No. 14: Los Angeles Lakers
Last Season: 21-61
14h place in West; missed playoffs
The Lakers might think they've hit rock bottom over the last couple of seasons, but the dark reality is it will get worse before it gets better in Los Angeles.
Despite several key additions in the offseason, the Lakers still are significantly behind the rest of the pack in the Western Conference playoff picture. Worse yet, their 2016 first-round pick is owed to Philadelphia with only top-3 protection, meaning the Lakers are in the unenviable position of being bad enough to miss the playoffs (perhaps even bad enough to have a top-7 selection), but not bad enough to assure they'll keep their pick.
The path of the 2014-15 season can be defined by three events: the hiring of Byron Scott as head coach, the opening-night injury of 2014 lottery pick Julius Randle and Kobe Bryant's pursuit of surpassing Michael Jordan in the scoring record book (and subsequent season-ending injury not long thereafter).
Coach Scott's archaic philosophy regarding usage of the 3-point shot hamstrung what little chance the Lakers had of being an efficient basketball team. Despite not featuring a single player (other than backup big Robert Sacre) who shot greater than 40 percent from long 2-point range, the Lakers somehow put up the second most long 2-point jumpers in the NBA last season, second only to the New York Knicks. It's easy to blame the team's struggles on a lack of talent, but the roster actually was improved over the season before. Simply, being bad isn't an excuse for bad strategy.
Randle's injury occurred 15 minutes into his NBA career. The highest Lakers draft selection since James Worthy in 1982, Randle wasn't expected to change the course of Lakers history, but he was supposed to be a bright spot. That ended up being second-round pick Jordan Clarkson, who made the first team All-Rookie squad.
It's debatable whether Clarkson could have made the splash he did without Bryant's injury. Beyond Scott's coaching missteps, Bryant's domineering style of play led to his hijacking of plays, belittling teammates in practice, horrific shot selection and him gunning his way to 37 percent shooting (not to mention a 48 percent true shooting percentage) from the field on a usage rate of almost 35 percent, second only to Russell Westbrook. If the goal was to pass Michael Jordan on the charts by any means necessary, then mission accomplished. But it's hard to argue Kobe's play was conducive to winning basketball.