Now that one Conference Final matchup is set (side rant for all the h8tz out there- yes, Rockets-Warriors is exactly what we thought the WCF would be all season. Why is this a bad thing? What would you rather have than the two best teams in the NBA playing each other for a spot in the Finals? You want some random team to make and have either the Rockets or Warriors sweep them? Then you’d just say how rigged and pointless the league is. It’s like when people complain about weak late-round games in the NCAA Tournament after they were jerking off to every upset. You can’t have it both ways. If you want fluke champions that make no sense, have no staying power whatsoever, and look utterly foolish five years after it happens, the NHL is right over there. Here in the NBA, the best teams actually win. Crazy concept, I know), it’s officially Legacy SZN. And when you take all the Chris Paul historical context talk and add it with the recent Bryce Harper nonsense, you’ve got the perfect formula to get me thinking about where current NBA stars rank in the league historically. Actually, that’s a lie. Since I’m a loser with no life, I’m always thinking about these things, but still. This felt like an apt time to publish those thoughts.
Which current NBA players will make the Basketball Hall of Fame? It’s always important to add in the caveat that the Basketball Hall of Fame isn’t the NBA Hall of Fame. Yes, the NBA is the biggest part of any player’s resumé, but college and foreign leagues factor in, as well. When trying to put this list together, I decided the best way to do it would just go team by team and discussing any prospective candidate so I don’t forget anyone. I 100% would have forgotten Vince Carter was still in the league if I was just listing guys. Much like my superstar criteria, my Hall of Fame standards are pretty simple- you either are or you aren’t. No duh, but I hope you know what I mean. For someone with a completed career or enough of a completed career to paint a full picture, it should be automatic yes or no. They’ll be no arguing when it comes to 15 year vets. The debate comes with projecting younger players, but a similar standard applies. If you have to start really stretching facts or making irresponsible assumptions about player development, it’s either way too early to tell or you’re just reaching. With a few exceptions, I tried to avoid young players for that reason. We all love Donovan Mitchell, but I’m not really ready to declare him a Hall of Famer just yet. So if I don’t mention your favorite young player, that doesn’t mean I hate him, it means he’s played two years in the league. You’ll probably find me pretty generous, but, as any NBA hater will tell you, everyone winds up getting in to the Basketball Hall of Fame, so who cares?
As for why you should listen to me, well, I’ve been to the Hall of Fame twice and drove past it every time I went to or from Vermont when I was living in Connecticut in college and the three years after. So, yeah, I think I know what I’m talking about, here. Teams listed alphabetically by city.
- Absolutely no one
- Kyrie Irving– Five time All Star, All Star MVP, Champion, hit one of the most iconic shots in NBA history, arguably the greatest ball handler ever, career 22 ppg on .462/.388/.875, has a movie coming out (it matters), is only 25. Doesn’t take a lot of imagination to say he’s in.
- Al Horford– Bet you didn’t realize he was a five time All Star. Still, even with likely All-NBA and All-Defense appearances this year, he probably doesn’t have the counting stats or individual awards to make it in. Until you remember he was secretly the best player on the Florida teams that went back-to-back. Even if it’s just part of some kind of exhibit celebrating the last college team to win consecutive titles, he’ll wind up in.
- Jayson Tatum– Obviously in.
- Jaylen Brown– Clearly in.
- Terry Rozier III– Don’t even know what we’re debating. In.
- Dwight Howard– Really rough last few years, but he’s still an eight time All Star, three time Defensive Player of the Year, has never averaged less than ten rebounds, finished top five in MVP voting four times, and was a Courtney Lee missed layup away from maaaaaaaaaybe winning a title. The guy’s in.
- Kemba Walker– Alright, if you’re new to the site, it’s pretty obvious I’m a Celtics fan. I also went to UConn, so I’m a little biased here, too. Kemba’s college run counts for like, five All-NBA teams. He’s made back-to-back All Star teams. He’s one of the ten best ball handlers to ever live. I saw him at an Applebee’s, once. I can kind of feel myself reaching here, so I’ll say right now he’s out, but check back in five years when he’s on a good team.
- Michael Jordan– Gotta say, I think Michael’s done just enough. He’s in.
- LeBron James– Don’t know if anyone would object if they just put him in today.
- Kevin Love– Five time All Star, two time All NBA, won a title, was blamed for everything that ever went wrong in Cleveland, put up some obscene seasons in Minnesota, went from fat to skinny (deducts points), was once allowed to be the leading scorer on a Russell Westbrook team (massive points), always kind of hurt, has a Banana Republic deal, was the undisputed Best American White player for at least five seasons. I think that’ll all add up to in.
