The landscape of sports is always changing. Some teams are instantly becoming great after being bottom feeders, and some great teams are disintegrating into poor teams. The four major sports leagues in the U.S. have very different structures. The NBA has a small group of teams that are title contenders, then there are other teams vying to just barely make the playoffs, and lastly there are basement dwellers. The NHL has a lot of parity in it compared to the NBA. The MLB has a similar structure to the NBA, but playoff teams in baseball have a great chance of winning a championship than playoff teams in basketball. The NFL is competitive but does not have quite as much parity as the NHL.
The worst teams in sports today struggle with building their team through the draft or free agency. This is usually something that the elite teams excel at. Building through the draft gives a team the opportunity to let a player grow comfortably with the team. Unfortunately teams cannot always control drafted players work ethics, and this can sometimes set a team back if the drafted player was a high draft pick that ends up being wasted.
Wasted draft picks hurt a team, and so does wasting money on a free agent who does not live up to the contract that they have been given. The market sometimes dictates how much a player gets paid, and on occasion a player will get overpaid just because the free agent market that offseason is weak. A big contract can destroy a team’s cap situation. A team with salary issues often times finds themselves in a bad state, and a lot of teams that have bad contracts on their team are among the worst teams in sports today.
Here are the 20 worst teams in sports today.
20 Jacksonville Jaguars: 2015 Record, 5-11
The Jacksonville Jaguars have historically not had a great deal of success since joining the NFL in 1995. Current coach Gus Bradley is on the hot seat, and if the Jaguars do not perform well in 2016, he may very well lose his job. Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson are good young players for the franchise to build around. The team has also bolstered their defense through free agency this offseason. The AFC South may be up for grabs in 2016, and the Jacksonville Jaguars will be in the hunt to win the division and finally make it back to the playoffs.
19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2015 Record, 6-10
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seemed to be improving as a team after a dreadful 2014 season. Winning six games in 2015 more than doubled their win total from the previous season, but the front office shockingly fired coach Lovie Smith. Jameis Winston looked good in his rookie season, and will be counted on to carry the team to the top of the NFC South next season. The Buccaneers have good wide receivers in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, and Doug Martin is one of the better halfbacks in the NFL. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can improve their defense they could be a surprise playoff team in 2016.
18 Columbus Blue Jackets: 2015-16 Record, 34-40-8
The Columbus Blue Jackets hired John Tortorella mid-season, who is possibly one of the most charismatic in the NHL. The Blue Jackets hope his presence can propel them into the postseason next year. As for this year, the team was decaying throughout the entire season. They have a decent goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky, but the rest of the team is very average to below average. Most of their statistics are middle of the pack among the other teams. The Columbus Blue Jackets' most noticeable struggles came from the blue line, and their defenseman are going to have to step up their play come next season.
17 Tennessee Titans: 2015 Record, 3-13
The Tennessee Titans did not have high expectations coming into the 2015 season with rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota. The AFC South is one of the weakest divisions in football, so the idea of the Titans having a better year in 2016 is not far-fetched. The team added DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the backfield, and drafted Jack Conklin to strengthen the offensive line. The Titans had the 7th best pass defense in the NFL in 2015. Their rush defense was ranked 18th, and if the Titans can build on their defensive effort from last season, they could be competitive in most games next season.
16 Calgary Flames: 2015-16 record, 35-40-7
The Calgary Flames have not been able to achieve the success they once had when Jarome Iginla was the face of the franchise. After a dreadful 2015-16 NHL season, the Flames decided to fire their head coach Bob Hartley, and are currently taking their time to find a new one. The Flames do not struggle in scoring, but they struggle in every other category. As a team the Flames gave up the most goals in the league during 2015-16. If the Flames can improve their penalty killing and goaltending, they will see rapid improvement in the win loss column.
