Living the Fantasy: Headed for The Hall?
By NBA TV's Rick Kamla
LeBron is morphing into an unstoppable force before our eyes. If you don't see myriad championships in LeBron's future, you need new glasses.
(David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images)
The finalists for the Hall of Fame Class of 2008 were announced over All-Star weekend, with Hakeem Olajuwon
, Patrick Ewing
, and Pat Riley
all up for the first time. Other big names who could get the Hall call are Adrian Dantley
, Chris Mullin
, Dennis Johnson
, and Don Nelson
To me, all of those guys are Hall of Famers, and the HOF chatter got me thinking about which active players are on their way to the Spingfield. After putting all 30 teams under the microscope, I came up with 41 future HOFers, with the Suns leading the league with four.
[Editor's note: Before reading this list of probable Hall of Famers, please understand a few things. One, I'm a laid-back, tree-hugging Dead Head who tends to be liberal, or inclusionary, when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Two, I take the RING very seriously. Third, defense does not get enough respect (Marcus Camby's career total of zero All-Star games is case in point), so I am here to defend the most dominant defenders over the past 20 years. Finally, this is one man's opinion...a man who does not have a seat on the HOF selection committee...a man who never will have a seat on the HOF selection committee.]
Josh Smith: This 22-year-old SuperFreak possesses the most unique skillset in NBA history. Who goes for nine dimes and nine blocks in the same game, and then drops nine and five in the same cats the next game? Did I mention he's 22?
Al Horford: Going out on a limb here, but I'm sticking to my pre-draft opinion that this 21-year-old horse will develop into a perennial 20-10 guy. He's right at 10 and 10 in his rookie season, and I see him following in the footsteps of Elton Brand and Carlos Boozer. Don't forget the back-to-back chips at Florida, which weigh heavily in HOF consideration.
Joe Johnson: This two-time All-Star already has 8,388 points at 26 years old, putting him on pace for the 20,000-point club.
Kevin Garnett: First-ballot slam dunk.
Paul Pierce: He's only 30, yet this six-time All-Star already has 16,562 points and a career scoring average of 23.3, which is sixth-best among active players.
Ray Allen: Ray Ray is averaging 21.3 for his career with a total of 17,965 points. The 32-year-old gunner is second all-time with 2,059 threes, and he'll catch Reggie Miller (2,560) as long as he stays healthy. As seriously as he takes the game, and as disciplined as he is off the court, Allen is gonna be banging threes for years to come.
LeBron James: I stuck the Hall of Fame label on this monster after his first NBA game and he's given me no reason to alter that opinion. Bill Russell and Michael Jordan are wondering if LeBron is the Tiger Woods of their sport. Tiger is gaining on Jack Nicklaus, and LeBron is morphing into an unstoppable force before our eyes. If you don't see myriad championships in LeBron's future, you need new glasses.
Ben Wallace: A lot of you think I'm crazy, but hear me out. This undrafted defensive specialist is a Hall of Famer because he was the heart and soul of Detroit's title team in 2004 (as well as the anchor for one of the best defenses in NBA history), four All-Star appearances, four Defensive Player of the Year awards in a five-year span, top 10 in MVP voting in three straight seasons, two-time rebounding champ, and he's 16th all-time with 1,841 blocks. He's 45th all-time with 8,785 career rebounds, and he's on pace to surpass the 11,000-rebound plateau. Of the 26 players in NBA history with 11,000 or more rebounds, 19 are either in the Hall of Fame or locks to get there. He's in.
Jason Kidd: See Garnett.
Dirk Nowitzki: Dirk is similar to Pierce in that he's 29 with 16,610 points and a career scoring average of 22.4. The good news is that Dirk is headed for the Hall. The bad news is that Dirk isn't going to win an NBA title. He will go down in history as a great player, a Hall of Fame player, and perhaps the greatest shooting 7-footer of all-time...but he'll also go down as a player who wasn't quite great enough. He shall join the list of non-championship greats like Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Charles Barkley.
Allen Iverson: See Kidd.
