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The San Antonio Spurs lost their 17th straight game on Monday, but you probably didn't notice. After all, it's not even the longest losing streak in the NBA at the moment. The Detroit Pistons also played on Monday, and they picked up their 20th straight defeat. Together, they are the first set of teams to have losing streaks of 17 or more games happening at the same time. Another team narrowly avoided that fate. That would be the Washington Wizards, who have lost 14 of their last 15 games. Their one victory? A 126-107 win over ... you guessed it ... the Pistons!

Together, the three teams have lost a preposterous 51 consecutive games against opponents outside of their little trio of misery. They've won a combined eight games all season. That's less than 23 of the remaining 27 teams have won all season. The Spurs and Wizards are on pace to win 11 games, which would tie them for the third-worst record in any 82-game season. The Pistons are on pace to win seven, which would be the worst mark in NBA history. The NBA has never seen multiple teams win 16 or fewer games in the same 82-game season. There is a legitimate chance that all three of these teams do so this season. Through one quarter of the season, this is the worst trio in NBA history.

The scenario begs the question: Which of these teams is the absolute worst in the NBA? We're going to try to find out. Avert your eyes, lovers of winning basketball. You'll find none of that here.

The case for the Spurs

Several statistical rating systems indicate that, so far, San Antonio has been the worst team in the NBA. The most prominent among them is their net rating, which is currently minus-11.8. It's 1.5 points per 100 possessions worse than the Wizards and two full points worse than the Pistons. 

That gap might seem minor, but 1.5 points are all that separate the No. 14 Suns and the No. 6 Clippers. It's significant, and the number itself is historic. It is the second-worst net rating any team has posted in the 21st century. The worst belonged to the 2011-12 Charlotte Hornets, who sat at minus-15. That team went 7-59. Basketball-Reference has a similar metric that factors in strength of schedule, and it, too, rates the Spurs as the NBA's worst team at minus-10.5, though the gap between the Spurs and Pistons (minus-10.24) is smaller.

Victor Wembanyama has been one of the few interesting parts about San Antonio this season Getty Images

Look across the board and it's hard to find many strengths for San Antonio. The Spurs rank 25th in defense and 29th on offense. Their rebounding rate and turnover rate both rank 27th. They take the fewest free-throws in the NBA. If there's one saving grace here, it's that they have the NBA's highest assist rate. Of course, that likely says more about how bad their players have been at creating their own shots than anything else.

It hasn't helped that they've spent much of the season with a power forward playing point guard. With lineups featuring Jeremy Sochan at point guard, the Spurs have been outscored by 20.5 points per 100 possessions this season, according to Cleaning the Glass. The Pistons are built around a somewhat traditional ball-handler in Cade Cunningham, and Tyus Jones has been arguably the NBA's best backup point guard for years before ascending to a starting role in Washington. Jones' brother, Tre, is San Antonio's best point guard, and the Spurs have played (relatively) well with him at the helm. But their refusal to commit to him as a starter has held this team back all season long, and until they make that switch, they'll be among the NBA's worst teams.

The case for the Pistons

Of the metrics that don't rate the Spurs as the NBA's worst team, many favor the Pistons. ESPN's RPI, for instance, has Detroit at No. 30, Washington at No. 29 and San Antonio in a tie with Memphis for No. 27. They rate slightly higher than San Antonio on both sides of the ball—24th in defense, 27th in offense. Still, they have the ugliest raw record of the trio. The Wizards and Spurs have won three games. The Pistons have won only two, and haven't won a single game since October.

The Sochan experiment has drawn far more publicity, but Detroit's continued insistence on starting Killian Hayes is far more puzzling. Sochan is at least a promising player in other regards. He'll be a part of San Antonio's future, even if it's at another position. But Hayes is not only blocking more promising young guards like Jaden Ivey and Marcus Sasser. Rather, he's doing it without being a positive-impact in really any regard. He's making only 31% of his 3-pointers, which is amazingly a career-high. He's a below-average playmaker for his position and hardly a notable rebounder. There have been defensive flashes, but the metrics are split on whether or not he's even a positive there. The defense is bad whether he plays or not, and with Ausar Thompson popping as one of the best defensive rookies in recent history, it's just not clear what Hayes brings to the table that other players on this roster don't.

The Pistons take plenty of shots at the rim ... but that makes more sense once you remember how frequently they play two-big lineups. Their offensive process is abysmal beyond those rim looks. They take the third-most mid-range shots per game in the league. That was a Monty Williams staple in Phoenix, but the Pistons don't have a Chris Paul or a Devin Booker. They take the third-fewest 3-pointers in the NBA. Who would even take them? Bojan Bogdanovic has been injured for most of the year. Joe Harris and Alec Burks barely play, and Sasser just got his first DNP-CD of the season.

Former No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham is in a no-win lineup Getty Images

That lack of spacing represents complete and utter organizational malpractice. What are the guiding principles here? What are the Pistons trying to accomplish? Their most-used starting lineup this season places their No. 1 overall pick primary ball-handler on the floor along with four players who have combined to shoot 58-of-196 on 3-pointers so far this season. Forget about the pitiful 29.5% hit rate there for a second. Both Stephen Curry (236) and Luka Doncic (214) have both attempted more 3s than that.

