
Craig Neal G 24 32 341 10.7 10.6 45.8 2.1 10.2 4.8 1.8 0.5 -5.26
Todd Mitchell F 22 22 320 14.5 15.0 51.6 6.0 2.5 3.7 1.9 0.3 -2.61
Kelvin Upshaw G 26 9 144 16.0 16.1 43.4 3.7 5.6 3.7 2.0 0.0 -5.76
Clinton Wheeler G 29 8 143 17.9 15.9 60.3 3.4 6.0 1.7 2.3 0.0 1.31
Dave Popson F-C 24 7 38 5.4 11.8 34.6 11.8 2.1 4.3 0.0 1.1 -11.10

Why They Were Terrible: Most expansion teams struggle to score, but these guys couldn't score at all. Out of 25 teams in the league, they ranked dead last in Offensive Rating, a full 3 points per 100 possessions worse than the 24th-ranked offense, the L.A. Clippers. Their go-to guys were Kevin Edwards and Rony Seikaly; in a league where teams averaged 1.078 points/poss., the Heat scored just 0.909 points when one of those two ended a possession, so it's no surprise that they had the worst offense in basketball. The Miami defense wasn't exactly outstanding either, ranking 18th in the league, but Grant Long, Seikaly, and Billy Thompson were at least respectable. Had they been able to cobble together any kind of scoring attack, they would have won at least 20-25 games. Instead, this Heat offense was one of the worst you'll ever see.
How They Escaped Basketball Hell: Miami wasn't much better in their 2nd season, winning just 18 games, but by 1991-92 they had won 38 games and made the playoffs. To his credit, Seikaly improved markedly after his disastrous rookie campaign, and he combined with Long (a great defensive player who Miami had the sense to hold onto from their 1st season) and young scorers like Glen Rice and Steve Smith to form a decent talent base. Then again, the Heat wouldn't truly become a strong team until 1995-96, when they hired Pat Riley as their coach and assembled the Alonzo Mourning/Tim Hardaway core that would lead them to success in the late 1990s.

1998-99 Los Angeles Clippers

Coach: Chris Ford
Best Player by Win Shares: Tyrone Nesby
Highest-Paid Player: Stojko Vrankovic

