American Franchises That Have Yet to Win a Championship: Who Will Be the First?
With the Oklahoma City Thunder winning game one of the NBA Finals, the thought popped up, "What franchise yet to win a title will do so first?"
The list is limited to NBA, MLB and NFL teams which will make the judgement much more interesting. The NFL teams listed may have claimed a championship before the Super Bowl era, but they'll still be included due to lack of a Super Bowl victory; the same goes for the NBA franchises listed.
Combing all three major American sports will make the list much more interesting and, odds are, an NFL team will claim its first before any other sport due to having the greatest parity right ahead of MLB.
Enjoy and argue!
33. Charlotte Bobcats
This team doesn't even deserve a slide but it provides Michael Jordan's organization fair justice being placed dead last.
To Charlotte's defense, Jordan has been making personnel decisions (see Morrison, Adam) and the franchise has been in existence for only 10 years.
Since we're piling on Jordan the executive, the man has traded away the likes of Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton and Emeka Okafor. It's hard to even name a starter on the current roster.
32. San Diego Padres
The Padres just do not have the fiscal resources in order to keep quality players together long enough to hope for a long playoff run, nonetheless a playoff birth.
The good news is the NL West isn't the strongest division to say the least and every year in baseball there are a few squads that rise way above the poor expectations pegged to them
Keep your heads up Padres fans and stay classy, San Diego.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
Rookie struggles are definitely expected, especially at the most important position on the field. However, did Blaine Gabbert show Jaguars' fans any hope at even winning the AFC South within the next few years? It also doesn't help when top pick Justin Blackmon registered another DUI. On top of that, Maurice Jones-Drew has a great amount of wear and tear on his legs.
Jacksonville's new head coach, Atlanta's former offensive coordinator, managed a whopping zero points during 2012 Wild Card Weekend.
Hopefully for Jags fans Mike Mularkey can be a successful head coach, something the organization hasn't seen since Tom Coughlin in the 1990's. The Coughlin-led squad experienced early success, reaching the AFC Championship Game less than five years after the team's induction into the NFL.
30. New Jersey Nets
There had to be a throwback picture of Jason Kidd in his No. 5 Nets jersey because times are bleak as of now.
When Gerald Green comes back into the league to play for your team, that's not a good sign. Check out his dunk though.
But here's what most saw if they were unfortunate enough to see the Nets.
29. Houston Astros
The owner has money but the team is still in serious rebuild mode as the Hunter Pence to Philadelphia and Michael Bourn to Atlanta trades would certainly indicate.
The best move for the Astros would be spending wisely and not trying to out-do the Rangers, their state counterparts. It would be best if Houston's farm system emulated Texas, building through pitching.
Houston will need the better part of three seasons to compete even in the NL Central.
28. Toronto Raptors
I'll never forget as a kid showing up to a Raptors' game to see Vince Carter's exciting entertainment only to learn he was forced to miss the game due to "dental issues." I can only imagine how much more pain Toronto season ticket holders felt for 41 season games.
I don't fault Chris Bosh for leaving nor do I Carter but at least give 100 percent effort on the hardwood. Raptors fans should trust general manager Bryan Colangelo to get the team in a salary friendly, cost cutting mode.
However, Toronto has had its chances in the lottery, but the general manager has selected Andrea Bargnani and Demarr Derozan in the past years.
Expect the Raptors to be behind teams like the Bulls, Heat, Pacers, Celtics and even Pistons within the next three years.
27. Arizona Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald may have "sold his soul to the devil" when he inked his fat deal with Arizona owner Bill Bidwell. He's notoriously cheap. Does anyone remember when Kurt Warner actually had to drive up his own worth the following free agency period when he was coming off one of the best Super Bowl performances ever?
It is the NFL though. Bottom feeder teams are always one great quarterback away from going from zeroes to heroes.
Cardinals' fans are wise and they must realize that Kevin Kolb nor John Skelton will even win the team a playoff game.
26. Seattle Mariners
Seattle may have came out on top against the Yankees, trading Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero although it's too early to completely tell.
