US Sports Veteran
Chris Paul comes in at number one because he’s one of the best point guards in basketball history and he’s been on a number of teams that had championship potential. From Lob City to the 2017 Houston Rockets, it’s hard to figure out how Paul hasn’t at least been to a championship. His passing and defensive skills are some of the most covenanted attributes in the game, yet he still has yet to find success in the playoffs.
While Carmelo Anthony hasn’t been on as many good teams as Paul, he’s been in the association for 15 years and has never even sniffed a championship. At age 34, he’s already 19thall-time in scoring in NBA history and never averaged under 20 points per game in a season until 2017. Melo might not be as talented as Harden or Westbrook, but he’s been around far longer than them. That’s why he’s at number two.
In 2016 Russell Westbrook became the second player to ever average a triple-double throughout an entire season, joining Oscar Robertson. In 2017 he became the first player to do it twice. The former MVP and two-time scoring champion made the NBA Finals with the 2011-12 Oklahoma City Thunder, but got steam rolled by LeBron James and the Miami Heat. After four trips to the Western Conference Finals and only one victory, Westbrook must be starving to finally prove himself with Anthony and Paul George in 2018.
James Harden is the reigning MVP and is also a former member of the 2011-12 Thunder. Like Westbrook, that was also his only NBA Finals appearance. In the offseason following the loss Harden signed with the Rockets and became the face of the franchise. Since then the team has made the Western Conference Finals twice and lost both times to the Golden State Warriors. While Westbrook often tries to do too much for his teams in the playoffs, Harden doesn’t do enough. He’s struggled in the Rockets last two postseason runs.
Unfortunately, Dwight Howard is often glossed over as an afterthought nowadays. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year and five-time rebounding champion has bounced around on a lot of irrelevant teams since leaving the Rockets. While he may no longer be viewed as a star, he once dragged the 2008-09 Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals where they lost to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Howard got the Magic back to the Eastern Conference Finals the next season but they lost, this time to the Boston Celtics and their Big Three. Howard will be 33 this coming season and he’s still chasing a championship.
After 20 seasons in the NBA and 24,868 career points, Vince Carter still hasn’t won an NBA Championship. Plenty of other veterans with less experience than him have signed for the league minimum with good teams to chase championships, maybe it’s time Carter signs with a contender. After all the previous four teams he’s been on have been the Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, and Phoenix Suns. None have been close to Championship level. Carter did go to the 2009-10 Eastern Conference Finals with Howard and the Magic, but they lost.
Anthony Davis is one of the brightest young stars in the NBA. He was one of the three MVP finalists this year and has shown just how dominant he can be on both sides of the ball. He was also a Defensive Player of the Year finalist this year too because he led the league in blocks per game for the third time in his career. Davis’ deepest playoff run was also this year, when his New Orleans pelicans lost to the Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals.
He entered the NBA in the same draft class as Davis and has been one of the associations’ best scorers from Day One. In six seasons he’s averaged 20 points per game or more five times and the one time he didn’t was his rookie season when he averaged 19 points per game. Despite some playoff heroics, Damian Lillard has never been to a Conference Finals.
Jimmy Butler has never been to a Conference Finals. While he was in the Eastern Conference his teams struggled in the playoffs and ran into LeBron James and company several times. Now that he’s on the Minnesota Timberwolves and teamed up with some young stars, maybe his chances of winning a title will improve. Butler has averaged 20 or more points per game in each of the last four seasons.
Paul George had the same issues as Butler. He had some good teams with the Indiana Pacers, but never any great ones. He also faced the constant struggle of living in the LeBron era, which gave him to two Eastern Conference Finals defeats at the hands of the King. George is hoping that teaming up with Westbrook in OKC long term will produce the playoff success that’s avoided him up to this point.
First with the Portland Trailblazers and now with the San Antonio Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge has been extremely consistent, scoring over 1,000 points in 11 straight seasons. He bounced back from a down year in 2017 to carry the team during Kawhi Leonard’s absence. Unfortunately for Aldridge his teams have had very little success in the playoffs. In his only Western Conference Finals appearance (with the Spurs) his team got swept by the Warriors.
Iso Joe Johnson is another veteran who has yet to hoist a Championship trophy. He’s been in the NBA for 17 seasons and has 20,405 career points. He was a part of the Rockets playoff run this year that fell apart in the Western Conference Finals. He also went to the Western finals with the Suns in the 2004-05 season, only to lose to the Spurs.
A lot of people at the start of the season thought that Giannis Antetokounmpo would win the MVP this year. While they were wrong the Greek Freak has made leaps and bounds over the last few seasons. In his five seasons he’s played the majority of a year at every position but center, making him one of the most versatile players in the game.
Blake Griffin is another member of the Los Angeles Clippers Lob City team that failed to produce on their potential for so many years. Griffin was the flashy, high flying, athletic dunker on the team. When he was younger he was viewed as one of the best players in the league, but he isn’t anymore. Still he’s average over 20 points per game in seven of his eight NBA seasons. He just can’t seem to stay healthy though. Griffin has never been to a conference finals.
Just like with Griffin, DeMar DeRozan has been a member of some pretty good teams that just haven’t been able to deliver in the playoffs. This is once again mostly because of LeBron owning the East for the better part of the last decade. The Toronto Raptors and DeRozan were bounced from the playoffs the last three years by LeBron, and one of those losses came in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Honorable Mentions – Derrick Rose, Paul Millsap
Just as a reminder, this list was not based off of players’ current abilities, rather it took into account their full career histories. That’s why older, more experienced players hold most of the top spots.
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