Infographic: Spurs in the playoffs
The Spurs are a historically successful club, despite their small-market status. In 44 seasons of franchise existence, the Spurs have qualified for the playoffs 39 times. It’s an uncanny playoffs-to-draft-lottery ratio. Luck has a lot to do with the team’s success; there’s no other way around the fact that two of the five times the Spurs qualified for the playoffs, they landed the number one overall pick in the draft. Both of those top picks ended up being franchise big men, not a bust between them.
Starting when the Spurs were the ABA’s Dallas Chaparrals in 1967, the franchise made the playoffs five times in its first five seasons. In its last season in Dallas, 1972-73, the franchise missed the playoffs for the first time. It wouldn’t miss the postseason again for another 11 years, until 1983-84 when it was known as the San Antonio Spurs and the team competed in the established NBA.
Including that season where the Spurs missed the playoffs, San Antonio missed the playoffs three years in a six-season stretch. All was not bad, however, as two of those disappointing seasons netted the franchise David Robinson and Sean Elliott. The franchise didn’t miss the playoffs again until an injury-plagued 1996-97 season when teams were well aware that a polished big man out of Wake Forest by the name of Tim Duncan would be entering that June’s draft.
The Spurs have yet to miss the playoffs under the reign of Duncan and next season — when it actually starts — has a good chance of being the 40th time in franchise history that the Spurs have qualified for the postseason. To put it in perspective, the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings have each missed the playoffs as many times in the last five seasons as the Spurs have in the entire franchise’s history.
Eventually Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will retire and the Spurs will run serious risk of missing the playoffs. Nothing will test the franchise’s luck more than entering the lottery again, where it is two for its last two in winning the top overall pick. Then we’ll see just how far San Antonio’s luck will stretch. Until then, let the good times roll.