Heavy expansion started in 1988. Some teams have been more successful than others.
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The last 30 or so years have seen the number of teams in the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB grow by more than 20 percent. A total of 25 new teams were sprinkled throughout the four leagues over the past 32 years, with a 26th — the NHL's Seattle Kraken — due in 2021. Before that team arrives, let's rank this last batch. Some have had more success than others. Twelve different titles have been won by expansion teams added since 1988, but other franchises are still floundering decades after their births.
25. Atlanta Thrashers (1999)
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One of three teams on this list that left for greener pastures, the Thrashers only made the playoffs once over 11 seasons in Atlanta before leaving for Winnipeg and becoming the Jets.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (2000)
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The Blue Jackets have only won one postseason series in their entire 19-year history.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (1989)
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Save for a short run with Kevin Garnett in the early 2000s, the Timberwolves have been awful. Their winning percentage over 32 seasons is just .396 and they've made the playoffs exactly once since reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2004.
22. Memphis Grizzlies (1995)
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Originally born in Vancouver, the Grizzlies made the playoffs seven straight times from 2010-2017. But other than that, they don't have much to hang their hat on, winning only 41 percent of their games over 26 seasons.
21. Florida Panthers (1993)
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The Florida Panthers are one of sport's most forgotten teams. Though they made the Stanley Cup Final with a miracle run in 1996, they haven't advanced past the conference quarterfinals since.
20. Charlotte Hornets (1988)
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Thanks to Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, Hornets gear was HOT when the franchise was first born. But the team has never come close to winning a championship, making the playoffs just 10 times in 31 seasons.
19. New Orleans Pelicans (2002)
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The Pelicans and Hornets are intertwined in a weird way (read the whole explanation here) so we'll put them back to back. The Pelicans have made the playoffs seven times in 19 seasons and have just a .464 winning percentage. Maybe Zion can change that.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars (1995)
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The Jaguars have somehow reached three different AFC title games, but the rest of their seasons have largely been a mess. They've had five seasons of four or fewer wins and have regular home games in London because they can't fill their stadium back home.
17. Minnesota Wild (2000)
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Like the North Stars before them, the Wild have often been solid but never spectacular. The team has made the playoffs 10 times in 19 seasons but has only made one trip to the Western Conference finals.
16. Ottawa Senators (1992)
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The Senators have had their shares of ups and downs, but making the playoffs 16 out of 27 years isn't too bad.
15. Houston Texans (2002)
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The Texans have lately taken advantage of a soft AFC South to stack up six division titles. But none of their playoff runs have been extended ones; Houston has never advanced past the divisional round.
14. Nashville Predators (1998)
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The Predators have done what was largely unthinkable at the time of their inception: They've turned Nashville into a hockey town by building a solid organization that has made the playoffs in 13 of 21 seasons and making one trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
13. Orlando Magic (1989)
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A lot of talented players have donned the Magic uniform, but none long enough to win a NBA title. The franchise has made the playoffs in exactly half of their 32 seasons, and been on the losing end of two different NBA Finals.
12. Colorado Rockies (1993)
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The Rockies have all the LOOKS of a great expansion franchise: Beautiful ballpark, great uniforms and a lot of great players who have worn the uniform. The crowning achievement of a World Series has eluded them, though; they've only reached the Fall Classic once and were promptly swept out by the Red Sox.
11. Carolina Panthers (1995)
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The Panthers have built a solid organization in Charlotte and even been to two Super Bowls. But they've yet to win the ultimate prize.
10. San Jose Sharks (1991)
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The Sharks are one of the most consistent franchises on this list, having missed only the playoffs seven times in their 28 seasons. But they've largely failed in the playoffs. They've lost in the Western Conference Final four different times and they fell to the Penguins in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final when they finally broke through.
9. Tampa Bay Rays (1998)
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They had some rocky early years, but the Rays have built a smart and efficient franchise that has overcome the small market limitations that most expansion franchises face. They've been to the World Series twice, including an appearance in 2020.
8. Vegas Golden Knights (2017)
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Maybe the Knights will fall in these rankings as the years go on, but it's hard to argue with their start. Vegas has made the playoffs their first three years of existence, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Sin City is head over heels in love with them.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks (1998)
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It's up for debate whether the Diamondbacks belong two spots higher than their 1998 expansion partner, but the 2001 World Series trophy is probably the ultimate tiebreaker. The D-Backs also have a slightly higher winning percentage than the Rays (.493 to .477).
6. Miami Marlins (1993)
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The Marlins are one of only four teams on this list with two or more titles, but they've been largely terrible the rest of the time with only a .463 winning percentage.
5. Toronto Raptors (1995)
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Canada's basketball team has become a solid NBA franchise in recent years and broke through in 2019 for the franchise's first title.
4. Anaheim Ducks (1993)
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The Ducks have built a solid franchise in Orange County, making the playoffs in 14 of 26 years and winning the Stanley Cup in 2007.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (1992)
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The reigning champion Lightning have two Stanley Cups to their name over 27 years of play, and another trip to the Stanley Cup Final (losing to Chicago in 2015). Think any of the Canadian teams would take that?
2. Baltimore Ravens (1996)
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Yes, the Ravens are *technically* an expansion team because the Browns assume their old history once a team was returned to Cleveland in 1999. Baltimore's organization is one of the best in football; they've won two Super Bowl titles in 25 seasons, an amount matched by only a handful of organizations in the time since.
1. Miami Heat (1988)
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No other team on this list has a resume that approaches the Heat. Miami has made the playoffs in 21 of 33 seasons, winning three NBA titles and appearing in a total of six NBA Finals.