In the NBA, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is one of the most coveted achievements of every player. Winning the MVP trophy signifies individual excellence and an invaluable impact on the team. In this article, we will discuss the best NBA players that never won the illustrious MVP accolade.
There are two (2) MVP awards given every season, the Regular Season MVP and the Finals MVP. A player can win both awards in a single season; several notable stars like Michael Jordan and LeBron James have achieved this feat.
The Regular Season MVP is decided through voting, and it’s done by a panel of broadcasters and sportswriters from the USA and Canada chosen by the NBA. Everyone on the panel votes for a total of five (5) players ranked from first to fifth place; the first placer receives ten (10) points, the second gets seven (7) points, the third is worth five (5) points, the fourth placer gets three (3) points, and lastly, the fifth receive a single (1) point. After that, the votes get computed, and the player with the most points wins it all.
The NBA is considered as the most competitive league in the world, and only one player receives the MVP trophy every year, which is why a lot of exceptional hoopers are still trying to fight their way to the top, while unfortunately, a few of the all-time greats who shaped the basketball world as we now see it, retired without one.
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NBA Player to Never win MVP
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s break down the list!
Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid (PF/C)
Career Averages: 26.0 points (49 FG%, 33.8 3pt%), 11.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.7 blocks @ 31.2 min/game
Notable Achievements: 2021 NBA Scoring champion, 4x NBA All-Star, 3x All-NBA Second Team, 3x NBA All-Defensive Second Team, NBA All-Rookie First Team
A big man that has the footwork of a guard, Joel has been carrying the Philadelphia 76ers on his back for several seasons now. He has both solid inside presence and outside shooting that makes it difficult for his defenders to stop him.
It’s typically difficult for power forwards and centers like Joel to win the coveted award, added to the fact that many talented forwards/centers like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic keep the MVP race highly competitive.
Milwaukee Bucks – Sidney Moncrief (PG/SG)
Career Averages: 15.6 points (50.2 FG%, 28.4 3pt%), 4.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.3 blocks @ 30.2 min/game
Notable Achievements: 2x NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 5x NBA All-Star, 1x All-NBA First Team
Recipient of the first-ever Defensive Player of the Year Award, Sidney was the textbook definition of a lockdown defender. He won the award the following year as well.
Despite not winning any MVP awards, his team benefitted from his defensive tenacity and intensity.
Chicago Bulls – Scottie Pippen (SF)
Career Averages: 16.1 points (47.3 FG%, 32.6 3pt%), 6.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.8 blocks @ 34.9 min/game
Notable Achievements: 6× NBA champion, 7× NBA All-Star, 1x NBA All-Star Game MVP, 3× All-NBA First Team, 2× All-NBA Second Team, 2× All-NBA Third Team, 8× NBA All-Defensive First Team, 2× NBA All-Defensive Second Team, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
An important part of the 2 three-peat runs by the legendary Bulls team led by Michael Jordan and coach Phil Jackson, Scottie is one of the key pieces of the Chicago dynasty with his tenacious defense and athleticism.
Playing side-by-side with the G.O.A.T. himself, it was a tall task for Scottie to win MVP given that he was just the right-hand man in all of their championship runs.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving (PG)
Career Averages: Career Averages: 23.1 points (47.0 FG%, 39.3 3pt%), 3.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.4 blocks @ 34.0 min/game
Notable Achievements: 1x NBA champion, 7× NBA All-Star, 1x NBA All-Star Game MVP, 1x All-NBA Second Team, 2× All-NBA Third Team, 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA All-Rookie First Team
Famously known for making ‘The Shot’ which helped the Cavaliers dethrone the Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, Kyrie’s exceptional ball-handling skills, and off-the-dribble shooting solidify his name on this list.
However, for a big chunk of his career, Kyrie was playing with LeBron, who is considered the greatest of this generation. Playing as the second option made it harder for Kyrie to bag the prestigious award.
