50 Best NBA Players to Never Win an MVP
It's disappointing to know that some of the league's greatest NBA players will walk away from the game of basketball without any hardware whatsoever. No championship, no MVP, and not even a Defensive Player of the Year award, there are a number of Hall of Fame worthy players that will only take away a few All-NBA team appearances and some exceptional statistics as the highlights of their careers.
55 MVP's have been given out and only 29 individuals have taken it home. Players like Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have hogged the trophy for nearly a decade with 11 MVP's just between the two players. Take into consideration that Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain have nine MVP awards and you realize that 20 MVP awards have been given out to only four players.
Because of a few key players taking home just about every MVP, it doesn't give many individuals the chance to take home the prestigious award. A number of legends have walked onto the hardwood and have been insulted by not being given an award that represents their strengths as the league's top individual player for a particular season.
These rankings were based on a few key factors rather than the usual just ranking the players by their overall game. The overall player, how deserving they were of an MVP, and just how much they meant to their team were all taken into consideration and we were able to compile this list of the 50 best players to not possess an MVP at any time during their career.
50. Carmelo Anthony
Closest finish: 6th (2010)
Leading the Denver Nuggets to some of their best seasons since the Alex English years, small forward Carmelo Anthony was in the midst of leading the team to another deep post season run before ultimately departing for the New York Knicks.
Prior to jetting for New York, Anthony had led the Nuggets to three consecutive seasons of 50 or more wins for the first time in franchise history. He finished a career high sixth in MVP voting in 2010 after once again leading the Nuggets to 53 wins while averaging 28 points, seven rebounds, and three assists per.
Anthony is one of the league's top pure scorers and could basically find an offensive rhythm from anywhere on the court.
49. Mitch Richmond
Closest finish: 13th (1997)
Who denied him: Michael Jordan, Grant Hill, and Chris Webber
A key member of the Golden State Warriors 'Run TMC', Mitch Richmond spent three years as a major component of that trio before departing for the Sacramento Kings where he would see the best years of his career.
The Kings weren't much in the 1990's and they failed to win over 40 games for the entire time that Richmond was there, but it doesn't diminish the fact that he was a truly gifted player that deserved some MVP consideration. He averaged as much as 26 points per during his time with the Kings and averaged over 20 points per for the first ten years of his career.
Richmond was brought up in MVP conversations three times, but never finished better than 13th.
48. Yao Ming
Closest finish: 12th (2009)
Who denied him: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Tracy McGrady
Surprisingly never finishing better than 12th in MVP voting, former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming formed one of the more formidable duos in the league between himself and Tracy McGrady. They wouldn't get as far as the second round, but they would bring about the Rockets franchise as a perennial playoff team as they went on to win 50 or more games for three consecutive seasons.
At 7'6", Yao was a handful to deal with considering that he actually had some sort of offensive skill set to accompany that frame of his. He had solid footwork in the post, a quality mid-range game, and an excellent free throw percentage that topped off at 83% by his retirement.
Yao's career highs include averaging 25 points per in 2007 and 11 rebounds the year after. Unfortunately for Yao, his career would end at the age of 30 due to a foot injury.
47. Ray Allen
Closest finish: 9th (2005)
Statistically the greatest three-point shooter in the history of the game, current Boston Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen has dominated from beyond the arc since his inception in the league in 1996 as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. Since his rookie year, Allen has averaged at least one three-pointer per game in every season and hasn't shot less than 36% from beyond the arc.
His career shooting percentage from beyond the arc is just a shade under 40% as he still finds himself making two three-pointers per game and hitting 44% from beyond the arc at the age of 35.
Allen has been responsible for a number of deep post season runs with the three teams he has been with including leading the Bucks to the Conference Finals, the Sonics to the second round, and the Celtics to a 2008 championship win.
Allen has averaged as much as 25 points per and has hit as many as over three-pointers per game.
46. Tracy McGrady
Closest finish: 4th (2002 and 2003)
Who denied him: Tim Duncan
If you just started watching basketball as soon as last year, you might have never guessed that Tracy McGrady used to be recognized as one of the league's top scorers while also being a perennial MVP candidate.
During his time with the Orlando Magic, McGrady was a prolific scorer that could produce on offense from just about anywhere within half court. He would lead the league in scoring for two consecutive seasons with a career high of 32 points per coming in 2003 when he was connecting on 46% of his shots overall and 39% from deep.
McGrady would average 28 points per in his final season with the Magic before heading to Houston where he would see his stats decline. He would finish in the top ten in MVP voting for six seasons.