Player Pos Age MP ORtg %Pos DRtg Floor% Stop% %FGA AsR ToR PPR FTr OR% DR% Blk% Stl%
Maurice Taylor F 22 1505 99.1 26.1 113.1 0.493 0.394 27.1% 8.9 16.4 -5.01 30.5 7.4 11.8 1.4 0.6
Lamond Murray F 25 1317 94.5 24.7 109.4 0.443 0.484 26.6% 8.7 16.3 -4.43 27.2 5.0 13.0 1.1 2.4
Tyrone Nesby F 23 1288 112.6 18.0 107.9 0.524 0.518 19.0% 11.3 12.3 0.13 32.8 4.9 11.5 1.2 3.2
Michael Olowokandi C 23 1279 88.9 19.2 107.3 0.453 0.534 18.9% 3.4 18.6 -5.34 29.6 10.5 23.2 3.2 1.1
Eric Piatkowski G-F 28 1242 112.1 17.9 111.7 0.486 0.428 20.3% 7.6 12.8 -1.42 24.5 3.5 10.2 0.4 1.9
Lorenzen Wright F-C 23 1135 109.7 15.4 107.2 0.548 0.536 13.9% 4.8 14.7 -2.29 45.0 14.0 24.2 2.4 1.2
Rodney Rogers F 27 968 101.6 19.7 107.7 0.488 0.524 18.6% 13.9 18.6 -1.52 34.0 7.5 14.8 1.7 2.6
Darrick Martin G 27 941 97.4 18.9 112.0 0.438 0.422 17.9% 25.6 20.2 3.08 27.3 0.6 5.7 0.3 2.5
Sherman Douglas G 32 842 96.5 18.3 113.4 0.484 0.387 15.7% 24.9 21.2 2.57 39.7 2.1 6.3 0.3 1.7
Troy Hudson G 22 524 104.7 19.1 113.6 0.472 0.382 17.3% 29.7 20.3 4.45 25.3 3.2 9.6 0.3 1.1
Charles Smith G 23 317 78.9 17.1 108.8 0.371 0.498 18.5% 6.9 19.7 -3.58 16.5 2.5 6.7 3.3 2.9
James Robinson G 28 280 98.5 19.9 110.5 0.458 0.457 21.2% 11.4 15.4 -1.43 27.6 4.0 7.6 0.8 2.7
Brian Skinner F 22 258 92.8 18.4 107.3 0.473 0.533 16.7% 0.7 21.5 -7.11 46.5 8.7 16.0 3.8 2.1
Pooh Richardson G 32 130 89.0 18.1 112.1 0.427 0.418 16.8% 37.6 20.5 8.46 11.1 0.9 11.6 0.0 1.7
Keith Closs C 22 87 103.6 17.1 101.0 0.511 0.684 16.0% 0.0 21.7 -6.90 43.5 6.4 28.8 7.8 1.9
Stojko Vrankovic C 35 12 98.2 17.3 112.2 0.479 0.417 20.2% 0.0 0.0 0.00 0.0 37.2 20.9 0.0 0.0
Player Pos Age G MP MPG P/40 TS% R/40 A/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 SPM
Maurice Taylor F 22 46 1505 32.7 20.4 50.5 6.4 1.8 3.2 0.4 0.8 -4.55
Lamond Murray F 25 50 1317 26.3 18.5 47.3 5.9 1.8 3.0 1.8 0.6 -2.74
Tyrone Nesby F 23 50 1288 25.8 15.5 54.3 5.4 2.5 1.6 2.4 0.6 3.41
Michael Olowokandi C 23 45 1279 28.4 12.5 44.5 11.1 0.8 2.6 0.8 1.7 -5.07
Eric Piatkowski G-F 28 49 1242 25.3 16.4 55.5 4.5 1.7 1.7 1.4 0.2 -0.76
Lorenzen Wright F-C 23 48 1135 23.6 11.2 51.2 12.6 1.2 1.7 0.9 1.3 -0.05
Rodney Rogers F 27 47 968 20.6 14.3 51.0 7.4 3.2 2.7 1.9 0.9 1.77
Darrick Martin G 27 37 941 25.4 12.5 47.5 2.0 6.1 2.8 1.8 0.2 -2.07
Sherman Douglas G 32 30 842 28.1 11.7 48.0 2.7 5.9 2.9 1.3 0.1 -4.10
Troy Hudson G 22 25 524 21.0 12.8 50.7 4.2 7.0 2.9 0.8 0.2 -2.58
Charles Smith G 23 23 317 13.8 10.5 40.4 3.0 1.6 2.5 2.1 1.8 -4.29
James Robinson G 28 14 280 20.0 15.1 48.2 3.8 2.6 2.3 2.0 0.4 -1.30
Brian Skinner F 22 21 258 12.3 13.3 50.3 8.2 0.2 2.9 1.5 2.0 -7.05
Pooh Richardson G 32 11 130 11.8 8.6 37.1 4.0 9.2 2.8 1.2 0.0 -6.18
Keith Closs C 22 15 87 5.8 14.6 58.4 11.4 0.0 2.7 1.4 4.1 -6.37
Stojko Vrankovic C 35 2 12 6.0 6.6 25.0 19.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 -13.30

