With the conference finals starting up this week, I thought this would be a good time to revisit the longest current postseason droughts and streaks in the NBA. There has been a good deal of parity with NBA teams and making the playoffs lately. With that being said, there have still been some teams that have had to wait an embarrassingly long time between playoff berths. Below, check out the list of the top 6 NBA postseason droughts and streaks and what caused them!
3. Sacramento Kings
5 seasons without a playoff appearance
The Kings last made the Playoffs as the 8 seed following the 2005-06 season. This was due to an incredible 20-9 record to end the season. It took them that incredible run to make the playoffs, so even then they weren’t really a great team. They traded their perennial shooting star Peja Stojakovic for Ron Artest, which was thought to be a good cornerstone for the franchise. Then in 06-07, Sacramento’s new coach Eric Musselmen got arrested for a DUI and Ron Artest got in legal trouble for domestic abuse and neglecting his dogs. Clearly the Kings didn’t think things through when they thought it was a good idea to build a team around Ron Artest.
Since then the Kings have just struggled, plain and simple. They have made a few good draft picks in recent years in Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi and DeMarcus Cousins but still are having trouble winning games. They traded away star Kevin Martin to Houston in a three team trade which brought Joey Dorsey and Carl Landry, which clearly didn’t work out. They ended with a 24-58 record, and looks like they will be rebuilding for a little while longer.
2. Los Angeles Clippers
5 seasons without a playoff appearance
The Clippers are in the same boat as the Kings and haven’t made the playoffs in 5 seasons. They have been one of the worst run franchises in all of sports, pretty much since the team was purchased by Donald Sterling in 1981. They have drafted poorly and been just a mess of a team. They made the playoffs in 2005-06, but before that it was 1996-97, so really aside from one season, we could be talking about a 15 year drought. These past five years have been an ugly run for the team. The Baron Davis signing went poorly as he gained weight and played without any passion and being coached by Mike Dunleavy wasn’t doing any good.
Things are finally looking good and the young talent is panning out. It doesn’t hurt they got lucky with the Blake Griffin lottery. Between Griffin, Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Kaman and even Eric Bledsoe, the young talent is developing well. Both tenants of the Staples Center are now selling some serious tickets and generating excitement in L.A. This team should be ending their drought sooner rather than later.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
7 Seasons without a playoff appearance
In 2004-05, the T-Wolves finished with a 44-38 record and missed the playoffs by only one game. Might have been bad luck, but whatever it was, it was the beginning of a long, painful playoff drought for Timberwolves fans. Seven years later, they still haven’t made the playoffs and things are not looking up. Yes, they have the double-double machine in Kevin Love, but other than that things really are not looking up in Minnesota. They finished this past season with a 17-65 record, good enough for the worst record in the league. Combine that type of play up with the sh*tty ownership tendencies of David Kahn, they might not be in the playoffs for quite some time.
I feel bad because the fans still give the team support, but ever since Garnett got traded in 2007, the T-Wolves just haven’t been bringing it. Who knows when things will change for them. Maybe Ricky Rubio coming over soon will help turn the tide, but don’t be surprised if this drought reaches a decade.
3. Denver Nuggets
8 straight seasons with a playoff appearance
The Nuggets have sneakily been one of the most consistent teams in the NBA the past ten years. Ever since drafting Carmelo Anthony in the 2003 draft, the Nuggets have not missed the playoffs once. It’s wild that one guy like Melo just totally changed the culture of the franchise. Between his consistent play and the outstanding coaching by George Karl, the Nuggets just won games without gaining much attention. What is nuts is that their streak is two seasons longer than the always discussed Lakers. If you ask almost any average NBA fan I almost guarantee that they would just assume the Lakers would have a longer playoff streak than Denver.
They totally revamped the team this year after they traded Melo and Chauncey Billups to the Knicks, and even so look like a promising young team that should be able to continue this playoff streak. Between Ty Lawson, Nene, J.R. Smith, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, they have some young talent that could really develop into a strong team in coming years.
2. Dallas Mavericks
11 straight seasons with a playoff appearance
When you think Mavericks you think one name: Dirk Nowitzki. This guy embodies that franchise and has literally put them on his back and carried them for the majority of this past decade. He did have Steve Nash with him for a few years and has always been surrounded by a good amount of talent, but without Dirk this team would not have been in the playoffs 11 years in a row. He carried them to the 2006 NBA Finals, and should have won if the refs didn’t hand the series to Shaq and Dwyane Wade.
Just recently, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle referred to Dirk as a possible top ten player of all time. Now that may be pushing it, but Dirk and the Mavericks have been a consistently great team since 2000 and don’t look for them to take a serious step back anytime soon. Dirk has a few more elite years in him and it would not be a shock if this streak reached 15 straight years of playoff appearances in Dallas. If it does, Mark Cuban will legit bug out and spend millions to bring in a new superstar to bring the Mavs back to relevance.
1. San Antonio Spurs
14 straight seasons with a playoff appearance
While the Spurs may be one of the most boring teams to watch, you cannot argue with how incredible they have been in the past 15 years. Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich have formed the most dynamic duo in the NBA and they have led the Spurs to four NBA Championships. Think of it this way: NBA legend and hall of famer David Robinson was still on the team when this streak started. 14 years is a long freakin’ time. If you are a Spurs fan you have just grown to expect greatness and consistency from your team. Granted their stars are starting to show their age and the team may need to start rebuilding soon, but they have had one of the most impressive runs in recent history.
It sucks because everyone will look back on this era of the NBA and automatically think Lakers and Kobe Bryant/Phil Jackson. Doing that, Duncan, Popovich and the Spurs in general are going to be on the back burner even though they have enjoyed one of the greatest runs for any franchise in NBA history. Duncan showed his age this year, and although he is a “boring”, fundamental player, it has been a privilege watching him excel for the past 10+ years. I’ll say it, he’s the best power forward of all time and the Spurs deserve every bit of recognition that can be thrown at them.
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