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Who Are the Best Players in NBA History Not to Have Won the MVP Award?

Mark HauserCorrespondent IIMarch 14, 2009

To answer the headline's question, it's between Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, with an honorable mention to Rick Barry. I ranked the 25 Greatest Basketball Players of All Time in my article, and I put West ninth, Baylor 10th, and Barry 15th. Everybody else in my top 20 won at least one MVP award (George Mikan won a NBL MVP award; that'll do, as there was no "NBA" MVP award during his career). 

Here are West's, Baylor's, and Barry's career statistics, and what I wrote about them in my article. And for good measure, I tossed in the two men who would be No.s 4 and 5 on this list.

It should be noted, since all three of the main candidates were good jump shooters, that there was no three-point shot when any of them played in the NBA (except in Barry's last season, 1979-80; he shot .330 from long distance).

  1. Jerry West (27.0 PPG, 47% FG, 81% FT, 6.7 APG, 5.8 RPG): "Mr. Clutch" won one championship (and lost in the Finals a heart-wrenching eight times), was named to the All-NBA First Team 10 times, and had a 29.1 PPG average in the Playoffs (good for third-highest all-time). A great all-around player, he was a deadly jump shooter and tenacious defender.
  2. Elgin Baylor (27.4 PPG, 43% FG%, 78% FT, 4.3 APG, 13.5 RPG): He led the Lakers to the finals eight times, but lost every time. He was also a 10-time All-NBA First Teamer. He had acrobatic moves ahead of his time. Though he was easily the best forward of the 1960's, he was overshadowed by Russell's Celtics and Chamberlain's scoring.
  3. Rick Barry (23.2 PPG, 45% FG, 33% 3PFG, 90% FT, 6.5 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.4 SPG): He won both an NBA Title and an ABA Title (and was Finals MVP in the NBA) and appeared on both league's first teams five times each. Like Erving, his numbers and credentials would have been better had he not played the middle of his career in the ABA. A great scorer and shooter, he's the only person in history to lead the NCAA, NBA, and ABA in scoring. Became an excellent passer in the second half of his career and was a good defender at times. His abrasive personality hurt team chemistry and his press image, so he was probably underrated by the media.
  4. John Stockton: Ranked 21st on my All-Time Greatest List.
  5. John Havlicek Ranked 22nd on my All-Time Greatest List.
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