NBA Legacy Check: The Five Players That Need an NBA Title the Most


(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

By Eric Jensen, Sports Writer


Championships — that’s what we play sports for. And what comes with championships? Legacy. The legacy of Michael Jordan is embedded in his six titles and the legacy of LeBron James will always be locked with Cleveland winning its first NBA championship. While playoff stats and great regular season performances cannot be ignored, the legacy of players and franchises in the NBA is tied inherently to winning titles.

Here are the five current players who are the most in need of winning an NBA championship, in no particular order.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Antetokounmpo has been one of the top five players in the NBA for the past four years. He’s won the MVP and the Defensive Player of the Year awards over the past three years and has cemented himself as a top-five player in the NBA.

However, because of his inability to develop a jump shot, some critics believe he cannot win an NBA title as a number one option for a team. Milwaukee has surrounded him with a lot of good talent. Jrue Holiday has been fantastic thus far in the playoffs, as has Khris Middleton. If the Bucks were to win an NBA title, Antetokounmpo would truly establish himself as a locked-in, no-doubt-top-three NBA player of the past five years, and he would enter the Steph Curry echelon of NBA superstar.

Chris Paul

Paul will likely end up in the basketball Hall of Fame regardless, but if he were ever to take the Suns to the Finals and win it all, he would be a lock to enter the hall.

Paul has been one of the most consistent players in the NBA for his entire career but has always struggled or picked up injuries in the playoffs. If he can stay healthy and contribute this year, and the Suns take the title, he will most certainly be locked in as a Hall of Fame player.

James Harden

In Houston, Harden established himself as statistically one of the best offensive players of all time. However, he has struggled mightily in the playoffs. It seems that when the focus shifts to him in the postseason he is largely shut down and taken away as a threat. But this year, he has a good chance to win it all.

For the first time in his career since his development in Oklahoma City, Harden is not the best player on his team. He now has the help of two other elite NBA scorers in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. One could make an argument that both of those players could use another NBA title to improve their resumes as well, but Harden has yet to win a title and needs it the most for his legacy. Kyrie needs to win one to prove he can do it without LeBron (although, if he does, the critics will inevitably say, “Well, he won it with KD”) and Durant needs the title to say that he won as the leader of a team. Those are both trivial arguments, but Harden needs this title the most to legitimize his place in the history of the NBA as a top-five offensive player of all time.

Damian Lillard

Lillard is the face of being loyal to a small market, but one wonders how much longer he will hang around if the Trail Blazers can’t make a deep playoff run this year. Lillard has delivered some of the most unbelievable moments in recent playoff history over the past few years, but the Blazers have always fallen short after the first round. If Portland doesn’t make a deep run this year, you start to wonder at what point Lillard will want out of Portland, especially as he is now just entering his prime.

Donovan Mitchell

An emerging young star, Mitchell seems to lack the respect of his peers around the NBA. For example, look at the fact that Mitchell was picked last in the All-Star Game draft. He has something to prove, as do the Jazz, and a title would widely change the perception of both in the eyes of the national media.


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