That's about the only positive the Mariners have right now due to playing in the same division as the Rangers and Angels. But who knows? Maybe Bud Selig and MLB higher ups will seriously consider division realignment, just as seriously as they've thought about expanding the use of instant replay.
25. Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson got his deal before tearing up his knee, but it's expected he'll be back to his old form soon enough.
The trouble with this is running backs don't last long and Christian Ponder has been running for his life since replacing bounce pass Donovan McNabb midseason.
Adding USC left tackle Matt Kalil will certainly help whomever is passing behind him but is Ponder the right guy?
Easily having the worst starting quarterback in the NFC North will delay progress towards every NFL team's ultimate goal. It'll be at least five years before Minnesota can be taken seriously as a Super Bowl threat.
I vent with Vikings' fans about the 2009 mess in the Superdome.
24. Utah Jazz
John Stockton, Karl Malone and Jerry Sloan brought good times to Jazz fans but were screwed by the Michael Jordan era.
With all three men gone, Utah will need to find a star to compliment the rest of the team's above-average players.
In all honesty though, can anyone grasp for one second this team outdoing the Thunder, Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks or any organizations of that caliber how the team is currently constructed?
With that being stated, general manager Frank Layden pulled off a tremendous deal in disposing Deron Williams to the Nets.
23. Cleveland Browns
Talk about an unproven team, the Cleveland Browns are heading into 2012 with a rookie passer and a rookie runner. Expect Richardson to adjust much better as running back is one of the easier jumps from college to the pros.
As for Brandon Weeden, tighten that chin strap. At least the former minor league pitcher has Joe Thomas blocking his blind side and Alex Mack hiking him the ball.
There definitely is optimism because the Steelers and Ravens are getting older. Wouldn't it be great to see Cleveland and Cincinnati be one and two in the AFC North for years to come?
22. Buffalo Bills
It seems unfair to throw the Bills on the list seeing how they made four straight Super Bowls in the early 1990's, a feat that'll never happen again due to the parity in today's game, but the fact is the great fans in Buffalo don't have what they deserve.
Fred Jackson is on the wrong side of 30 now and top 10 draft pick of a few years back C.J. Spiller hasn't shown that he's anything more than a change of pace back.
New England will always rule the AFC East until the retirement of Tom Brady and/or Bill Belichick but the Wild Card spot is always open.
Take the Bills in 2012 over the Jets, especially with the addition of Mario Williams to go alongside Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus.
Stevie Johnson will just have to limit his drops, especially in crucial situations.
21. Orlando Magic
This organization is by far the hardest to gauge.
Stan Van Gundy is gone and Dwight Howard may be the next to go if not general manager Otis Smith. Orlando should hover around mediocrity but don't expect an NBA Finals appearance anytime soon.
20. New Orleans Hornets
How to judge a squad when their best player hasn't even been drafted yet? Anthony Davis should be more Kevin Garnett than Hasheem Thabeet but "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!"
19. Milwaukee Brewers
Doug Melvin, Milwaukee's general manager, has been nothing short of spectactular. He inked Ryan Braun to a team-friendly deal for five plus years while resisting the urge to break the bank for an overweight Prince Fielder. How do you think that slugger will age? (See Cecil Fielder.)
The bullpen has been good thus far, repeating what they did in 2011. The NL Central isn't the hardest division to win and anything can happen with the new one game play-in format.
The Brew Crew better take advantage rather quickly though.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves
General manager David Kahn better stop drafting point guards, especially the showing Ricky Rubio displayed in little time due to a torn ACL.
Kevin Love is a great complementary player but Minnesota doesn't have a legit center for Rubio to throw lobs to. Surrounding Rubio with shooters would certainly help as well.
17. Colorado Rockies
A nice lineup is what the Colorado Rockies have but the team also pitches a near 50-year-old pitcher every week. The outfield at Coors Field is spacious but the team needs an ace, especially how Matt Kemp and the Dodgers have been raking (best record in all of baseball).
Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and short stop Troy Tulowitzki are still young so you'd be dumb to count them out of a World Series seeing how they've already made it there.
16. Cleveland Cavaliers
Kyrie Irving brings hope to a city that was devastated with LeBron's departure but I'd argue he left during the 2010 Conference Semifinals against the Celtics.