Boston Celtics – Paul Pierce (SG/SF)
Career Averages: 19.7 points (44.5 FG%, 36.8 3pt%), 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.6 blocks @ 34.2 min/game
Notable Achievements:1x NBA champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 10× NBA All-Star, 1x All-NBA Second Team, 3× All-NBA Third Team, NBA All-Rookie First Team, 2010, NBA Three-Point Contest champion, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Also known as ‘The Truth’, Paul is one of the Boston Big 4 which spoiled Kobe Bryant’s 4th title run back in 2008. Paul was a scoring machine as he was able to score whenever and wherever he wanted.
What made it difficult for Paul to get the MVP is the amount of competition that he has during his prime. He fought against Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and LeBron James on the MVP leaderboards.
Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, & Phoenix Suns – Chris Paul (PG)
Career Averages: 18.1 points (47.3 FG%, 36.9 3pt%), 4.5 rebounds, 9.5 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.1 blocks @ 34.5 min/game
Notable Achievements: 12× NBA All-Star, 4× All-NBA First Team, 5× All-NBA Second Team, 2× All-NBA Third Team, 7× All-Defensive First Team, 2× All-Defensive Second Team, 1x All-Star MVP, 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA All-Rookie First Team
Also dubbed as the ‘Point God’, Chris is the true definition of Point Guard in today’s generation. From the Lob City in LA with Blake Griffin, all the way to running point on the Suns’ offense. Chris’ basketball IQ is unmatched.
In his prime, Chris played against the likes of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant which made it difficult for him to get the award.
Memphis Grizzlies – Pau Gasol (PF/C)
Career Averages: 17.0 points (50.7 FG%, 36.8 3pt%), 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.6 blocks @ 33.4 min/game
Notable Achievements: 2× NBA champion, 2× All-NBA Second Team, 2× All-NBA Third Team, 6× NBA All-Star, 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, NBA All-Rookie First Team
One of the most influential European players to ever step foot in the NBA, Pau brought a different type of moves as a big into the league. He would then help Kobe Bryant for a back-to-back title in 2009 and 2010.
Pau was an incredible player and he knew what his role was wherever he played; however, playing in the shadows of the likes of Kobe made it virtually impossible for him to be recognized for the award.
Atlanta Hawks – Dominique Wilkins (PF/C)
Career Averages: 24.8 points (46.1 FG%, 31.9 3pt%), 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.6 blocks @ 35.5 min/game
Notable Achievements: 9× NBA All-Star, 1x All-NBA First Team, 4× All-NBA Second Team, 2× All-NBA Third Team, NBA All-Rookie First Team, 1986 NBA Scoring champion, 2× NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Known for his athleticism and high-flying moves, Dominique was a force inside the paint. He won’t be called “the Human Highlight Film” for no reason.
Despite placing in the top 10 of the all-time scoring list, Dominique is rarely mentioned in the MVP conversation in his prime, but despite this, his presence and value in the Hawks squad were unmatched.
Miami Heat – Dwayne Wade (PG/SG)
Career Averages: 22.0 points (48.0 FG%, 29.3 3pt%), 4.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.8 blocks @ 33.9 min/game
Notable Achievements: 3× NBA champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 13× NBA All-Star, 1x NBA All-Star Game MVP, 2× All-NBA First Team, 3× All-NBA Second Team, 3× All-NBA Third Team, 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Notorious for his flashy plays and quickness, Dwayne led the 2006 Heat to the promised land. He later played with LeBron as the right-hand man which helped them secure the 2012 and 2013 titles.
Dwayne played against tough competition in his prime and if people had to choose who the better Shooting Guard was at that time; they’d pick Kobe Bryant over Dwayne.
