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11 teams that have never won an NBA Championship

With just a couple of weeks left before the commencement of the playoffs for the 2017-18 season of the NBA, many teams would now be focussing their attention towards the coveted NBA title.


While the likes of Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are always in the reckoning for the championship, the upsurge of new potential challengers in the form of Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, and Boston Celtics has got everyone enthralled.

Indeed, the end goal of every NBA franchise is to win a ring. So much time and energy is spent over procuring the perfectly balanced roster, a good front-office, and a tactically adept coaching unit to ultimately strive for the NBA title.

Many teams have a rich history of going all the way in the NBA with the Celtics leading the charts with a massive 17 titles. They are followed by the Los Angeles Lakers who have won the NBA 16 times.

However, there are several sides who have failed to achieve this glory all along. Let us now look at the 11 teams that have failed to win the NBA title even once.

Note: We haven't mentioned franchises like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings and the Atlanta Hawks as they have won championships, albeit under different ownership and franchise names.

#11 Phoenix Suns


The Phoenix Suns are currently dead last team in the NBA so far. They sit on the 15th spot in the Western Conference with a 19-57 record. In fact, they are the only team in the NBA to have not won 20 games so far.

A regular playoffs contender, things have not always been this bad for the Suns who are enduring their worst playoffs drought in the history of the franchise, having not made it to the postseason in the last seven seasons which will become eight soon.

However, what remains constant is that Phoenix have never won an NBA ring. They have come pretty close though on two occasions when they reached the NBA Finals in both 1993 and 1976. They were defeated 4-2 both times by the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls respectively.


The Suns have a couple of good youngsters in the form of Devin Booker and Josh Jackson in their side. A good rebuild in the next two-three seasons can hopefully allow them to be a worthy force in the NBA again.

#10 Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies are currently enduring one of their worst seasons ever. Although on a two-game winning streak currently, the Grizzlies went through a 19-game losing streak very recently.


Memphis have made it to the postseason a total of 10 times but the best that they have managed so far is a Western Conference Finals finish in the 2012-13 season when Marc Gasol won the Defensive Player of the Year award.

However, they were trounced by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals as Gregg Popovich's side swept the Grizzlies 4-0.

Memphis are currently a team destined to go through a rebuilding process given their intermediately skilled roster and aging star players. Hence, they won't be up for a title challenge anytime soon.

#9 Charlotte Hornets


After finishing 11th at the end of last year, the Charlotte Hornets had much hope going into this year when they acquired the services of center Dwight Howard at the start of the season.

However, it's the same old story for the Michael Jordan co-owned franchise who sit on the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference with a 34-42 record.

The Hornets have never qualified for the NBA Finals, going only as far as the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the history of the franchise on four occasions, with the last one coming in 2002.

Charlotte are far off from making the playoffs given their current title and challenging for the title is nothing but a distant dream for the Hornets at present.

#8 Orlando Magic


Currently reeling in the 14th spot of the Eastern Conference rankings, Orlando Magic still await their first NBA title since their inception in 1989. Despite having some respectable players in Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Nikola Vucevic, and Jonathan Simmons, the Magic continue to underperform.

Orlando has made two NBA Finals runs so far in the 1994-95 season as well as the 2008-09 season. While they were trounced 4-0 by Houston Rockets in their first NBA Finals appearance, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers took home the spoils in 2009, winning 4-1 in five games.

Like the Suns, Orlando Magic are also enduring their longest playoffs drought in franchise history having not made it to the postseason since 2012, making it a total of five seasons. The drought is set to extend another year in this case as well. Evidently, Orlando is nowhere near an NBA title in the current scheme of things.

#7 Brooklyn Nets


New York Nets, New Jersey Nets, and now the Brooklyn Nets, the franchise has been known by many names in their 42-year history in the NBA. What they haven't been known as ever though, is NBA champions.


Missing the playoffs in the last two seasons, the Brooklyn Nets reached back to back NBA Finals in the 2001-02 and the 2002-03 seasons, coming up short at the final hurdle each time.

Brooklyn were swept by the Lakers in their first ever Finals appearance. They managed to win a couple of games the next time around but the San Antonio Spurs were able to see them off with six games.

Another team in the rebuilding process, Brooklyn's most prominent players are D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, and an injured Jeremy Lin. Already underway a game against the Chicago Bulls, the Nets are currently placed 12th in the East with a 24-51 record.

