Predicting How Long It Will Take Every Ringless Star to Win an NBA Championship
Superstars of NBA's past like Elgin Baylor, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley have all gone down in history as “yeah-buts.”
Yeah, they were good, but they didn’t win a ring.
In professional sports, star players are judged by titles. It isn’t fair: You can’t tell me you’d rather have Robert Horry (seven titles) on your team than Dominique Wilkins (zero).
Right or wrong, it will always be used as a measuring stick.
That leaves plenty of today’s biggest stars in the “yeah-but” category.
Here’s who will end their title drought the quickest.
Note: To be considered a star for this list, a player must have been picked to an All-NBA team in the last five years or the 2011-12 NBA All-Star game.
Marc Serota/Getty Images
Credentials: 2003 Rookie of the Year, five-time All-NBA, six-time All-Star
When paired with Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire was one of the most exciting players in the NBA.
Before Blake Griffin, he was the most explosive big man in the league.
Now he is in a tough situation in New York, where he and Carmelo Anthony must figure out how to share shots.
Stoudemire demonstrated this postseason that neither winning nor his teammates is his biggest concern. By punching the glass of a fire extinguisher case, he told the world he cares more about expressing himself than helping his team win.
Yes, players are emotional and make snap decisions, but normally they punch a wall or a water bucket. A player knows the results when he punches glass—there’s going to be stitches.
When will he win? He won’t.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Credentials: Two-time MVP, seven-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star
Even at 38, Steve Nash is still effective. He will go down as one of the best point guards to play the game.
But more than likely, he will be put into the John Stockton category of best point guards not to win a championship.
As a free agent this offseason, Nash could sign with a team like the Miami Heat and bolster his shot at a ring, but his window is shutting quickly. Nash probably only has another season or two playing at the level he has.
When will he win? Nash won’t win a title as a starting point guard.
Credentials: 2011 All-NBA, 2012 All-Star
LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the top three power forwards in the Western Conference.
This year he elevated his leadership skills, but he did so in a disastrous season for the Portland Trail Blazers.
The demise of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy’s knees equated to the demise of Aldridge’s title hopes.
Portland could make a big splash in free agency this offseason. Historically, however, big-name free agents despise Portland.
Aldridge is a legitimate All-Star, but on a championship team, Aldridge is better served as Robin instead of the Batman he’s currently playing.
When will he win? Portland’s 35-year title drought will continue for the foreseeable future and Aldridge won’t be able to end it.
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Credentials: 2010 All-NBA, six-time All-Star
Joe Johnson has a well-rounded game. He can score, pass, rebound and defend.
He does all this on a good Atlanta Hawks team.
Johnson is a star surrounded by a good supporting cast, but it doesn’t appear Atlanta is willing to work hard enough to make a deep run in the playoffs.
The Hawks keep making it to the playoffs and keep leaving early. I don’t see a good reason why this will change.
When will he win? If he stays in Atlanta, never.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Credentials: 2004 Most Improved Player, 2011 All-NBA, 2010 All-Star
Zach Randolph is a threat to put up 20 points and pull down 10 rebounds every night.
On a very deep Memphis Grizzlies squad, he is their primary scoring option down low.
But like Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks, the Grizzlies can’t seem to figure out how to get over the hump. They pushed Oklahoma City last year after knocking off the No. 1 San Antonio Spurs. This year, however, they folded like a card table.
When will he win? The Grizzlies have a roster loaded with potential but will not be able to capitalize on it for a title. Randolph won’t win a ring.
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Credentials: Four-time All-NBA, five-time All-Star
Carmelo Anthony is one of the best one-on-one scorers in the NBA.
Isolating ’Melo on almost any defender in the league will lead to buckets for Anthony.
However, he does not make the players around him better. Anthony also doesn’t defend with as much tenacity as he could.
With New York, Anthony’s game will never equate to title material. He needs to become a better team player and defender to become a championship-caliber player.
When will he win? Anthony must revamp his entire game to have a shot at a title. Odds are that will not happen in the next decade.
Anthony's ability to alter his game in the future earns him a higher spot on this list than current teammate Amar'e Stoudemire.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Credentials: 2011 Most Improved Player, two-time All-Star
At 23, Kevin Love is the game’s best power forward.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have invested in their star player, and they’ve invested in building around him.
With Love and point guard Ricky Rubio, the Wolves have one of the most exciting combinations in the NBA.
