DIAPERs for the Bare: The Greatest NBA Players Without Rings
When Kevin Garnett finally got a ring with the Celtics, it made a lot of people happy, even if they weren't Celtics fans, or even Timberwolves fans. He had struggled in a bad franchise for years, carried it as far as it could be carried, but only could take it so far. When he finally won, his celebrations was one for the ages. Not everyone gets so lucky. There are plenty of great players who have never won an NBA Championship.
I decided to figure out objectively who the best of the ring-less wonders were. To determine who would be on the list and who was on it I started with ranking the PER, and then filtering out anyone with less than 50 games played and less than 1800 total minutes. If you ask me how I came up with those numbers, I don't have an an answer. It just felt right. It seemed like there should be some minimum though to prevent players who had merely been through one series from being considered for the list.
The next thing I did was take into consideration the two biggest criticisms of PER. First that it rewards bad field goal percentage. To compensate for that I made the "break even" point 48 percent. I call this Adjusted PER. The other major criticism is that it doesn't include defense. Too adjust for this I factored in defensive rating, dividing the PER (after accounting for field goal percentage) by defensive rating, and then multiplying it by 100. I'm calling the stat "Defense Included Adjusted Player Efficiency Rating." or DIAPER. That's a little shout out for those who think that's about what the stat is worth.
Vince Carter—18.88 DIAPER
Carter is an intriguing player. He's another one whose career cannot be measured by what we see today. If you didn't watch the video, do. You'll get the gist. Weiss, the guy he just jumped over, was asked why he didn't put his hands up. His answer, "I never had anyone jump over me before." When you're 7'2" I guess that doesn't happen often. Carter averaged 23.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the postseason.
Allen Iverson—19.38 DIAPER
If you didn't see Iverson in his prime you probably don't get the fuss. He was so quick he often made it feel like the NBA game was a Nintendo game. He was constantly zipping about, through and under anyone who was on the defensive end of the court. He was a steal machine, and as of now is just 17 steals shy of the 2000 mark. Of course the problem with Iverson is he shot too much. He has the lowest shooting percentage of any player with more than 20,000 points. The closest Iverson came was 2001, when the 76ers lost to the Lakers in five games.
George Gervin: 19.47 DIAPER
At the time he retired George Gervin was the leader of just about everything in the Spurs record books, but he never won the big one. He remains the Spurs career points leader, ahead of players like David Robins and Tim Dunan. He played a total of 82 playoff games, averaging 26.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 Assists. Gervin was also named as one of the "NBA's 50 Greatest Players."
Patrick Ewing: 19.59 DIAPER
Patrick Ewing was also one of the "50 Greatest" players of all time, and a member of the "Dream Team." Unfortunately for Ewing, as great as he was, he just played against some that were even greater, namely, Michael "Hog the Rings" Jordan, who ensured a number of great players weren't going to get any. Before that there was Larry, and Magic and their respective Hall of Fame teams. Ewing made it to the finals once, where he encountered Hakeem Olajuwon, who chose that time to put the "won" in Olajawon. Still, Ewing's 17 year Hall of Fame career shouldn't be diminished because of not winning a ring. In his postseason career, Ewing averaged 20.2 points and 10.3 rebounds.
Shawn Kemp—19.73 DIAPER
Before the King there was the Reign Man, also who came out of high school. He was the "oop" half of many a Payton to Kemp alley oop. Kemp made it to the finals once, when he faced Micahel Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, where he lost. While he was in Seattle, he was a star, but after demanding to be traded because he wasn't getting payed for his value, his career went into steady decline. He averaged 17.3 points, and 9.7 boards.
Karl Malone—20.47 DIAPER
If this were a cumulative ranking, and not an average one, there is little doubt that the "Mail Man" would be on the top of the list. Truly, one of the all time greats, and the epitome of the argument poised that greatness doesn't have to be rings, Malone played in 193 playoff games but never got the ring. No one has played more games without a ring. He has 2062 post season rebounds, good for 6th all time, and more than anyone without a ring. He has 4761 post season points, more than anyone without a ring and good for 5th all time overall.
Charles Barkley—22.65 DIAPER
Chuck might be trying to have you believe otherwise, but there was a time when he was the one switching teams to try and win a title. First he got himself traded to Phoenix, and when that didn't work, he went to play with Hakeem in Houston. That didn't work either because MJ was back. Oh well. You can't blame a guy for trying. Charles made it to the finals once while with Phoenix, and lost to guess who? His averages are pretty impressive, 23.0 points and 12.9 rebounds throughout his playoff career.
Dirk Nowitzki—23.06 DIAPER
Oh stop that! Keep your guffaw in your mouth. Truth be told, Dirk is a much better post season player than he's usually given credit for. He's made it to the finals as many times as LeBron or Barkley. He is, without question, the best foreign born player of all time. One wonders if the Mavericks had kept Nash if they would have been able to win a title together. Combined they now have three MVPs. Did Cuban actually out maneuver himself? Nowitzki's notable post season stats are 25.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
Dwight Howard—23.65 DIAPER
Clearly Dwight Howard is the opposite side of the spectrum from Karl Malone. He would certainly not be here were this a cumulative based award. He barely makes my arbitrary minimums and no, they weren't made with him in mind. Fifty just seemed like a nice round number and 1800 seemed like a reasonable number to go along with 50. Anyway, my guess is that Dwight Howard will not retire without a ring but who knows? His notable post season stats are 19 points and 14.2 rebounds, but the makes it this high based on his 99 defensive rating and stellar .5958 field goal percentage, which is good for first all time. See, there are some good things about DIAPER.
LeBron James—26.81 DIAPER
James post season DIAPER is the second highest of all time, behind guess who? Yep. That guy. And no, it's not Kobe Bryant. Those who want to criticize James post season performances want to make it all about a couple of minutes of one game. He has averaged 29.31 ppg, good for third all time, and 7.32 assists is 14th of all time. Then throw in his 8.4 rebounds per game. No one else in the history of the NBA has 25 points, 7 boards and 7 assists. Then if that's not enough for you, keep in mind that his defensive rating of 101.02 is good for 37th best all time. Only MJ has more WS per game. LeBron is a playoff stud no matter what his fingers say. With James, it's only a matter of time.