#6 Los Angeles Clippers


We have one Los Angeles side featuring on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to title wins. While the Lakers have won the NBA 16 times, the Clippers are yet to open their account.

Currently, in a playoffs tussle in the West, Doc Rivers' side is placed in the 9th spot with a 41-34 record. On seven occasions have the Clippers made it to the Western Conference Semifinals but never beyond that.

The last such instance was in the 2013-14 season when they were pitted against the Oklahoma City Thunder who comprehensively beat them to reach the Conference Finals.

Despite having a trio of superstars in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan in their ranks, the Clippers failed time and again. Now with the departure of the first two aforementioned names, the Clippers are significantly weak to make a title run anytime soon.

#5 Utah Jazz


One of the hottest teams in the NBA right now in form, the Utah Jazz have won 20 of their last 25 games bringing them right into playoffs contention after being left high and dry in the early stages of the season.

This turnaround has largely been influenced by two of the Jazz players, namely Rudy Gobert who is in the running for Defensive Player of the Year, and Donovan Mitchell, who is fighting it out with Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons for the Rookie of the Year crown.

Since their inception in 1974, the Jazz have reached the NBA Finals twice in 1997 and 1998. However, they were defeated on both occasions in six games by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Currently seeded eighth in the Western Conference with a 42-33 record, the Jazz have all the pieces to be NBA title contenders in the future.

#4 Minnesota Timberwolves


Boasting of a trio of Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, and Andrew Wiggins, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been placed as high as the third seed in the West this year. Currently recording 43-33 on the season, the Wolves find themselves in the seventh spot.

Tom Thibodeau's side is currently on track to end their 13-season playoffs drought. Incidentally, Minnesota's best ever finish in the NBA came just a year earlier when Kevin Garnett propelled them to a Western Conference Finals finish where they were eliminated by Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

Despite being in the bottom half of the playoffs seed, the Timberwolves can still go deep in the playoffs this year given their talented roster. They may even challenge for the title in the next few seasons given the monumental rise of the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns.

#3 New Orleans Pelicans


When DeMarcus Cousins got injured before the All-Star break, Anthony Davis was asked to carry the New Orleans Pelicans franchise all on his own yet again and he hasn't let anyone down.

Currently the sixth seed in the Western Conference with a 43-32 record, the Pelicans can easily finish in the top four seeds, making Davis' case for an MVP award even stronger.

New Orleans have managed to reach the playoffs a total of six times in their relatively short tenure in the NBA. The best outing was in the 2008 postseason when they reached the Western Conference Semifinals.

Many thought that this would be the year for the Louisiana based franchise as they finished second in the regular season and Byron Scott picked up the Coach of the Year award. However, this was not the case as the San Antonio Spurs beat them in a closely contested Western Conference Semifinals series.


#2 Indiana Pacers


The Indiana Pacers, who finished 7th in the East last season lost their All-Star Paul George in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the beginning of this season. Many regarded that as a fateful move as many opined that the Pacers would fall into disarray.

All the doubts were quashed by the uproar of a resilient Victor Oladipo who has taken the NBA by a storm after being acquired by the Pacers in the Paul George trade along with Domantas Sabonis.

Averaging 23.2 points per game, Oladipo leads the league in steals and has led the Pacers to the fifth spot in the East with a 45-31 record.

Being a regular playoffs presence, the Indiana Pacers have reached the NBA finals on one occasion previously in the 1999-00 season. They were fended off by the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2 in six games.

With a good crop of youngsters in Myles Turner, Oladipo, and Sabonis who could all develop into world-class players soon, Indiana Pacers have a sure-shot chance of challenging for the title in the next few years. For the current season, they look most likely to exit the competition in the second round of the playoffs.


#1 Denver Nuggets


Despite boasting of a good 40-35 record this year, the Denver Nuggets see themselves outside of playoffs spot, sitting in the 10th spot. Given the tough road schedule and their away record this season, Nikola Jokic and Co. will probably not be taking part in the postseason.

The Nuggets have made it to the Western Conference Finals twice in their 42 seasons in the NBA. The Lakers have however been their undoing both times, with the last one coming in 2008-09.

While the Mile-High City franchises have got some good pieces in the form of Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris to make a run for the title in the coming few seasons, that certain X-factor seems to be definitely missing for the Nuggets.

Edited by
Kishan Prasad
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