NBA Power Rankings: Dirk Nowitzki and 25 Best Players Who Have Never Won a Title
The NBA, like most professional sports leagues, is defined by legends of the game. When people think of the NBA and its history, images of Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant and Bill Russell come to mind.
Fair or not, the players we tend to remember the most not only dominated the game, but they also were big-time winners.
Many great NBA athletes had impressive careers and yet, for one reason or another, failed to win even a single championship. Some have had injury problems whereas others may have played on few teams that had strong rosters. Quite frequently, people forget that it takes more than one or two star players to win championships in the NBA.
Yet, players have also fallen short of winning a title by a shot or two barely missing or the ball bouncing a certain way. The difference between winning and losing sometimes is certainly a fine line.
This article breaks down the top 25 players who have never won championships. In ranking the players, I considered all-around abilities and career accomplishments.
Included are players who are close to finishing their careers, since it appears more likely that they will not win a single title. Stars in the middle of their careers (like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul) did not make this list because there is still a good chance that they will win a championship before they retire from the NBA.
Enjoy the walk back through NBA history. Your comments are always welcome and feel free to suggest any omissions that should have made the list.
25. Nate Thurmond
Career stats: 15.0 points, 15.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.1 blocks, 0.5 steals, 42-percent field-goal shooting, 67-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: seven-time All-Star, two-time All-Defensive first team, three-time All-Defensive second team
In the age of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell dominating the NBA, Nate Thurmond is a player who is often forgotten about. During his career, Thurmond dominated the glass and the defensive end of the court, similar to Russell.
Thurmond’s rebounding average ranks fifth all-time, and one can only imagine the amount of blocks he would have accumulated.
After the NBA started officially recording them during the 1974 season, Thurmond right away posted the NBA’s first quadruple-double against the Atlanta Hawks. During that game, he posted 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 12 blocks.
Despite playing with other stars such as Chamberlain, Rick Barry and Jerry Lucas, Thurmond was unable to find success in the NBA Finals. However, he should be remembered as one of the elite big men from the NBA’s early days.
24. Bernard King
Career stats: 22.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.0 steals, 52-percent field-goal shooting, 17-percent three-point shooting, 73-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: four-time All-Star, scoring champion, two-time All-NBA first team, All-NBA second team, All-NBA third team
Bernard King is a legend who was a prolific scorer throughout his career. Leading the league in scoring in 1985, he also put up back-to-back 50-point games in 1984.
In addition, King is one of just a handful of players to ever score 60 points in an NBA game. King suffered a torn ACL in 1985, just when he was at the peak of his career. Before this devastating injury, King played for weaker teams that faired poorly in the playoffs.
Perhaps if he hadn’t sustained the ACL tear, King might have been able to help one of his teams secure an NBA title.
23. Yao Ming
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Career stats: 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.9 blocks, 0.4 steals, 52-percent field-goal shooting, 83-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: eight-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA second team, three-time All-NBA third team
Yao Ming represented a string of firsts in the NBA. He was the first Chinese player to have a significant impact in the league. Yao was also the first 7’6” player to have an effective jump shot and offensive game.
The players who have come before him—Manute Bol, Mark Eaton, Gheorghe Muresan and Shawn Bradley—were either injury-plagued or more of defensive stoppers around the rim.
Yao’s career seemed promising until injuries started occurring, including the hairline fracture in his left foot during the 2009 playoff series against the LA Lakers. While he was considered the best center in the league for a few years before his recent setbacks, now his career likely seems to be over.
22. Vince Carter
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Career stats: 22.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.2 steals, 45-percent field-goal shooting, 37-percent three-point shooting, 80-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: eight-time All-Star, All-NBA second team, All-NBA third team, NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion, NBA Rookie of the Year (1999)
Vince Carter has been one of the most exciting players in NBA history. His high-flying act led to his nickname “Air Canada” while playing for the Toronto Raptors.
For many, Carter was seen as a player who might follow in Michael Jordan’s footsteps—combining impressive athletic ability with decent shooting and scoring skills. However, Carter seemed to turn teams in the wrong direction.