- Kyle Korver– Korver’s interesting to me. He’s one of the five best 3-point shooters of all time (4th in career makes), was an All Star, and has been part of some very marquis teams. It just comes down to whether or not they ever want to open the door to pure role players. Since they haven’t yet (outside any with multiple titles), I’ll say out.
- J.R. Smith– He’s out, but it’d be so funny if he somehow got in. Hey, he’s won a title, is one of the most physically gifted players ever, has some truly all time highlights, and is one of the most beloved players of the last decade. That has to count for something.
- Jeff Green– Once averaged more points than Russell Westbrook. Out.
- Dirk Nowtizki– Think he’s got a shot. In.
- Paul Millsap– Honestly so random he’s made four All Star teams. Out.
- Blake Griffin– An All Star his first five years in the league, four time All NBA, a top 3 MVP finish, some of the most famous highlights ever. But just so many injuries. If he can make another All Star team or two in the post-million-injuries stage of his career, I think he’ll wind up in. But right now, it’s kind of feeling like he’s trending out. Actually, this is the Basketball Hall of Fame. He’ll get in.
- Andre Drummond– Just need a good point guard and we’ll be rollin’, baby! Out.
Golden State Warriors
- Steph Curry– Two time MVP. That’s really enough. But he’s also the greatest shooter ever, the most important player on (probably) three champions and counting as well as a 73-win team that should have won, and completely changed the way the game is played. In.
- Kevin Durant– Successfully ruined the NBA and won the title in the same year (as if the Warriors hadn’t just won 73 games and weren’t prohibitive favorites before he signed). Was allowed to be the leading scorer on a Russell Westbrook team. Probably the most unique offensive player ever. In.
- Klay Thompson– Literally one one person in history has ever been better than Klay at one of the most fundamental skills of basketball and it happens to be his teammate. Add in the defense and (likely) three titles and he’s in.
- Draymond Green– Defensive Player of the Year and heartbeat of (probably) three-time champion Warriors. Accomplished college career. In.
- Andre Iguodala– Finals MVP, (likely) three time champ, and two time All Defense, but only one All Star appearance. This will test how much the voters value winning and being key contributors to iconic teams. He’s better than Derek Fisher and Robert Horry, but neither of them have even sniffed the Hall yet, so I’ll say he’s out.
- David West– Out of thoroughness, I’m kind of just including anyone who’s made multiple All Star games. Out.
- James Harden– When people say there’s never been someone exactly like you and it’s true, that’s usually enough. He’s also going to win MVP this year. In.
- Chris Paul– If Chris Paul had a championship on his resumé people would be asking who Magic Johnson was. Steph and CP3 are, in my opinion, the two best point guards to ever play. In.
- Joe Johnson– Joe Johnson has made over $210 million in his career. Think about that. He’s eighth all time in career earnings. Joe Johnson! He’s in for the finesse alone.
- Gerald Green– Dunk contest wins should count for Hall of Fame standing. Out.
- I’m considering this Victor Oladipo’s rookie year. Forget the other years ever happened.
Los Angeles Clippers
- Not even my beloved Danilo
Los Angeles Lakers
- Isaiah Thomas– I said I would mention every multi-time All Star. Actually will have a semi-compelling case as the best really short player ever. Out.
- Mike Conley– Being “the best player to not make an All Star team” doesn’t really fly for Hall of Fame voters. Out.
- Marc Gasol– Three time All Star, two time All NBA, Defensive Player of the Year, International success, one of the best passing big men of all time. He’s probably out, but if you look at some of the names that got in, there are worse options.
- Dwyane Wade– Yeah, he’s in.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo– Does it really take much imagination to see him getting in? Like, if his career ended today? In.
- Jason Terry– Shoutout 2011 Mavs. Out.
- Karl-Anthony Towns– Again, does it really take a big leap of faith to see a 22-year-old with career averages of 21.6 and 11.7 making the Hall of Fame? In.
- Jimmy Butler– People love a good rags-to-riches story, and no one embodies the spirit of determination and hard work more than Jimmy. He also makes the game of basketball look like the hardest thing a human can possibly do, which isn’t a quality I look for in my Hall of Famers. Out.
- Derrick Rose– God, Derrick Rose won an MVP. So preposterous to think about. Out.
New Orleans Pelicans
- Anthony Davis– You could argue that no big man has ever had a better skill set. In.
- DeMarcus Cousins– If he comes back from the achilles injury relatively the same and keeps putting up 25-12-5? He’s in. If not? Well, I like to look on the bright side.
