Feb 26 2013 2:32PM

The Buck Williams HOF Line


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Let's get a couple things straight right away.

Gary Payton and Buck Williams are Basketball Hall of Famers in my book.

First ballot. No questions asked.

Unfortunately, the Honors Committee and past selection groups from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame do not read my book. Probably because I haven't written an actual book yet. I digress.

So to predict whether or not they will induct certain 2013 Hall of Fame Finalists as players--Gary Payton, Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Bernard King and Maurice Cheeks--one has to think like a HOFvoter.

They don't place as much importance on defense as I do. Nor advanced statistics.

Consequently, they've inducted numerous players in the past into the Basketball Hall of Fame who don't even have--to use one such advanced statistic--as many as 80 career win shares.

Granted, win shares is a 21st Century invention, but a quick perusal of Hall of Famers will show you 39 names of players who came up short of even 80 win shares.

Some played many years in the ABA. Others were international sensations. Still, you can come up with dozens of names who probably wouldn't be in a strict NBA Hall of Fame if a new vote on its members were to be held today.

(I'm with Bill Simmons when he says we should blow up the current model and redraft a new Hall of Fame.)

There are dozens of players in the Basketball Hall of Fame who do not meet even minimal professional standards, for one reason or another.

Advanced stats show us that so many other players have been wrongly excluded, even when they easily match and surpass the standards set by past Hall of Famers.

Go figure.

Even though the HOF voter does not use win shares or Regularized Adjusted Plus Minus or Player Efficiency Rating, somehow they do seem to have some advanced-statistic tendencies they don't even realize.


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Like, for instance, The Buck Williams Line.

Buck Williams is one of my all-time favorite players because he was a man's man.

A fierce, relentless winner, whose all-time numbers reflected the spirit with which he played, ranking 12th all-time in games played (1307), 14th in rebounds (13,017), while playing in the playoffs in 13 different seasons for the Nets, Blazers and Knicks in the '80s and '90s.

The 6-8, 215-pound power forward averaged at least 15 points and 12 rebounds in his first seven seasons, while also making All-Defense four times in his career, while posting a 120.1 career win share total that ranks 38th in NBA history.

Yet he is not in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Major crime.

All 37 players above that 120.1 Buck Williams Line are either in the a Hall of Fame today, or are still playing and considered a shoo-in to one day make it to the HOF.

But not Buck.

Great defender. Good offensive player. One of the best rebounders ever. Phenomenal winner.

But the HOFvoters have not put him in--hence I have created The Buck Williams Line, which basically states, if you go over 120.1, you are automatically in the Hall. If you do not, you might be stuck with Buck.

He deserves Hall, but life isn't always fair. And unfortunately, advanced statistics have not advanced far enough to push people like Buck, Horace Grant and Jack Sikma over the top just yet.

I bring this up because six 2013 Hall of Fame Finalists--not counting coaches and women's nominees--think they have a shot at making the Hall this April when it is announced at the NCAA Final Four.

Yet only one swims above The Buck Williams Line, meaning it's no sure thing for the other five, unfortunately.


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GARY PAYTON

Basketball-Reference has this great HOF Probability predictor that takes into account player stats and accomplishments that tend to factor into the HOFvoter's mindset and come up with a number in correlation to that player's chances at making the Hall. Payton has an 88.26 percent chance by those calculations. The Glove made 9 All-NBA teams, 9 All-Defense squads and 9 All-Stars, so it's pretty easy to see why the numbers show he has a 9 in 10 chance of making it.

B-R PREDICTOR: Yes. Then, when I look at The Buck Williams Line, I clearly see GP has cleared that hurdle, with a 145.5 win share total. That advanced stat is backed up by Jeremias Engelmann's RAPM in the '90s score of +2.6 on close to 125,000 possessions--that ranks seventh in the 100G club.

MY VOTE: Yes. For the better part of a decade, Payton was always a Top 5 point guard and sometimes was the best at his position, averaging 20-plus points, 8 or 9 assists with 2 or 3 steals in the prime of his career. He has to be a first-ballot HOFer in anyone's book.

VERDICT: GP is a lock.


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MITCH RICHMOND

The Rock has a 65.81 percent chance by Basketball-Reference's calculations, relying heavily on Richmond's five All-NBA accolades and six All-Star appearances, not to mention his 21 points per game scoring average that ranks 36th all-time.

