Let’s face it, the 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers season did not go as planned.
We’re aware that’s the understatement of the century, but not going as planned, and calling it “the most disappointing season” in Lakers history is another.
For many journalists here in Southern California, that was the headline and takeaway following the Lakers 33-49 record and 11th place finish in the Western Conference.
Simply looking at the Lakers seasons in recent memory, it was tough to argue, but now, thanks to a team of veteran journalists and oddsmakers at Bookies.com, it’s now official: not only were the 2021-22 Lakers the most disappointing team in franchise history, but according to their formula, they are the most disappointing team in NBA history!
First and foremost, it’s difficult to quantify “most disappointing.” For most of us watching the Lakers over the last eight months it was a simple formula: expectations minus reality equals disappointment.
However, for the analytics experts at Bookies.com, they needed actual data and a more complex algorithm to compare and contrast teams throughout NBA history to determine which had the most disappointing season.
The first place they started was with betting favorites before the season began. Since 1996, the lowest conference playoff seed to win the NBA Finals was a 3-seed. The Golden State Warriors were the 3-seed in the Western Conference Finals this year and are back in the NBA Finals, their sixth in eight seasons.
The Warriors were certainly not the betting favorites to win the NBA Finals before the season, but they weren’t among the longshots either. The Lakers were actually the favorites to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy before the season with +425 odds on most sports betting websites back in October.
From the favorites to win the NBA title to the eighth worst record in the league, the Lakers collapse in 2021-22 was a meltdown of epic proportions. That’s why Bookies.com wanted to find out if it was the most disappointing in NBA history.
Creating a formula based off of preseason championship odds, projected win totals, actual win totals, and the team’s actual finish, Bookies.com was able to determine mathematically, which teams had the most disappointing seasons in history. They even factored in things like injuries, work-stoppages, and major trades.
For the record, Bookies.com, was only able to access previous betting odds going back to 2010. So instead of the most disappointing season of “all-time,” it’s more like in recent NBA history spanning over a decade.
The 2012 Dallas Mavericks ranked 5th for the most disappointing season. A year after winning the championship over LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and the Miami Heat, the Mavericks were looking to repeat with former Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Shawn Marion. They even added Vince Carter in the offseason. Unlike the Lakers, they were not the favorites to win the title in 2012, that honor went to the Heat, but they were expected to finish among the top three in the Western Conference. Instead, they finished in a tie for 7th and were swept in the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The 2014 Chicago Bulls finished as the 4th most disappointing season. The Bulls finished 1st in the Eastern Conference in 2012, and 5th in 2013 despite former MVP Derrick Rose missing the entire season after undergoing ACL surgery. Expectations were high for the Bulls in 2014, but unfortunately Rose tore his meniscus 10 games into the season and never returned. In Rose’s absence, the team still finished 4th in the East, led by Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, and Taj Gibson. Their defense was ranked No. 2 in the entire NBA, and most expected Chicago to at least win a series in the postseason. Instead, they lost a first-round matchup with the Wizards in five games.
The 2014 Brooklyn Nets are arguably the closest example as to what we saw from the 2022 Lakers. During the 2013 offseason, the Nets added Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko to a core of veterans in Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Many called the group a super team, but they also had the oldest roster in the league that season. But even Brooklyn finished better than the Lakers. The Nets won 44 games and finished in the 6th seed. They upset the Bulls in the first round, but ran into LeBron and the Heatles in the second round and were eliminated. After the season the roster was reconstructed and it took nearly eight years for the Nets to get back to prominence.
Not only did the Lakers rank first for the most disappointing NBA season, they also ranked second as well!
The 2012-2013 Lakers were the early favorites to win the Western Conference, and their +250 odds were second only to the Heat. In fact, this was the year that everyone expected LeBron and Kobe Bryant to finally meet in the Finals. That offseason, the Lakers added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to a championship core that included Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Ron Artest. We all know how that season got derailed. Nash was injured early in the season, Howard was never fully recovered from offseason back surgery, and Bryant tore his Achilles at the end of March. The Lakers limped into the playoffs and were swept in the first round by the Spurs. It would take LeBron joining the Lake Show and trading for Anthony Davis for the Lakers to get back to the playoffs in 2020 and win their record-tying 17th NBA Championship.
What do the four teams ranked below the 2022 Lakers all have in common? Despite their lofty expectations and strong championship odds, they all made the postseason. Not only did the 2022 Lakers featuring a core of Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony not make the playoffs, they couldn’t even make the play-in tournament!
The offseason decisions to put an aging supporting cast around James and Davis proved to be disastrous. Davis was unable to stay healthy, and Westbrook had one of the worst seasons we’ve ever seen from him. Adding insult to injury? The Lakers lost multiple games to the Thunder, Rockets, Trail Blazers, Kings, and Pacers. Five of the seven teams that had a worse record than the Lake Show this season.
Below are the final results of the Bookies.com findings:
|Season||Team||Projected Win Total||Actual Win Total||Preseason Title Odds||Finish|
|2011-12||Mavericks||44.5||36||+850||1st Rnd Exit|
|2012-13||Lakers||58.5||45||+275||1st Rnd Exit|
|2012-13||Celtics||51.5||41||+2500||1st Rnd Exit|
|2015-16||Rockets||56.5||41||+1500||1st Rnd Exit|
|2017-18||Spurs||55||47||+1800||1st Rnd Exit|
|2020-21||Celtics||44.5||36||+1400||1st Rnd Exit|
Source: NBC Los Angeles