Charlotte Hornets – Alonzo Mourning (PF/C)
Career Averages: 17.1 points (52.7 FG%, 24.7 3pt%), 8.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.8 blocks @ 31.0 min/game
Notable Achievements: 3x NBA champion, 7x NBA All-Star, 1x All-NBA First Team, 1x All-NBA Second Team, 2x NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 2x NBA All-Defensive First Team, 2x NBA Blocks leader, NBA All-Rookie First Team
To say that Alonzo is good in defense is an understatement. The 2x DPOY was one of the key members of the Heat franchise which later won the championship in 2006.
Aside from having tough competition in the MVP race during his prime, Alonzo was also plagued with injuries throughout his career which made it harder for him to get the coveted award.
Utah Jazz – John Stockton (PG)
Career Averages: 13.1 points (51.5 FG%, 38.4 3pt%), 2.7 rebounds, 10.5 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.2 blocks @ 31.8 min/game
Notable Achievements: 10× NBA All-Star, 1x NBA All-Star Game MVP, 2× All-NBA First Team, 6× All-NBA Second Team, 3× All-NBA Third Team, 5× NBA All-Defensive Second Team, 9× NBA assists leader, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Arguably the greatest passer of all time, John is at the top of the all-time assist leaderboard and by the looks of it, no one’s even close to dethroning him. His duo with Karl Malone in the Jazz was one of the greatest duos to be ever formed.
Despite his amazing passing skills and basketball IQ, the votes seemingly favored flashy and athletic players like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. Despite having 0 MVP accolades, everybody knew how much value John brought to the Jazz squad.
Sacramento Kings – Nate Archibald (PG)
Career Averages: 18.8 points (46.7 FG%, 22.4 3pt%), 2.3 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks @ 35.6 min/game
Notable Achievements: 1x NBA champion, 6× NBA All-Star, 1x NBA All-Star Game MVP, 3× All-NBA First Team, 2× All-NBA Second Team, 1x NBA scoring champion, 1x NBA assists leader, NBA 50th and 75th Anniversary Team
During his 14-season tenure in the NBA, Nate showcased his skills in a perfect mix of shooting, penetration, and passing. He also set the standards for players his size to have his skill set.
Despite finishing his career with 0 MVPs, he was still valuable in the Kings franchise and the Boston franchise wherein he won his only ring.
New York Knicks – Patrick Ewing (PF/C)
Career Averages: 21.0 points (50.4 FG%, 15.2 3pt%), 9.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals, 2.4 blocks @ 34.3 min/game
Notable Achievements: 1986 Rookie of the Year, 1x All-NBA First Team, 6x All-NBA Second Team, 3x NBA All-Defensive Second Team, 11x NBA All-Star
If we want to talk about consistency, Patrick should be the first man in that conversation. Patrick provided consistent numbers for the Knicks and played day in and day out despite being hurt. His efficiency as a center helped the Knicks in a lot of their playoff runs.
Patrick began his NBA career in the Magic-Larry era which was quickly followed by the Michael Jordan era. It made Patrick’s goal of getting the biggest individual award in the league virtually impossible.
Los Angeles Lakers – Jerry West (PG)
Career Averages: 27.0 points (47.4 FG), 5.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 0.1 steals @ 39.2 min/game
Notable Achievements: 1x NBA champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 14× NBA All-Star, 1x NBA All-Star Game MVP, 10× All-NBA First Team, 2× All-NBA Second Team, 4× NBA All-Defensive First Team, NBA 50th and 75th Anniversary Team
Jerry is considered as one of the greatest Lakers of all time despite struggling to win in the NBA Finals. He’s also known for his solid perimeter shooting and intense defense.
Up to this day, it’s still a mystery why Jerry didn’t win any MVP award during his tenure in the NBA. Despite this, he’s forever immortalized as the logo of the NBA.