45. Chauncey Billups
Closest finish: 5th (2006)
Who denied him: Steve Nash
The Boston Celtics have to be regretting this one. Drafted with the third pick in the 1997 draft, Chauncey Billups only spent 51 games with the Celtics before being traded to the Toronto Raptors. He would then bounce around from Denver to Minnesota before ending up in his original niche with the Detroit Pistons where he would lead the team to a 2004 championship win while taking home Finals MVP honors.
Billups numbers was never outstanding, he's never averaged more than 20 points or nine assists per, but he's a born leader and is deadly when it comes to producing in the clutch. Nicknamed 'Mr. Big Shot', Billups has always been a consistent player throughout games and always seems to hit crucial shots from beyond the arc.
He has finished as high as fifth in MVP voting when he averaged 19 points and nine assists per on a Pistons team that finished the season 64-18.
44. Paul Pierce
Closest finish: 7th (2009)
Who denied him: Kobe Bryant and LeBron James
Prior to having Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen assist him on his way to an NBA championship, Paul Pierce was left to suffer with Antoine Walker as his main running mate for the duration of his career. He was the focal point of a franchise that centered solely around him for a decade and it resulted in Pierce averaging as much as 26 points and seven rebounds per game.
Pierce didn't have much to work with when it came to a supporting cast, but he was still able to lead his Celtics to the 2002 Conference Finals when the Eastern Conference was embarrassingly weak. Once he did get help, Pierce showed us what he was really capable of by assisting the Celtics to consecutive 60 plus win seasons and four consecutive 50 plus win seasons.
He was barely considered an MVP candidate early on finishing as high as 11th in 2002 and 2003, but would receive seventh place in 2009 when leading the Celtics to 62 wins.
43. Amare Stoudemire
Closest finish: 6th (2008)
Who denied him: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James
A terrific athlete and one of the best scorers in the NBA today, former Phoenix Suns power forward Amare Stoudemire established himself as a dominant figure when running the pick and roll with former teammate Steve Nash. The two formed one of the most dynamic duos in league history and it led the Suns to a number of 60 win seasons and a few deep post season runs that went as far as the Conference Finals.
Stoudemire averaged as much as 26 points in only his third year and has improved year by year when it comes to his offense. He has since developed a solid post game and a steady mid-range shot that has been consistently falling over the past two seasons.
He finished sixth in MVP voting in 2008 after averaging 25 points and nine rebounds while also leading the Suns to 61 wins and the number one seed in the Western Conference.
42. Pete Maravich
Closest finish: 3rd (1977)
Who denied him: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
A career that just never seemed to get off the ground due to various injuries, 'Pistol' Pete Maravich only played in 70 or more games five times during a ten year career. The last three seasons were easily the worst as Maravich failed to play in more than 50 games before ending his career on the bench with the Boston Celtics on the lookout for a ring.
When he wasn't injured however, Maravich was one of the league's most prolific scorers and floor generals. He averaged over 20 points per game eight times and led the league in scoring in 1977 when he posted up a career high 31 points per. Maravich was a lethal slasher that used creativity and trickery to get to the rim while also utilizing a solid jumper to support his cause.
Maravich finished as high as third in MVP voting, which came when Maravich led the league in scoring to go along with five boards and five assists per.
41. Reggie Miller
Closest finish: 13th (2000)
Who denied him: Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone, and Michael Jordan
One of the more surprising facts found out during the creation of this article, Indiana Pacers All-Star never finished as high as 13th in MVP voting which came when he led his team to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history after averaging 18 points and three rebounds per.
Throughout the 1990's, Miller was one of the league's top three-point shooters in volume and consistency. He averaged better than two three-pointers per game for eight consecutive years and never shot below 34% from beyond the arc before finishing his career averaging two three-pointers per game on nearly 40% from beyond the arc.
Miller is most remembered for his exploits against the New York Knicks, but he should also be remembered for his consistency in bringing the Pacers deep into the post season year after year.
40. Bernard King
Closest finish: 2nd (1984)
Who denied him: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird
One of the most underrated players to ever step onto the NBA hardwood, Bernard King was a terrific scorer that could explode on any given night. He led the league in scoring in 1985 when he averaged 33 points per on 53% shooting and would also average 28 points per game in the second to last season of his career as a 34 year old.
King came up short on his quest for an NBA championship and an MVP and would finish as high as second in voting when he averaged 26 points per on 57% shooting to go along with five rebounds and two assists per.
He would finish in the top ten one other time when he finished seventh in 1985 when he led the league in scoring.
39. Kevin Durant
Closest finish: 2nd (2010)
Who denied him: LeBron James and Derrick Rose
Is it too early to list Kevin Durant as one of the best NBA players to not win an MVP? Absolutely. Considering that he's already finished in the top five in MVP voting two out of the four years that he's been in the league, Durant has taken the NBA world by storm after becoming the league's youngest scoring champion when he averaged 30 points per game at the age of 21.