Carmelo Anthony: At just 23, Melo already has a National Championship and a 24.4 career scoring average. And check this out. The two-time All-Star has 8,683 career points, and he'll top the 9,000-point mark later this season. If he averages 25 points per game and 80 games per season over the next decade--or until he's 33--that's 2,000 points per season times 10, equalling 20,000 points. Add the 20K that's on the way to the 9K that's already in the bank, and Melo will be chillin' at 29,000 points at age 33!!! That would put him behind only Kareem, Mailman, Jordan, and Wilt on the all-time scoring list...at age 33!!
Golden State Warriors
Baron Davis: BD is 28, with career totals of 9,858 points, 4,241 assists, 1,139 steals, and 996 threes. Unless his body disintegrates, he's in.
Monta Ellis: I'm not crazy, freaks. It's just that Monta is crazy good. At 22 years of age, Monta is already averaging 19.2 points on 53 percent shooting. In February, he became the ninth guard in NBA history to shoot 60+ percent from the field in a month. Electric Ellis is unstoppable because he is athletic enough to blow by and crush...and talented enough to smack ya from 18. He's not going away. Monta reminds me of Iverson in terms of size, quickness, and toughness, and I can't wait to watch him prove me right over the next 15 years. (I did not forget about Chris Webber, who is currently at 17,182 points and 8,124 rebounds--and NOT counting. He's out. Get a TO, baby!)
Tracy McGrady: T-Mac is 28 years young with 16,255 points and a career scoring average of 22.4. He's well on his way.
Dikembe Mutombo: Deke was the NBA's first four-time Defensive Player of the Year and he's been to eight All-Star games. He's second all-time with 3,245 blocks and 18th all-time with 12,184 rebounds. And dig this logic. Dominique Wilkins, Alex English, and George Gervin made it to the Hall of Fame on the offensive end, topping 20,000 points while playing occasional defense. So why can't defensive specialists who gave you occasional offense, like Deke, make it to the Hall from the defensive end? Every coach in the history of orange has preached defense and everyone knows defense wins championships. So why do scorers get all the love? (Yao Ming is six for six in terms of All-Star appearances, but he has played only two-thirds of the regular season games over the past three years. If you double his points and rebounds from his first six seasons, Yao would have 15,364 points and 7,412 rebounds at age 33. He's out.)
Los Angeles Clippers
Elton Brand: With career averages of 20.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks, this 28-year-old stud has amassed totals of 12,312 points, 6,202 rebounds, and 1,274 blocks. He's in.
Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant: See Iverson.
Pau Gasol: Not unlike Brand, Gasol is a 27-year-old PF with career averages of 18.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. You have to factor in Pau's success with Spain, including the 2006 World Championship.
|More from Living The Fantasy
: To me, Wade is still in the argument for best player in the game, along with Kobe, LeBron, and Duncan. He's been quiet this year because his body isn't right, but don't worry, he'll wake up the sleepers next season. Wade's performance in the 2006 Finals--when he stole the ring from Dallas and won MVP--had Hall of Fame written all over it.
: Marion is 29, with career totals of 12,287 points (18.4) and 6,712 rebounds (10.0). If he maintains this pace till he's 35, the four-time All-Star will have upwards of 22,000 points and 11,000 rebounds.
: Zo is a seven-time All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and he helped Miami win the chip in 2006. His career totals are 14,306 points, 7,136 rebounds, and 2,356 blocks (10th all time). Consider how beefy those numbers would be if Zo hadn't been limited to 137 games over a five-year stretch when he was dealing with the kidney transplant. Like Sandy Koufax and Kirby Puckett in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Zo's in.
Al Jefferson: He's averaging 21.5 points and 11.7 rebounds at age 23. Deal with that for a second. Al's post moves are world class, and because he relies on touch and savvy--rather than sheer athleticism--he should be able to maintain the 20 and 10 for at least the next decade.
New Jersey Nets
Vince Carter: VC's career scoring average of 23.8 is amazing, and at 31, he's already up to 16,094 points. By contrast, Vince's UNC teammate Antawn Jamison has 13,643 points at the same age. Vince is headed for the Hall, Jamison is not.
New Orleans Hornets
Chris Paul: Ellis reminds me of Iverson and Paul reminds me of Isiah Thomas. CP3 is in the Hall five years after he retires--guaranteed.
