The repercussions felt by the 2011-2012 season are still being felt by the Charlotte Hornets to this day. The final outcome is one for the history books, but what led up to it?
Every team has “that” year or “that” moment. That little slice of time that many fans will say ultimately doomed their team or possibly even propelled that franchise to greatness. For the Charlotte Hornets (officially, the Bobcats at the time), the 2012 NBA Draft will always be right up there in contention for “that” moment.
It bears no repeating as nearly everyone knows the tale, even if you’re a fan of the team or not. The season leading up to it, though, was one of pure ineptitude and jaw-dropping befuddlement that it ultimately led to the worst record the NBA has ever seen… with an asterisk, of course.
Due to a lockout over a new collective bargaining agreement, the 2011-2012 season started on Christmas Day, 2011. Because of that, the season was shortened to just 66 games. The Charlotte Bobcats won just 7 of those games, ending the season with a winning percentage of just .106.
The Charlotte Hornets have moved on, but the 2011-2012 season still causes fans to wonder what might have been.
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That is the lowest percentage in the history of the league, but again, that season was shortened. The previous worst record was held by the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers, who finished that year with a 9-73 record.
It’s safe to assume that Charlotte could have won three more games out of the remaining 16 that would have been played in a normal season, thus avoiding their fate of having the worst record ever. Or is it?
The Bobcats ended that season with an NBA record 23-straight losses from March 19, 2012, to April 26th, 2012. The next closest team to that mark is the 1982 Cleveland Cavaliers, with 19. That same Charlotte squad is also tied with the most home losses to end a season, with 14, the same amount as the 1990 Orlando Magic.
If that sounds like a lot of games in a short period of time, it was, because the NBA was trying its best to get in as many games as it could from the end of December to the end of April. You’re looking at 66 games in four months. The Bobcats had just eight breaks of two days or longer, including the All-Star break.
Those aforementioned 23 straight losses also count as the third-highest amount in NBA history for any stretch of the season and are just three back of the 2011 Cleveland Cavaliers. As you might have guessed, that team was very bad, which makes that team missing out on Anthony Davis all the more agonizing.
How bad were they? Believe it not, it could have been worse, but it was still bad. Their 87 points a game was by far the lowest during the last decade and for the last two decades, it was tied for the third-lowest.
Only the 2004 Toronto Raptors and the 2003 Denver Nuggets scored less than that Bobcats team in the last 20 years. Those two teams still combined to win 50 games. Yes, the Bobcats’ season was shortened, but at least that Nuggets team won just over 20% of their games.
Only two teams throughout the last two decades have shot the ball at a worse rate than that Bobcats team, one of them being that same Nuggets group, and the other being the 2001 Golden State Warriors. Charlotte’s 41.1% from the floor was barely (and I mean barely) higher than those two teams.
Just during that season alone, the Bobcats had the lowest wins, points, field-goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, the second-fewest rebounds (0.2 ahead of the Boston Celtics), the second-fewest defensive rebounds, and the second-fewest steals (0.1 ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers).
The stars of that team were long-time Charlottean, Gerald Henderson, Corey Magette, and the greatest Charlotte player ever, Kemba Walker, playing in his first-ever NBA season. The three combined for 42.3 points a game. That’s an average of 14.1 per player. Henderson was the leading scorer at just 15.1 points per contest.
D.J. Augustin poured in 11 and their fifth-leading scorer was Byron Mullens at just 9.3 a night. You can probably see why this team was so bad. The odd part is that their defense wasn’t that terrible.
Sure, they were ranked 27th in opponent points per game, but giving just under 101 a night isn’t bad. Then again, this was in a year where the league average was 96.3, so while that would be great by today’s standards, back then, that was indeed pretty bad.
So, one of the worst NBA seasons in recent memory ends with barely a whimper, and with hardly anything to show for it, the now Charlotte Hornets are in the midst of another rebuild. Things may not be as dire as they were nearly ten years ago, but it’s fair to wonder just how long this rebuild will take.
It shouldn’t be much longer, though, as the team has a solid, young nucleus of talented players. And, with the right amount of planning and luck during the next few months, the Hornets, and their fans, could put the 2011-2012 season even further in the past.