B-R PREDICTOR: Yes. Hall of Fame voters tend to vote for big-time scorers and Richmond could fill it up--averaging 22 points or more for the first 10 years of his career, with strong efficiency (anywhere from 54 to 59 true shooting percentage.

MY VOTE: No. When you look at The Buck Williams Line, Richmond is not even close, with a 79.3 win share total, that is not supported either by his +0.4 RAPM in the '90s score. As great a scorer as he was, I just wish he was more of an all-around player that could lift his bad teams into the playoffs more often. So by new Hall of Fame standards, I would not vote Richmond in. That said, Richmond was always considered a Top 5 shooting guard for a decade, so I may change my mind in the future.

VERDICT: Because voters put such a high value on scoring average, it seems Richmond has a 2 in 3 chance of eventually making it.


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TIM HARDAWAY

Basketball-Reference has the master of the UTEP Two-Step dancing in 50/50 territory, with a 56.27 HOF probability. The five-time All-NBA and five-time All-Star point guard ranks 10th all-time in three-pointers and 12th in career assists.

B-R PREDICTOR: Yes. Hardaway has 85.0 career win shares, but he has a +2.3 RAPM in the '90s score with just over 100,000 possessions. He ranks 12th in the 100G plus-minus club.

MY VOTE: Yeeeah, barely. Hardaway brought his unique crossover to the NBA and was able to get off on the league from the get-go. From Don Nelson's Run-TMC to Pat Riley's Heat beginnings, Hardaway was a winner and a leader for any coach he played for. His ability to create for himself and other made him one of the top point guards of his time.

VERDICT: Hardaway squeaks in, no matter which metric you use.


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SPENCER HAYWOOD

Like Hardaway, Haywood is a five-time All-NBA and five-time All-Star who is a 50/50 candidate for induction. Or to be precise, 51.58 percent, according to Basketball-Reference's calculations.

B-R PREDICTOR: Yes. Haywood, who played one season in the ABA, had 61.4 career win shares, and just does not have the body of work on the all-time charts like Payton, Richmond and Hardaway.

MY VOTE: No. Coming off an ABA MVP in his rookie pro year, Haywood enjoyed a good NBA career. But in Year 7, his career started to flatten out. He was a good player then, but not a Hall of Fame-level player for as long as I would like.

VERDICT: I don't think he gets in for awhile. Maybe one day.


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BERNARD KING King could score and he had street cred, but a pure analysis of his accomplishments and numbers give him a 37.69 percent chance of getting in the Hall, according to Basketball-Reference. Still, he did make four All-Stars, four All-NBA and ranks 25th in all-time scoring, while playing four of his 15 NBA seasons for media-capital-of-the-world New York.

B-R PREDICTOR: No. King had 75.4 career win shares, which puts him ahead of dozens of HOFers already. It's just not enough in my book.

MY VOTE:No. I would not vote him in, but I would not argue with anyone who did. King is kind of like Haywood, in that he was a Top 10 MVP candidate a couple times in his career and also was a four-time All-NBA choice (Haywood was five). But to me, for now, he comes up short of the standards reached by Payton and Hardaway.

VERDICT: No, but he does have some nice intangibles (New York, New York) working in his favor.


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MAURICE CHEEKS

It doesn't look like Cheeks is going to get in on his stats and accomplishments, rating only a 7.24 percent chance with Basketball-Reference's great HOF Probability machine. The four-time All-Star never made an All-NBA team and never did average 15.0 points per game in a season (HOFvoters love scorers). But he does rank fifth all-time in steals and 11th in career assists.

B-R PREDICTOR: No. Mo Cheeks does have 103.5 career win shares, which helps explains what a big winner he was, actually ranking second on this list of six HOF Finalists.

MY VOTE: Yes. Cheeks got his teams--whether the Sixers, Nets or Knicks--into the playoffs 13 times in his 15-year career. He had a .143 and .130 win-share-per-48-minute score in the regular season and playoffs, with 16.5 and 16.6 PERs in the regular and postseason as well. Cheeks just played at a consistently high level throughout his career.

VERDICT: I think Cheeks is a borderline candidate, with his intangibles (character, coach-on-the-floor and in-real-life) pushing him over. Unfortunately, HOF voter history says no.