The NBA Finals is a showdown that features the two best NBA teams in the season. While it features the best teams in the world, it’s a surprise that even some of the greatest basketball players in NBA history fail to make it there. For this piece, let’s take a look at the 10 best NBA players to never make a Finals appearance.
10. Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson is one of the best isolation scorers in the NBA. He is a seven time All-Star who once starred for the Atlanta Hawks. Although Johnson has made the playoffs several times, he never made a single NBA Finals appearance. The deepest playoff run Johnson made was in the Western Conference on two occasions, one with the Phoenix Suns and the other with the Houston Rockets. Among the two, the closest was with Houston when they took Stephen Curry and the Warriors to seven games in the 2018 Western Conference Finals.
9. LaMarcus Aldridge
At his peak, LaMarcus Aldridge starred for the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs. As a big man with a smooth shooting stroke, Aldridge gave his defenders headaches on how to guard him. However, it’s surprising that the seven time All-Star never even made a single Finals appearance. Aldridge’s deepest playoff run was with the Spurs in the 2017 Western Conference Finals, the series that saw Kawhi Leonard fall to injury in Game One. Unfortunately, the Spurs were swept in the series.
8. Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire was one of the best power forwards in the NBA. Playing as one of the cornerstones for the Phoenix Suns franchise, he averaged a solid 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game with the franchise before becoming a star for the New York Knicks. However, the six time All-Star was in the 2010 Playoffs when the Suns reached the Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately for Stoudemire and the Suns, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers took care of business enroute to back-to-back championships.
7. Grant Hill
Grant Hill was a star player for the Detroit Pistons and the Orlando Magic. But despite playing at his peak, Hill could only take his teams as far as the first round. In order to change his fortunes, Hill eventually joined the Suns late in his career, alongside the previously mentioned Amar’e Stoudemire. However, despite his efforts, the seven time All-Star could only help the Suns reach the 2010 Western Conference Finals before getting the boot.
6. Chris Webber
Chris Webber will go down as one of the best players to wear the Kings uniform. Unfortunately, Webber just couldn’t bring the franchise an NBA Finals win. He got awfully close in the 2002 Western Conference Finals. However, the duo of Shaq and Kobe had a three-peat in the back of their minds, defeating the Kings in seven games. Webber had a stellar average of 24.3 points and 10.9 rebounds per game in the series.
5. Dominique Wilkins
Dominique Wilkins barely had any playoff success. However, that did not prevent him from piecing together a solid NBA career individually. As a lethal scorer and ferocious dunker, Wilkins averaged 24.8 points, 6.7 boards, and 2.5 assists per game. Wilkins is a nine time All-Star, seven time All-NBA selection, and former NBA scoring champion.
4. Vince Carter
During his playing days, Vince Carter was half man, half amazing. While he electrified crowds with his thunderous dunks, Carter would go on to make eight All-Star Game appearances. However, Carter should also go down as one of the best players to never make the NBA Finals. The closest Carter got was in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals when the Magic were eliminated by the Celtics in six games.
3. Carmelo Anthony
Drafted third after LeBron James in the 2003 NBA Draft, Carmelo Anthony took the NBA by a storm with his elite scoring. Because of this, he was easily anointed as the face of the Denver Nuggets franchise. Melo also went on to become the king of New York during his tenure with the Knicks. Despite his individual success, that never translated in the playoffs. Melo’s deepest playoff run saw him make the Western Conference Finals in 2009 before getting eliminated by eventual champions Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
2. Yao Ming
Yao Ming is arguably the best player to ever come out of Asia. Standing at 7 ‘6 tall, Yao emerged as an elite center in the NBA that rivaled against the likes of Shaquille O’Neal. However, Yao never really turned the Houston Rockets into a championship contender. With Yao at the helm, the Rockets could only get as far as the second round. Nevertheless, Yao is still considered as a trailblazer for Asian hoops.
1. Steve Nash
As one of the greatest point guards to ever play in the NBA, Steve Nash is also one of the greatest basketball players to never win a ring. In fact, a single NBA Final appearance was already elusive for the two time MVP. Nash starred for the Mavericks and the Suns where he made several appearances in the Western Conference Finals. In a last minute ditch, Nash even joined a star-studded Lakers. However, we all remember how that superteam failed miserably.
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