Why They Were Terrible: Um, for starters, their highest-paid player was Stojko Vrankovic. And he was not some throw-in to match salaries, either -- the Clipps traded Stanley Roberts for him straight-up in the summer of 1997 and actually played him almost 1,000 minutes in 97-98. Another bad omen for L.A. was the fact that they drafted notorious bust Michael Olowokandi with the 1st pick in the 1998 draft, and were planning on building their franchise around him. Seriously. When they finally made it to the hardwood in February after the lockout ended, the Clippers proved to be one of the league's worst defensive teams thanks to an idiotic gambling style that saw them rank 14th in the NBA in steals but dead last in shot defense and defensive rebounding. They also had problems on offense, as the Kandi Man sputtered to one of the worst offensive performances of the year (.445 TS%, 88.9 ORtg) and their two heaviest possession-users, Maurice Taylor and Lamond Murray, proved badly miscast in go-to roles. The Clippers weren't exactly good before this, but the '99 season proved to be the nadir of the Elgin Baylor era in L.A. (which is really saying something).
How They Escaped Basketball Hell: It would take the Clippers seven seasons to recover from 98-99 enough to make the playoffs. The team's pitiful performance in 2001 "earned" them the #2 pick in the '01 draft, which they spent on Tyson Chandler and immediately traded to Chicago for Elton Brand (a rare good trade for the franchise -- remember, there was a time when EB was actually a great player), but it wasn't until the team surrounded Brand with solid complimentary pieces like Sam Cassell, Chris Kaman, Corey Maggette, & Cuttino Mobley that the Clips achieved some measure of success. Which is just further proof that botching a top pick as spectacularly as Los Angeles did with Olowokandi can set your franchise back nearly a decade, if not longer.

2009-10 New Jersey Nets

Coaches: Lawrence Frank, Tom Barrise
Best Player by Win Shares: Brook Lopez
Highest-Paid Player: Bobby Simmons

Player Pos Age MP ORtg %Pos DRtg Floor% Stop% %FGA AsR ToR PPR FTr OR% DR% Blk% Stl%
Brook Lopez C 21 610 102.4 25.2 102.6 0.504 0.559 24.7% 9.2 16.6 -5.08 36.7 9.4 19.3 5.2 0.9
Rafer Alston G 33 553 84.6 19.6 107.8 0.382 0.436 18.7% 24.5 21.6 1.15 20.9 0.8 8.9 0.4 1.4
Chris Douglas-Roberts G 23 502 104.3 21.2 106.3 0.495 0.471 22.9% 9.5 12.7 -1.99 30.2 4.5 12.0 0.9 1.6
Terrence Williams F 22 459 80.7 23.1 105.7 0.379 0.486 24.8% 13.7 17.7 -3.05 17.9 2.1 20.8 0.0 1.0
Trenton Hassell G 30 456 93.8 13.3 109.0 0.462 0.407 13.6% 4.6 17.1 -2.63 24.3 5.1 10.1 0.7 0.6
Josh Boone F-C 25 314 97.4 15.3 102.5 0.490 0.559 14.9% 5.8 17.2 -2.97 19.2 12.2 22.5 2.5 1.3
Courtney Lee G 24 277 96.0 17.9 102.5 0.451 0.560 19.3% 10.8 9.4 0.84 39.3 2.3 8.1 1.7 3.6
Bobby Simmons G-F 29 273 85.7 15.6 105.1 0.357 0.499 17.8% 5.1 17.1 -3.17 9.9 2.3 17.3 0.9 1.3
Devin Harris G 26 213 95.9 29.2 103.3 0.466 0.542 27.6% 36.5 13.3 5.01 51.0 1.5 11.6 0.4 3.2
Sean Williams F 23 170 79.0 15.8 101.0 0.401 0.594 12.7% 0.0 29.1 -8.82 30.6 11.9 11.1 6.0 2.1
Eduardo Najera F 33 133 95.1 17.8 102.5 0.452 0.561 17.1% 18.8 17.6 1.00 21.1 7.2 17.7 1.2 2.3
Yi Jianlian F 22 119 90.7 17.8 102.4 0.438 0.563 16.1% 3.0 22.0 -6.44 46.9 4.5 24.7 3.3 0.9
Jarvis Hayes F 28 2 0.0 0.0 56.5 0.000 1.642 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0.00 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 26.0
Player Pos Age G MP MPG P/40 TS% R/40 A/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 SPM
Brook Lopez C 21 17 610 35.9 20.6 53.5 10.2 1.8 3.2 0.7 2.6 0.66
Rafer Alston G 33 17 553 32.5 11.8 43.1 3.3 5.6 3.3 1.1 0.2 -4.62
Chris Douglas-Roberts G 23 14 502 35.9 18.3 52.6 5.8 1.9 2.1 1.2 0.5 -1.27
Terrence Williams F 22 17 459 27.0 15.0 41.7 7.9 2.9 3.2 0.8 0.0 -5.84
Trenton Hassell G 30 13 456 35.1 9.7 48.2 5.4 1.1 1.8 0.4 0.4 -5.79
Josh Boone F-C 25 17 314 18.5 10.5 48.5 12.3 1.3 2.0 1.0 1.3 -2.33
Courtney Lee G 24 10 277 27.7 13.5 44.5 3.6 2.5 1.3 2.8 0.9 1.65
Bobby Simmons G-F 29 14 273 19.5 11.2 45.0 6.8 1.2 2.1 1.0 0.4 -3.56
Devin Harris G 26 7 213 30.4 20.4 45.0 4.5 7.6 3.0 2.5 0.2 5.18
Sean Williams F 23 13 170 13.1 8.8 45.3 8.3 0.0 3.5 1.7 3.1 -7.73
Eduardo Najera F 33 8 133 16.6 11.5 45.8 8.8 4.2 2.4 1.8 0.6 2.05
Yi Jianlian F 22 4 119 29.8 13.2 50.5 10.1 0.7 3.0 0.7 1.7 -4.78
Jarvis Hayes F 28 1 2 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 20.1 0.0 46.36