15 Minnesota Twins: 2015 record, 83-79
The Twins were one of the biggest surprises of the 2015 MLB season, but they may have come back down to earth. They find themselves at the bottom of the American League. Eduardo Nunez is batting .333 and Joe Mauer is still extremely productive as a first baseman now. The Twins starting rotation is filled with retreads like Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes. These pitchers are trying to find their game again after being successful in the past on other teams.
Like many small marketplace teams, the Twins are hoping their prospects will be able to carry the team to the prominence they once had at the beginning of the century.
14 Los Angeles Lakers, 2015-16 record: 17-65
The Lakers have just finished their Kobe Bryant farewell tour, and can now move on to the future. They have struggled the past couple years, and are in danger of not having a first round pick this year. They have a few decent young players in D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle, but the rest of the roster is in shambles.
The Los Angeles Lakers do have one of the most attractive locations in free agency due to their rich history and big marketplace. The Lakers will most likely try and attract stars through free agency, and pair these stars with their young talent in hopes of creating a contending team for years to come.
13 Oakland A’s: 2015 record, 68-94
The Oakland Athletics were a pretty solid team in the American League not too long ago, but everything changed quickly. The A’s lost a lot of key contributors, and those key contributors ended up putting up monster numbers for their new teams. Josh Donaldson ended up winning the 2015 American League MVP after moving from the A’s to the Toronto Blue Jays and Yoenis Cespedes led the New York Mets to the 2015 World Series. The Athletics' poor roster moves have doomed the team presently. The team has decent pitching, but lacks star power in their batting lineup.
12 Phoenix Suns: 2015-16 record, 23-59
The Phoenix Suns have not been a great team since the great Steve Nash’s glory days in the 2000s. The Suns barely missed the playoffs during the 2014-15 seasons, and thought they could build on their unexpected success coming into the 2015-16 season. Early on in the season Eric Bledsoe was injured and out for the season. After more injuries to key players like Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight, The Suns began to pile up losses.
Young up and comers Alex Len and Devin Booker give the Suns hope for their future. With an early draft selection in the 2016 NBA draft, the Suns are hoping to land a potential superstar to bring the team back to the glory days of when Steve Nash used to lead the team.
11 Cincinnati Reds: 2015 record, 64-98
The Cincinnati Reds actually have a decent roster hitting wise. Their team struggles primarily in the pitching department. The team through the first one and a half months of the 2016 MLB season has already had nine different starting pitchers, and their bullpen does not have a true closer. Joey Votto and Jay Bruce provide a great two man hitting duo, but they have failed to overcome the pitching deficiencies that are so evident with this team. The Reds are typically not big spenders on the free agent market, so their minor league system will need to provide the team with the pitchers it so desperately needs.
10 Milwaukee Brewers: 2015 record, 68-94
The Milwaukee Brewers have not been good for a while, and their biggest deficit comes from their pitching staff. The Brewers' hitting is not much better. Outside of Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy, the Brewers line up does not put fear into opposing teams pitching staffs. Wily Peralta is at the top of the Brewers rotation, but his statistics are those of a bottom of the rotation starting pitcher. He has a career earned run average of 4.27. The Brewers will have to hope talent comes up through the minor leagues in order to be competitive in a strong national league central.
9 Edmonton Oilers: 2015 record, 31-43-8
The Edmonton Oilers did not have high expectations coming into the season, and they are probably just glad they did not end the season with the worst record in the NHL. The team does consist of a lot of young players such as Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse. If the Oilers continue to grow as a team the future could be bright for them. Statistically they were extremely sub par in 2015-16, finishing bottom 5 in goals for and goals against for the season. The Oilers will have another high draft pick in 2016, but the team’s fate seems primarily in the hands of Connor McDavid.
8 Sacramento Kings: 2015-16 NBA record, 33-49
The Sacramento Kings only have one positive thing going for them, and that is DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is arguably the best center in the NBA, and can score and rebound better than most. The rest of the Kings roster is pretty devoid of talent aside from Rajon Rondo. Their recent draft picks such as Ben McLemore and Willie Cauley-Stein have not been major contributors for the team. The Kings hope a new coach will spark the team in the right direction, and that their lottery pick in the 2016 NBA draft can contribute more than their recent lottery picks have.
