Every year, the NBA has many strong teams with reasonable chances of winning the championship. It is common to find one or more great teams missing out on hoisting the trophy at the end of the NBA season. For example, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs had strong teams in 2016 and most people thought that any of those teams would finish the season as champions. However, LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers were the ones cutting down the nets in June.
I have taken some time to look at some of the best NBA teams that did not win the NBA championship. Here’s my list of some of the best.
2015-16 San Antonio Spurs
The current San Antonio Spurs may perhaps have gone down as the most famous team that failed to win a title. The San Antonio Spurs team had a blend of new, up-and- coming stars alongside old, battle-tested and experienced players.
They had Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili and LaMarcus Aldridge among its ranks. That’s a powerhouse of names.
The blend of veteran players and up-and- coming young players appeared tough enough to thrash the Golden State Warriors. As the season progressed, the Oklahoma City Thunder took the series in six games. The Spurs were outscored by an average of only 0.5 points per game. This signaled that the series was undoubtedly tighter than one may have thought.
2015-2016 Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors lost in NBA finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they finished the season with 73 wins and only 9 losses. That was an NBA record and they did it in style, winning by an average of double digits.
They were favored to win the title nearly all season long, and in the Finals had what was thought to be an insurmountable 3-1 lead over Cleveland. The Warriors wasted many opportunities, dealt with a suspension of their star Draymond Green and lost the last three games.
All the same, appearing in back-to-back finals is an impressive achievement for any team and the Warriors have enough talent to keep making appearances for years to come.
2008-2009 Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland was the best team in the East with a record of 66-16, winning by 8.9 points per night. But they didn’t have enough to win the title. LeBron was only 24 here and at the peak of his career. He also had plenty of help in players like Mo Williams and Zydrunas IIlgauskas.
The Cavs were the No. 1 seed, but couldn’t make it past the Orlando Magic in the conference championship series. The Magic went through both the Cavs and the Celtics, but then were made quick work of by the Los Angeles Lakers.
1972-1973 Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics were the top side in the East with a record of 68-14, but couldn’t make it past the New York Knicks. New York eventually went on to win the Finals behind their incredible roster featuring Walt Frazier. They become the first team to lose a Game 7 at home. John Havlicek being hurt for the postseason was a big reason this team failed to win it all. They also had plenty of other big names like Don Nelson, Paul Silas, Don Chaney, Paul Westphal, Jo Jo White and NBA MVP Dave Cowens.
Many great NBA teams have been unsuccessful in winning a championship. The lesson that I have drawn is never to give up. After each game, what is needed is a change of strategy. With persistence everything is possible.