NBA Teams Who Have Never Won A Championship

Clippers

How Many NBA Teams Have Never Won A Ring?

At the beginning of each NBA season, there is hope for the ultimate goal to come almost eight months down the road. That goal is the NBA Championship.

Since the league began, there have been 76 NBA Championships, 40 going to the Eastern Conference champions and 36 to the Western Conference champions. The Lakers and the Celtics won the most champions with 17 a piece.

There have been 12 NBA teams yet to break through, and have never won a championship. Let’s run down those teams and note the closest each has come to winning it all.

Team 1: Utah Jazz

The Jazz have had many notable players during their franchise’s history, from Pete Maravich while in New Orleans, Adrian Dantley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Rudy Gobert. For the first nine seasons, they missed the playoffs.

The great Stockton/Malone teams went to the conference finals five times from 1991 through 1998, advancing to the NBA Finals in 1996-97 and 1997-98, only to lose to Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

Recently, the Jazz have made the playoffs over the last six years but failed to get past the conference semifinals.

Team 2: Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic began play in 1990 and missed the playoffs their first four seasons under head coach Matt Guokas. With stars Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, the Magic advanced to the NBA Finals in 1995 but lost to the Houston Rockets.

From 2000 through 2010, the next big stars for the franchise were Tracy McGrady and Dwight Howard, but they once again failed in the 2009 NBA Finals, falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.

The team has fallen hard since 2012, missing the playoffs eight times. The only two playoff appearances were in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, led by Nick Vucevic, losing in the first round.

Team 3: New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans are relative infants to the NBA, having just completed their 21st season. The team made the playoffs twice in their first three seasons with P.J. Brown as their main attraction; however, they failed to make it past the first round.

With Chris Paul at point guard, the Pelicans were in the postseason in three of the next six seasons but failed to get past the conference semifinals. Despite stars Anthony Davis and, most recently, Zion Williamson, the Pelicans have made the playoffs only three times since the 2014-2015 season. The franchise is still looking for its first appearance in the conference finals.

Team 4: Phoenix Suns

Over 55 NBA seasons, the Suns have an overall winning record and 31 playoff appearances but have yet to win a title. In fact, they have made the conference finals ten times and the NBA Finals three times, coming up empty.

Connie Hawkins and Paul Westphal were early stars of the franchise. The first NBA Finals lost by the Suns was in 1975-76. The 1980s version of the Suns with Larry Nance, Jeff Hornacek, and Kevin Johnson lost three conference finals.

The Suns fell in the 1993 NBA Finals with Charles Barkley in the fold. Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and Shawn Marion weren’t enough to put the Suns over the top, and neither has Chris Paul and Devin Booker (yet).

Team 5: Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies began play in 1995-96 and have compiled a winning percentage of .423 with just 12 playoff appearances. Greg Anthony and Sharif Abdur-Rahim were the first notable players with the franchise, but the team failed to make the playoffs for the first eight seasons.

The Gasol brothers and Mike Conley were the faces of the franchise from the early 2000s to early 2017, but the team made the conference finals only once in that span. Still looking for their first NBA Finals appearance, the Grizzlies won 56 games in 2021-22 and lost in the conference semifinals.

Team 6: Los Angeles Clippers

The franchise began as the Buffalo Braves in 1970 before moving to San Diego in 1978 and Los Angeles in 1984. The organization featured premiere scores such as Bob McAdoo, World B. Free, Adrian Danley, and Terry Cummings. In addition, Elton Brand, Loy Vaught, Marcus Camby, and Blake Griffin are all suited for the team.

Throughout their 53 seasons, the Clippers have compiled a winning percentage of only .417 with 16 playoff appearances. They made the playoffs only seven times in their first 50 seasons. With the likes of Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers have been playoff bound every season but still haven’t made an NBA Finals appearance.

Team 8: Brooklyn Nets

The Nets were two-time ABA Champions led by Julius Erving, but it’s been a different story since entering the NBA. In 47 NBA seasons, the Nets have made 23 playoff appearances.

Their best chance at a title was from 2001-2003, when they reached both seasons’ NBA Finals behind the playoff guard Jason Kidd. However, they fell to a dominant Lakers team in four and the Spurs in six.

Notable players on the Nets since joining the NBA were Bernard King, Buck Williams, Derek Coleman, Stephon Marbury, Vince Carter, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant.

Team 9: Indiana Pacers

The Pacers won three ABA titles before joining the NBA. In 47 NBA seasons, the Pacers have been a part of the postseason 36 times and have a .511 winning percentage. They are 1-6 in the conference finals.

Their best shot at a title was between 1993 and 2000 when Larry Brown and Larry Bird were coaching, and Reggie Miller was raining 3-pt field goals on the league. However, they made the finals only once, losing four games to two to the Lakers.

The Pacers also lost three consecutive conference finals from 2012 through 2014. The Pacers missed the playoffs the last two seasons and won only 25 games in 2021-22.

Team 10: Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are another team that moved from the ABA to the NBA. They have made the playoffs 28 times in 47 NBA seasons with a record just under .500. David Thompson was the team’s first start, leading them to the NBA Finals in 1978.

Despite a high-powered offense behind coach Doug Moe that featured Kiki Vandeweghe, Dan Issel, and Alex English, the Nuggets made only one conference final from the last 1970s to the late 1980s.

Other prominent players that couldn’t get the Nuggets over the top were Dikembe Mutombo, Anthony Miller, Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony, and currently, Nikola Jokic. 

Team 11: Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves have the worst winning percentage (.399) of any team on this list. In 23 seasons, they have made the playoffs ten times and made it past the first round only once.

They didn’t see the postseason for their first seven seasons; they were in the playoffs behind superstar Kevin Garnett for the next eight, losing the conference finals in 2004.

How bad have the Timberwolves been? They have seen the postseason only two times in the last 19 years, which says it all.

Team 12: Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets began play in 1989 and have compiled a .422 winning percentage and ten playoff appearances. Charlotte has never made it past the conference semifinals despite some prominent players on their teams, including Larry Johnson in their early seasons to Kemba Walker, most recently.

The Hornets have missed the playoffs in each of the past six seasons and haven’t made it past the first round since 2002.

Who Will Be The First?

While it’s unlikely that every one of these teams will win a championship in the near future, there are always contenders who come out of nowhere to take home the trophy. With hard work and a bit of luck, any team on this list could be the next NBA champion.

Who do you think has the best chance?

5 thoughts on “NBA Teams Who Have Never Won A Championship”

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