After two consecutive years of reaching the NBA Finals, Carter joined a New Jersey Nets team that was mired in mediocrity for the next five years.
After reaching the NBA Finals in 2009, Orlando acquired Carter only to see him post unimpressive numbers and miss some clutch free throws en route to an early exit in the 2010 playoffs.
Now with the Phoenix Suns, Carter failed to lift his team into the playoffs, despite playing with one of the best point guards of all-time in Steve Nash.
As of now, it appears that Carter is another incredible talent who will wind up short of winning a championship.
21. Tim Hardaway
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
Career stats: 17.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists 1.4 blocks, 1.4 steals, 48-percent field-goal shooting, 30-percent three-point shooting, 65-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: five-time All-Star, All-NBA first team, three-time All-NBA second team, All-NBA third team
Tim Hardaway was easily one of the best point guards in the 1990s. Known for his killer crossover dribble, Hardaway dominated as a scorer with excellent shooting abilities.
While playing with the Golden State Warriors, he was the leader of the fast-break offense known as “Run TMC” when he teamed with Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin. He later had some successful years in Miami where his team came close to the NBA Finals before bowing out.
Over the first seven years of his career, he averaged over 20 points and eight assists five times. Injuries plagued Hardaway throughout the latter part of his career.
Nevertheless, he should be remembered as one of the most dynamic and exciting point guards in NBA history.
20. Dikembe Mutombo
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Career stats: 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 2.8 blocks, 0.4 steals, 52-percent field-goal shooting, 68-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: eight-time All-Star, All-NBA second team, two-time All-NBA third team, three-time All-Defensive first team, three-time All-Defensive second team, four-time Defensive Player of the Year
Anyone who remembers Dikembe Mutombo playing in his prime knows that his impact in the game went far beyond his scoring numbers. While he was adept at getting easy points around the basket, his true impact was felt on the defensive end.
All Mutombo did was accumulate enough blocks to rank second all-time behind Hakeem Olajuwon. He quickly became known for his signature finger waving at opponents after he blocked shots, a move that would later be deemed taunting by the NBA.
Along with Ben Wallace, Mutombo holds the record for Defensive Player of the Year selections with four awards.
Perhaps the highlight of his career was leading the eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets in an upset over the top-ranked Seattle Supersonics in 1994. The closest he came to a championship was in the 2001 NBA Finals when he found it nearly impossible to stop the freight train known as Shaquille O’Neal.
19. Kevin Johnson
Career stats: 17.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.5 steals, 49-percent field-goal shooting, 31-percent three-point shooting, 84-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: three-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA second team, two-time All-NBA third team
Before Steve Nash ran the point with the Phoenix Suns, there was Kevin Johnson. In his prime, he was quite dominant with his play.
Along with Magic Johnson, Kevin Johnson is one of two players in NBA history to average at least 20 points and 10 assists while shooting 50 percent over two different seasons.
He came close to winning a ring in 1993 when his Phoenix Suns made it to the NBA Finals, but a guy by the name of Jordan put a stop to that idea.
Johnson had some incredible seasons and postseason runs, but he was ultimately slowed by injuries.
Still, he managed to score on an incredible dunk over Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1995 playoffs.
He may be out of the NBA today, but Kevin Johnson is leading the effort as mayor of Sacramento to get his city to hold onto the Kings franchise. Count me in as at least one person hoping he succeeds.
18. Adrian Dantley
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Career stats: 24.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.0 steals, 54-percent field-goal shooting, 82-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: six-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion
Adrian Dantley is one of the NBA’s premier all-time scorers, averaging more than 30 points per game between 1981 and 1984. He also shares the NBA record for most free throws made in a game at 28, with Wilt Chamberlain.
Throughout a career spanning seven teams, call it bad luck that he didn’t win a championship.
From 1977-1979, Dantley played for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was traded in 1979 to the Utah Jazz and missed out on the 1980 title season along with the arrival of Magic Johnson.
