Nothing is fair in love, war, or the NBA. With every batch of new basketball talent, there are players who rise to the top — the guys who have the game to win it all. Unfortunately for them (and for their fans), winning a ring requires a whole lot more than talent: You’ve got to stay healthy; you’ve got to peak at the right time; and you’ve got to have a good team and a good front office that have your back. That last part is important, because if you’re stuck with one of the worst managements in the NBA, your road to a ring gets that much harder.
Of course, there are guys like Karl Malone or Charles Barkley — all-time greats who simply didn’t see the chips fall in their favor. We don’t mean that in a diminishing sense, but we’re going to call it what it was. Malone stayed with Utah nearly to the end of his career, and Barkley played on fewer teams than you might think in his quest to get past the Bulls. No, what we focus on today are the guys who are a step or two behind in this un-fun evolutionary ladder; the players who still have a couple more years of prime basketball left, but they’re stuck in the quagmire of bad management, bad rosters, or both.
5. Jimmy Butler
One of the not-so-secret secrets about the Chicago Bulls is their notoriously tight-fisted ownership; they’re the same folks who paid Toni Kukoč more than Scottie Pippen. That’s not to say that the current state of affairs is entirely anyone’s fault, as injuries to their million dollar PG and the erosion of Joakim Noah and Luol Deng derailed Chi-town’s hopes for a basketball championship in the immediate future, but it is a fact. Now Jimmy Butler, the best (and healthiest) player on the Bulls is stuck with the weight of the entire franchise on his shoulders and no relief in sight — we’re not banking on Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo yet.