Top 5 NBA Teams With Fewest Playoff Appearances

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Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram of the New Orleans Pelicans share the court during an NBA game in January 2020.
(Wikimedia Commons/Erik Drost)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel Dec 05, 2023, 2:03 AM

The NBA team with the least playoff appearances is the New Orleans Pelicans, who has only eight since officially joining the league in the 2002-03 season. It is also one of the reasons why they are not a favorite team in NBA odds. New Orleans’ farthest postseason runs came in 2008 and 2018, when they reached the second round but were defeated by the San Antonio Spurs in five games and Golden State Warriors in seven games. 

Following the Pelicans on this list are the Charlotte Hornets, who could make it to the playoffs only 10 times in their 33-year participation in the league as they officially joined the NBA in the 1988-89 season. Like New Orleans, Charlotte can’t get past the second round after making it four times in the conference semifinals. Their last playoff appearance came in 2016 when Miami defeated them in six games.

Tied with the Hornets with 10 playoff appearances are the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves’ best season came in 2003-04, when they were able to make it to the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. They were spearheaded by the season MVP Kevin Garnett in this deep postseason, but the Lakers sent them home in six games.

Completing the list for the NBA teams with the fewest playoff appearances are the Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors, with 12 and 13 apiece. The Grizzlies and Raptors joined the NBA in 1995 as the two newest expansion teams. Memphis’ best postseason run was in 2013 when it made it to the Western Conference finals against the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs.

Meanwhile, the Raptors reached the NBA Finals in 2019 and even outlasted the Golden State Warriors in six games to capture the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2019. They were led by Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol that season, with Nick Nurse as their head coach. Because of his incredible performance, Leonard won the NBA Finals MVP for the second time in his career.

Below is a table of the top five NBA teams with the fewest playoff appearances. Note that these numbers are as of the 2021-22 season.

Top 5 NBA Teams With Fewest Playoff Appearances

Team Playoff Appearances
New Orleans Pelicans 8
Charlotte Hornets10
Minnesota Timberwolves10
Memphis Grizzlies12
Toronto Raptors13

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About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.