Making the playoffs is always the first step towards making a run at winning an NBA championship. That’s the goal at the end of the season for most teams. Then again, for some teams, making the playoffs could be the goal of the season, especially if the team is rebuilding with young talent. Now, getting to the playoffs and winning in the playoffs are two different things. A team can qualify for the playoffs but could be bounced in the first round in four straight games, making it leave a sour taste for the team.
Some teams have not had as much luck winning in the playoffs. One team hasn’t made the playoffs in the lifetime of the sophomore high school student. The amount of playoff wins for some teams should be shell-shocking. When looking back at the past 13 seasons, two teams have not won a playoff game, while four other teams have not won at least 10 games. Meanwhile, one team has won over 100 games.
These are the most playoff wins by NBA franchises since 2010.
30. Sacramento Kings - 0 Wins
The team that has had the worst playoff success since 2010 is the Kings. The team hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since 2006. Among all NBA teams, that is the worst drought in the league. There are a handful of times where the Kings came up close as the No. 9 seed but that was during a time when the playoffs did not feature the play-in game.
The Kings will have a new regime with Mike Woodson taking over. Keegan Murray, the No. 4 overall pick of the draft, had an impressive summer. It will be the first full season of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. Maybe, the Kings could surprise us all and get their first playoff win in 17 years.
29. Detroit Pistons - 0 Wins
From 2002 to 2009, the Pistons ran the table in the Eastern Conference. The team made the second round all but one season. The team was defeated in the first round in 2009, which signaled the end of the dynasty. However, from 2003 to 2008, the Pistons qualified for the Eastern Conference Finals.
Since 2009, the Pistons have made the playoffs two times. That included two four-game sweeps. One came to the Cavaliers in 2016, while the other was to the Bucks in 2019. The Pistons are going into next season with 2021 Cade Cunningham looking to grow, while 2022 No. 5 overall pick Jaden Ivey will look to grow with him. We are probably going to be waiting another year to see Detroit in the playoffs though.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves - 3 Wins
Two of the team’s three wins came from the first round of the playoffs. At one point, the Timberwolves looked like they were going to take down the Memphis Grizzlies when the series was tied 2-2. Instead, the team lost two close games back to back and was eliminated in the first round. The team’s other win was during the 2018 playoffs when the team lost a 4-1 series to the Houston Rockets.
The Timberwolves own just two playoff appearances since 2004. That was the only time the team made the Conference Finals. The Timberwolves have yet to make the NBA Finals, but after a trade with the Jazz for Rudy Gobert, the team has changed its tone and attitude about playoff expectations.
27. Charlotte Hornets - 3 Wins
The Hornets win the tiebreaker with the Timberwolves because the team has played in more games and has made one more appearance in the playoffs. With that said, the Hornets are hurting for playoff wins for the last 20 years. Since 2002, the team has made the playoffs three times and owns three playoff wins. All three of those wins came during the 2016 playoffs, which was a seven-game series with the Heat that ultimately led to the Hornets being bounced in the first round.
The Hornets made the playoffs in 2010 and 2014 but were defeated in four games by the Magic and Heat respectively. The Hornets have not qualified for the playoffs since 2016. With Miles Bridges breaking out last season, there was hope for the future. Instead, it looks like Bridges may not play again and the team’s future is back to being uncertain.
26. New York Knicks - 8
For the world’s largest market, the New York Knicks have looked like a bottom-feeder team for the last 20 years. The Knicks own four playoff appearances since 2004. That includes two playoff appearances in the last 10 years. In 2013, Carmelo Anthony led the league in scoring and helped the Knicks make the second round of the playoffs. Since 2000, the 2013 playoffs are the only time that the Knicks have made the second round.
The Knicks made the playoffs in 2011 and 2012 but the team won a single playoff game in two seasons. The Knicks went eight years before qualifying for the playoffs after 2013 by making the postseason in 2021. Despite higher expectations, the team lost a 4-1 series to the Hawks, where Trae Young became villainized by the New York fanbase.
