The NBA’s Five Longest Active Playoff Droughts

by Mike Ferguson

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The NBA Playoffs got underway on Monday and there has already been some pretty exciting action.

For the first time in 23 years, the postseason doesn’t include the San Antonio Spurs, but for other franchises, missing the playoffs is all too common. We count down the five longest active droughts:

T-5. Atlanta Hawks (3)

After 10 straight playoff appearances, the Atlanta Hawks have now missed the postseason in three straight seasons. The Hawks have not won more than 29 games in any of those campaigns. Atlanta does have a nice young corps with Trae Young and John Collins. The Hawks have not reached the NBA Finals since the early 1960s when they were in St. Louis.

T-5. Chicago Bulls (3)

Since firing Tom Thibodeau after the 2014-15 season, the Chicago Bulls had made the postseason just once in five seasons. The Bulls have failed to win more than 27 games or make the playoffs in any of the last three seasons. Chicago has reached the Eastern Conference Finals just once following Michael Jordan’s retirement after the 1997-98 season.

T-5. Memphis Grizzlies (3)

For most of the season, Memphis looked to be in good shape to secure a playoff spot. In the NBA restart however, the Grizzlies went just 2-6 in the bubble before falling to the Portland Trail Blazers in a one-game playoff for the final spot in the Western Conference. Prior to the last three seasons, Memphis had made the playoffs seven years in a row.

4. Charlotte Hornets (4)

Unlike last season where the Charlotte Hornets were alive into the final days of the NBA season, Charlotte failed to make the NBA’s playoff bubble. Since switching back to the Hornets from the Bobcats following the 2013-14 seasons, Charlotte has had just one winning season and one playoff appearance. The Hornets have not won a playoff series since the 2001-02 season.

3. New York Knicks (7)

The longest current drought in the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks have reached the postseason just four times in 19 years. The Knicks have not been to the postseason since Carmelo Anthony’s departure and have finished last in their division in each of the last two seasons. Over the last 20 years, New York has won just one playoff series.

2. Phoenix Suns (10)

A perfect 8-0 record in the bubble wasn’t enough to propel the Phoenix Suns to their first playoff appearance in a decade. In Phoenix’s last playoff appearance, the Suns reached the Western Conference Finals with the dynamic duo of Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire. The Suns went 48-34 during the 2013-14 season, but somehow finished a game behind the Dallas Mavericks for the No. 8 seed in a loaded West.

1. Sacramento Kings (14)

Since Rick Adleman led the Sacramento Kings to eight straight playoff appearances from 1999 to 2006, the franchise has not been back. Over that stretch, Sacramento has had eight different head coaches and no winning seasons. The best season since was last season when the Kings went 39-43.

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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