At the beginning of every National Basketball Association season, in the mind’s eye of every fan is the Larry O’Brien trophy being hoisted. Sometimes, if your team made a strong playoff push or acquired a key free agent the year before, this is a reasonable fantasy. If your team finished in the lottery and saw absolutely no player development, the daydream is more farfetched. Injuries are unpredictable, and even the most optimistic of forecasters can’t predict who will take it to the next level and who end up being a disappointment.
Regardless of the particulars, one universal truth holds steady: A bad team that makes a Cinderella run is infinitely more fun than a team that’s supposed to be good and falls on its face. Unless you’re into schadenfreude (which is fine). Part of rooting for one team means rooting against another, after all.
Now that we’re about halfway through the NBA season, with playoff berths vaguely beginning to take shape and the winners and losers being more clearly differentiated from each other, here are five teams that should’ve been more successful than they have been up to this point. For beleaguered fans, take heart — the trade deadline is only a month away, and the All-Star break will give you a nice respite from watching your teams underachieve. If your team isn’t on this list, just sit back and enjoy.