The NBA playoffs were supposed to start last April 18, 2020. But with the coronavirus pandemic hitting the planet, sports has been put on hold.

The NBA was the first league to suspend its season after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Right now, there is no definite timetable as to when the NBA will resume its operations. That said, the 2020 NBA playoffs hang in the balance.

When the season was halted, only four teams had clinched playoff berths. These were the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, and Boston Celtics. The rest of the 12 postseason spots were still mathematically up for grabs although there were already teams that were on the verge of claiming their playoff berths.

The Lakers clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2013, ending a six-season drought. But while the Lakers have finally broken their dry spell, there are still several teams that have not ridden the playoff bus in a while.

Let’s take a look at the NBA teams with the longest playoff droughts:

Sacramento Kings Logo Sacramento Kings, Last Appearance: 2006

The Sacramento Kings were a powerhouse during the days of Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac, and Doug Christie. That group won back to back Pacific Division titles in 2002 and 2003 and made eight straight playoff appearances including trips to the Western Conference Finals in 2001 and 2002. But since their key players retired one after the other, the rebuilding has been tough.

The Kings tried to rebuild behind 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans but that did not work out. DeMarcus Cousins was added to the team one year after Evans but the two of them could not lead the Kings back to the postseason. De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley Jr. were picked in 2017 and 2018 and they lead the current Kings core.

Sacramento was tied for 10th place in the West when the season was suspended. They were 3.5 games behind the 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies. The Kings were expected to compete for a playoff spot this season but struggled for form from start to suspension. Head coach Luke Walton took Buddy Hield out of the starting lineup in favor of Bogdan Bogdanovic but even if the season continues, I doubt if the Kings will end their playoff drought this year.

Phoenix Suns Logo Phoenix Suns, Last Appearance: 2010

The Phoenix Suns were last relevant during the days of Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni’s quick and dynamic offense. Nash teamed up with A’mare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion to make the Suns instant contenders. This group won three straight division titles from 2005-07 and they made four straight postseason appearances including two trips to the Western Conference Finals in 2005 and 2006. But they never went over the hump and the team was forced to rebuild.

After Nash was traded in 2012, the Suns search for a new star appeared to end when Groan Dragic was named as the 2014 Most Improved Player and he was also selected to the All-NBA third team. He was traded the following year to the Heat. Current star Devin Booker was drafted in 2015 while Deandre Ayton was the team’s #1 overall pick in 2018. The Suns also selected Mikal Bridges in 2018 and added guard Ricky Rubio via free agency.

The Suns had the third-worst record in the Western Conference this season at 26-39. They were six games off the playoff pace and won only four out of their last 10 games when play was paused. Phoenix has a good one-two punch in Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton. They also have an explosive third option in Kelly Oubre Jr. But they don’t have much depth and also don’t have the veteran star that would lead their young group to the playoffs. I think that Phoenix will have to wait a few more years before they break into the playoffs again.

New York Knicks Logo New York Knicks, Last Appearance 2013

The Knicks were the first winners of the NBA Draft Lottery and picked Patrick Ewing 1st overall in 1985. Ewing would become the Knicks franchise player for the next 15 years and he would lead the team consecutive playoffs appearances from 1988-2000. The Knicks would make two trips to the NBA Finals during this period but they lost in seven games to the Houston Rockets in 1994 and were defeated by the San Antonio Spurs 4-1 in 1999.

The Knicks would lose in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2000 and Ewing was traded after that season. The Knicks would struggle with different stars such as Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston, and Stephon Marbury. Carmelo Anthony arrived in 2010, Tyson Chandler became Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, and Linsanity was born. The Knicks made three straight playoff appearances from 2011-2013 but it has been barren as a desert since then.

The Phil Jackson era was a mess and the only thing he did right in the Big Apple was picking Kristaps Porzingis in 2015. Porzingis got hurt and was traded to the Dallas Mavericks and the Knicks are back at square one. New York was 21-45 during the 2019-20 season and without an established star, this team will have to wait longer than the Kings and Suns to make the playoffs, unless of course, they land a jackpot soon. That’s unlikely though with even Spike Lee leaving them this season.

Dallas Mavericks Logo Dallas Mavericks, Last Appearance 2016

The Dallas Mavericks joined the NBA in 1981 and they enjoyed their first success behind the likes of Mark Aguirre, Rolando Blackman, and Derek Harper. But Dallas entered the title picture when they drafted Dirk Nowitzki in 1998. Dirk would make the Mavericks a perennial playoff team and in 2011, he led them to their first-ever NBA title. But since winning the championship, the Mavs have only made the playoffs four times, losing in the first round in all instances.

Nowitzki played until Luka Doncic arrived and won Rookie of the Year. Dallas traded Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first-round picks to the Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis who was out with an ACL injury. Porzingis returned to action this season and he quickly jelled with Doncic. Doncic was having a terrific 2019-20 season and was among the best players in the league. With their 1-2 European duo, the Mavericks were poised to end their playoff drought.

When the season was suspended, Dallas had the 7th best record in the Western Conference at 40-27. They were seven games ahead of the 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies and with 15 regular-season games left to play for them, they were on their way to ending their playoff drought this year. However, with only the Bucks, Lakers, Celtics, and Raptors officially clinching playoff berths when the action was halted, Dallas is still officially included in this list.

Charlotte Hornets Logo Charlotte Hornets, Last Appearance: 2016

The Charlotte Hornets were an expansion team in 1988 and changed their name to Charlotte Bobcats in 2004 and then back to Hornets again during the 2014-15 season. This team found early success by making the Eastern Conference semifinals in 1992-93 but they have never gone past the second round in their history. The Hornets were bought by Michael Jordan in 2010 but even with the GOAT on their side, this team has struggled to find NBA success.

Their first taste of glory came when the drafted Larry Johnson first overall in 1991 and Alonzo Mourning with the #2 pick the following season. With a vaunted frontline, the team would make the playoffs in 1993. Mourning was traded to the Miami Heat in 1995 and Glen Rice took over. After Rice was traded, this team made the playoffs three straight times from 2000-02. When they changed the team name to the Bobcats, they struggled. Kemba Walker last led this team to the playoffs in 2016 but they lost in the first round. Walker left for Boston during the offseason.

Charlotte was in 10th place in the East and seven games off the playoff pace when the season was paused. With Walker gone, this team doesn’t have a legit superstar but has promising young players like Malik Monk, Devonte Graham, Miles Bridges, and PJ Washington. The team also got veteran guard Terry Rozier from Boston to replace Walker. Unless Michael Jordan lands gold with a big-name free agent this summer, the Hornets will continue to miss the playoffs in the next couple of years with the other teams getting better.

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