The Denver Nuggets captured their first ever NBA Title

Next First-Time NBA Champion: Can KD Win In Phoenix?

Congratulations to the Denver Nuggets, who captured their first ever NBA Championship in Game 5. What a dominant run, as they lost just four games and never trailed in a series.

With the Nuggets’ win, there are now 10 teams that haven’t lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

NBA Teams Without a Championship
TeamJoined NBA
Phoenix Suns1969
Los Angeles Clippers1971
Utah Jazz1975
Brooklyn Nets1977
Indiana Pacers1977
Charlotte Hornets1989
Minnesota Timberwolves1990
Orlando Magic1990
Memphis Grizzlies1996
New Orleans Pelicans2003

All it took for Denver to snap their 46-year drought was the emergence of an unguardable 6’11” Serbian who led the playoffs in points, rebounds and assists, becoming the first ever player to do so.

Jokic’s historic performance led to a Finals MVP and has us thinking: who will be the next NBA team to win their first championship?

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix, the longest tenured team without a title, has opened with the fourth-shortest odds (+700) to win the 2023-24 Championship. As evidenced by the last eight Finals MVPs, a superstar is a pre-requisite for a title in the modern NBA landscape.

Finals MVP By Season
SeasonTeamFinals MVP
2022-23Denver NuggetsNikola Jokic
2021-22Golden State WarriorsStephen Curry
2020-21Milwaukee BucksGiannis Antetokounmpo
2019-20Los Angeles LakersLeBron James
2018-19Toronto RaptorsKawhi Leonard
2017-18Golden State WarriorsKevin Durant
2016-17Golden State WarriorsKevin Durant
2015-16Cleveland CavaliersLeBron James

The good thing for Phoenix is that it happens to have a two-time Finals MVP. Kevin Durant is yet to prove that he can win without a superteam, but Devin Booker is no slouch of a sidekick.

The Suns have already indicated that they may part ways with Chris Paul, and sportsbooks anticipate that they could shake up their roster even more this offseason with a potential Deandre Ayton trade.

Deandre Ayton Next Team Odds
Phoenix Suns-200
Dallas Mavericks+400
Chicago Bulls+850
Portland Trail Blazers+850
Charlotte Hornets+1200

Not only would a Suns title rid them of their painful 55-season drought, it would (more importantly) give Durant ammunition to win arguments with trolls on Twitter.  

Los Angeles Clippers

The second-oldest NBA team without a title is also second among the group in odds to capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy next season (+2300). Reaching the NBA Finals would probably be a good start, as the Clippers have made the Western Conference Finals just once, in 2020-21, when they lost in six to their fellow ringless friends, the Suns.

Like Phoenix, LA also has a multi-time Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard. Both Leonard and his co-star Paul George are quite injury-prone (and known to indulge in load management), as they each missed over 25 games this past season.

Rather than going big-game hunting in free agency, the Clippers should hit the athletic trainer market and spend their allowance on the top available sports scientists.

The Clippers are reportedly in the mix for a Chris Paul reunion, but it seems that they have already filled their washed-up point guard quota with Russell Westbrook. The 34-year-old has been much better for his new LA team, shooting 48.9% from the field in a Clippers uniform compared to 43.4% with the Lakers.

If, and this is a big IF, Russ can take a step back toward his MVP form, we could be looking at a formidable big three in Los Angeles.

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are still new to the Association, so their 28 winless seasons are not quite as embarrassing as some of the other droughts that begun in the 1970s.

Memphis has been a top-two seed in the Western Conference in back-to-back seasons, and their core of impact players is largely the same heading into this season (sorry Dillon Brooks). So why are they 12th in betting odds (+3000) to win the title?

Star PG Ja Morant may remind 2000s basketball fans of Gilbert Arenas. They might say Morant plays like him, too. Just 23 years old, the sky is the limit for Ja and there is nothing standing between him and becoming an NBA superstar – except for the allure of flashing guns on Instagram live.

Sportsbooks are expecting Morant to be suspended for 20-40 games this upcoming season. This is surely baked into Memphis’ title price, but once Ja returns, the Grizzlies will be aiming for their first ever championship. Gun to our heads, we think they have a shot.

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