The National Basketball Association is arguably the most competitive major sports league in the world, and that's not going to change any time soon. And like any other sports league, there are NBA teams without a championship. Thus far, just 20 franchises have entered the list of champions, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics sitting at the top of the list with 17 rings each, which is almost three times as the next teams on the list. But what teams have never won an NBA championship?
It's never easy to stand out when you play in a star-studded competition like the NBA. At the end of the day, putting together a well-balanced roster that can go the distance and make the Finals is way easier said than done.
Building a competitive NBA team is quite complicated but having it stay near the top of the standings for a significant period of time is even tougher. Relocations, superstars leaving for bigger markets, injuries, and bad luck can derail a promising project in the blink of an eye.
Given how competitive the league is, there should be no shame on those NBA teams without a championship. Even so, it's time they finally step up and prove they worth like the Toronto Raptors did during the 2018-19 season.
Some of the NBA teams with no rings we're about to mention actually have a strong shot at putting an end to their drought pretty soon, while others are still far behind the rest of the pack. These are the 11 NBA without rings.
Honorable Mention: Oklahoma City Thunder
Well, technically, the Oklahoma City Thunder does have an NBA Championship. The Seattle Supersonics won the ring in 1979 and the Thunder is allegedly just a continuation of that franchise on a different city, so they absorbed their win-loss record and accolades.
Even so, some fans claim that championship shouldn't count anymore as the fanbase isn't even the same. Also, there's hope the Sonics make it back to the league one day and they'll want their Larry O'Brien trophy back.
The Denver Nuggets haven't even made it to the NBA Finals since joining the league in 1976. They've had plenty of legendary players like Carmelo Anthony, Adrian Dantley, and Alex English; but they just have never been able to get past the powerhouses in the West.
Now, the Nuggets have put together one of the strongest, most versatile cores in the league and have been constantly among the top teams in the West. Hopefully, they'll make it to the big stage in no time. They do have an ABA title, though.
The Memphis Grizzlies' franchise started off in 1995 in Vancouver before relocating the Memphis in 2001. They've had their fair share of struggles despite great players like Paul Gasol and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
The Grizzlies became a perennial dark horse and upset plenty contenders in the Western Conference during the 'Grit & Grind Era' in the mid-'10s but they're yet to make their first trip to the NBA Finals.
The Phoenix Suns haven't made it to the NBA Finals since 1993 when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls took down then-MVP Charles Barkley. They've had some terrific squads ever since but some claim the NBA refs rigged a couple of series to prevent them from moving forward.
Steve Nash led one of the most entertaining offenses in the history of the league but that team is far behind them. Now, it seems like they'll continue to be one of those NBA teams with no rings for a very, very, long time.
The Indiana Pacers were one of the dominant forces of the defunct ABA. They won 3 championships before joining the NBA but sadly, they haven't found the same kind of success ever since.
The Pacers have had to deal with some of the strongest teams ever. Jordan's Bulls, LeBron's Heat and Cavaliers, and Shaq & Kobe's Lakers. They're now a dark horse to upset a couple of contenders in the Eastern Conference.
The Minnesota Timberwolves haven't been around for that long. The team entered the league as an expansion franchise and it became a massive success among fans but they've almost always been near the bottom of the standings.
Kevin Garnett nearly turned the franchise around but the team's front office was never able to surround him with top-tier talents due to an NBA penalty. Now, they're going through yet another rebuilding process. You instantly think of them when you talk about NBA teams with no rings.
The Charlotte Hornets had a strong team in the '90s. Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, and Muggsy Bogues always put the team in a position to contend but once again, they had to go through some legendary squads from the Knicks, Pistons, Celtics, or Bulls.
Now, the Michael Jordan-owned Hornets are constantly near the bottom of the standings. They just can't seem to catch a break and aren't an attractive destination for free agents. They won't make the list of NBA champions any time soon.
New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans were born as we know them 6 years ago, although they've been around for 16 seasons. They're yet to make an appearance in the NBA Finals but we feel like that could change pretty soon.
The team has struggled to hold on to their stars like Chris Paul and Anthony Davis but now finally owns a young and promising core that wants to stay together for a very long time. They'll be fighting for NBA championships in no time.
The Orlando Magic is a relatively new franchise. They've had two of the best big men in the history of the game on Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard, and both once took them to basketball's ultimate stage.
Sadly, both times the Magic was overwhelmed by their rivals and, other than a couple of winning seasons now and then, they haven't found much success in the playoffs. They're trying to build a championship contender now.
The New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets have had some impressive teams throughout their history. They entered the league as 2-time ABA champions and were poised to dominate the league as well but that just didn't happen.
They haven't made it back to the NBA Finals since 2003. Even so, with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving leading their new project, it's only a matter of time before we take their name out of the 'NBA teams without a championship' list.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers have spent their entire history leaving in the shadow of the Los Angeles Lakers. They struggled to compete for decades until the Lob City era came around. Now, they're one of the strongest teams in the world.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have the potential to put an end to their title drought for good. They haven't made the NBA Finals but with the core they've put together, they're now the team to beat out of the Western Conference.