Last season, in his 15th year of trying, Dwight Howard finally was able to call himself an NBA champion. Playing a reserve center role for the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard, 34, the first player chosen in the 2004 NBA Draft, played 18 games, averaging 5.8 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game as he helped the Lakers beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
A year earlier, it was 11-year-veteran center Marc Gasol, 34, who finally got his ring with the Toronto Raptors. Gasol, who oddly enough now finds himself part of the defending champion Lakers, started all 24 postseason games for the 2018-19 Raptors, pulling down 6.4 boards per game and netting 9.4 points per game as they dethroned the Golden State Warriors.
Who will be this year’s ancient warrior that will finally be given the chance to proclaim himself an NBA champion? Well, if the odds at NBA betting sites are to be taken as gospel, then there might actually be several NBA veterans who finally get to don championship rings following the completion of the 2021 playoffs.
The Brooklyn Nets are favored to win the 2020-21 NBA title. The Nets, who’ve never won an NBA championship, list multiple veteran players who’ve still not earned the honor to put their hands on the Larry O’Brien Trophy. It’s a list that reads like a who’s who of NBA superstars.
Even Nets coach Steve Nash can relate to their heartbreak. The former NBA MVP played 12 NBA seasons, but never got to the NBA Finals.
The three-time NBA scoring champion and 2017-18 NBA MVP seems to have gained a new lease of life since the shooting guard was traded to the Nets this season by the Houston Rockets. The nine-time all-star is scoring 25.4 points per game for the Nets while dishing out 11 assists per night.
The 31-year-old 11-season veteran has played in 128 NBA playoff games without ever getting the chance to sip championship champagne.
Close Call: Voted the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2011-12 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden averaged 16.3 points per game in the playoffs that spring as the Thunder lost 4-1 to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
Griffin’s NBA career appeared to be at an end. His numbers with the Detroit Pistons dropped from 24.5 points per game down to 12.3 in a two-year span. Griffin agreed to a contract buyout earlier this season, giving some $13.3 million back to the Pistons.
The 32-year-old, a six-time NBA all-star, signed with the Nets in March. Coming off the bench – he’s started just three games – Griffin is averaging 9.3 points per game.
Close Call: None, really. In all his years with the Clippers, they never made it past the second round. The Pistons were swept by the Bucks in Griffin’s lone postseason appearance with them. He’s played just nine playoff games since 2015.
Green has been in the game so long that he actually played for the Seattle SuperSonics, who haven’t been an NBA team since 2008. His rights twice belonged to the Boston Celtics, but he wasn’t playing for them in 2009-10, when Boston won its most recent NBA title.
The 34-year-old, who plays small forward, power forward and center, has played for 11 teams during his 14-season NBA career. Green is averaging 10.4 points per game for the Nets this season.
Close Call: Green was part of the 2017-18 Cleveland Cavaliers. He scored 19 points as Cleveland beat Boston in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. However, the Cavs were swept by Golden State in the NBA Finals.
Jordan, 32, has started 41 games for the Nets this season. He’s scored 7.7 points per game and cleaned the glass at a rate of 7.5 boards per night.
Five times during his career, Jordan has led the NBA in field goal percentage. On two occasions, he’s topped the league in total rebounds.
Close Call: None to speak of. Jordan’s teams have never advanced beyond Round 2 of the playoffs in 10 NBA seasons. He hasn’t played a postseason game since 2017.