- Rajon Rondo– Four time All Star, one All NBA team, four All Defensive team, lead the league in assists three times, the most egregious stat-hunter outside Oklahoma City, kind of a terrible person, NBA Champ. What to make of Rondo? I think he’s out, but I won’t rule out a possible future HOF coaching career.
- Emeka Okafor– Represent 2004. Out.
New York Knicks
- Joakim Noah– Copy and paste the Horford segment, but add a DPOY. He’s a joke now, but I think he gets in on the strength of his college days.
Oklahoma City Thunder
- Russell Westbrook– The human embodiment of excess, and also one of the most intimidating forces to ever step foot on a basketball court. In.
- Paul George– He averages over 20 points and makes the All Star team when healthy. If he ever gets back on a real contender and gets some more Playoff P moments, I think he’ll be someone we look at one day and he’s got nine All Star games and is top 30 in career scoring. In.
- Carmelo Anthony– He’s in, but I want him to be out so bad. I think Melo having to wait a few years to get into the Hall, or, better yet, he goes in the same year as LeBron or Wade so is completely overshadowed, would be the funniest thing possible.
- Joel Embiid– Gonna give my first TBD here, and it’s purely because of injuries. If he can put together let’s say, eight healthy seasons, he’s in. If everything keeps falling apart? Who knows.
- Ben Simmons– I said I’d avoid rookies for the most part, but I have to mention him. If I had done this a week ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say he’s in. Guys like him come around once, like, ever. But after this abysmal series against Boston? I’m not worried, but if it starts becoming a pattern… TBD.
- J.J. Redick– See: Korver, Kyle Out.
- Furkan Korkmaz– Might have been the toughest call out of anyone, but for now I’ll say out. Still time to add on, though.
- Devin Booker– Out, but 100% of players who scored 70 in a game are in (or will be).
Portland Trail Blazers
- Damian Lillard– Always lost in the shuffle, always complaining about getting lost in the shuffle, always getting swept in the first round. Still he’ll likely have three All NBA teams after their announced this year, which is nothing to scoff at. Neither is the fact that he averages over 200 made 3s a year and will almost undoubtedly finish in the top 5-10 in career 3s and 20-25k points. Has his own shoe. He’ll probably win up in.
- Vince Carter- Someone tell Vince to retire soon before he sullies his good name. In.
- Zach Randolph– He’s a little short, but do you want to tell Z-Bo he’s out? I don’t. In.
San Antonio Spurs
- Tony Parker– People forget Tony Parker was All NBA 2nd team three straight years. In.
- Manu Ginobili– A million NBA titles, Olympic gold, and one of the most stylish, exciting players in NBA history. In.
- Kawhi Leonard– If he gets healthy and puts his head back on straight, nothing will stop him from being in.
- Pau Gasol– Carried the Lakers to back-to-back titles, six time All Star, one of the most skilled big men ever, leader of the Spanish Basketball Revolution (don’t know if anyone else calls it that but Spain got good at basketball out of nowhere), wore braces and didn’t get beat up, was somehow only the fourth most pretentious person on those Lakers teams. In.
- LaMarcus Aldridge– Did you know he’s a six time All Star? Or that he’ll probably have five All NBA teams after this year? He’s not a lock by any means, but the resumé is kind of there. Because, again, everyone winds up getting in, I’ll say in.
- DeMar DeRozan– He’s like a slightly better Clyde Drexler, complete with the crippling fear of the best player in the league. Some really, really good regular seasons, but we don’t let guys who completely no-show in the playoffs into this Hall of Fame. Out.
- Kyle Lowry– He’s like a significantly worse Chris Paul, complete with the playoff collapses. Some really, really good regular seasons, but we don’t let guys who completely no-show in the playoffs into this Hall of Fame. Out.
- Apologies to Joe Ingles, but no one yet.
- John Wall– Currently top ten in career assists per game, could easily get into the top 20 in total assists in about four years, five time All Star, has an All Defense team and an All NBA team, absurdly huge contract will probably keep him in Washington where he’ll never win anything, still can’t shoot. Flip a coin when projecting the second half of his career. To be safe I’ll say in.
- Bradley Beal– I’m not as big of a Beal guy as some others, but he has some Klay potential if put in the right situation. He’s just not in that situation now. Out.
That’s everyone. Crazy how the good teams have all the future Hall of Famers and the bad ones don’t. Who’d a thunk? Again, anyone I didn’t mention is either too young, too bad, or just doesn’t have any kind of accolades. In other words, if you disagree, too bad. And one more time for the people in the back, everyone makes the Hall of Fame. Literally everyone. I’m sure the Hall of Fame voters would look at my list and ask why I’m being so stingy. So trust me on this. I’m right.