Anyway, Byron Scott could be a huge plus for Irving because the Cavaliers don't have much outside of the second-year point guard. Owner Dan Gilbert can guarantee that his organization will claim a championship before the Miami Heat but it's not happening.
15. Tennessee Titans
Owner Buddy Adams likely won't be around when his former Houston Oilers get to claim the Lombardi Trophy due to Matt Hasselbeck's age and injury prone self. On top of that, Jake Locker supporters must admit that it'll take time for his accuracy to improve in order to reach the big game.
The offensive line is in good shape while Chris Johnson may want to emulate his 2010 self, meaning running without all that extra cash in his pockets.
Don't expect the Houston Texans to provide any chances to the Titans, especially how Tennessee left the Texas city.
14. Memphis Grizzlies
Formerly the Vancouver Grizzlies, the Memphis version has enjoyed more success. Head coach Lionel Hollins helped the Grizz bounce the number one seed San Antonio Spurs in the 2011 Playoffs and the unit just missed the second round this season.
The issue is that there's too much money tied up in Rudy Gay and he's not a superstar caliber player. It'll take some time to find that guy, especially with Memphis presumably out of the NBA Draft lottery for at least the next few years.
Mike Conley and others can still improve but the majority of their progression has already occurred.
13. Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles have championships to the team's credit but not a Super Bowl. Michael Vick and Andy Reid together makes for a fascinating watch on a Sunday afternoon but the small, athletic quarterback hasn't shown the capability to survive a full NFL season consistently.
In case you forgot, the New York Football Giants just obtained its fourth Super Bowl and Jason Pierre-Paul is only going to get better.
Vick won't be in his prime much longer and Reid will be canned if the team can't accomplish the greatest feat in the NFL.
12. Indiana Pacers
Larry Bird has been more than capable building a roster, winning 2011 NBA Executive of the Year to go along with not only his three championship rings but his Coach of the Year award.
Indiana has a plethora of nice players but today's NBA warrants any team that wants a chance to win the title to have a superstar. Roy Hibbert is a good big in a league that's hard to find now but Paul George will need to average around 20 points a game.
George's development would be accelerated by trading Danny Grainger but Indiana's front office isn't dumb enough to receive a bag of basketballs for him. But if an upgrade at point guard is possible, Bird should have no issue pulling the trigger.
11. Seattle Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander in his prime were oh so close to defeating the Steelers in the Super Bowl of 2004 (which was one of the most boring Super Bowls a casual viewer could sit through).
Pete Carrol still hasn't found what he's looking for at the quarterback position unless newly signed Matt Flynn proves to be sufficient enough with Marshawn Lynch (I'll call him Skittles Sweetness). Playing in a division with the 49ers isn't a death sentence, especially if 2012 first-round pick Bruce Irving can find quarterbacks.
The Seahawks are more than capable at making the playoffs this time around and we already know they can win a game with inferior talent when playing at Qualcomm Stadium (see 2010 NFC Wild Card Round against the Saints).
10. Carolina Panthers
Having a young Cam Newton leading your team definitely boosts your team up on the list. However, let's not forgot the Panthers inked defensive end Charles Johnson to a fat deal while drafting Luke Kinkley to pair alongside now healthy Jon Beason.
The ground game was too inefficient in the early going of the 2011 season and fans should expect otherwise this time around. Even if Jonathan Stewart is traded, DeAngelo Williams is explosive.
9. Detroit Lions
The young duo of Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson hasn't even hit its peak yet while the other NFC North defenses are getting older.
As a whole, the NFC has now surpassed the AFC is upper echelon talent and the league is also deeper. The Packers are going to be difficult to deal with not only because of the great years ahead of Aaron Rodgers but because Detroit's coverage has been awful.
Jim Schwartz does have a nice front four for his defense but the secondary will have to improve.
The Lions should have been more proactive in bulking up the offensive line for both quantity and quality but that should come in future drafts, especially how keeping Stafford upright is priority number one. Run blocking from the offensive line is a must as well.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan is a tad overrated with no playoff wins on his resume and arm strength that classifies him towards the bottom of the league when it comes to starting quarterbacks.