Durant has deserved plenty of MVP consideration and might have even already deserved the award due to what he's with this Oklahoma City Thunder club. After winning 23 games in his second season, Durant would turn on the offensive jets and would win the scoring crown while also leading the Thunder to a 27 win improvement from the year before.
Most recently, Durant led the Thunder to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1996 when Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp were still on the squad.
38. Chris Mullin
Closest finish: 6th (1992)
Who denied him: Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway
A member of the 1990's trio in Golden State known as 'Run TMC', buzzcut extraordinaire Chris Mullin led the Warriors to 55 wins in 1992 which represented the first time that the team had won at least 50 games since 1976. Mullin, Tim Hardaway, and Mitch Richmond all played key roles in the redemption of the Warriors making it as far as the second round before splitting up.
Mullin played with the Warriors from 1985 to 1997 and averaged as much as 26 points while still converting on nearly 51% of his shots. For a guard/forward, Mullin was surprisingly consistent from the field averaging better than 50% for seven of his first eight years in the NBA and finishing his career as a 51% from the field overall and 38% from beyond the arc.
He finished as high as sixth in MVP voting when he averaged 26 points, six rebounds, and four assists per.
37. Tim Hardaway
Closest finish: 4th (1997)
Who denied him: Michael Jordan and Alonzo Mourning
Being coupled with another superstar impairs any other superstars chance of winning an MVP. In the case of Tim Hardaway, being teamed up with Alonzo Mourning on the Miami Heat meant that votes were going to be split up every time they were up for MVP consideration.
In his first full season with the Heat, the lightning quick point guard would lead the Heat to a franchise best 61 wins which was good enough for a 19 win improvement from the year before as well as their first Conference Finals appearance. Hardaway was the perfect guard for this Heat team as he used his speed to constantly have defenses focus on him while taking the attention off of Mourning in the middle.
Hardaway finished fourth in 1997 where he averaged 20 points, nine assists, and two steals per and would also finish in the top ten on two other occasions with one of those coming as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
36. Shawn Kemp
Closest finish: 7th (1994)
Who denied him: David Robinson and Gary Payton
Amare Stoudemire before there even was an Amare Stoudemire, the Seattle SuperSonics power forward Shawn Kemp was one of the league's most ferocious, athletic, and prolific scorers around the rim throughout the 1990's. Along with Gary Payton, Kemp would help lead the Sonics to a 64-18 record in 1996 while also taking them to the NBA championship.
Kemp averaged a double-double for six consecutive seasons and would average as much as 20 points per game once he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers. A little known fact of Kemp is that most casual NBA fans believe that his career went south once he left Seattle, but it's actually the opposite considering that he averaged a career high in points per with the Cavs.
He wasn't exactly producing like he was with Seattle, but it was still solid enough of stats for him to make it to an All-Star game.
Kemp finished tenth or better in MVP voting three times.
35. Adrian Dantley
Closest finish: 7th (1984)
Who denied him: Larry Bird and Magic Johnson
One of the league's most underrated players, former Utah Jazz All-Star Adrian Dantley was recognized as a premier scorer that was capable of taking over any game at any time. His supporting cast was slim and his Jazz never got any further than the second round, but Dantley possessed individual statistics that were unmatched by just about any other player at the time.
Dantley led the league in scoring twice during his career and averaged 30 points per game for four consecutive seasons with his career highs coming in 1981 and 1983 when he averaged 31 points per. Dantley was a forward/guard that dominated in the paint and mid-range and it resulted in the six time All-Star shooting 54% for his career.
He was a prolific scorer, but only made it on to two All-NBA Second teams and finishing as high as seventh in MVP voting.
34. Dave Bing
Closest finish: 3rd (1971)
Who denied him: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
The best guard you've never heard of, the Detroit Pistons Dave Bing was an excellent offensive facilitator that spent the majority of his career playing alongside another fellow MVP snub in Bob Lanier. While Lanier dominated in the post as a scorer, rebounder, and defender, Bing was the point guard that got the center his points.
Bing was a stellar passer and shooter averaging as much as 27 points and eight assists per and leading the Pistons to their first 50 win season in franchise history when they went 52-30 in 1974.
He finished as high as third in MVP voting when he averaged 27 points, five assists, and four rebounds per while leading the Pistons to a franchise best 45-37 record.
33. Jerry Lucas
Closest finish: 5th (1966)
Who denied him: Oscar Robertson
Overshadowed by the accomplishments of teammate Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals forward/center Jerry Lucas played just as pivotal role on those teams just as much as Robertson. While Robertson was facilitating the offense and leading the team in scoring, Lucas was dominating the post and attempting to corral the likes of Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Nate Thurmond.
