Which team owns the longest NBA playoff drought?

The Hornets, Pistons and Spurs are in the midst of extended playoff droughts, but they are still far off from the NBA record.

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The battle for the Larry O’Brien Trophy is on in the NBA, but before franchises can start chasing championships, they need to make the playoffs.

More teams have a chance to reach the NBA playoffs now than ever before. The addition of the NBA Play-In Tournament has given 10 squads in each conference a chance to clinch a top-eight seed.

Still, some teams have failed to capitalize on the play-in opportunity and are in the midst of extended playoff droughts as a result.

Which team has gone the longest without reaching the playoffs? Let’s look at the longest active and all-time NBA playoff droughts:

What is the longest playoff drought in NBA history?

The Sacramento Kings set the record for longest NBA playoff drought at 16 years. The stretch went from 2006-07 to 2021-22 before De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and head coach Mike Brown led the team to the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference in 2022-23.

The previous record belonged to the Los Angeles Clippers, who did not make the playoffs for 15 consecutive seasons from 1976-77 to 1990-91. The Minnesota Timberwolves (2004-05 to 2016-17), Golden State Warriors (1994-95 to 2005-06), Dallas Mavericks (1990-91 to 1999-2000) and Phoenix Suns (2010-11 to 2019-20) are the only other teams to miss the playoffs 10-plus seasons in a row.

Which NBA team has the longest active playoff drought?

The longest active drought resides in Charlotte, as the Hornets have not reached the playoffs since 2016. Their postseason woes extend even further, as they have won just three playoff games since 2001 and have only made three playoff appearances in that span. They qualified for the play-in as the No. 10 seed in 2021 and 2022 but were blown out in the opening contest both times.

Behind the Hornets are the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs, who have not reached the playoffs since 2019. Both teams have landed the No. 1 overall pick through the draft lottery in recent years, but neither has been able to turn that into regular season success yet.

The Houston Rockets’ last playoff appearance came in the 2020 bubble. All other teams have made it to the playoffs at least once since 2021.

Every NBA team’s most recent playoff appearance

Here is the last time each NBA team reached the playoffs:

  • Atlanta Hawks: 2023
  • Boston Celtics: 2024
  • Brooklyn Nets: 2023
  • Charlotte Hornets: 2016
  • Chicago Bulls: 2022
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 2024
  • Dallas Mavericks: 2024
  • Denver Nuggets: 2024
  • Detroit Pistons: 2019
  • Golden State Warriors: 2023
  • Houston Rockets: 2020
  • Indiana Pacers: 2024
  • Los Angeles Clippers: 2024
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 2024
  • Memphis Grizzlies: 2023
  • Miami Heat: 2024
  • Milwaukee Bucks: 2024
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: 2024
  • New Orleans Pelicans: 2024
  • New York Knicks: 2024
  • Oklahoma City Thunder: 2024
  • Orlando Magic: 2024
  • Philadelphia 76ers: 2024
  • Phoenix Suns: 2024
  • Portland Trail Blazers: 2021
  • Sacramento Kings: 2023
  • San Antonio Spurs: 2019
  • Toronto Raptors: 2022
  • Utah Jazz: 2022
  • Washington Wizards: 2021
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