Community Shootaround: Postseason Droughts

After the Timberwolves snapped a 14-year playoff drought last spring, only seven NBA teams entered the 2018/19 season having not reached the postseason at all since 2015. Three of those teams – the Nets, Magic, and Nuggets – have secured playoff berths, meaning that 26 NBA clubs have now earned postseason berths at least once in the four-year period from 2016-19.

That leaves the following four teams with the NBA’s longest playoff droughts:

  • Sacramento Kings (last playoff appearance in 2006)
  • Phoenix Suns (2010)
  • Los Angeles Lakers (2013)
  • New York Knicks (2013)

None of those teams ultimately came very close to reaching the postseason this season, but the Kings will finish the closest. After holding onto one of the top eight spots in the Western Conference for much of 2018/19, Sacramento has struggled down the stretch — the team is just 9-15 since the All-Star break. Still, the Kings will end up ninth in the West and feature an impressive collection of young talent, led by De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Marvin Bagley. There’s plenty of reason for optimism going forward.

The Lakers will finish right behind Sacramento in the West, though L.A.’s young core wasn’t nearly as impressive in 2018/19 as the Kings’ group. Armed with cap room and trade chips this offseason, the Lakers will make every effort to add a second star to complement LeBron James, which would put them in a good position to return to the playoffs next season. Of course, there’s no guarantee the club will land that kind of star, and if James’ health issues in ’18/19 are a harbinger of things to come, the Lakers are no lock to rebound next year.

Further down the Western Conference standings, the Suns will win fewer than 25 games for the fourth straight season. The team is starting to put together a nice group of long-term building blocks, led by Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges. However, the Suns have yet to experience a Kings-like breakout season. Phoenix will add another top prospect in June’s draft and is expected to have some flexibility in free agency, so perhaps that will happen in 2019/20.

Over in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks are perhaps the NBA’s biggest wild card heading into the 2019 offseason. The club has the cap room necessary to sign, say, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and doing so would make New York a near-lock to return to the playoffs a year from now. On the other hand, if the Knicks strike out in free agency, or end up with a couple second- or third-tier stars, their position will be far more tenuous.

What do you think? Which of these four perennial lottery teams do you expect to return to the postseason first? Is there a team that will have to wait another two or three years (or more) to end its drought?

Head below to the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts!

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8 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Postseason Droughts

  1. yoyo137

    I think the Suns, Lakers, and Knicks are all depending on free agency to determine whether or not they make the playoffs again in the next 2 years. The Kings can get there by bringing back and developing the same team. I’d put my money on them. Or the Knicks just because they’re in the East and it’s much easier to make it in through that side of the bracket.

    • Jason Lancaster

      The Suns shouldn’t spend $1 in free agency. They should be a dumping ground for bad contracts, taking on salary in exchange for picks.

      Of course, they’ll probably make a big offer to Joakim Noah or something ridiculous like that.

  2. i hate my father

    Disappointing end to the Kings season, got a easy schedule down the stretch and still could not beat teams who are tanking. I don’t know if they just got tired l, figured out and just kind of mailed it in.

  3. x%sure

    Kings need to get Shumpert back regardless of Barnes, who they’re stuck with another year.
    Barnes does not operate at Fox’s speed nor does very much overall. He has minus numbers across the board since 2016 and lacks spirit, as opposed to Shump who will likely be easy to sign (if it’s legal, maybe not).

    I’ve already predicted Irving and Davis to NYK so I’ll stick with that, and then they will be back.

    Suns stars play D by waving & need a defensive PF but probably will stick with TJ Warren so they will not be back.

    Tired of thinking about the Lakers.

  4. Karl Elze

    First and Foremost the Kings need to resign there own FAs and keep the core of the team intact. I’m not a Joerger Fan at all, sorry. I did not like how he utilized his players all year. My opinion, that is where the major focus should be on. Replace him with a Marc Jackson or someone who utilizes his players better. Joerger, again, my opinion, is the main reason we did not make the playoffs, NOT the players. Even the Asst GM and a couple of the Coaches grumbled all year at the way Joerger used his players.

    • Jason Lancaster

      Marc Jackson?! The guy is allergic to analytics. He’s a jerk to his coaches and front office staff. He told Jerry West to stop coming around in Golden State (Jerry West!). The freakin’ Knicks passed on Jackson two times. The KNICKS!

      The guy is garbage. He’s underqualified for a TV gig, let alone a coaching gig.

  5. Reflect

    I really like the Suns. They have a lot of cap room and a lot of talent. I see them as the best poised one of the group.

    Sacramento is definitely going in the right direction but they have a lot of free agency questions this summer so it’s tough to assume much from them now.

    Lakers are just a way worse Cavs team with an older version of Lebron. I can see the Lakers splurging on a few good FAs and their players playing better/healthier. I wouldn’t be shocked if they make the playoffs, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if they are the only team in this quartet that misses the playoffs entirely.

    And then there is the Knicks. I don’t at all buy into the Knicks-Durant rumors. Durant is a very smart man, and no sane person would willingly choose the Knicks. I am born and raised from New York and literally I wouldn’t even choose the Knicks. Plus these are the same sources that were certain he’d sign with the Wizards a few years ago. Please.

    And even if the Knicks do sign him, so what? Are the Knicks with Durant and Kyrie better than the Thunder with Durant and Westbrook 8 years ago? The team that ALSO had Harden AND Ibaka, and STILL didn’t win a ring?

    Granted they (Durant and Harden) were not the players they are today, but still… a team of Durant and Kyrie surrounded by trash is still trash, and the Knicks haven’t shown the ability to build an effective roster.

  6. Jason Lancaster

    NBA should make owners sell a team if the team misses the playoffs (or fails to play .500 basketball) more than 10 years straight, or more than 10 seasons out of 12.

    Selling the team would restart the clock.

    We need this rule because it’s the same terrible owners that have bad teams year after year, and it’s impossible to blame anyone else when a team is bad for a decade.

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