The 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held last night with Reggie Miller, Jamaal Wilkes and Ralph Sampson headlining those who made up this year’s class.
Miller was a sure-fire Hall of Famer while the likes of Sampson and Wilkes were not so much. It is a Basketball Hall of Fame and not one just for NBA accomplishments. The Hall respects more than just what you do on the court too as players like 2012 inductee Don Barksdale are enshrined for how they affected the sport as well.
From today’s crop of players, I imagine what you do on the court will be weighed more heavily as the game has evolved enough where that is how everyone’s legacy is now measured. It’s hard to think that the impact a player had at the collegiate level, will be remembered anymore otherwise players like J.J. Redick and Tyler Hansbrough will be getting a lot of consideration after they retire.
There’s also an interesting wrinkle now where the talent pool is much deeper than it has ever been. Considering some of the previous inductees, quite a large amount of current NBA players will surpass current HOFers in terms of accolades.
Which current NBA players are on a path to the Hall of Fame? Which ones will be borderline decisions when their time comes?
Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus took a look at this using Kevin Pelton’s WARP system as the litmus test for determining Hall worthiness. He figured that players with career WARPs of 100 or greater begin to enter the HOF conversation. Then if a player reaches 150 career WARP, they are essentially a guarantee to make the Hall.
Doolittle used also 5-year WARP projections to see where the current NBA players will rank historically in 2017. He came up with 15 no-doubt HOFers: LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, Ray Allen and Pau Gasol.
This list shouldn’t surprise anyone as it basically comprises the most accomplished players in the NBA to date. LeBron is clear and away ahead of the pack while Gasol may seem like the one player who is not quite HOF-worthy as he brings up the rear.
Durant is the youngest player on the list having played just five seasons so far. According to the projections, Durant would be one of the youngest players to reach 150 career WARP.
Durant certainly feels like he is on pace for a HOF-worthy career but it is so early it’s hard to think about. This just goes to show how much he has already accomplished though and how impressive the numbers he has already put up are.
After these 15 players, it gets a little iffy with the next group of players who may end up becoming Hall-worthy. The top five are: Kevin Love, Josh Smith, Tracy McGrady, Elton Brand and Chauncey Billups. You can see already that you can easily make a case for any of these players to not become HOFers. Also on the list are players like Manu Ginobili, Vince Carter, Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker.
Russell Westbrook ranks pretty highly on the list and is given a 57 percent chance of making it to the HOF. Westbrook has played just four seasons but some of the numbers he has put up are already among the best historically considering his age.
If you ask me, the only way Westbrook is getting to the Hall is with Durant. We know Durant will make it there and if Westbrook is his tag-team partner for more than a decade as we watch the duo win a few titles, then Westbrook’s chances of making it will rise that much more.
I think that’s how a lot of people view this young Thunder team too. They are a group that is poised to make a lot of noise with the history of the NBA, winning titles, awards and putting up huge numbers.
One player absent from the list is Derrick Rose, who is often compared to Westbrook and thought of as his superior. Rose projected to just an 85 WARP five years from now. Part of that may have to do with him missing so much of this past season with injury making his future a little more uncertain.
When you look at some of these other names, it looks like James Harden could enter the conversation sometime down the road. He finished just his third season in the league so far so five years from now would be a little soon at this point to start talking about Harden and the HOF.
Remember though, the HOF takes into consideration affecting the sport and what Harden has done with his beard has to give him a few more HOF points.