Russell Goldenberg

Started from the bottom

It has been 39 years since the ABA-NBA merger of 1976. Each and every team has finished with one of the worst records in the league at least once. Franchises hit rough patches once in a while, but how (or when) things get turned around is what matters. Here is a closer look at the various paths NBA franchises have taken to get from the bottom to the top of league.

Let’s start by looking at the end of the regular season rankings league-wide. We will consider a team reaching the top or hitting rock bottom if they finish with one of the four best or worst records, respectively.

The Golden State Warriors finished the 2015-16 season atop the rankings for the second consecutive year. They passed the Chicago Bulls recording 73 wins, driven in large part by Stephen Curry’s 402 three-pointers


Since the merger, we have witnessed instances of teams making this journey, which takes season on average to complete.

For now, the Clippers stand alone in tenacity, breaching the wall between them and the fourth spot after a mere 37 years.

But at least they are not the Brooklyn Nets — the franchise hoping to soon enough hold that bittersweet record.