Lucas averaged a double-double for the first nine years of his eleven year career and would average as much as 22 points and 21 rebounds per. He averaged 20 points and 20 rebounds per in two of the first three seasons of his career and would earn fifth place in MVP voting in only his third season when he posted up 22 points and 21 boards per.
He also finished ninth in MVP voting in his rookie season.
32. Sidney Moncrief
Closest finish: 4th (1983)
Who denied him: Moses Malone, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson
A two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the first guard to take home the prestigious award, Milwaukee Bucks guard Sidney Moncrief made it on to four All-Defensive First Teams and one All-Defensive Second Team while also finishing in the top ten in MVP voting five different seasons.
Following the departure of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it seemed as if the Bucks were left without a superstar to lead them to the playoffs. That theory was dispelled of quickly as Moncrief brought them to the post season in his sophomore season with an 11 game improvement from the year before. Moncrief would then lead the Bucks to a 60 win season the very next year while also leading the team to six more seasons of 50 or more wins.
Moncrief's stats were never prolific, but he was an exceptional leader and floor general and it resulted in him coming up as high as fourth in MVP voting in 1983 after averaging 23 points, six rebounds, and four assists per on a 51 win team that went to the Conference Finals.
31. Mark Price
Closest finish: 7th (1992)
Who denied him: Michael Jordan and Brad Daugherty
Playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1986 until his departure at the end of the 1994-'95 campaign, point guard Mark Price was one of the league's most feared shooters from all over the court thanks to his consistency. He shot 40% from beyond the arc for his career and converted on better than 40% of his three-pointers in four of the nine seasons he spent with the Cavs.
The Cavs hadn't seen too much success during their franchises history and that came to an end once Prince joined the team and led the team to the post season in only his second season. He would then help lead the team to a franchise record 57 wins the next season. Once he got paired up with Brad Daugherty, Price would then lead the Cavaliers to the deepest run in post season history with a visit to the Conference Finals in 1992.
Price would finish in the top ten in MVP voting three times.
30. Grant Hill
Closest finish: 3rd (1997)
Who denied him: Michael Jordan
One of the NBA's saddest stories, Grant Hill saw a career with unlimited potential go down the drain once a series of injuries caused him to only play in 47 games for three seasons between 2000 and 2003 which would have been considered the prime of his career. The first injury occurred in his first season with the Orlando Magic, a year after he averaged a career high 26 points on 49% shooting.
Hill was a prolific scorer and defender and could score from anywhere on the court with slashing and driving being the bread and butter to his game. He averaged 20 points per game for the first six seasons of his career and would finish as high as third in MVP voting after averaging 21 points, nine boards, and seven assists per on a 54-28 Detroit Pistons squad.
Hill has finished in the top ten in MVP voting five times and has been one of the league's ironmen over the past three seasons as he has only missed three games since 2008 .
29. Chris Webber
Closest finish: 4th (2001)
Who denied him: Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan
If not for some suspect officiating in the 2002 Western Conference Finals, former Sacramento Kings power forward Chris Webber might have actually had some hardware on his trophy shelf next to the absent spot that was supposed to hold his MVP trophy.
Webber came close to winning a title with the Kings and came closer to winning an MVP when he finished 4th in 2001 after averaging 27 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists per while leading the Kings to an impressive 55-27 record. He was an absolute dominant force in the paint using his size to outmuscle opposing front court members to score easy points and grab boards.
Webber made it on to one All-NBA First Team which came in 2001 and also finished tenth or better in MVP voting five times.
28. Dwight Howard
Closest finish: 2nd (2011)
Who denied him: Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, and LeBron James
For someone with little to no offensive skill set, the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard sure does find himself being considered for the MVP award an awful lot. Since being drafted straight out of high school in 2004, Howard has finished in the top five in MVP voting four times and most recently finished second after averaging a career high 22 points and 14 rebounds per on a Magic team that had no business being 52-30.
Howard's offense has mostly been limited to his athleticism, but that might change soon as he has recently took some time to practice with Hakeem Olajuwon to learn some offensive moves.
What makes Dwight a superior player is his unmatched defense that has resulted in him winning the past three Defensive Player of the Year awards after leading the league in blocks for two of the past three seasons.
27. Artis Gilmore
Closest finish: 8th (1978 and 1983)
Who denied him: Bill Walton, Moses Malone, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Transitioning from the ABA to the NBA was no problem for this 7'2" behemoth, former San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls center Artis Gilmore was one of the league's most underrated centers throughout the late-1970's and 1980's. He led the ABA in rebounding four out of the five years he played in the defunct league and would go on to average 13 rebounds per for his first two years in the NBA.