25. New Orleans Pelicans - 9 Wins
From Chris Paul to Anthony Davis to Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans have made the playoffs with three different stars. The issue is that the consistency was not there and the wins are not there either. The Pelicans have made the playoffs in 2011, 2015, 2018, and 2022. The team nearly took down the defending Western Conference champions in the Suns last year. The series was tied 2-2, but the Suns won the final two games to close out the Suns in the first round.
The Suns lost in the first round in 2011 and 2015. The 2018 playoffs could have been something special had DeMarcus Cousins been healthy. The team swept the Trail Blazers in the first round. The second round saw the team run into a buzzsaw in Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and the Golden State Warriors. The Pelicans are still waiting to make the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
24. Orlando Magic - 15 Wins
There was a time when Dwight Howard made the Magic a playoff contender each year. There were two years when the Magic were NBA championship contenders, which included making the NBA Finals in 2009. Luckily, the 2010 playoffs were included, which was when the team made the Conference Finals and picked up 10 playoff wins along the way. If you take out those playoffs, the Magic have won five playoff games since then.
That includes a first-round exit each time. The Magic made the playoffs in 2011 and 2012 but were bounced early. That eventually led to Howard leaving to join the Lakers. The Magic made the playoffs in 2019 and 2020 as well but lost to the Raptors and Bucks respectively in five games. With a young core, including this year’s No. 1 overall pick in Paolo Banchero, things could be looking up for the Magic in the future.
23. Brooklyn Nets - 18 Wins
For a team that has seen Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez, D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant all wear the team’s jersey in the last 10 years, you would not have thought that the team would be hovering near the bottom in playoff wins. Instead, the trade that brought over Pierce and Garnett ruined the team’s future for years. Then, Irving and Durant made one second-round playoff appearance in three seasons.
The Nets were crowned as the title favorites before last season. The team lost in four games to the Celtics in the 2022 playoffs. With a trade request from Durant that could lead to Irving being shipped as well, the Nets have the murkiest future among all NBA teams.
22. Washington Wizards - 22 Wins
When John Wall and Bradley Beal were atop their game, the Wizards made three second-round playoff appearances in four seasons between 2014 and 2017. The injury to John Wall was unfortunate. The combination of Wall and Beal might have had one surprise season where the team made the Conference Finals or NBA Finals. We will never know though.
What we do know is that stretch was the most recent playoff success since the days of Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld. The Wizards have not made the Conference Finals since 1979, which was also the last time the team made the NBA Finals. Since 2017, the Wizards have made two playoff appearances and have won three playoff games.
21. Utah Jazz - 25 Wins
Since 2000, the Jazz has made the playoffs 15 times. The problem is that the team owns just one Conference Finals appearance. That came in 2007. The Jazz claimed the No. 1 seed just a year ago and held a 2-0 lead on the Clippers in the second round of the playoffs. Then, “Playoff P” emerged and Kawhi Leonard took over to win four straight games.
The Jazz has not been able to close out the series to make that big push to the NBA Finals. In 2020, the Jaz held a 3-1 lead on the Nuggets to only lose in the first round in seven games. The team was swept by NBA championship teams like the Lakers (2010) and Warriors (2017) in the second round. The team’s playoff experience is always there but getting to the big stage is not.
20. Portland Trail Blazers - 26 Wins
There is a reason why the Jazz and Trail Blazers are grouped in these standings. Portland has loved having Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, and LaMarcus Aldridge in recent years. Since 2010, the team has missed the playoffs just three times but has moved past the first round only three times. The team has made one Conference Finals appearance since 2000, which was a four-game sweep against the Warriors in 2019.
In the first round, the team was swept in four games in 2017 and 2018, which cost the team some wins. Lillard is going to go down as the best Trail Blazers player but there is a cloud over his lack of ability to make the NBA Finals. With 24 playoff wins to his name, that is also a tough selling point when looking at his overall legacy.
19. Chicago Bulls - 27 Wins
Tom Thibodeau has not coached the Bulls since 2015. Looking back, maybe the owner should have kept him. The Bulls own two playoff appearances and three wins since Thibs was fired. When Thibodeau coached the team, the Bulls made the playoffs each season between 2011 and 2015. That included three second-round appearances and one Conference Finals appearance in 2011. Had Derrick Rose never been hurt in 2012, we might be talking about one championship in Chicago.
