The NBA is stocked with a lot of great players right now, in fact it might have been even better five years ago. I always enjoy speculating and projecting into the future. After a player retires one of the greatest honors they can receive is being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. And there are a lot of active players who have or will have solid cases for enshrinement. Just remember it is the Basketball Hall of Fame, not the NBA Hall of Fame. This means college and international résumés will also be taken into account.
One thing I’d like to add on before we begin, I’ve created a list of the top 100 NBA players of all time (you’ll see it one day hopefully) and I noticed a trend putting it together. Once a player has five All-Star selection their chances of making the Hall of Fame sky rocket. There are some exceptions, like Chris Webber, who still haven’t been inducted. The only players I could find with more than six All-Star selections not in the Hall of Fame were Larry Foust (8) and Jack Sikma (7), so let’s use that five or six range as a reliable indicator of a candidate’s chances of enshrinement.
Also to avoid having to make a HUGE list of all the young stars in the league only players past their fourth years of NBA experience will appear in this article.
Right now he’s the only active player who can even be considered in the same realm as Michael Jordan. That says just as much as all of his records, stats, rings, and accolades.
Winning back to back championships, and getting the both series MVP awards, rounds out Durant’s résumé. Arguably he’s in the same class of player as LeBron James right now, and if it weren’t for The King, Durant would probably be considered the best player in the world. He’s still only 29 years old, but he’s already arguably a top twenty player of all time. Before his career ends he could easily climb into the top ten and maybe even challenge LeBron and MJ.
He has revolutionized the way the game is played with his jaw dropping three point shooting. It is almost a guarantee he’ll own ALL of the three point career records by the time he decides to retire. Curry is a three time NBA Champion and has also won two league MVP awards, one of them unanimously. He also has underrated ball handling skills and while he isn’t a great defender, he’s still led the league in steals twice. While Curry’s career stats will never compare to those of Durant or LeBron, he’ll always be remembered as the player that ignited the Golden State Warrior’s dynasty and will easily finish inside the top 20 players of all time.
Dirk is a top twenty player of all time. Winning the NBA Championship in the 2010-11 season, and the finals MVP, gave him a full résumé just like with Durant. Nowitzki is the highest scoring foreign, he’s German, born player in NBA history and is sixth all time in scoring amongst all players. People often forget about Dirk, and maybe that’s because he plays for the Dallas Mavericks and has for his entire 20 year career. He’s won an MVP, been to 13 All-Star games, and is still putting up 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game despite being 39 years old this past season. He turned 40 recently.
D-Wade has lost a step or two over the past few seasons, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a three time NBA Champion and was one of the most clutch players in the league when he was younger. He was the face of the Miami Heat for 13 seasons and is again since his return. Wade has accumulated a scoring title, a finals MVP, All-NBA defensive and normal All-NBA selections, and is a 12 time All-Star. He has always been the picture of class in the NBA and will go down as one of the greatest guards in history.
Paul’s been knocked for his inability to win in the playoffs and at times his leadership skills, but that doesn’t overrule his accomplishments and skills. Paul is a point guard wizard who was, and maybe still is, the best at that position for most of his time in the NBA. He’s led the league in assists three times and steals five times and no one will argue that his dribbling skills are incredible. But the quality I value most about his is that he is a perennial 1st team All-Defensive player. You don’t find many players with high tier scoring, passing, and defensive skills. Currently he’s 9th all time in assists and 12th in steals.
Postseason glory still eludes Westbrook, but he’s been an All-Star seven times, won two scoring titles, and was last year’s regular season MVP. He won that award by being just the second player in NBA history to average a triple double over a full season, and then he came out and repeated the feat this year. Westbrook is an athletic freak who can dunk better than some big men. His ferocity near the rim and playing style will keep him rising in the all time ranks.
I said the cutoff was around five All-Star selections, Harden has six already and is just 28 years old. He came off of the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder for the first three years of his career, during the last of which he won the Sixth Man of the Year Award, but then he left and became the face of the franchise for the Houston Rockets. He’s been an All-Star each year since joining the franchise, has led the league in scoring twice, and came in second in the MVP voting last year behind his former teammate Westbrook. With the addition of Chris Paul this year the Rockets challenged the Warriors for the Western Conference, but Harden failed to show up in the playoffs for the second straight season. He did however win the MVP, making up for his second place finish last season.
There are a lot of potential knocks about Anthony. People will point to his lack of postseason success or isolation playing style, but that doesn’t outmatch his over 25,000 career points or 10 All-Star appearances. It is even possible that Anthony could climb into the top ten in all time scoring before his career ends. He’d have more All-NBA selections if he didn’t have to compete with LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Paul Peirce during his career. Like Westbrook, he’s still seeking an NBA championship.
Dwight Howard is another guy people love to knock for various reasons, but Superman’s legacy is set in stone. Howard has 8 All-Star appearances, is a four time 1st Team All-Defensive player and a five time 1st Team All-NBA player. He’s also the only player to win the Defensive Player of the Year award three times in a row. People forget just how dominant Howard was, you couldn’t score inside on him, and you had almost no chance at getting a rebound either. Howard was so tall, broad, and strong that no one could best him inside. He led the league in rebounds six times and blocks twice before his long history of injuries caught up to him and brought him down a notch. But even now he still hasn’t had a season where he hasn’t averaged a double double.
