NBA teams are tasked to do whatever possible to create advantages. One option is to employ players on the roster with a winning background.
There is nothing comparable that the experience of winning a title means to a professional athlete. Even though “championship DNA” may be more of an urban legend than anything else, the qualities that those who have won on the biggest stages are incredibly valuable.
So who has more of that winning experience in the league right now? For that purpose, we tallied the number of times each player in the NBA has either won an NBA championship, Olympic gold medal, World Cup gold medal, NCAA title or Euroleague title. We then totaled the scores based on each roster in the league.
One of the most surprising results is that the Boston Celtics, who are one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference next season, are ranked last. The only major championship anyone on their roster has won was when Kemba Walker helped lead UConn to win March Madness in 2011.
Both the Sacramento Kings and the Phoenix Suns rank in the Top 10, which is unexpected considering the lack of success both teams have had during the most recent few reasons.
But the biggest takeaway is that the Los Angeles Lakers, who did not make the playoffs last season, are ranked No. 1 in this study. We wrote about each championship a player on the Lakers has won and how it may help the team as a cohesive unit heading into the upcoming season.
LeBron James: 5
NBA titles: 3 (2012, 2013, 2016)
Olympic titles: 2 (2008, 2012)
When totaling championships with the above qualifications, there is a five-way tie for first place. Among those five players, however, LeBron James is the only one who did not play for the Golden State Warriors last season. The other players with five trophies are Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala. Ranked next is Draymond Green, who has four trophies. James won his first major title as a leader on the Redeem Team during the 2008 Olympics and has arguably been the most dominant player in the league since then.
Anthony Davis: 3
World titles: 1 (2014)
NCAA titles: 1 (2012)
Olympic titles: 1 (2012)
Former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis is one of just a dozen active players who has won a gold medal in both the Olympics and in the FIBA World Cup. Among those, he is the only one to also have an NCAA title ring. If he were to win an NBA title, he would be the only active player with the coveted Triple Crown – and the first to accomplish such a feat since Magic Johnson in 1992. The others are Michael Jordan (1991), Quinn Buckner (1984), Jerry Lucas (1973), KC Jones (1959), Bill Russell (1957) and Clyde Lovellette (1954).
Danny Green: 3
NBA titles: 2 (2014, 2019)
NCAA titles: 1 (2009)
After winning his second title alongside Kawhi Leonard, veteran wing Danny Green is one of just two active players with an NBA title and an NCAA championship. This is particularly interesting considering that the other player is one of his new teammates on the Lakers. Green has never been a star in the league but has always been a valuable role player. He was an incredibly valuable addition for the team during the offseason for many reasons, especially his championship pedigree.
JaVale McGee: 2
NBA titles: 2 (2017, 2018)
Los Angeles big man JaVale McGee tweeted that he is the “only person ever with a rat tail and [an] NBA championship” back in June 2017. “Let that sink in!” he added. McGee is actually one of just 15 active players who have earned at least two NBA title rings during their professional careers. Three of those are currently on the Lakers, which means 20 percent of active multi-championship winners play for the purple and gold.
Quinn Cook: 2
NBA titles: 1 (2018)
NCAA titles: 1 (2015)
Former Warriors guard Quinn Cook is the only other active basketball player besides Green who has both an NCAA title as well as an NBA championship. Cook started all 39 games for the Duke Blue Devils as a senior. He led the ACC in both total three-pointers and three-point percentage during his final collegiate campaign, including six connections from beyond the arc in the first game of the 2015 NCAA tournament.
DeMarcus Cousins*: 2
Olympic titles: 1 (2016)
World titles: 1 (2014)
There is an asterisk next to his name because the front office was recently granted a disabled player exception for DeMarcus Cousins. The 29-year-old four-time All-Star tore his Achilles in January 2018 then suffered a torn quad in April 2019 and a torn ACL in August 2019. Boogie joins AD as one of the 12 active players who has won a gold medal representing their country in both the World Cup and at the Olympics.
Dwight Howard: 1
Olympic titles: 1 (2008)
When he helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the Olympics in 2008, big man Dwight Howard averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He led the team in both points (22) and rebounds (10) in a blowout victory over Dirk Nowitzki and the German national team. He otherwise was not a huge factor for the Americans, though his experience helping his country en route to the title is one he likely remembers fondly.
Rajon Rondo: 1
NBA titles: 1 (2008)
During his second year in the league and the first as a consistent starter, point guard Rajon Rondo helped the Boston Celtics defeat the Lakers for the 2008 NBA championship. While he was just a sophomore, Rondo led all players in total assists (172) and steals (45) during the postseason. This year, he may be relegated to be more of a backup considering that James will reportedly play more minutes at point guard for Los Angeles.
HoopsHype’s Alberto de Roa contributed research to this report
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