Gilmore never averaged 18 rebounds per like he did in the ABA, but he did have solid enough numbers to earn MVP consideration and finish as high as eighth in voting on two different occasions. Gilmore averaged a career high 24 points per in 1979 and would see his numbers decline once he hit 30 years old.
It's tough to argue what could have been when it comes to Gilmore. He certainly had the footwork and rebounding ability to make it in the ABA and we could only wonder what could have been had he played in the NBA during the prime of his career.
26. Bob Lanier
Closest finish: 3rd (1974)
Who denied him: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
One of the most underrated big men in the history of the game, former Detroit Pistons center Bob Lanier was one of the league's top post players throughout the 1970's.
Lanier averaged a double-double in seven of his first eight seasons in the league with his career high in points coming in only his second year when he posted up 26 points per game to go along with 14 boards per. Lanier would continue averaging at least 20 points and ten boards per for the next six seasons before seeing his stats decline and his location change to Milwaukee.
He finished in the top five in MVP voting twice and saw his game overshadowed by the exploits of fellow centers in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton.
25. Alex English
Closest finish: 6th (1983)
Who denied him: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird
An excellent offensive threat through and through, the Denver Nuggets Alex English was one of the league's top scorers while remaining today as an extremely underrated player overall. English played with the Nuggets from 1981 until 1990 and would lead the team to some of their best seasons that included 54 wins in 1988 and a Conference Finals appearance in 1985.
English would lead the league in scoring on one occasion which came in 1983, but would triumph that in 1986 when he averaged a career high 30 points per game. He averaged five rebounds and four assist sas well while leading the Nuggets to 47 wins to earn himself sixth place in MVP voting.
He'd finish in the top ten twice.
24. Chris Paul
Closest finish: 2nd (2008)
Whose denied him: Kobe Bryant and LeBron James
Chris Paul is the New Orleans Hornets and without him, that franchise is destined for mediocrity as a 30 win team with David West leading the way. Paul's court vision, awareness, and overall ability to facilitate an offense as a passer and shooter has allowed him to turn the Hornets into momentary championship contenders while also solidifying his name as one of the best point guards, and players, in the game today.
Paul has been considered for the MVP three times with his second place finish to Kobe Bryant in 2008 being the closest he's been. He averaged 21 points, 12 assists, four rebounds, and three steals that year while also leading the Hornets to 56 wins, but it wasn't enough to best Bryant who had similar stats and a similar win total.
What could be argued in Paul's defense however is that his supporting cast was far less inferior to that of Bryant's.
23. James Worthy
Closest finish: 12th (1986)
Who denied him: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Larry Bird
'Big game' James Worthy might have taken home the 1988 Finals MVP following his teams championship victory, but the All-Star forward would never finish any higher than 12th when it came to MVP voting.
That 12th place finish was also the only time that Worthy was even considered for the award. Worthy averaged better than 20 points per game four times while being a main component of a juggernaut of a Los Angeles Lakers team, but it was his teammates in Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that took most of the MVP consideration.
22. Robert Parish
Closest finish: 4th (1981)
Who denied him: Larry Bird and Kevin McHale
Winning four championships with the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls, Robert Parish was one of the league's top elite centers throughout the 1980's as he was one of the few big men that could offer any sort of resistance to Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Parish complemented a powerhouse Celtics team that had a front court featuring himself and two Hall of Famers in Kevin McHale and Larry Bird. The three formed a high powered scoring and defensive trio that allowed the Celtics to take home three titles and contend for a number of others.
Parish came up short in his quest for an MVP with a 4th place finish in 1981 being the closest when he averaged 19 points and ten boards per in his first season with the Celtics.
21. Dolph Schayes
Closest finish: 2nd (1958)
Who denied him: Bob Pettit, Bob Cousy, and Bill Russell
Playing against the likes of Bob Pettit, Bob Cousy, and Bill Russell only meant one thing: winning an MVP was going to be one of the most difficult accomplishments you could ever complete. In the case of Syracuse Nationals forward/center Dolph Schayes, he would give those three some steady competition but would only finish as high as second after averaging a career high 25 points to go along with 14 rebounds per.
Schayes was an excellent shooter and it showed in his free throw percentage which topped off at 91% before he ended his career at 85%.
He was an excellent small forward that could drive and post up and was one of the league's first superstars alongside George Mikan.
20. Gary Payton
Closest finish: 3rd (1998)
Who denied him: Michael Jordan
Leading the former Seattle SuperSonics to their best seasons since the late-1970's, point guard Gary Payton played a large role on some of the franchises greatest teams as the offensive facilitator and possibly the best defensive point guard since Walt Frazier.