Orlando Magic – Dwight Howard (PF/C)
Career Averages: 15.7 points (58.7 FG%, 21.4 3pt%), 11.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.8 blocks @ 31.8 min/game
Notable Achievements: 1x NBA champion, 8× NBA All-Star, 5× All-NBA First Team, All-NBA Second Team, 2× All-NBA Third Team, 3× NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 4× NBA All-Defensive First Team, 1x NBA All-Defensive Second Team
Dwight provided the magic in Orlando Magic as he led the team to the 2009 NBA finals with his freakish athleticism and defensive skills. Although they lost to Kobe’s LA Lakers, Dwight proved himself as the main man of Orlando.
Despite being an amazing big, Dwight lacked a few things or two in his arsenal which could’ve taken his game to the next level. He also played with tough competition in his prime.
Dallas Mavericks & New Jersey / Brooklyn Nets – Jason Kidd (PG)
Career Averages: 12.6 points (40.0 FG%, 34.9 3pt%), 6.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.3 blocks @ 36.0 min/game
Notable Achievements: 1x NBA champion, 10× NBA All-Star, 5× All-NBA First Team, 9× NBA All-Defensive First Team, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Known for his flashy-yet-effective passing, Jason Kidd was the perfect point guard for both the Mavericks and Nets franchises. He led both teams to the finals and won alongside Dirk Nowitzki back in 2011.
Apart from his amazing playmaking skills, Jason still had a few things to improve on if he wanted to be a part of the highly competitive MVP race in his time.
Denver Nuggets – Carmelo Anthony (SF/PF)
Career Averages: 22.5 points (44.7 FG%, 35.5 3pt%), 6.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks @ 34.5 min/game
Notable Achievements: 2x NBA Scoring champion, 3x All-NBA Second Team, 4x All-NBA Third Team, 10x NBA All-Star, All-NBA Rookie First Team, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Equipped with his deadly perimeter shooting and the triple-threat jab step, Melo was a force to be reckoned with during his stay in the Nuggets, apart from that, Melo has a strong inside game as well.
Being in the same draft class as LeBron James, the path to MVP isn’t easy for Melo with all the competition. However, he’s still playing in the league so he still has a chance to get the award.
Indiana Pacers – Reggie Miller (SG)
Career Averages: 18.2 points (47.1 FG%, 39.5 3pt%), 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.2 blocks @ 34.3 min/game
Notable Achievements: 5x NBA All-Star, 3x All-NBA First Team, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Known for his long-range shooting and clutch shots, Reggie was the main man of the Pacers and he’s arguably the greatest player to ever wear the Pacer uniform.
His road to MVP was a tough one with competition like Michael Jordan and Karl Malone. Despite holding the record for 3-pts made, he only received a few MVP votes in 1998 and 2000.
Detroit Pistons – Isiah Thomas (PG)
Career Averages: 19.2 points (45.2 FG%, 29 3pt%), 3.6 rebounds, 9.3 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.3 blocks @ 36.3 min/game
Notable Achievements: 2× NBA champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 12× NBA All-Star, 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP, 3× All-NBA First Team, 2× All-NBA Second Team, NBA All-Rookie First Team, 1985 NBA Assist leader, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Arguably one of the greatest Piston ever, Isiah is an unselfish player and a key member of the ‘Bad Boy Pistons’ which introduced a whole new level of defensive intensity in the NBA.
Unfortunately, playing in the same era as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and the likes made it more difficult for Isiah to win the MVP award. Despite this, the value that he brought to the Pistons during his time was unmatched.
Toronto Raptors & San Antonio Spurs – Kawhi Leonard (SG/SF)
Career Averages: 19.2 points (49.3 FG%, 38.4 3pt%), 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.6 blocks @ 31.3 min/game
Notable Achievements: 2× NBA champion, 2× NBA Finals MVP, 5× NBA All-Star, 1x NBA All-Star Game MVP, 3× All-NBA First Team, 2× All-NBA Second Team, 2× NBA Defensive Player of the Year, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Also called ‘The Klaw’, Kawhi’s defense and perimeter shooting is a thing of beauty. He was also responsible for foiling the Miami 3-peat attempt in 2014, and Golden States’ 3-peat attempt in 2019. He also led the Toronto Raptors to its first-ever NBA Championship.
