Longest Active Playoff Droughts in the NBA: Charlotte Hornets Lead the List

Longest Active Playoff Droughts in the NBA: Charlotte Hornets Lead the List

Joel Reyes
  • The Sacramento Kings ended their 16-season playoff drought
  • The Charlotte Hornets last made it to the postseason in 2016
  • The Pistons and the Spurs last made into the playoffs in 2019

The Sacramento Kings are going to the postseason.

They clinched a playoff berth on Wednesday with a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Sacramento fans were delighted as the Kings no longer own the longest playoff drought in North America's four major sports leagues.

Michael Jordan, Gregg Popovich, Charlotte Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons, NBA, Sacramento Kings
Michael Jordan and Gregg Popovich. Images: Jacob Kupferman/ Lachlan Cunningham.
Source: Getty Images

That said, here are the updated active longest postseason droughts in the NBA.

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Charlotte Hornets (7 seasons)

Thanks to the Kings clinching an NBA playoff berth, the Hornets officially have the longest playoff drought in the league, per Sports Illustrated.

They haven’t made the playoffs in seven years, with their last postseason appearance coming in 2016.

The Hornets faced the Heat in the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. Miami raced to a 2-0 advantage before Charlotte took the next three games to hold a 3-2 series lead.

The Hornets failed to close the series at home, losing 97-90 in Game 6. Miami advanced to the Eastern Conference semi-finals after crushing Charlotte by 33 points in Game 7.

Owner, Michael Jordan has had enough of Charlotte’s failings, with the NBA legend reportedly selling his majority ownership stake.

San Antonio Spurs (4 seasons)

It is hard to believe that San Antonio is included in this list. The Spurs have been a consistent model of excellence during the Tim Duncan era, winning five NBA titles.

That changed when Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard departed the franchise.

The Spurs haven’t made the postseason in four years, with their last playoff appearance coming in 2019. They made the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season that year, with San Antonio facing Denver in the first round.

The series went the distance, with Denver prevailing in seven games. The Nuggets defeated the Spurs 90-86 in Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference semi-finals.

Detroit Pistons (4 seasons)

Like the Spurs, the Pistons’ last playoff appearance came in 2019. Detroit had a mountain to climb as it faced top-seed Milwaukee in the first round.

The Bucks made short work of the Pistons, eliminating Detroit via a four-game sweep.

Milwaukee dominated the Pistons in this playoff series, beating them by an average of 23.8 points in the four games that they played.

Playoff drought to end soon?

There is a great chance one of these three teams will end their respective playoff droughts in the next few years.

With the Spurs, the Pistons, and the Hornets having poor records this season, they may get lucky in this year’s Draft Lottery and nab the No. 1 pick.

If that happens, generational talent, Victor Wembanyama will be their next franchise player.

Kings end playoff drought

Sports Brief recently reported on the Kings securing their playoff berth.

Mike Brown’s team sealed the postseason with a win over the Blazers.

The Sacramento team last made the NBA playoffs in the 2005-06 season.