In 1996, Payton became the first guard since Michael Jordan to win Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league in steals per at three.
Payton finished as high as third in MVP voting and would lead the Sonics to their best record in franchise history at 64-18 in 1996 when he led the team to their first championship appearance since their first and only title win in 1979.
19. Alonzo Mourning
Closest finish: 2nd (1999)
Who denied him: Karl Malone
One of the top post defenders and shot blockers in league history, former Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning completely changed the face of the franchise upon getting traded to South Beach from the Charlotte Hornets. He joined the team prior to the 1995-'96 season and would lead the team to a ten win improvement.
Mourning would average a career high 23 points per to go along with ten rebounds and three blocks per.
Once Tim Hardaway joined the team to loosen the scoring load, the duo would go on to lead the Heat to the post season year after year while being considered a contender each time. Mourning would help lead the Heat to a league and franchise best 61 wins in his second year on the team and would finish second in MVP voting after leading the Heat to the best record in the Eastern Conference in the lockout shortened season in 1998-'99.
Mourning would go on to finish third in MVP voting the next season after averaging 22 points and ten boards per while leading the league in blocks per for the second consecutive season at four per game.
18. George Gervin
Closest finish: 2nd (1978 and 1979)
Who denied him: Bill Walton and Moses Malone
A terrific scorer that was one of the most prolific slashers and drivers for his time, former San Antonio Spurs guard/forward George Gervin led league in scoring on four occasions with his career high coming in 1980 when he averaged 33 points per.
Those four scoring titles all came within five seasons.
Gervin would lead the Spurs in their transition from the ABA to the NBA and would lead the team to their best season in franchise history in 1978 when they won 52 games as well as their first division title. He would then lead the Spurs to 48 wins and a second consecutive division title the very next season while also winning his second consecutive scoring crown.
The 'Iceman' would finish in the top five in MVP voting for four consecutive seasons and in the top ten for six straight years.
17. Elvin Hayes
Closest finish: 3rd (1975 and 1979)
Who denied him: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wes Unseld
Despite being the Washington Bullets leading scorer averaging as much as 23 points per during his time with the team, but it was his teammate in Wes Unseld that would receive the majority of the attention thanks to his hard-nosed defense and incredible rebounding abilities.
Unseld would also lead the Bullets to a 1978 championship win where he would take home the Finals MVP over Hayes.
Hayes would finish as high as third in MVP voting on two occasions, but couldn't seal the deal as the likes of big men in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dave Cowens, and Bill Walton would take home MVP's throughout the second half of the 1970's.
16. Nate Thurmond
Closest finish: 2nd (1967)
Who denied him: Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Barry
If not for Rick Barry averaging 36 points per game and leading the league in scoring in 1967, Nate Thurmond could have very well been the MVP had his own teammate not stolen so many votes.
Thurmond's stats at 19 points and 21 rebounds per weren't as prolific as Barry's, but it was his presence in the paint on both sides of the ball that led the San Francisco Warriors to a 44-37 season which was a nine win improvement from the year before. Thurmond was extremely strong and athletic and it resulted in him grabbing as many boards as his competitors in Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.
He would also finish in the top ten two more times and would unfortunately leave the Warriors the year before they won the title.
15. Paul Arizin
Closest finish: 2nd (1956)
Who denied him: Bob Pettit, Bob Cousy, and Bill Russell
Not having too much of an opportunity to win an MVP considering that the award was only given out as an award halfway through his career. Philadelphia Warriors guard/forward Paul Arizin still had a chance to take home the award however after finishing second in voting during the first year that the award was given out. Arizin came up short after averaging 24 points and eight rebounds per and it would be St. Louis Hawks center Bob Pettit taking home the award.
Arizin was another one of the league's first superstars as he helped introduce the game of professional organized basketball to the world.
He was a stellar slasher and a terrific finisher around the rim that could also hit from the mid-range at a consistent rate. He would finish in the top ten in MVP voting four times.
14. Walt Frazier
Closest finish: 4th (1970)
Who denied him: Willis Reed
Coupled with bulky center Willis Reed, New York Knicks point guard Walt Frazier saw his one legitimate shot of winning an MVP fly out the window once he was teamed up with Reed who would take home the award in 1970, the same year that Frazier finished fourth and when his team won their first championship.
Frazier was a stellar offensive facilitator and he was an even better defender that would make it on to seven All-Defensive First Teams. On offense he was just as effective averaging as much as 23 points per while also averaging as much as eight assists. For six consecutive seasons, Frazier would average at least 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists which is quite impressive for a point guard listed at 6'4" and 200 pounds.