After the 1986 season, Utah traded Dantley to the Detroit Pistons. He would go on to play in the Motor City until 1989, when Dantley was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Mark Aguirre. Of course, later that year the Pistons would go on to win the franchise’s first championship.
17. Dave Bing
Career stats: 20.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.3 steals, 44-percent field-goal shooting, 78-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: seven-time All-Star, All-Star Game MVP, two-time All-NBA first team, All-NBA second team, NBA Rookie of the Year (1967)
Dave Bing was a pioneer in the NBA at his position. Using his lightning quick speed, Bing was a master at beating opponents off the dribble and scoring in a multitude of ways.
Although he would team with Bob Lanier, Bing’s teams never made it far in the playoffs. On top of his postseason failures, eye injuries would impair his peripheral vision and make his eyes sensitive to bright arena lights.
Yet, despite his disadvantages, Bing found a way to make his teams exciting. And for one of the great NBA franchises in the Detroit Pistons, he helped put the team on the map.
16. Reggie Miller
Career stats: 18.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.1 steals, 47-percent field-goal shooting, 40-percent three-point shooting, 89-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: five-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA third team
Those who saw Reggie Miller in his prime know he was one of the all-time greatest shooters, currently ranking second in three-pointers made with 2,560.
Throughout his career, Miller scored over 25,000 points. He was known for his killer instinct, savvy basketball moves, clutch performances and his loyalty to the Indiana Pacers franchise.
One of his best moments was scoring eight points in the final 8.9 seconds against the Knicks in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals, leading his team to a 107-105 win.
Yet, his loyalty to his Pacers franchise was his undoing in his quest to win an NBA title. The closest he came to winning a championship was when he led the Pacers to the NBA Finals in 2000 before ultimately succumbing to Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
15. Tracy McGrady
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Career stats: 20.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 0.9 blocks, 1.3 steals, 44-percent field-goal shooting, 34-percent three-point shooting, 75-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: seven-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, two-time All-NBA first team, three-time All-NBA second team, two-time All-NBA third team
Like Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady was at one time billed as an heir apparent to Michael Jordan. Along with his athletic gifts, McGrady was one of the best all-around players in the NBA during his prime.
He had his best seasons while with Orlando, twice leading the league in scoring while posting MVP-type statistics. However, throughout his career, McGrady failed to make the second round of the playoffs.
Once he was traded to the Houston Rockets, McGrady had some impressive performances, including scoring an incredible 13 points in the last 33 seconds of a game against the Spurs in 2004.
However, injuries would plague McGrady and rob him of much of the athleticism of his youth. Currently, he is relegated to being a role player in the NBA. He has a chance of winning a ring before he retires, but the window is definitely shrinking.
14. Pete Maravich
Career stats: 24.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.4 steals, 44-percent field-goal shooting, 82-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: five-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA first team, two-time All-NBA second team
Pete Maravich was a player before his time in the NBA. Rivaling moves seen at a Harlem Globetrotters’ game, Maravich dazzled NBA crowds across the league with his skills.
After scoring an NCAA record of 44.2 points per game, Maravich dominated the league with his individual performances.
Unfortunately, most of the teams he played on were not that good. The one team he played for that was decent (the Boston Celtics), he ended up leaving a year before that franchise won a championship in 1981.
Nevertheless, Maravich brought an excitement to the NBA, able to sell out arenas wherever he played. Despite his tragic death in 1988 from a heart attack, fans should remember him as one of the best to ever play the game.
13. Chris Webber
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Career stats: 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.4 steals, 48-percent field-goal shooting, 30-percent three-point shooting, 65-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: five-time All-Star, All-NBA first team, three-time All-NBA second team, All-NBA third team
Chris Webber represents one of the best all-around big men in NBA history. With a dominant post-up game and a steady jumper accurate out to the three-point line, Webber scored with ease in the NBA.
Along with being among the league leaders in rebounds and blocks, Webber was also one of the premier passing big men. His skills blended with his teammates in near-perfection when he played for the Sacramento Kings.
