It’s a shame to think that some true NBA legends will retire from the game with far fewer career accolades than they deserve.
Some have no ring, some have no MVPs. Sometimes all a player will have by the time their career is done, is a few all star teams and some nice stats. That often doesn’t reflect how great a player actually was.
Only 29 players in history have ever received the league’s MVP award, so inevitably, there are some deserving guys that are just never going to win it.
10. Carmelo Anthony
Prime (8 seasons): 26.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.5 bpg, 46% fg, 36% 3 pt, 82% ft
Highest Finish: 3rd (2012-13)
People forget nowadays just how lethal Carmelo Anthony can be. He’s past his prime now, and is not going to win an MVP at this stage of his career, but he is still one of the top offensive players in the league.
Back in his Denver days, Carmelo was arguably the best scorer around and regularly lead the Nuggets to 50 wins and he took them to the Conference Finals back in 2009.
His career with the Knicks has been disappointing to say the least, but most of that is not because of Anthony. The tail end of his prime was ruined by the Knicks, failing to put adequate talent around Melo. He did have one awesome season in New York however. Back in 2013, Anthony finished 3rd in MVP voting and lead the Knicks to 54 wins, averaging 28.7 points a night.
9. Jason Kidd
Prime (6 seasons): 16.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 9.7 apg, 2.1 spg, 0.3 bpg, 41% fg, 33% 3 pt, 82% ft
Highest Finish: 2nd (2001-02)
Jason Kidd was special. One of the best passers ever, seemingly having eyes on the back of his head. Kidd was close to a reincarnation of Magic Johnson.
He also made everyone around him better, which is what made him so valuable. Kidd took the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals 2 years in a row, with the second best player on the team being Kenyon Martin.
Jason Kidd was a triple double machine. He could do everything on the court and was one of the best defensive point guards in the league. If only he didn’t play at the same time as Kobe, LeBron and Duncan.
8. John Stockton
Prime (6 seasons): 16.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 13.4 apg, 2.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 51% fg, 37% 3 pt, 83% ft
Highest Finish: 7th (1989)
The ultimate prototypical point guard.
John Stockton is the all time leader in assists and steals. He lead the Jazz to the playoffs every season of his career, including two Finals appearances.
However, Stockton was never going to win an MVP award, playing next to a guy like Karl Malone. John could have gone elsewhere to play, and he would have racked up more numbers and maybe could have won the award, but he chose winning over individual success. A most valuable trait in itself.
7. Patrick Ewing
Prime (8 seasons): 24.6 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 2.7 bpg, 51% fg, 20% 3 pt, 75% ft
Highest Finish: 4th (1989, 1993, 1995)
Throughout the 90s, Ewing was an absolute force on both ends of the court.
He turned the Knicks into a powerhouse and consistently lead them to the post season. He also lead them to the Finals in 1994 and 1999, unfortunately losing both times.
A truly legendary Center who could do everything on the court, Patrick Ewing not only deserved at least one title, but an MVP as well.
6. Chris Paul
Prime (10 seasons): 19.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 10.2 apg, 2.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 48% fg, 38% 3 pt, 87% ft
Highest Finish: 2nd (2008)
Chris Paul should have been MVP in 2008 (sorry Kobe fans). He put together one of the greatest seasons ever by a point guard.
Standing at only 6’0″ tall, it’s amazing what Chris Paul is able to do on both ends of the floor. His main strength is his playmaking and getting guys involved – which he does as well as anyone ever – but he can also take over a game with his scoring and his defense.
CP3 is also one of the greatest competitors ever and comes in each year, ready to lead his team to the playoffs (which he almost always does).
This man deserves an MVP, but at this point in his career, Chris is chasing something far more important to him; a ring. This just shows his dedication to winning and to the team aspect of basketball.
5. Scottie Pippen
Prime (6 seasons): 20.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 5.9 apg, 2.2 spg, 0.9 bpg, 48% fg, 34% 3 pt, 70% ft
Highest Finish: 3rd (1994)
Scottie Pippen was never going to win an MVP, playing on the same team as Michael Jordan.
However, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t an MVP caliber player. During the Bulls’ dominant stretch in the 90s, Pippen averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. All this while playing second fiddle to MJ. Scottie is also one of the best perimeter defenders in history, often drawing the assignment of the opposing team’s best player.
He may not have won an MVP, playing next to Michael Jordan, but it’s also safe to say that MJ doesn’t win any of his 6 rings without Pippen.
4. Isiah Thomas
Prime (4 seasons): 21.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 11.5 apg, 2.2 spg, 0.3 bpg, 47% fg, 27% 3 pt, 77% ft
Highest Finish: 5th (1984)
One of the most legendary players ever, Isiah Thomas was known for being the best player and leader of the infamous “Bad Boy” Pistons teams of the 80s.
Thomas won 2 titles with the Pistons and also had one of the most memorable Finals moments in NBA history, where he badly rolled his ankle and not only stayed in the game, but kept Detroit in the game, scoring 25 points in the third quarter. He was doing this while hardly being able to walk! Talk about a champion.
It seems that the only thing missing from this man’s legacy is an MVP.
3. Dwyane Wade
Prime (6 seasons): 27.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 6.5 apg, 1.9 spg, 1.1 bpg, 49% fg, 29% 3 pt, 77% ft
Highest Finish: 3rd (2009)
Injuries have slowed Wade down in the later stages of his career, but during his prime, this guy was a top 3 shooting guard of all time!
He’s a 3 time NBA Champion – including one of the greatest Finals performances ever in 2006. People always say Kobe is the closest thing to MJ, but 2006 playoff Wade is pretty close.
Few guards have been able to dominate the game on both ends like Wade and he will retire as one of the greatest players ever to not win the MVP award. He is definitely the best current player without winning it.
2. Elgin Baylor
Prime (3 seasons): 35.3 ppg, 17.3 rpg, 4.9 apg, 44% fg, 79% ft
Highest Finish: 2nd (1961, 1963)
Arguably the best player to never win an MVP, and also maybe the best player to never win an NBA title. As a result, Elgin Baylor is one of the most underrated players ever and often gets forgotten about when talking about the greatest players of all time.
Between, Bill Russell and the Celtics dominating that era, Wilt averaging 50 points a game for a season, and Oscar Robertson averaging a triple double, there was just no room left for Baylor. To make this even worse, the Lakers won the title the year after Elgin retired.
If anyone deserved more recognition for his talent, it was Elgin Baylor.
1. Jerry West
Prime (11 seasons): 28.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 6.8 apg, 48% fg, 82% ft
Highest Finish: 2nd (1966, 1970, 1971 and 1972)
This guy came 2nd not once, not twice, not three times but four times in MVP voting.
He was the best player on some of the greatest Lakers teams in NBA history. He’s a one time champion and one of the greatest scorers and players to ever step onto a basketball court – I mean, he’s the logo of the NBA!
A true icon, and the best player to never bring home an MVP award.