The Denver Nuggets have advanced to the 2023 NBA Finals, toppling the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. This is a historic breakthrough for the team as it will mark their first ever NBA Finals trip in franchise history, scratching themselves off the list of teams that have never made the championship round.
With Denver making it, there are now only five teams that have never made an NBA Finals appearance. Those teams are the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, and New Orleans Pelicans. All of these franchises have struggled to even get close to the championship round as the Clippers, Wolves, and Grizzlies have only made the conference finals one time apiece. Meanwhile, the Hornets and Pelicans have only made the second round of the playoffs in their respective team histories (histories that include the original incarnation of the Hornets eventually becoming the Pelicans).
Along with these five, the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, and Sacramento Kings are franchises have never been to the NBA Finals in their current locations. The Hawks made four NBA Finals appearances in St. Louis before moving to Atlanta in 1968, where they’ve made just four conference finals appearances since. The Nets made back-to-back Finals appearances in New Jersey in the early 2000’s, but have reached the second round just twice since moving to Brooklyn in 2012.
The Kings’ lone NBA Finals appearance as a franchise came in 1951, where they won the title as the Rochester Royals. Afterwards, they would make two more conference final appearances in Rochester, two more following their move to Cincinnati in 1957, and one following their move to Kansas City in 1972. Since moving to Sacramento in 1985, their lone Western Conference Finals appearance remains the controversial seven-game series against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002.