The closest he came to the NBA Finals was reaching Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Despite pushing the LA Lakers to the limit in that series, Webber would endure the heartbreaking loss and never made it that deep in the playoffs again.
12. Alex English
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Career stats: 21.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.9 steals, 51-percent field-goal shooting, 22-percent three-point shooting, 83-percent free-throw shooting
Career Accomplishments: eight-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA second team, scoring champion
Alex English was the first player ever to string together eight straight 2,000-point seasons, and he ended the 1980s as the decade's leading scorer.
English had his best years while playing for the Denver Nuggets, where he led the franchise to nine consecutive playoff appearances.
During those years, the Nuggets were known as a high-scoring team that fed off of Alex English's style. He liked playing in an up-tempo style that was described as smooth and elegant.
What's especially amazing was that English accomplished all this scoring while playing in the Mile High City, where players often struggle due to the lower oxygen levels.
Despite playing for those exciting teams, he never experienced playoff success. But with 25,613 career points, there is no denying his greatness.
11. Dominique Wilkins
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Career stats: 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.3 steals, 46-percent field-goal shooting, 32-percent three-point shooting, 81-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: nine-time All-Star, All-NBA first team, four-time All-NBA second team, two-time All-NBA third team, two-time Slam Dunk Contest champion, scoring champion
Known as the Human Highlight Film, Dominique Wilkins was one of the faces of the NBA during the 1980s. Known for his high-flying act and signature windmill dunks, he was one of the premier scorers of his generation with a reliable mid-range jump shot.
His constant appearances on SportsCenter's highlights made him one of the most popular players during an era when the NBA was starting to become a global brand.
Unfortunately for Wilkins, he never played for any elite NBA teams that made it to the NBA Finals. Nevertheless, his 26,668 career points currently rank 11th all-time, which is certainly an impressive feat.
10. George Gervin
Career stats: 26.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1.2 steals, 51-percent field-goal shooting, 30-percent three-point shooting, 84-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: nine-time All-Star, All-Star Game MVP, four-time scoring shampion, five-time All-NBA first team, two-time All-NBA second team
George Gervin, aka “The Iceman,” set the standard for big guards in his day. Following a brief stint in the ABA, Gervin came to the NBA and dominated the league for nearly a decade.
With his signature finger-roll shot, Gervin would go on to lead the league in scoring four out of six years, including a close finish over David Thompson in 1978. During the last game of the year, Gervin scored 63 points, including 33 points in the second quarter to barely edge Thompson.
At 6’7”, Gervin was a new prototype for his position, tall enough to shoot or pass over most opposing guards, but too quick for bigger players to cover. He would set the stage for Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and other big guards to follow.
Gervin played for some decent teams, but none were good enough to reach the NBA Finals. A drug addiction would abruptly end his career, but his legacy endures as one of the best shooting guards to play in the NBA.
9. Patrick Ewing
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Career stats: 21.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 2.4 blocks, 1.0 steals, 50-percent field-goal shooting, 74-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: 11-time All-Star, two-time All-Star Game MVP, All-NBA first team, six-time All-NBA second team, three-time All-Defensive second team, NBA Rookie of the Year (1986)
Patrick Ewing was a true warrior while playing in the NBA. A defensive force in the middle and possessing perhaps the best mid-range game among all-time centers, Ewing was one of the biggest stars in the game.
Ewing would twice come close to winning a championship, reaching the NBA Finals in 1994 and 1999. The most heartbreaking series was the 1994 NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets, when his Knicks would lose Games 6 and 7 in the final seconds.
Injuries would hamper Ewing’s abilities later in his career, including a freak accident during a 1998 game in which he would fracture his wrist.
Nevertheless, Ewing racked up many impressive records and currently ranks sixth all-time in total blocks in NBA history.