He wouldn't get as close as fourth again, but he would finish sixth and seventh.
13. Dominique Wilkins
Closest finish: 2nd (1986)
Who denied him: Michael Jordan
One of the NBA's all-time greatest offensive threats, Dominique Wilkins nearly earned himself an MVP after leading the league in points per game at 30 per to go along with eight rebounds. The main reason as to why he almost won the award though was due to the fact that he led the Hawks to a 16 win improvement from the year before.
Wilkins led the Atlanta Hawks to their best seasons since the 1950's and it resulted in a number of post season runs that never got further than the second round. He was a high powered scorer that was extremely athletic and could dominate the paint while also making his presence felt from the mid-range.
12. Jason Kidd
Closest finish: 2nd (2002)
Who denied him: Tim Duncan
You want to argue why Chris Paul deserved the MVP over Kobe Bryant in 2008 or why Michael Jordan deserved it over Karl Malone in 1998, then maybe you should argue just how Tim Duncan managed to steal the MVP award in 2002 away from New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd.
While Duncan did average 26 points and 13 rebounds per on an excellent San Antonio Spurs squad that won 58 games, Kidd averaged 15 points, ten assists, and seven boards per on an inferior Nets team that won 52 games. It could be argued that Duncan did deserve the MVP award after all, but Kidd not winning an MVP in his Hall of Fame worthy career is still considered quite the travesty.
Kidd is a triple-double machine and is possibly the best offensive facilitator in the NBA since Magic Johnson left the scene. He has finished in the top ten in MVP voting five times and has helped lead the Nets to two NBA Finals appearances.
11. Rick Barry
Closest finish: 4th (1975 and 1976)
Who denied him: Bob McAdoo and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Leading the Golden State Warriors to their best years in franchise history, as well as their lone championship in 1975, Rick Barry was one of the league's most dominant scorers throughout his NBA tenure with the San Francisco and Golden State Warriors.
Equipped with a stellar jump shot, Barry would lead the league in scoring in only his second season after averaging an unbelievable 36 points per and winning the scoring crown over the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson. Barry would depart for the ABA the next season, but would return a few years later and pick up where he left off by averaging 30 points per three years after his return.
Barry saw his best statistical season come in the first year he finished fourth in MVP voting after averaging 31 points, six assists, six rebounds, and leading the league in steals per at three per game.
10. John Havlicek
Closest finish: 4th (1972)
Who denied him: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dave Cowens
One of the greatest players to not win an MVP, Boston Celtics shooting guard John Havlicek assisted Bill Russell and Bob Cousy in many of their NBA titles before taking matters into his own hands upon the retirement of that legendary duo. 'Hondo' won eight titles with the Celtics with one Finals MVP in 1974.
Havlicek was one of the best all-around players throughout the 1960's and '70's and would average better than 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists per for six consecutive seasons. While 1972 would be the year he'd finish fourth in MVP voting, 1971 would be a far better statistical season for Havlicek as he'd average an unbelievable 29 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists per.
He would finish in the top ten in MVP voting for four consecutive seasons.
9. Scottie Pippen
Closest finish: 3rd (1994)
Who denied him: Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon
Even without Michael Jordan leading the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen was able to lead the team to a back-to-back 50 plus win seasons as well as a second round appearance in the full year without Jordan.
Pippen was the league's perfect sidekick and it resulted in the Bulls winning six championships from 1991 to 1998. The streak was broken once Jordan momentarily retired for a year and a half, but Pippen was able to pick up the pieces as the teams new leader for the 1993-'94 season and the majority of the 1994-'95 season.
An athletic freak and one of the best perimeter defenders you will ever see in the NBA, Pippen would finish in the top ten in MVP voting three times with two finishes at fifth or better.
8. Patrick Ewing
Closest finish: 4th (1989, 1993, and 1995)
Who denied him: Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and David Robinson
An unbelievably strong center that could do it all on in the paint, the New York Knicks Patrick Ewing was an absolute force throughout the 1990's that dominated on both sides of the court. He would consistently lead the Knicks into the post season where they would be showcased in historic battles with the likes of the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, and Miami Heat and would even help lead the team to the 1994 and 1999 NBA Finals before bowing out in each.
Ewing completely turned around the Knicks franchise into one of the NBA's greatest powerhouses for over a decade once he joined the team in 1985 as the teams number one pick. He would average as much as 29 points per in 1990 and 12 rebounds per in 1993, but would never place higher than fourth in MVP voting.
He finished in the top ten seven times and in the top five on six occasions.
