Who are the oldest active NBA players without a Championship and should you be rooting for them?
Inspired by Down Goes Brown’s annual NHL rankings, here is your guide to older players without rings. As per Down Goes Brown’s NHL list rules, he must be at least 33 and he must have played at least 10 seasons in the NBA.
15. Ersan Ilyasova, 34 – Jazz
The closest Ilyasova has gotten to a ring is the 2019 Bucks, who unceremoniously lost 4 games in a row to my Raptors after leading 2-0. (See George Hill below.)
He’s not playing for the Jazz at the moment, but he still gets a ring if they win, right?
14. Anthony Tolliver, 35 – 76ers
A true journeyman, Tolliver has made it into one game so far in these playoffs (only the 14 playoff game of his long career).
13. The Lopez Twins, 33 Bucks/Wizards
Brook is on the Bucks still, Robin is now on the Wizards (who are not looking so good).
Brook is hoping that the Bucks can outdo their 2019 run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Robin played during the 2010 Western Conference Finals but has never been back. He’s in tough against the Sixers right now.
12. Mike Conley, 33 – Jazz
Conley is young enough that he barely gets on this list. He’s only ever been to the conference finals once, in 2013, and he’s hoping he gets back this year, or goes even further.
11. Lou Williams, 34 – Hawks
After an embarrassing loss in round 2 last season, Williams is looking for some more success, with fewer expectations, with the Hawks.
Game 7 of round 2 was the furthest Lou’s ever advanced in the playofs before.
10. Wesley Matthews, 34 – Lakers
Matthews has not been on a lot of good teams in his career, which explains why he’s never advanced beyond round 2.
He’s hoping that the Lakers are the team that will change that for him.
9. Jeff Green, 34 – Nets
Remember when organizations didn’t want Jeff Green? Now he’s a veteran leader.
Green’s been to the finals once with LeBron but otherwise hasn’t advanced very far in the playoffs.
He’s one of the most likely guys to get his Ring this year, though.
8. Goran Dragic, 35 – Heat
Since Dragic was literally just in the Finals last year, I feel like he has a slightly less compelling case than some others on this list. I mean, he got a shot really recently. (Also, the Heat are currently getting mauled by the Bucks…)
7. Taj Gibson, 35 – Knicks
Though only a starter a few times in his career, Gibson has carved out a nice career. He saw the Conference Finals on the fabled 2011 Bulls but has never been back since.
6. PJ Tucker, 36 – Bucks
One of my favourite former Raptors to play less than half a season for the franchise, Tucker has found himself in a much better situation than the Rockets do.
Part of the epic Rockets collapse in 2018 (see below), Tucker is now on one of the major contenders in the East and looks like he might have one of the best shots at a Ring of any of the players on this list.
5. Paul Millsap, 36 – Nuggets
Despite an excellent, and underrated, career, Paul Millsap has never advanced past the Conference Finals. He’s done it three times,
- with Utah in his rookie season
- with Atlanta in 2015
- and last year with Denver.
He’s hoping that the Nuggets’ miraculous comebacks last season weren’t a fluke, but that’s a tall order without Jamal Murray.
4. JJ Redick, 36 – Mavericks
Redick made the NBA finals in his 3rd season in the league, with the Orlando Magic, but he’s never been back.
That’s not for want of trying: he was part of Lob City and their disappointing playoff exists and he seemed like he would be part of the core of the emerging 76ers until they refused to re-sign him.
Now, despite not wanting to be traded to the Mavericks, Redick finds himself on a team that has at least a better chance of winning than the Pelicans.
3. George Hill, 35 – 76ers
Journeyman guard George Hill somehow has 130 playoff games under his belt and no championship to show for it.
The closest he came was the Warriors sweep of the 2018 Cavs (the same team Jeff Green was on) but he’s been to the Eastern Conference another 3 times:
- with the Pacers on the team that took Miami to Game 7 in 2013
- with the Pacers again, the next year
- and with the Bucks who lost to my Raptors in 2019
2. Chris Paul, 36 – Suns
Chris Paul doesn’t need to do anything to get in the Hall of Fame and he doesn’t need to do anything to be considered one of the Greatest Point Guards of All Time.
However, if there is one knock on Chris Paul’s career, it’s that didn’t advanced beyond the 2nd round until he met James Harden.
In game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals, the Rockets shot less than 16% from 3, while making 44 attempts. Paul was injured so the once-in-a-lifetime shooting display should actually be part of the case that Paul would have helped the Rockets make the final. But it’s still the farthest he’s ever gone in the playoffs.
And people continue to claim he’s a playoff choker, though that’s not borne out by the data. (Check out Paul’s clutch scoring.)
Still, until Paul has that Ring, there will still be people maintaining that the best point guard of his generation is a playoff choker.
1. Carmelo Anthony, 36 – Trailblazers
Melo is 10th All Time in Points and 26th Al Time in PPG and he’s an NCAA champion (and tournament MOP).
Whether you like it or not, he’s probably going to the Hall of Fame. (Basketball Reference says there’s a 98.4% chance).
But, before finding a home as a bench player in Portland, his career was over without that elusive NBA Championship. He was going to join Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and many other NBA stars without rings.
Now, he’s at least got a chance. And if, by some miracle Portland wins this year (they’re not), and Melo plays a major part of that run, that Hall of Fame probability is going to 100%.