Playing in the modern era with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and LeBron James made it difficult for Kawhi to climb the MVP leaderboard throughout the years. He was also plagued with injuries the past few years.
Houston Rockets & Washington Wizards – Elvin Hayes (PF/C)
Career Averages: 21.0 points (45.2 FG%, 14.7 3pt%), 12.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.4 blocks @ 38.4 min/game
Notable Achievements: 1x NBA champion, 12× NBA All-Star, 3× All-NBA First Team, 3× All-NBA Second Team, 1969 NBA Scoring champion, 2x NBA Rebounding leader, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
If being the all-time leading scorer for the Washington Bullets/Wizards isn’t enough to prove Elvin’s spot on this list, he has another feat that will. Elvin has never missed more than two games in all 16 seasons that he played in the league.
The competition for the MVP in the 70s was mostly dominated by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Moses Malone. Despite this, Elvin has cemented his legacy in the Washington team and the whole league.
Seattle Sonics – Gary Payton (PG) q
Career Averages: 14.0 points (44.1 FG%, 31.5 3pt%), 3.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.2 blocks @ 35.6 min/game
Notable Achievements: 1x NBA champion, 9× NBA All-Star, 2× All-NBA First Team, 5× All-NBA Second Team, 1x NBA Defensive Player of the Year, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Also known as ‘The Glove’, Gary was a defensive specialist, being one of the few guards to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He was also a part of the 2006 Miami title run alongside Dwayne Wade.
Gary’s defensive arsenal wasn’t enough to push himself further into the MVP conversations of his era given that he was playing with tough competition as well.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Kevin Love (PF/C)
Career Averages: 17.6 points (44.1 FG%, 37.3 3pt%), 10.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.4 blocks @ 30.9 min/game
Notable Achievements: 1x NBA Champion, 5x NBA All-Star, 2x NBA All-Second Team
Known for his touchdown passes and spot-up shooting, Kevin gave the people of Minnesota a taste of greatness in the first few years that he played there. He later teamed up with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland which later won the championship back in 2016.
Kevin provided insane numbers during his prime in Minnesota but he wasn’t able to bring the team further with lackluster regular season records and missed playoffs.
Portland Trail Blazers – Clyde Drexler (SG/SF)
Career Averages: 20.4 points (47.2 FG%, 31.8 3pt%), 6.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.7 blocks @ 34.6 min/game
Notable Achievements: 1x NBA champion, 10× NBA All-Star, 1x All-NBA First Team, NBA 50th and, 75th Anniversary Team
Clyde ‘The Glide’ Drexler was known for his insane athleticism and flashy finishes. He makes scoring inside look effortless and relatively easy.
Despite not winning the MVP accolade, being a part of both the NBA’s 50th and 75th teams is proof of his lasting influence on his team and the whole league.
Golden State Warriors – Klay Thompson (SG)
Career Averages: 19.5 points (45.8 FG%, 41.7 3pt%), 3.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.5 blocks @ 32.9 min/game
Notable Achievements: 4× NBA Champion, 5× NBA All-Star, 2× All-NBA Third Team, 1x NBA Three-Point Contest Champion
1 of 2 of the Splash Brothers, Klay is known for his spot-up and off-the-dribble three-point shooting. Klay once scored 60 points in only 11 dribbles. Apart from his excellent shooting, Klay is also a good defender.
Playing with Stephen Curry, who is arguably the greatest shooter of all time made it difficult for Klay to shine and grab the MVP accolade.
The MVP award is a prestigious award that only a few have held. To be hailed as the Most Valuable Player in the best basketball league in the world is every basketball player’s dream.
This list is just a general overview of the best NBA players to never win the MVP award in every team; this may vary if other factors are weighed in. We hope that this article helped determine the best NBA players to never win the MVP award.
We hope to see you in our next posts!