7. Clyde Drexler
Closest finish: 2nd (1992)
Who denied him: Michael Jordan
Leading his Portland Trail Blazers to the 1992 NBA championship while averaging a career high 25 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists per, Clyde Drexler winning an MVP would have been all but certain had the Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan not had one of the best individual seasons in NBA history.
Drexler was one of the league's top all-around players as he would help lead the Trail Blazers to a number of deep playoff runs throughout the late-1980's and 1990's, but it was all for naught as he wouldn't be able to secure an MVP and wouldn't secure an NBA championship until 1995 when he teamed up with Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston.
He finished in the top ten three times and in the top five twice.
6. Dwyane Wade
Closest Finish: 3rd (2009)
Who's denied him: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Derrick Rose
The greatest player in the league currently playing without an MVP award, the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade has had ample opportunities to win the award since joining the league in 2003.
He has been considered for the award on six occasions with five times finishing in the top ten. His best finish came during the 2008-'09 season when he finished third behind Kobe Bryant and LeBron James despite leading the league in scoring at 30 points per game and leading an abysmal supporting cast to 43 wins and the post season.
With LeBron James now on his team and the age of 30 creeping up on him, Wade might never win an MVP unless they give him the lifetime achievement award that they gave to Kobe Bryant.
5. Kevin McHale
Closest finish: 4th (1987)
Who denied him: Larry Bird and Robert Parish
Much like the situation between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James today, it made it nearly impossible for Kevin McHale to take home the MVP when his teammate in Larry Bird was leading the team and taking home every one of the prestigious awards that McHale could have had a significant chance of obtaining.
McHale helped lead the Celtics to three championships and saw his best statistical season come in 1987 when he finished fourth in MVP voting after averaging a career high 26 points and ten rebounds per. His post presence and elite footwork down low allowed a lot of defensive attention to be focused on him which allowed Bird to get a number of easy shot opportunities off.
4. John Stockton
Closest finish: 7th (1989)
Who denied him: Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Magic Johnson, and Hakeem Olajuwon
Despite being the NBA's all-time leader in assists with over 15,000, the Utah Jazz' John Stockton never finished better than seventh in MVP voting. Stockton was the league's top facilitator and was part of the reason to the teams decade long success, but it was the main offensive threat in Karl Malone that received most of the MVP consideration throughout the late-1980's and 1990's.
Stockton was the league's top point guard following the retirement of Magic Johnson and would help lead the Jazz to two championships and a number of deep post season runs for over a decade between 1987 and 2001. He was an excellent facilitator on offense and was an even greater threat on defense thanks to the physicality and no fear attitude he brought into every game.
3. Isiah Thomas
Closest finish: 5th (1984)
Who denied him: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird
One of the top offensive facilitators in the history of the game, the Detroit Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas would lead his team to some of their best seasons in franchise history while also solidifying his Hall of Fame worthy career as a two time champion.
Thomas led the Pistons to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990 with his floor general skills to thank. He was a creative passer, possessed terrific court vision and awareness, and was an even better scorer than most other point guards. Thomas led the league in assists in 1985 when he averaged 14 assists per and averaged 20 points or better for five consecutive seasons.
Thomas finished in the top ten four times with only a fifth place finish being his best result. His prime came just happened to come during Magic Johnson's and Larry Bird's and those two and their teams happened to overshadow Thomas and the Pistons for the duration of the 1980's.
2. Elgin Baylor
Closest finish: 2nd (1961, 1963)
Who denied him: Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and Bill Russell
Talk about heartbreaking, Elgin Baylor was one of the greatest players to ever play the game and walked away from the NBA without a championship or an MVP award.
The worst part of it is that his Los Angeles Lakers won the championship the year right after he retired.
Playing in the 1960's where Bill Russell was leading the Boston Celtics to championship after championship, Wilt Chamberlain was dropping over 40 points per game, and Oscar Robertson was averaging near triple-doubles year after year, there just wasn't any room for Baylor to win the MVP.
He finished second place in voting twice with a 34 point, 19 rebound, and five assists per game average during the first near miss and 34 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists during the second campaign. Baylor finished in the top ten nine times and in the top five six times.
1. Jerry West
Closest finish: 2nd (1966, 1970, 1971, and 1972)
Who denied him: Wilt Chamberlain, Willis Reed, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
You would think something had to give. Jerry West didn't finish second in MVP voting not one time, not two times, not three times, but four times. Despite leading some of the greatest Los Angeles Laker teams in the franchises history and averaging upwards of 31 points and ten assists per game, West could also finish second on four different occasions when it came to winning MVP.
West finished second in MVP voting for three consecutive seasons to add insult to injury.
One of the greatest scorers and leaders to play in the NBA, West remains as one of the greatest players to leave the game without an MVP.