As harsh and off the wall as it may seem, Ryan may not be the guy to help Julio Jones and Roddy White stretch the field and keep defenders out of the box.
Michael Turner is going to fall off a cliff, so to speak, as is the nature of playing running back. John Abraham is now in his mid-30s and last offseason's pickup of didn't materialize as well as general manager hoped.
The offensive line is still gritty and mean but the offensive play calling must improve. It isn't necessarily a bad thing that Mike Mularkey headed south to Jacksonville.
7. Washington Nationals
Bryce Harper is only going to get better at the young age of 19 while Stephen Strasburg has recovered more than well from Tommy John Surgery. Don't sleep on the rest of the pitching staff either.
Washington actually leads the NL East midway through June.
With the Phillies aging, the Nationals could take advantage of their successful scouting to not only overtake Philadelphia but dominate the low-spending Mets and the overpaying Marlins.
6. San Diego Chargers
As a football unity, we wait tirelessly every season for San Diego to capitalize on a weak AFC West and the franchise never does.
Years ago, failure for the powder blues meant losing in the AFC Championship Game. Now Norv Turner, Philip Rivers and general manager A.J. Smith didn't even earn a playoff birth!
Smith's 2010 first round selection Ryan Mathews better play like where he was picked. Mathews reported to the team's minicamp in phenomenal shape unlike last year.
Turner is in favor of the ground game but Mathews will have to play up to his draft selection in 2010. The Raiders and Broncos are atrocious against the run so the San Diego State product must flourish in the four games his team matches up against them or San Diego can enjoy nice seasonal weather off the Pacific yet again.
5. Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul with a developing Blake Griffin, not to mention good depth? Only Donald Sterling could screw this up.
To the man's defense though, he reportedly offered more than four first-round picks for Michael Jordan before Jordan was "Jordan."
Although it appears the Oklahoma City Thunder should rep that west for a while, the Clippers are more than capable snatching some hardware themselves with every other Western Conference team aging.
4. Texas Rangers
Not many teams can take back-to-back World Series appearances, especially in a loaded American League. It's going to be harder now with a bigger target on Nolan Ryan's team but the Rangers can definitely do it again.
It'd be a lot easier if their pitching staff had a clear ace but they managed without Cliff Lee in 2011. The lineup is still as potent as before and opponents could have trouble adjusting to the summer heat and odd shadows at The Ballpark at Arlington.
A third World Series appearance in a row still wouldn't be as likely as Josh Hamilton's amazing comeback (albeit self-inflicted).
3. Tampa Bay Rays
Out of all sports teams in the NFL, NBA and MLB, the Tampa Bay Rays do the most with the least by far. Credit Joe Madden but know the name of general manager Andrew Friedman.
As I'm writing this, Tampa's scouts are probably finding the next Randy Johnson. Bad attempt at a joke, but I'm sure Tampa is more than happy with Matt Moore and others they've acquired.
The Red Sox have been in a state of flux for two full years now and the Yankees are getting older. It's too bad there's not more support for this franchise but these players go about their business regardless.
2. Houston Texans
Many "experts" believed the Houston Texans would have at least represented the AFC in the Super Bowl with a healthy Matt Schaub. It's hard to disagree there, especially with Wade Phillips' improved defense that was best signified by a top five secondary.
The Colts are rebuilding, the Titans are having a tough time figuring out their starting quarterback and the Jaguars are the Jaguars.
The entire AFC is as wide open that its been in recent memory and the Texans could be called the least flawed team.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City has only three more wins until the Thunder are crowned champions. Even if the Thunder don't succeed this time around, general manager Sam Presti has assembled a unit that averages only 25 years of age.
In addition to that, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are both only 23. The Spurs are obviously long in the tooth and couldn't put away Oklahoma City even with a 2-0 lead. Kobe Bryant is unable to carry a team to the promised land and don't bet on Andrew Bynum being able to.
The Western Conference has been wide open for the past two seasons but that's about to change for the next five years, especially with Westbrook and Durant locked up until 2016.
Make no mistake about it: A championship for Oklahoma City is a championship for the great city of Seattle.