The 5 greatest NBA talents to never make the Western Conference Finals

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five

Playoff success doesn't define everything in an NBA career, but it goes a long way in proving dominance. 

For some, though, the playoffs are a puzzle that never quite gets solved. Making the conference finals, especially in the Western Conference, is often a mark of star success. Most don't ever get a chance in the NBA Finals, but many at least make it to the final round of conference play.

Those who don't are the truly cursed. Perhaps it's injuries, backbreaking plays, historically great opponents or any combination of the above that prevents it from happening. Often times it's not the star's fault at all. 

With the first round of the playoffs coming closer to its conclusion, we thought we'd take a look at the five greatest players who've never played in the Western Conference Finals. We'll also do our best to fairly identify players who played a relevant portion of their career in the West. 

Chris Paul

The idea obviously stems from the fact that Chris Paul is one loss away from once again failing to reach the Western Conference Finals. He's arguably the greatest point guard of his generation, and only Steve Nash really comes close in contemporary comparisons. 

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Clippers

Yet, for one reason or another, every year Paul finds himself on the wrong end of playoff luck. This year it's Blake Griffin's toe injury. In 2015, the Clippers gave up a 3-1 lead in the second round of the playoffs. 

If the Clippers are eliminated in the first round it'd be another mark against Paul's postseason resume, and perhaps enough of a disappointment to sway him to consider parting ways with LA to finally get out of the second round, at the very least. 

Yao Ming

Yao Ming is one of the greatest centers of all-time, and only recurring foot injuries stopped him from truly flourishing in the NBA. He still enjoyed an amazing NBA career, but he was never able to make a deep playoff run with the Houston Rockets. 

Yao's size made him stand out, but his talent on the court is what made him a household name. There were few big men who had his pure skill as a back-to-the-basket big man. He had the prototype big man skill profile bundled into his gargantuan 7'6 frame. 

Not only that, he was a great defender, fantastic rebounder, selfless passer and creative basketball player. His rivalry with Shaquille O'Neal was that of legend, and his Texas two-step battles with Tim Duncan deserve mention too. An amazing talent all around. 

Pete Maravich

Pistol Pete Paravich is one of the NBA's forgotten stars, passing with the kind of creativity that you'd expect from the top talents in the league today. The difference? Back then his style of play was nearly unprecedented, especially in the NBA. 

Pete spent a big chunk of his career with the New Orleans Jazz, making sweet music with his insane ball-handling and basketball talents, but never quite getting over the hump like another point guard on this list who spent some serious time in The Big Easy. 

How good was Pistol Pete? Most people talk about his passing and dribbling, but he averaged 24.2 points per game through his career and topped out at 31.1. He could truly do it all, except make it to the Western Conference Finals. 

George Gervin

All of the wings we call prototypes, including Michael Jordan? They can thank George Gervin for being one of the smoothest scorers on the perimeter of all-time. He earned the nickname "The Iceman" because of how cold his game was on the court. 

Gervin is a classic, playing with the San Antonio Spurs in the ABA before they transitioned to the NBA. He did reach the conference finals once - but that was while the Spurs were considered an Eastern Conference team.

Ah, technicalities. The Iceman is one of the true greats, a player that everyone in the NBA could learn a thing or two from.

Adrian Dantley

Adrian who? Adrian Dantley might be the greatest player you've never heard of, another classic to round out this bunch. Dantley spent 14 years in the NBA, but not once did he see the Western Conference finals.

His best days were with the Utah Jazz, where he spent seven seasons and averaged 29.6 points, 6.2 assists and 3.7 assists during that time. He would eventually see the NBA Finals, but not until he joined the Detroit Pistons and abandoned the West. 

Another all-time talent that couldn't get over the mountain that is the Western Conference, which has been considered the "stronger" conference across the board for quite some time. 

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