From 50 Wins to 50 Losses
An in-depth look at teams who followed up a 50-win season with a 50-loss season.
The Memphis Grizzlies, who won 51 games last season, are off to a league-worst 1-6 start this season. With All-Star Ja Morant slated to return after he serves the remainder of his 25-game suspension, a 50-loss season appears unlikely for the Grizzlies, but not impossible. Only eight teams in NBA history have followed up a 50-win season with a 50-loss season. Let’s take a closer look at each of those teams.
1961-62 St. Louis Hawks: 29-51 (51-28 the previous season)
The 1960-61 Hawks lost in the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics, but the next season was a disaster, as the club lost 51 games and went through three head coaches in the process.
Lenny Wilkens had a solid rookie season for the Hawks in 1960-61, but in 1961-62 he played in just 20 games while fulfilling his military commitment to the U.S. Army. Meanwhile, Hall-of-Fame center Clyde Lovellette was limited to 40 games thanks to a foot injury suffered in early January.
And as luck would have it for the Hawks, Wilkens’ service and Lovellette’s injury were timed such that the pair appeared in just one game together all season (February 3), and it turned out to be the only game Lovellette played in from January 5 through the end of the season.
The Next Season
The Hawks rebounded nicely in 1962-63, finishing 48-32 in the regular season before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games in the Western Division Finals.
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