Why They Are Terrible: Like the expansion Heat of 20 years ago, New Jersey can't score at all, ranking dead last in the league in offensive rating by nearly 3 points/100 poss. They have the game's worst eFG% by a startling margin (NJ's .425 mark is miles from #29 Minnesota's .453), and nobody on the roster is even scraping the league-average in that category. Their most talented player, Devin Harris, has missed 10 games so far with a strained groin suffered in the team's 2nd game of the season, and he's been extremely limited when he has played, scoring just 18.3 P/36 on a .450 TS% (compare to 21.2 and .563 last year). Brook Lopez and Chris Douglas-Roberts picked up the slack admirably while Harris was injured, but new addition Rafer Alston and rookie Terrence Williams have been awful, Yi Jianlian is hurt & looking like a major bust, and Courtney Lee has been an offensive disappointment as well. In short, everything that could go wrong for New Jersey has so far this season.
How They Can Escape Basketball Hell: Er... signing LeBron James next summer? Short of that, they obviously have to surround Harris and Lopez with guys who can actually play. Douglas-Roberts is a nice complimentary piece, but they need more players of similar quality to emerge from the hole they're in now (they thought Terrence Williams would be that kind of impact player, though he hasn't materialized so far). That means Lee needs to build on the potential he flashed during the Finals a year ago, and while Yi will likely never live up to the expectations of the #6 overall pick in the draft, they need him to be more than the out-and-out bust his career path is trending towards right now. Then there's the impending franchise relocation to Brooklyn (or Newark?), and -- joke about LBJ if you want -- there are nonetheless going to be major roster moves made next summer. In other words, this whole franchise is in serious upheaval: in terms of the other two 0-17 teams, they're almost like the Heat, almost a quasi-expansion team. The good news is that they have a nice PG-C core to build around, but there's still a lot of work to be done to drag this franchise out of basketball hell.

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5 Responses to “’10 Nets vs. ’99 Clippers vs. ’89 Heat”

  1. Canaan Says:

    Elton Brand was taken with the first overall pick by the Bulls, not the Clippers. LA acquired him for the rights to Tyson Chandler.

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    Good catch, I fixed it. Brain fart on my part. :)

  3. Vic De Zen Says:

    Next summer is HUGE for NJ. Probably won't get LeBron, but there are other guys available. You've gotta think Devin + Brook is enough to entice free agents to come to NJ assuming the ownership/Brooklyn situation is sorted.

    T-Will hasn't materialized thus far but he's still got star potential, no?

  4. Jason J Says:

    A friend of mine from Maine told me that the Yankees have more wins in November than the Nets & Knicks combined. Now that's pretty sad.

  5. Roy Johnson Says:

    The only way the Nets get LeBron is if the Nets 100 percent officially move to Brooklyn. Jay Z and LeBron knows that a team with the word Brooklyn in it will draw money.

    Whatever the case unless Cleveland wins the championship this year, Lebron is gone.