The Bulls appear to be on the right path towards being in the conversation in the East. The Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo signings set the team back but some point out the “what if scenario.” The Bulls held a 2-0 lead on the Celtics in 2017 before Rondo was hurt and missed four straight games, all losses. Now, the team has a new future with Zach LaVine, who has a lot to prove with one playoff win to his name after signing a deal for $215 million.
18. Denver Nuggets - 29 Wins
The Nuggets would have been near the top-10 if we counted the 2009 playoffs when the team made the Conference Finals. Instead, the Nuggets only have their Conference Finals appearance with the Lakers in 2020 counting. Give it some time though. With a healthy core, the Nuggets have the talent to make the NBA Finals this season and add 16 wins to their total.
The Nuggets have made the playoffs four years and have made the second round three of those four seasons. Before 2019, the team missed the playoffs for six seasons. The Nuggets used to be a first-round exit most of the time. Now, the team has a title on their mind, which would be a first for Denver if it ever happened.
17. Phoenix Suns - 31 Wins
Thank the last two seasons for the Suns being 17th on this list. Before 2020, the team had made just one playoff appearance. Granted, that 2010 playoffs were historic as the team made the Conference Finals and battled the Lakers to six games. In 2021, the Suns made their first appearance in the NBA Finals in 1993. It was the first Finals appearance for Chris Paul, but also the rest of the team’s core.
The Suns had the most wins last season in the league but were taken down by the Mavericks in seven games in the second round. That included an embarrassing Game 7 loss where Deandre Ayton was benched. Assuming the team is back together, the Suns will have their sights on another deep playoff run as Paul is determined to win the first championship of his career.
16. Philadelphia 76ers - 33 Wins
Philly fans would love to forget the years between 2013 and 2017. “The Process” helped the team net Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid but those were some tough seasons. Still, even with Simmons and Embiid, the team has underperformed. We haven’t even discussed how Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler were on one team that failed to make the Conference Finals. Now, James Harden, Embiid, and Harris will look to lead the team to their first Conference Finals appearance since 2001.
The 76ers have made the playoffs each season for the last five years. That includes four second-round appearances, including two Game 7 losses in 2019 and 2021. It feels like the 76ers should have played in the NBA Finals by now but that is not the case.
15. Indiana Pacers - 34 Wins
The time frame counts the years Paul George, David West, Lance Stephenson, and Roy Hibbert played together in the early 2010s. Since that group led the Pacers to the Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014, the team has hit some hard times. Had the Pacers not been playing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and the Heat both times, we might have been talking about Indy being in the NBA Finals.
Since 2014, the Pacers have been eliminated from the first round five times. Three of those times were first-round sweeps. With a rebuild in the future, it could be a while before the Pacers win another playoff game. It’s been since 2018 since the Pacers won in the playoffs.
14. Memphis Grizzlies - 36 Wins
The Grizzlies are on the rise, especially if the team keeps their core and Ja Morant continues his growth. Even before Morant, the core of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr. helped the Grizzlies make the playoffs each season between 2011 to 2017. That included three second-round berths and a Conference Finals appearance in 2013. However, the team was swept by the Spurs, while the team took the Thunder to seven games in the second round in 2012.
With Morant, the two had two playoff appearances. The team won a single game in 2021 but made the second round last season after an opening-round win over the Timberwolves. The team pushed the Warriors to six games in the second round. With a bright future, the Grizzlies could be a top-10 team next season.
13. Dallas Mavericks - 37 Wins
The Mavericks were able to count half of their wins thanks to the 2011 playoffs. The Mavericks won 16 playoff games during their championship season. Dirk Nowitzki claimed Finals MVP after an exceptional performance. He would play a part in four more playoff teams up to 2016 that would be defeated in the first round.
With Luka Doncic taking over, the Mavericks have made the playoffs the last three seasons. The Mavericks won two games in 2020 and then held a 3-2 lead in the 2021 playoffs against the Clippers before falling in seven games. Last season, the team upset the Suns in seven games to make the Conference Finals but were able to pick up only one win against the future champions.