8. Jason Kidd
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Career stats: 13.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 0.3 blocks, 2.0 steals, 40-percent field-goal shooting, 35-percent three-point shooting, 78-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: 10-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA first team, All-NBA second team, four-time All-Defensive first team, five-time All-Defensive second team, Skills Challenge champion, NBA Rookie of the Year (1995)
Jason Kidd is one of the most complete players in the history of the game. One of the best rebounding point guards, his versatility has led to a career total of 107 triple-doubles—third most in NBA history.
Although not a premier scorer in the league, Kidd has been one of the best pure point guards—simply one of the best ever at setting his teammates up.
In addition, he has also excelled on the defensive end and is constantly among the leaders in steals. His 6'4", 210-pound frame allows him to defend both point guards and shooting guards effectively.
Perhaps one of the most telling stats is that while playing with Team USA, Jason Kidd's record is 56-0.
Kidd had his best years as a member of the New Jersey Nets when he took his team to two consecutive NBA Finals, falling short both times. Now playing on a stacked Dallas Mavericks team, Kidd is hoping to win that elusive championship before he retires.
7. Allen Iverson
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Career stats: 26.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 0.2 blocks, 2.2 steals, 43-percent field-goal shooting, 31-percent three-point shooting, 78-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: NBA MVP, 11-time All-Star, two-time All-Star Game MVP, three-time All-NBA first team, three-time All-NBA second team, All-NBA third team, four-time scoring champion, NBA Rookie of the Year (1997)
Allen Iverson is perhaps the best scorer ever among small players. Standing only 6'0", Iverson used his speed and skill to score around bigger and taller players throughout his career.
He came into the league as a sensation, displaying his killer crossover move on premier defenders, including Michael Jordan.
Iverson's career perhaps peaked in 2001 when he was named the league's MVP and took the 76ers to the NBA Finals, where he lost to the LA Lakers.
Despite personal issues, Iverson was one of the most prolific scoring guards of all-time.
6. Dirk Nowitzki
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Career stats: 23.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.9 steals, 48-percent field-goal shooting, 38-percent three-point shooting, 88-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: NBA MVP, 10-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA first team, four-time All-NBA second team, two-time All-NBA third team, Three-Point Shootout champion
Dirk Nowitzki is the best shooting big man of all-time. Never before has the NBA seen a seven-footer able to make three-pointers with such ease.
Nowitzki has had a memorable career, breaking many Dallas Mavericks' records while becoming the first European player to win the NBA MVP award and score 20,000 points.
Nowitzki is a difficult matchup for most forwards because he moves quickly like a small forward, yet is tall enough to shoot over most other forwards.
Critics have assailed Nowitzki for blowing a comfortable lead in the 2006 NBA Finals and then having the top-seed Dallas suffer a first-round loss to the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors.
However, Nowitzki is playing on perhaps his most talented team and has a golden opportunity to win the ring that has evaded him throughout his career.
5. Steve Nash
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Career stats: 14.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.8 steals, 49-percent field-goal shooting, 43-percent three-point shooting, 90-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: two-time NBA MVP, seven-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA First Team, two-time All-NBA Second Team, two-time All-NBA Third Team, two-time Skills Challenge Champion
Steve Nash is simply one of the best of all-time at playmaking, ball-handling and shooting.
He has put up four seasons of shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point territory and 90 percent from the charity stripe, which is the most times appearing in the “50-49-90 Club.”
He may just be the best all-around shooter in NBA history.
His Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns teams experienced some success, and if not for the Robert Horry incident in 2007, the Suns might have gone on to win the NBA title. Instead, the team that initiated the incident was rewarded by the NBA.
Nash made plenty of teams better with his playmaking, but his team loyalty will probably end up costing him a championship.
4. John Stockton
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Career stats: 13.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 10.5 assists, 0.2 blocks, 2.2 steals, 52-percent field-goal shooting, 38-percent three-point shooting, 83-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: 10-time All-Star, All-Star Game MVP, two-time All-NBA first team, six-time All-NBA second team, three-time All-NBA third team, five-time All-Defensive second team
When it comes to pure point guards, no one was ever better than John Stockton. Paired with Karl Malone on the Utah Jazz, Stockton ran the pick-and-roll offense to perfection, leading the NBA in assists a record nine times.