7 Brooklyn Nets: 2015-16 record, 21-61
The Brooklyn Nets are in deep trouble. Not only have the Nets been bad the last couple of seasons, but they have no first round pick in 2016 due to a bad trade with the Boston Celtics for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The team has good players in Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, but the rest of their roster consists of fringe NBA players. The Nets will also not have a first round pick in 2018. It is tough to rebuild a team without being able to restock through the draft. The Brooklyn Nets will need big name free agents to join their team or else gloomy days lie ahead of the Nets.
6 Vancouver Canucks: 2015-16 record, 31-38-13
The Vancouver Canucks were just in the Stanley Cup Final five years ago, and presently they are one of the worst teams in the NHL. The Canucks as a team scored 186 goals all season, which was second worst in the NHL only trailing the New Jersey Devils. Allowing 239 goals against also did not help the Canucks in winning many games during the 2015-16. It is one thing to struggle scoring the puck, but if you also allow a lot of goals your team could be in trouble. The Canucks will have a lot of holes to fill on the roster in order to be competitive in the NHL.
5 Toronto Maple Leafs: 2015-16 record, 29-42-11
The Toronto Maple Leafs hold the number 1 pick in the upcoming 2016 NHL draft and they are in desperate need of talent. The Maple Leafs ended the season with the worst record in the NHL, and have not been relevant for quite some time now. They finished towards the bottom in goals for and goals against on the season. Coach Mike Babcock had a tremendous amount of success while coaching the Detroit Red Wings, and he is going to have to teach his team how to win. The Toronto Maple Leafs have won many Stanley Cups throughout their rich history, but the fans are running out of patience with this franchise.
4 Atlanta Braves: 2015 record, 67-95
The Atlanta Braves may end up with the worst record in all of baseball in 2016. They have a poor starting rotation, and all the other teams in the NL East have good and great starting pitchers. Julio Tehran is the team’s top of the rotation guy, and he would most likely be a bottom of the rotation guy on many other teams throughout the MLB. The Braves do have Freddie Freeman to provide power hitting. Other than Freeman the Braves struggle mightily offensively. The Atlanta Braves used to rule the NL East, but their struggling team may be in the basement of the division for a few years.
3 San Francisco 49ers: 2015 record, 5-11
The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history, but their roster has taken a complete 180 degree turn the past couple seasons. A ton of key contributors to the 49ers ended up retiring or downgrading their level of play. Colin Kaepernick seemed to be a budding superstar, but his play took a turn for the worse during the 2014 season. He eventually was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert during the 2015 season. It will surely take a miracle for Chip Kelly to reverse the ways of the 49ers play of the last couple seasons.
2 Cleveland Browns: 2015 record, 3-13
It is not much of a surprise to see the Cleveland Browns included on a list of worst sports teams. The Cleveland Browns are hoping that Hue Jackson can change the losing culture that is all too familiar to the fans. Robert Griffin III is looking to upstart his career, but the Browns do not have a multitude of play makers on the offensive side of the ball. The defensive side of the field is just as horrid for the Cleveland Browns. They ranked 30th in rush defense and 22nd in pass defense in 2015, so it is probably a good thing that the team has a new coaching staff to dictate how the defense will be prepared for game day.
1 Philadelphia 76ers: 2015-16 record, 10-72
The Philadelphia 76ers had the second worst record in NBA history this past season, and the team can seemingly only get better from where they are. Jahlil Oakafor as a rookie was the best player on the team. A lot of players on the team such as Hollis Thompson and Christian Wood do not belong in the NBA, and with three first round picks in this upcoming draft, the team’s roster could look a lot different when the 2016-17 season begins. New general manager Bryan Colangelo will look to convert the Sixers from basement dwellers to superior in the next couple years.