Andre Iguodala: Over the past two years, Philly's 24-year-old specimen is averaging roughly 19 points, five boards, five assists, and two steals. If Iggy keeps that up for the next decade, he's headed straight to Springfield.
Dwight Howard: Dude has been good for a double-double since his first NBA game and at just 22, he's already the best true center in the world.
Shaquille O'Neal: See little brother Kobe.
Amare Stoudemire: You need stats to get to the Hall. Amare's nickname is Stat. Get it? He's 25, with career averages of 20.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks--and climbing. Barring another microfracture buzzkill, he's in.
Steve Nash: Nash is the third-best free throw shooter of all-time (.896), behind Mark Price and Rick Barry. He is one of five players in NBA history to go 50-40-90 in the shooting percentages (FG-3PT-FT) for a full season. He's a six-time All-Star, a three-time All-NBA first teamer, and he's on pace to lead the league in assists for the fourth straight season. Nash's 7.8 career assist average ranks 11th all-time and his 6,556 dimes rank 18th all-time. Oh yeah, and he's a two-time MVP. Every other multiple MVP is a Hall of Famer, and in case you're wondering, every MVP winner since they introduced the award in 1956 is either in the Hall or on his way.
Grant Hill: If Zo gets the injury concession, than so does Hill, who was limited to 47 games in four seasons because of the ankle problems. The totals aren't grand, but the averages are, as Hill is at 19.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.1 assists for his career. And don't forget about Hill's four-year career at Duke, where he won a pair of National Championships.
Portland Trail Blazers
Brandon Roy: Given the effortless way he glides to the hoop and hits that sexy J, B-Roy looks and carries himself like a Hall of Famer. Establishing himself as an All-Star this early is huge because most players need 7-10 All-Star appearances to make the Hall. My prediction right here, right now, is that Roy teams up with Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge to win at least one championship.
Greg Oden: If I'm not letting Amare's microfracture knock him off this list, then I can't do the same with Oden, who has Shaq's personality off the court and Russell's personality on it. Oden will be a double-double from his first game, with plenty of room to grow from there.
San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan: See Shaq.
Manu Ginobili: All you need to know is this, Manu is the only player in basketball history with an NBA title (three), an Olympic Gold Medal (2004), and a Euroleague Championship (2001).
Tony Parker: Tony's resume is already styling with three NBA championships and the distinction of being the only European to win Finals MVP. But his numbers are sweet, and they're on the rise. TP is just 25 and already in his seventh NBA season, racking up 8,196 points (15.9) and 2,816 assists (5.4). He's in.
Kevin Durant: From the moment I saw KD's billion-dollar stroke at the NBA Summer League, I knew this kid was destined for greatness...and swishness. With Horford and Luis Scola creeping like a creeper, Durant is no longer a lock to win Rookie of the Year. That said, KD is still the fave, and ROY is always a nice acronym to add to the Hall of Fame resume.
Chris Bosh: What I love most about Bosh is his consistency. Over the last three years he's had scoring averages of 22.5, 22.6, and 22.6. Dude brings it every night, he plays hurt (when the Raptors let him), and he already ranks among the best shooting big men of all-time. If you don't believe me, watch a Raptors game and you'll see how many of Bosh's points come on the perimeter. With career averages of 49 percent from the field and 79 percent from the line, Bosh is gonna be a 50-80 guy, and a Hall of Famer.
Deron Williams: If you watched Deron in last year's Western Conference Finals, when he terrorized Bruce Bowen and the eventual-Champion Spurs with 25.8 ppg on 53 percent and 7.8 assists, you know why he's on this list. D-Will is J-Kidd with the J, he's 20-10 for at least the next decade, and he's in.
Carlos Boozer: Assuming he remains a 20-10 guy for another 8-10 years, Boozer has a good chance of joining both the 20,000-point and 10,000-rebound clubs. D-Will and Booz is Stockton-to-Malone: The Sequel.
Gilbert Arenas: Thank the Basketball Gods that Arenas may return from his latest knee surgery later this month. As dedicated as Arenas is to the game and his body, I'm not worried about long-term health problems. Freaks, we are talking about an assassin who is averaging 22.9 ppg for his career with 9,754 points at 26 years of age. The only question is where Gilbert lands on the all-time scoring list.