Photo Credit: Oleksii Sidorov / Shutterstock
With the 2021-22 NBA season drawing to a close this month, the league’s teams and fans are taking stock of the year and looking ahead to next season. Only one franchise can hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy each June, but teams can have successful or unsuccessful years in other ways. This season, upstart teams like the Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors exceeded expectations on their way to playoff berths, while star-studded squads like the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers delivered disappointing campaigns.
One important measure of success for many teams is playoff appearances. Making the playoffs can be an important milestone for a young team’s development: for instance, the Phoenix Suns snapped a decade-long playoff drought last year on their way to earning the league’s best record in 2021-22. A playoff berth could also mean a return to relevance, as was the case this year for one of the league’s premier franchises, the Chicago Bulls, who made their first playoffs since 2016-17.
But in some NBA cities, playoff appearances are a baseline expectation. Boston is one of the NBA’s most storied cities, with a total of 59 playoff seasons and 17 NBA championships. While both the Lakers and the Clippers missed the playoffs this year, Los Angeles has seen a playoff berth in more than 90% of total seasons. And while Boston and Los Angeles both have long histories in the league and are destination markets, some comparatively newer NBA markets have seen sustained runs of excellence as well. San Antonio has had a playoff appearance in 84.8% of eligible seasons, while Salt Lake City has had a playoff team in 72.1% of eligible seasons.