As the team continues to build around these two players, Minnesota will become a consistent contender in the Western Conference.
Love’s game is too diverse and too good for anyone in the NBA to stop on a regular basis. As Rubio adjusts to the NBA and develops more ways to feed the ball to Love, the team will become more and more dangerous.
When will he win? Love, 23, and the Timberwolves will break through for at least one title before he hits 35.
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Credentials: Three-time Defensive Player of the Year, five-time All-NBA, six-time All-Star
The only way the game’s preeminent big man will win a title with the Orlando Magic is by luring a second superstar to Orlando.
Based on Dwight Howard’s spotty relationship with coach Stan Van Gundy, don’t count on that happening.
That means after another tumultuous season hemming and hawing over what he wants to do, Howard will leave the Magic.
When he does, a mad bidding war will ensue. Out of the 400-some players in the NBA, only one—the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum—can match up with Howard physically right now.
That means every team will jockey for positioning in the Howard sweepstakes.
Howard will sign with an established winner. As conscientious as he is about his image, that will make it easier for him to convince critics he didn’t sign for the money.
When will he win? Howard wins a title within the next eight seasons.
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
Credentials: Two-time All-NBA, three-time All-Star
Where Deron Williams decides to sign this offseason plays a big part in determining when he wins his first NBA championship.
Odds are, he signs with a team that is already a borderline contender at worst. Adding Williams to a 2012 playoff team—think the Dallas Mavericks or Los Angeles Lakers—puts them into the title conversation.
Plugging a point guard into a team is more difficult than other positions. Williams will need at least a year or two to adjust to his new personnel. That will allow him to figure out where his teammates like the ball, learn how he needs to manage the game and build championship-type chemistry.
When will he win? Don’t be surprised to see Williams and Howard playing in the same uniform. Like Howard, Williams has his first ring by 2020.
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul
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Griffin’s credentials: 2011 Rookie of the Year, two-time All-Star. Paul’s credentials: 2006 Rookie of the Year, three-time All-NBA, five-time All-Star
This dynamic duo will end the Clippers’ curse, but it won’t be right away.
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have already teamed up to become the one of the most entertaining tickets in the NBA.
They’re still in the process of learning how entertainment can consistently translate into winning, however.
The biggest thing missing from this duo right now is a second killer instinct. Paul possesses that instinct, but Griffin has disappeared too many times late in games this year. He needs to establish himself as a threat in the clutch before the Clippers get over the hump.
Once he does that—and he will—Lob City becomes Mob City as Clippers fans celebrate the end of years of frustration.
When will they win? Give it some time, but expect to see the other L.A. win a title five to seven years from now.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Credentials: 2011 MVP, 2009 Rookie of the Year, 2011 All-NBA, three-time All-Star
This year looked like the year Derrick Rose would lead the Chicago Bulls back to the promised land.
Then injuries derailed Rose’s season.
Still, this team is built to win.
Chicago has all of the pieces, and Rose is its catalyst.
With a healthy Rose, the Bulls could be back in the title hunt in 2013.
However, they won’t make it to the NBA Finals for at least a few years. Their Eastern Conference rivals to the south will keep them out in each of the next few seasons.
When will he win? A healthy Rose adds an NBA Finals MVP to his trophy case about five years from now.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh
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James’ credentials: Three-time MVP, 2004 Rookie of the Year, seven-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star. Bosh’s credentials: 2007 All-NBA, seven-time All-Star
These two All-Stars made their way to South Beach with plans to win seven titles.
In their second year, they will do the same.
But a title for these two—especially for James—is inevitable. Once James gets one, he won’t be denied. The best player in the NBA is too good, too unstoppable and too determined to keep down for long.
That will help Bosh load up his hand with rings.
When will they win? Next year, and don’t be surprised if that’s the first of not one, not two, not three…
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant
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Westbrook’s credentials: 2011 All-NBA, two-time All-Star. Durant’s credentials: 2008 Rookie of the Year, two-time All-NBA, three-time All-Star
After Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant took a ton of heat for not knowing how to coexist in the playoffs last year, they seem to have figured it out this year.
Westbrook and Durant have the Oklahoma City Thunder clicking this postseason. These two superstars look unstoppable.
Westbrook can get into the lane whenever he wants. Durant can score from wherever he wants.
They have talent surrounding them at every position and deep into the bench.
When will they win? In June.