12. Atlanta Hawks - 42 Wins
The Hawks lose the tiebreaker because the team has played in more playoff games and won fewer wins in the Conference Finals. The Hawks have played in two Conference Finals but own just two wins. In 2015, the Hawks were the No. 1 team in the East but were swept by the Cavaliers. The team made it back in 2021 and had a 2-2 series tie with the Bucks but the team couldn’t get past an injury to Trae Young and be bounced in six games.
The Hawks own 10 playoff appearances since 2010 but a lot of those times saw the team bounced in the first round. The team owns four second-round appearances but one of those times saw the team swept. It was unfortunately a four-game sweep by the Cavaliers in 2016, the year after getting eliminated from the Conference Finals. With a new addition of Dejounte Murray this offseason, the team will have high expectations for 2022-23.
11. Houston Rockets - 42 Wins
When the Rockets acquired James Harden, the team took off just like an actual rocket. From 2013 to 2020, the Rockets made the playoffs every season. That included five appearances in the second round, as well as two Conference Finals appearances.
The 2018 Western Conference Finals saw the Rockets hold a 3-2 series lead on the Warriors before losing two straight games. It was a horrid shooting night for Harden, while Chris Paul was dealing with a hamstring injury. The team is still waiting for their first trip to the NBA Finals since 1995.
10. Los Angeles Clippers - 43 Wins
Both L.A. franchises have won the same amount of games since 2010. The Clippers lost the tiebreaker because the Lakers won a championship during that time. The best stretch of success for the franchise has been the last 10 years. Since 2012, the team has made the playoffs all but two seasons. That includes five appearances in the second round, as well as the first-ever appearance in the Conference Finals in 2021.
The evolution of “Lob City” with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan was a highlight-reel experience from 2012 to 2017. Paul was never able to cash in and make the Conference Finals though. That included blowing a 3-1 lead to the Rockets in the second round in 2015. The team broke through in 2021 with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Unfortunately, Leonard tore his ACL and he missed all of the Conference Finals games.
9. Los Angeles Lakers - 43 Wins
The Lakers do not own just one championship since 2010, but two. The team won in 2010 as part of the Lakers winning a back-to-back title. The team won again in 2020 which featured the team losing a combined three games on the way to the NBA Finals. The team also made the second round of the playoffs in 2011 and 2012.
The 2013 experience was a disaster despite bringing in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. The team was swept in the first round. Then, the team missed the playoffs each season between 2014 to 2019. The Lakers could be on a similar path if the team chemistry isn’t rectified. After acquiring Russell Westbrook last summer, the team missed the playoffs in 2022.
8. Toronto Raptors - 46 Wins
From 2009 to 2013, the Raptors missed the playoffs each season. Then, the team hired Masai Ujiri and it’s gone down as one of the best deals for an executive ever. Since taking over as team president, the Raptors have made the playoffs in all but one season. The Raptors made the second round of the playoffs each season from 2016 to 2020. The team made the Conference Finals in 2016 but was defeated by the Cavaliers.
The team rolled the dice on Kawhi Leonard for the 2018-19 season. It ended up paying off. In his one season, the Raptors won four games against the Magic in the first round, then won a seven-game series with the 76ers in the second round, and then won four games in a row over the Bucks in the Conference Finals after trailing 0-2. Their six-game series win over the Warriors in the NBA Finals led to the team’s first championship in franchise history.
7. Milwaukee Bucks - 48 Wins
In Giannis, we trust. That should be the motto for the fans of the Milwaukee Bucks. The last four years have been sweet for the franchise. The team owns nine playoff appearances since 2010 but has made the second round each of the last four seasons. That includes two Conference Finals appearances in 2019 and 2021.
During the 2019 playoffs, the Bucks took a 2-0 series lead but lost the final four games. The 2021 playoffs were their most impressive run. That included winning a seven-game series against Kevin Durant and the Nets in the second round. Then, the team overcame an ailment to Antetokounmpo in the Conference Finals to make the NBA Finals. There, the Bucks beat the Suns in six games to claim their first championship since 1971.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder - 57 Wins
It feels like an eternity since the 2012 NBA Finals. It’s been a decade since Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and James Harden played the Heat in the Finals. The Durant & Westbrook years were very fruitful. The team made four appearances in the Conference Finals from 2011 to 2016. Five times the Thunder made the second round as well.
