Most disappointing teams this season

It’s tough to say with any certainty which NBA teams are considered disappointments because so many factors go into how a team performs during the regular season.

Whether it be injuries, strength of schedule, luck or, at least this year, COVID-19 issues, some teams seem to be content to make the playoffs, get healthy and then kick their game into high gear.

But fans still have high hopes for their team and, for the most part, this list of teams have failed to meet expectations.

#5 – Los Angeles Lakers (current record: 36-25; 2019-20 record: 52-19)

Okay sure, the Lakers have been without either Anthony Davis and Lebron James for a large chunk of the year but name a team during this COVID-19 shortened season that hasn’t been forced to manage injuries and safety protocols.

Coming off an NBA chip, this Lakers roster should be able to show more championship pedigree.

The team has gone on numerous losing skids this season, dropping seven out of 10 earlier in the year before James went down to a high ankle sprain, then losing four in a row after James exited the game against the Atlanta Hawks March 20.

One saving grace for the Lakers is that Davis has returned to the starting lineup and James is expected to be back soon.

If both stay healthy, the team could go from disappointment to champions just like that.

#4 – New Orleans Pelicans (current record: 27-34; 2019-20 record: 30-42)

The Pelicans have improved from last season but not by much.

With a revolutionary player like Zion Williamson, who only played 24 games last year, healthy and averaging nearly 27ppg this season, expectations should be higher for this team.

Williamson also has fellow Duke alum Brandon Ingram (averaging 24.2ppg) and three other players scoring double-digit points on the season to help round out the team’s roster.

The Pelicans have some bad loses on its record, including at home to the San Antonio Spurs April 24 and to Orlando April 1. Earlier in the season, the Pelicans also lost to the Timberwolves by 30 points, the Bulls multiple times, to Houston and the Kings back-to-back and dropped eight of nine games in January.

#3 – Miami Heat (current record: 32-30; 2019-20 record: 44-29)

For a team that reached the NBA Finals last year and is run by the great Pat Riley, the Heat’s lackluster performance this season is a letdown.

Coming off a loss Monday to the 26-35 Bulls, the season has been a rollercoaster for the Heat, having dropped 10 of 13 games between Jan. 12 and Feb. 3, winning 11 of 12 shortly after only to go on a six-game losing streak in March.

The Heat have eight players averaging double-digit points on the season. They also have – or at least should have – toughness and experience having been to the Finals last year, losing in six games to the Lakers in the bubble.

All of this, combined with one of the best coaches in the league in Erik Spoelstra, who has been with the team since 1997 (head coach since 2008), should have all translated into a more successful effort in 2020-21.

#2 – Boston Celtics (current record: 32-30; 2019-20 record: 48-24)

The life of a Boston Celtics fan can be bitter-sweet. On one hand, the team has won 17 championships, but the last title came in 2008 – and most who bleed green would say that team, with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, should have won more.

But no one expected the Celtics to be sitting behind the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks in the standings at this point in the 2020-21 season.

With emerging superstars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown paired with former all-star Kemba Walker and defensive juggernaut Marcus Smart, the Celtics are a top-heavy team that needs more firepower off the bench and, on many nights, effort on the floor – last season’s 6.4 point differential has shrunk to 1.6 this season, largely due to lack of defensive effort.

The addition of Evan Fournier should help the team’s depth issues, but due to COVID-19, he has not yet been able to show his full potential in Boston.

Center Robert Williams has also been a huge spark for the Celtics, adding defense, athleticism and tenacity while on the court, but he has also experienced a recent setback due to issues with his knee.

Injuries have certainly played a role in the Celtics unimpressive season, but during a year when several teams have had to deal with similar hurdles, this can’t be used as an excuse.

#1 – Toronto Raptors (current record: 26-36; 2019-20 record: 53-19)

We have seen an unbelievable decline in the Toronto Raptors this season.

Winning its first NBA championship in 2019, losing superstar Kawhi Leonard immediately after and posting a .736 win percentage the following year sans Leonard, the fact that the Raptors may not even make the playoffs this season is unacceptable.

The Raps started the season 2-8, went on to lose nine in a row in March and 15 of 17 between Feb. 23 and March 31.

Maybe they’re just homesick having to play home games in Tampa, but the Raps have lost games to some of the worst teams in the league, including the Kings, Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Rockets and Detroit Pistons, just to name a few.

Defense has been the Raptors’ biggest Achilles heal this season, going from their opponents scoring 106.5ppg last year to 111.1ppg this season.

Sure, the Raps lost two key players from its 2019-20 roster in Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell. But with an experienced and playoff-tested squad that still includes Kyle Lowery, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, and throwing in OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher – all of whom averaging in double digits – led by championship coach Nick Nurse, this team should not be at the under .500 mark.

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