On Wednesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers escaped a close-run thing against the Miami Heat, taking home a 105-104 victory thanks in large part to the heroics of proven playoff performer Nicolas Batum. One unheralded effect of the 76ers' victory is that sharpshooter Buddy Hield has now made the playoffs for the first time in his career — a feat he would have already had in the bag had the Indiana Pacers not traded him away at the deadline.

It took Hield eight seasons before he got to the playoffs for the first time, requiring 632 regular season games before he gets a chance at playoff action. Now, it might be of interest to some to know who now holds the longest active playoff drought in the NBA.

The ignominious distinction of having the longest active career playoff drought now belongs to Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen; Markkanen, who has played seven seasons in his career, has played in 403 games without earning a trip to the postseason, as pointed out by ClutchPoints Twitter (X).

It's unclear just how much longer this drought will run for Markkanen. The Western Conference continues to be as cutthroat as ever, which will make it difficult for the Jazz to make the playoffs in the near future. But for now, congratulations are in order for Buddy Hield, as he'll get a chance to aid in the 76ers' quest to get to the Conference Finals for the first time in Joel Embiid's career.

Buddy Hield's time playing for mediocre teams has come to an end

Since entering the league as the sixth overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, Buddy Hield has been part of some mediocre to downright terrible teams. The New Orleans Pelicans traded him away in the middle of his rookie season to the Sacramento Kings in a trade for DeMarcus Cousins, and the Kings, throughout Hield's stay in the capital city of California, were consistently awful.

From February 22, 2017 to February 8, 2022 (the time of Hield's arrival in Sacramento to his departure), the Kings went 156-233, for a win percentage of 40.1. During Hield's time with the Kings, they came closest to a playoff berth during the 2018-19 season (39-43 record), when a sophomore De'Aaron Fox and a rookie Marvin Bagley III looked like the duo that would restore the historically putrid franchise to its former glory.

The Pacers went on an upward trajectory following Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton's arrival; alas, Hield and the Pacers' inability to come to terms to a new contract led to Hield's trade to the 76ers. Hield would have been postseason-bound either way, and there's a chance that the 76ers and Pacers meet in the second round of the playoffs if things go according to plan.

Lauri Markkanen, a tale of tragic timing

Lauri Markkanen spent the first four years of his career on a mediocre Chicago Bulls team that couldn't seem to figure out how to maximize his skillset. During the 2021-22 season, the Bulls' first following the departure of Markkanen, they made the playoffs.

Markkanen's trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers did wonders for his value; with him as the starting small forward, it seemed as though the Cavs were on a rapid upward trajectory. Alas, despite finishing the 2021-22 season as the eight-seed, the Cavs missed the playoffs entirely after they lost twice in the play-in tournament.

The Cavs then swung for the fences, trading Lauri Markkanen to the Jazz in exchange for Donovan Mitchell. The Cavs improved exponentially, finishing the 2022-23 campaign with 50 wins, while the Jazz plummeted down the standings. It's worth mentioning that the Jazz made the playoffs for six consecutive seasons before Markkanen's arrival.

It's rather unfortunate that Markkanen keeps on missing the playoffs by virtue of unfortunate timing. While it will be difficult for the Jazz to make the playoffs next season, Utah can always make the decision to trade The Finnisher to a contending team, which will then snap Markkanen's playoff drought.