After Durant left, Westbrook led the team to the playoffs three more times, while Chris Paul gave the team a grace year in 2020. Since all of the superstars left, it’s been a tough two years for the team. The team has rebuilt a strong core of players for the franchise with the hope that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, and Chet Holmgren can bring the team back to upper-tier success.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers - 61 Wins
This probably doesn’t get talked about enough. Since 2010, the Cavaliers have made the playoffs five times. James was a part of all five of those teams. The 2010 playoffs saw the team bow out early in the second round to the Celtics, which led to James leaving. Then, James came back and played for four more years. During that time, the Cavaliers made the NBA Finals each season.
When you do the math, it’s a bare minimum of 12 games each season. 48 wins came from making the NBA Finals alone. In the Finals, James led the Cavaliers to their first franchise title in team history in 2016 after the Cavs defeated the Warriors in Game 7. It made up for the following two seasons when the Cavaliers won one game against the Warriors in 2017 and 2018.
4. San Antonio Spurs - 68 Wins
Imagine if the Spurs had made the playoffs the last three seasons. Where would the team be if they did? It’s hard to believe that it’s been three seasons since the team has made the postseason but it’s true. From 1999 to 2019, the team made the playoffs every season. Since 2010, the Spurs have made the second round five times, the Conference Finals four times, and the NBA Finals two times.
The Spurs made the NBA Finals in 2013 and 2014. The 2013 season saw the team nearly win the championship before Ray Allen’s clutch three-pointer in Game 6, combined with an epic Game 7 from LeBron James ruined that. In 2014, the Spurs got revenge and mowed down the Mavericks, Trail Blazers, and Thunder before winning in five games against Miami. The Spurs are a template of NBA success but will have to rebuild that foundation with a new group moving forward.
3. Boston Celtics - 85 Wins
Speaking of successful franchises, the Celtics have lived up to their historic name. Since 2010, the Celtics have made the Conference Finals six times, including the NBA Finals in 2010 and 2022. The team has made the playoffs every season except for 2014. From Kevin Garnett to Kyrie Irving to Jayson Tatum, it’s been a revolving door of superstars for Boston.
The team has not won a championship since 2008 though. The core of the Celtics coming back, along with new additions in Malcolm Brogdon and Danillo Gallinari, make the Celtics an interesting team to repeat making it back to the Finals. If that happens, a championship season would push the Celtics over the 100-win threshold.
2. Miami Heat - 93 Wins
Similar to the Cavaliers, the LeBron James years were fruitful. From 2011 to 2014, the Heat made the NBA Finals each season and won championships in 2012 and 2013. That included three consecutive seasons of playing the Conference Finals in seven games, in which the Heat won to move to the championship round. With that said, despite James leaving in 2014, the Heat have kept up their successful streak.
The Heat made the second round with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2016. Then, after a four-year break, the team made it back to the second round in 2020 but also qualified for the NBA Finals with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The Heat were one jump shot away from making the NBA Finals in 2022 but finished their season in Game 7 of the Conference Finals. The Heat have a great shot of pushing past 100 wins in the 2023 playoffs.
1. Golden State Warriors - 102 Wins
The greatness of Steph Curry gets talked about but it feels like it’s something that is not completely appreciated. Since 2010, only one NBA franchise has won more than 100 games in the playoffs. We can shorten that timeframe to the last 10 seasons because the team did not make the playoffs in 2010, 2011, or 2012. In 10 years, the team has won 100 games and has made the playoffs eight times.
In eight seasons, the Warriors have made the NBA Finals six times. The team lost to the Cavaliers in 2016 and the Raptors in 2019. Other than that, the Warriors have won four championships. This Warriors dynasty is the closest dynasty we have seen that measures up to the 2000s Lakers, 90s Bulls, and 80s Lakers and Celtics. It all starts with Curry, but you can’t forget the mainstays Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, or Andre Iguodala either. These players will likely see their jerseys hanging from the rafters one day.