Yesterday I threw out three teams I thought were good for the Worst Management of the Year. Based on the feedback I’ve gotten both from other Wages of Wins bloggers and the comments I’ve made up my mind:
If the Bobcats manage to lose out they could end the season with the worst losing percentage of all time behind the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers. As it stands, they are currently the second worst post-merger NBA team behind the 1993 Dallas Mavericks (The Mavericks were so bad, they broke the scale.) That of course should be enough to win this award, but let’s go deeper.
The criteria for worst management is that as a unit an NBA team’s management is really bad. In essence, this is a team award for decision makers in the NBA. As we can see this means we’ll focus on how the owner, general manager and coaching parts do. It’s no surprise that Charlotte has been bad across the board. Let’s run down the list.
It’s a bit harder to say on this one. The Bobcats are bad. They’re really bad. They have one above average player on their roster and that’s Derrick Brown and he has been an above average player his whole career. He wasn’t even starting until things were shut down. Other than that it’s hard to see too many snubs as the rest of the roster is really comprised of scrubs.
The draft is supposed to fix bad teams. With three draft picks (two of which were in the lottery after the Bobcats “traded up”) the Bobcats didn’t fix much. Kemba Walker wasn’t a terrible pick, but he certainly wasn’t the best available pick left on the board. Bismack Biyombo was just not a good player to acquire. Devin gave them a C+ in the drafting department to start the season. While this is “passing”, if you’re a terrible small market team, you have to do better in the draft.
Oh man, the Bobcats have this in spades. Michael Jordan has been known to not really want to put in the work to be a good owner. He has unrealistic expectations. Last season he swapped out a coach. This season he swapped out his GM. He may have helped increase the length of the lockout. For all the good Jordan did as a player, he’s certainly trying to counter that legacy as an owner.
I’ll admit I made a mistake here initially. When people think of GMs they want amazing trade deadline moves, and great free agent signings. Much like scoring is overrated in players, making splash moves is overrated in GMs (Joe Dumars anyone?) Sometimes the smartest thing a GM can do is be patient and not do any dumb moves.
When I was looking for bad GMs I was looking for splashy bad moves. I was looking for trading away Marcin Gortat, or signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to terrible contracts. Here’s the thing, last season the Bobcats lit their team on fire. They took a 44 win team (54%) and turned them into a 34 win team. It was actually much worse than this too. Before the trade deadline the Bobcats had a 28-38 record (42%) they then traded off their best player — Gerald Wallace — and ended the season 6-10 (38%). This team was in a noise dive. What did they do? Nothing! They signed a bunch of marginal players and didn’t even give minutes to the best one. Staying the course is fine when you’ve got a decent team and no good moves present themselves. Staying the course when your plane is on fire and heading towards a mountain? Well that’s how you manage to make it to the end of the season with a third as many wins as Toronto.
In the end the crack management team wins this award because it has taken a bad team and turned it into one of the worst of all time. Maybe they’re doing it with the “plan” of getting Anthony Davis and turning it all around. Michael Jordan allegedly lost $20 million on the team last year. If dismantling a decent NBA team, lighting money on fire and hoping things will be better is the management strategy this team is employing, well the only thing I’ll think they’ll win is snarky awards from internet bloggers.
p.s. I couldn’t help thinking of this image when I wrote this piece.