He was a remarkable all-around shooter and defender, always one of the premier thieves of the ball. In addition, he proved to be one of the most clutch shooters in history.
Perhaps he would have won a championship had he not stayed loyal to the Jazz franchise, but then he wouldn’t hold the record for most games played with one franchise (1504).
Few players have been as good as Stockton at making players around him better. It appears likely that, had he gone to another franchise later in his career, he could have won that coveted championship ring.
Stockton left the game as a legend and currently leads all players in total steals and assists, while ranking second in assists per game, third in games played and ninth in steals per game.
3. Charles Barkley
Career stats: 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1.5 steals, 54-percent field-goal shooting, 27-percent three-point shooting, 74-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: MVP, 11-time All-Star, All-Star Game MVP, five-time All-NBA first team, five-time All-NBA second team, All-NBA third team
Pound-for-pound and inch-for-inch, Charles Barkley may be the most dominant power forward in NBA history. Listed at 6’6” but probably closer to 6’4”, Sir Charles Barkley became one of the most dominant low-post scorers and rebounders for over a decade in the NBA.
He learned the importance of hard work by teaming with Moses Malone during his early playing days with the Philadelphia 76ers. While with the Phoenix Suns, he formed a dynamic duo with Kevin Johnson and made the NBA Finals in 1993 before losing to the Bulls.
While on the 1992 Dream Team squad in the Olympics, some people may remember that it was Barkley who led the team in scoring.
Later in his career, he had one last chance at winning a ring by teaming with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler on the Houston Rockets (and later Scottie Pippen as well), although Barkley’s efforts would once again come up short.
2. Elgin Baylor
Career stats: 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 43-percent field-goal shooting, 78-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: 11-time All-Star, All-Star Game MVP, 10-time All-NBA first team, NBA Rookie of the Year (1959)
Before there was Michael Jordan and Julius Erving, there was Elgin Baylor. With his penchant for creating scoring plays while hanging in the air, Baylor was truly the first dominant NBA player who seemed to fly in the air.
Despite standing just 6’5”, Baylor put up some of the most impressive statistics in NBA history. For instance, he once averaged 38.3 points per game in a season, topping any season by Jordan. The season before, he averaged 19.8 rebounds per game—a season average only exceeded by five players, all of whom were 6’9” or taller.
Baylor also still holds the NBA scoring record for an NBA Finals game at 61 points. If not counting games that went into overtime, that tally also is the playoff record for points scored in a game.
His signature running bank shot was nearly impossible to stop. However, Baylor always seemed to finish second in everything in his NBA career, including scoring and rebounding titles, as well as NBA Finals series.
To this day, Baylor ranks fourth all-time in NBA history in points per game and ninth in rebounding per game averages.
1. Karl Malone
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Career stats: 25.0 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1.4 steals, 52-percent field-goal shooting, 27-percent three-point shooting, 74-percent free-throw shooting
Career accomplishments: two-time MVP, 13-time All-Star, two-time All-Star Game MVP, 11-time All-NBA first team, two-time All-NBA second team, All-NBA third team, three-time All-Defensive first team, All-Defensive second team
Karl Malone ranks as the greatest player in NBA history to never win an NBA championship. Nicknamed “The Mailman” because he consistently delivered dominant performances, Malone would team with John Stockton to form one of the best duos in league history.
With their patented pick-and-roll, Malone was nearly unstoppable with his accurate mid-range fade-away jump shot and strong drives to the basket.
He was also no slouch on defense, earning a reputation as one of the best defenders in the frontcourt.
Unfortunately, the only time Malone failed to deliver was during his trips to the NBA Finals. His two appearances with the Jazz fell short against Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
Malone had one last chance with the LA Lakers in 2004 while teamed with Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Gary Payton. However, Malone injured his right knee and played hurt throughout the first four games of the NBA Finals before sitting out the final game.
Currently, Malone ranks second all-time in NBA scoring, sixth in rebounding, 10th in steals and first in free-throws made.