Injuries are an unfortunate part of the NBA game. If there were never any injuries, the entire course of NBA history would have been changed. That is why former players and pundits truly believe that health is the single most important factor in teams' title chances every year. Even the team with the most talent cannot achieve greatness without the health of their best players.
Looking back at the last 20 NBA champions, there would be some massive differences in the outcomes of every Finals series. The majority of the champions of the past two decades would still be champions if health wasn't an issue but there would have been some massive differences in some of the years. The most recent example could be the winner of the 2021 NBA champion.
2002: Sacramento Kings
The most polarizing season in history might be the 2002 season. It is widely believed that the referees helped the Los Angeles Lakers get past a very dominant Sacramento Kings team, which helped earn Shaquille O'Neal his third straight Finals MVP and the Lakers their third straight championship. The Sacramento Kings were stacked with Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bibby, and Vlad Divac. Without any injuries, the Kings would have been champions in 2002 and Chris Webber would have not retired without a ring.
2003: San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan might have been the best player in the NBA in 2003, which meant the Spurs would have been champions without injuries to anyone. No big man could dominate defensively and offensively like Duncan, and Greg Popovich would have guided this team to a championship no matter the odds.
2004: Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons were on a mission in 2004. Led by Finals MVP Chauncey Billups and a crew of tough-minded defensive players, the Pistons would have beaten anyone in the NBA Finals including the Lakers all over again. Many regard the Detroit Pistons as the most unlikely NBA champion in history, but the way they defended and played as a team would have earned them the title without injuries to any opponents.
2005: Miami Heat
The Miami Heat made a massive splash by acquiring three-time Finals MVP Shaquille O'Neal and pairing him with budding superstar Dwyane Wade. Unfortunately for Miami, the Heat would not have a chance to win a title until the following year. Had there been no injuries, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade would have been the best duo in the NBA en route to their first championship together.
2006: Miami Heat
The 2006 Miami Heat saw a rampant Dwyane Wade earn his first Finals MVP and championship by carrying the Heat over the Dallas Mavericks. The Dallas Mavericks had the series in their hands but could not stop Dwyane Wade who put forth one of the greatest finals performances in the history of the NBA. Even without any injuries and Shaquille O'Neal at full health, the Heat would have probably ended the Dallas Mavericks earlier.
2007: San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007, as LeBron James could not handle the Spurs Big Three. Even if LeBron James was the best player in the NBA, the Spurs were a much better team and they were ruthless in making sure they ripped the Cavaliers' hearts out. Without injuries, there may have been a different opponent in the Finals but Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili would have been too much for anyone to stop.
2008: Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics acquisition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen was enough to earn the Celtics a championship in 2008. Had there been no injuries to any player, the Celtics would have been champions all over again. Paul Pierce would have been Finals MVP, and even if the Lakers had another shot at the Celtics in '08 they would have lost. The year of 2008 was the Celtics' time and that will never change.
2009: Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers got sweet revenge one year later in 2009. There was absolutely no stopping Kobe Bryant from earning his fourth NBA title and first Finals MVP. The Orlando Magic were stacked with Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard and a ton of three-point shooters. Unfortunately for the Magic, they were missing starting point guard Jameer Nelson who played like an All-Star all year. Nelson missed the first few games of the Finals series but even if he was fully healthy from Game 1, there was no stopping Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
2010: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers met up with the Boston Celtics again in 2010. The Lakers took care of business in seven games, and injury to Kendrick Perkins certainly helped the Lakers dominate with their size down low. With Kendrick Perkins fully healthy, the Celtics would have been a much tougher team to beat. But even Kendrick Perkins cannot handle the duo of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, and Kobe would have been a five-time champion even if Perkins never got hurt.
2011: Dallas Mavericks
The 2011 Dallas Mavericks completed the biggest upset in NBA Finals history by defeating the superteam Miami Heat led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Looking back at the series, the Miami Heat were fully healthy and there was no excuse for health concerns. It was just the year of the Dallas Mavericks, and Dirk Nowitzki would not be denied an NBA title if things were to happen all over again.
2012: Miami Heat
LeBron James with the Miami Heat meant that the most talented team resided in the East. That also meant that no team had a chance of stopping LeBron from earning his first NBA championship, even with Dwyane Wade was not 100%. If Wade was 100%, the Heat would have swept the floor of the entire postseason. LeBron James would become a champion in 2012 no matter what.
2013: Miami Heat
One year later, LeBron James in the Miami Heat dominated their way to another NBA championship. Dwyane Wade was not himself at all, and if he was healthy, the Heat might have swept the Finals series. The Miami Heat might be the most talented team in NBA history since the Golden State Warriors in 2017, which meant they would have been champions in 2013 no matter what.
2014: San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs got Sweet revenge by defeating LeBron James and Miami Heat in 2014. The Spurs still had the best defensive big man in Tim Duncan, the best coach in Greg Popovich, and a budding superstar in Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs made easy work of the Miami Heat by blowing them out by a record margin in the Finals. Even if Dwyane Wade was fully healthy, at his age, the Spurs would have still similarly beaten the Heat.
2015: Cleveland Cavaliers
The 2015 Finals series might be the most frustrating of LeBron James's career. He lost both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to injury in the finals, which meant he was at a big disadvantage against the Golden State Warriors. The Golden State Warriors would acquire Kevin Durant two years later, but they were still a very dominant team. If LeBron had Kyrie and Kevin Love fully healthy, they would have won the championship. LeBron James is by far the best player in the series and he would have shown it if he had the proper help.
2016: Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James had Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love at full health one year later, and the result went their way. The Golden State Warriors could not manage to stop Irving and LeBron as the series went on even if they held a 3-1 lead. There were some iconic moments in the 2016 finals including LeBron's block and Kyrie Irving's game-winner, which is an indication that the Cavaliers would have won the title no matter what.
2017: Golden State Warriors
These Golden State Warriors are arguably the most unstoppable team in Finals history. Kevin Durant joined Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green and made quick work of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017. The Warriors were at full health and their lineup of death featuring Draymond Green at center and Andre Iguodala at power forward made them completely unstoppable.
2018: Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets were on track to do the unthinkable and complete arguably the most unlikely of scenarios by overcoming the Golden State Warriors super team. Led by their instant offense by James Harden and Chris Paul, the Houston Rockets were up 3-2 with a chance to close the deal in Game 6. Bad news came out that Chris Paul would miss the rest of the series, meaning the Rockets had no chance of defeating the Warriors which prevented them from winning the NBA Championship. If Chris Paul never got hurt, the Rockets would have completed a fairytale 2018 championship victory.
2019: Golden State Warriors
There's no question the Golden State Warriors would be champions in 2019. There's absolutely no way the Toronto Raptors win the championship if Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are both on the court alongside Stephen Curry. Kawhi Leonard and crew got lucky when Durant and claim missed the majority of the NBA Finals because they did not have the overall talent of arguably the greatest collection of stars in NBA history.
2020: Los Angeles Lakers
Even without injuries to any other competitor, the Los Angeles Lakers would still be champions last year. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the best duo in the NBA, and when healthy, are two of the top five players in the game. The mix of size and skill would prove to be too much, even if the Miami Heat had Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic healthy in the Finals.
2021: Brooklyn Nets
There is no question that the Brooklyn Nets would run away with the NBA Championship this year had injuries not derailed their season. Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving are three of the top 10 players in the NBA and are completely unstoppable. There is no way any team can match up with them especially when the likes of Blake Griffin and Joe Harris are also on the roster. Injuries to Kyrie Irving and James Harden left Durant to fight for his own, which meant they didn't complete their goal this year.
Credit for the idea: Hoop Colony