Cunningham can barely shoot, and neither can Ivey. Meanwhile, Hayes and Thompson can't shoot at all. Putting all four of them on the same team was probably a mistake, though putting them in two-big lineups is a bigger one. But those are mistakes that can be resolved later. 

For now, the goal should be to separate their minutes as much as possible and surround them with reasonable amounts of shooting. That's how they can actually showcase their skill sets under typical NBA circumstances and potentially begin to grow. The Pistons are doing a massive disservice to their young players by crowding them like this. They can't help that their skill sets are redundant. Rather, it's the team's job to put them in positions to succeed. The Pistons aren't remotely doing that right now, and it's not as though they're justifying their nonsensical decisions by winning, either. There's just nothing positive to take out of what's happening here.

The case for the Wizards

The Wizards make being bad an art form. What on Earth is happening here?

No bad team in NBA history has ever produced more head-scratching highlights than Washington. They once threw an off-the-backboard alley-oop when they were trailing the Hawks by 20. They lost a winnable three-point game to the Bucks in November because Kyle Kuzma decided to go for a quick-two down three ... with four seconds and no timeouts left. And nobody seems to mind any of this that much. Jordan Poole has spoken openly about enjoying having his own team, while Kuzma is engaging with fans that want to trade him on Twitter.

Whether the individual numbers are the worst of the trio is debatable, but they are certainly the gaudiest. They currently have the worst defense in NBA history at a staggering 121.4 points allowed per 100 possessions. Want to know what the scariest part of that is? They've actually been fairly lucky in terms of opponents' shooting. They rank 22nd in terms of opponents' wide-open 3-point percentage. Hold on, this is going to get worse. Only the Mavericks and Heat allow a higher field goal percentage at the rim, but they do so because they barely allow opponents to get to the rim in the first place. Only the Pacers and Hawks allow more shots in the restricted area than the Wizards. Are they giving up those extra rim shots because they're selling out to stop valuable 3-pointers like the Pacers do? Of course not, it's the Wizards. They're allowing the seventh-most corner 3s in the NBA.

Oh, you thought the defensive numbers were bad? Hold on, I haven't told you about the clutch numbers yet. The Wizards are a winless 0-7 in league-defined clutch situations, but you're probably taking that as a given. Here's where things go off the rails. In 27 total clutch minutes, the Wizards have been outscored by 60 points. To put that number into perspective, there have only been seven 60-point blowouts in NBA history.

Jordan Poole has provided multiple "That's So Wizards" moments this year Getty Images

NBA games are 48 minutes long, and the Wizards are minus-60 in a bit more than half of that time. Do you know how hard it is to get outscored by 2.2 points per minute under any circumstances? If you dribbled out the 24-second shot-clock intentionally, then stopped defending after 12 seconds on the other end so that the other team could get an open dunk and then dribbled out your second possession's shot-clock on purpose again, you'd still only lose that minute by two points. The crunch-time Wizards are doing worse than that.

And, remember, the Wizards aren't relying heavily on young players like the Spurs and Pistons are. They entered the season as only the 13th-youngest roster in the NBA. Bilal Coulibaly is the only rookie in their rotation. Among their 10 most used players, the other nine range from 23 years old (Deni Avdija) to 35 (Danilo Gallinari). Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole have both won championships, and Tyus Jones was a key player on a contender. A team built around players with such experience should have better habits than this. They don't, and without the youth San Antonio and Detroit are clinging to, there's far less reason to believe improvement is coming.

The verdict

The Spurs are the easiest team to rule out here, because the fix is so simple. Lineups featuring Tre Jones are getting outscored by 2.8 points per 100 possessions. Lineups without Jones are getting outscored by 17.9 points per 100 possessions. The moment the Spurs decide to start Jones and crank up his minutes, they go from being a historically bad team to a normal bad team. We can also probably project a fair bit of improvement throughout the season from Victor Wembanyama, and the rest of the team is young enough and has skill sets that theoretically fit easily enough to grow as the year progresses as well.

The Wizards have the head-to-head win over the Pistons. Their roster is older, has more diverse skill sets and at least kind of has the capability to play relatively modern basketball. The Pistons have the best player on either team in Cunningham. Williams, for all of his quirks, has led a team to the Finals. Meanwhile, Wes Unseld Jr. has never coached a playoff team. The Wizards seem likelier to sell off veterans at the deadline than the Pistons, too. Of course, it's not as though this team has much room to get worse. Perhaps a few scrappy no-names would actually steal some games, if given the opportunity.

In the end, this is probably a matter of taste. In one corner sits a team that is being woefully mismanaged and doing everything wrong. In the other sits a team whose main crime is ambivalence. The latter is more fixable than the former. The Wizards are talented enough to steal games on nights when the shots are falling. If nothing else, there are veterans on that team that are playing for future jobs on better teams. 

Still, what's happening in Detroit isn't on the players. It's on an organization that, for now, appears dead set on misusing them. That's a much harder problem to solve when the coach has a $78 million contract and the general manager has a reputation for prioritizing these kinds of players, dating back to his previous job in Oklahoma City. The Pistons probably need a significant roster shakeup of some sort to turn this around, though it doesn't seem like one is coming any time soon.