He will benefit from his time spent with the Spanish International team during the past three Olympics as well as his contributions in the NBA. Gasol isn’t as flashy of a player as most of the others on this list, but he has still been great during his time in the NBA. He took home Rookie of the Year in 2001-02 and joined the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2007-08 season. He and Kobe Bryant won two NBA Championships together before Gasol signed with the Chicago Bulls and made his final two All-Star games. Gasol is one of 44 NBA players to score over 20,000 points in their careers, and only two of those who have retired are not and will not be in the Hall of Fame.
He has over 18,900 career points, 6,800 assists, and 3,300 rebounds. Those numbers alone might get you into the Hall of Fame but add in six All-Star appearances and four NBA Championships and suddenly you have a player who looks like a lock for the Hall. Parker is a member of the San Antonio Spurs’ big three that won four titles for the organization. He, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili were the cornerstones of the team (Duncan won another Championship before Parker and Ginobili arrived). It would be hard to imagine any of them not getting in.
Vinsanity took on a life of its’ own when Carter was flying around doing wild dunks on opponents left and right. Carter made the last of his eight consecutive All-Star appearances back in the 2006-07 season when he was 30 years old. This season he turned 41. It’s hard to believe anyone could play basketball this long, but Carter has found a way, and he even manages to still throw down a dunk or two. Carter’s twenty year career has allowed him to rack up over 24,800 points, good enough for 22nd all time.
At face value Manu’s career is very different than that of the rest of the players in this category. He’s only been an All-Star twice and has just three years where he’s started the majority of games he’s played in. The most prestigious award he’s ever won was a Sixth Man of the Year Award for his efforts in the 2007-08 season. His career numbers don’t blow you off your feet either: roughly 14,000 points, 4,000 assists, and 3,700 rebounds. But he was a cornerstone for one of the greatest dynasties in sports. Like Parker, he was a part of four Spurs championship runs and was the third member of the Spurs’ “big three”. Add to that a gold medal from the 2004 Olympics in Athens and a bronze from Beijing in 2008 (Manu played for his home country Argentina), and Ginobili won’t be kept out of the Hall of Fame.
This might be the most controversial choice from this category. Johnson is a seven time All-Star but has no significant hardware or awards. He’s only been on one All-NBA team and it was the 3rd All-NBA team in 2009-10. He was also on the 2001-02 All-Rookie 2nd team, but those are all of the awards or selections he’s received. To make the Hall of Fame he’ll have to fall back on his All-Star selections and his over 20,000 career points. Even then it will be close, after all Jack Sikma had seven All-Star selections too and he never made the Hall.
I would consider putting him in The Legends category but he’s still lacking some of the necessarily accolades and stats to pad his career. That being said he’s already got two Defensive Player of the Year Awards, a championship, and a Finals MVP. That’s pretty good for a player who didn’t really have a developed offensive game when he entered the league. But now he’s easily the best defender and two way player in the game. If it weren’t for the Warriors he’d be challenging LeBron every year for more rings. Missing almost this entire year with an injury didn’t help him.
Just like with Leonard, I’d almost put Davis in the top category, but he isn’t a Hall of Fame player yet. It seems like a given that he will be though if he stays healthy. Despite being just 24 years old Davis already has five All-Star selections. He’s on pace with LeBron for All-Star selections, as far as their age 24 seasons. Davis is easily one of the most well rounded and dominant players in the paint, but so far, he hasn’t won anything substantial in the postseason because his teams just haven’t been that good and have faced stiff competition in the Western Conference.
George had a disappointing season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but that doesn’t change just how good he is. George is a lot like Jimmy Butler in terms of numbers and accomplishments. Both are also premier two-way players, who are well known for their defense. However, neither have been able to break through in the playoffs. It’s a consequence of the Lebron-Warriors era, many other prominent players lack postseason hardware to hang their hats on. George’s career numbers are also of some concern. Despite being a five time All-Star, George just finished his age 27 season and still doesn’t have 10,000 career points!
Butler is in a precarious situation. He’s a great defensive player and a four time All-Star, but he has no significant playoff accomplishments, and has less than 8,000 career points after just finishing his age 28 season. Butler is a great scorer, but he can’t do it at will like some players in the Legends category, plus he has to share the ball with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota. It seems unlikely he will overcome the statistical handicap he has, but that won’t matter if he brings in awards and honors every year and maybe a championship or two.
He’s the clutch shooter who helped bring Cleveland a championship in the 2015-16 season. Irving is known for his incredible ball handling and timely shots. That’s why he’s a five time All-Star despite this past year being just his age 25 season. Unfortunately, injuries have hampered Irving for most of his career, and this year may be the most notable example. He needs to stay healthy to keep building his case. Right now, he is just over 302 points away from 10,000 on his career.
The Greek Freak is one of the brightest young stars in the NBA. He’s played seasons at the point guard, shooting guard, small forward, and power forward positions and has mastered them all. Last year he won the Most Improved Player award, made his first All-Star appearance, was voted to the NBA All-Defensive second team, and made the All-NBA second team. Many speculate he will bring home an MVP one season. This year he averaged a double-double with 26.9 points per game and 10 rebounds per game.
His best days seemed behind him at this point last year, but with the absence of Kawhi Leonard this year, Aldridge stepped up and returned to All-Star form. He made his sixth All-Star game and scoring the second most total points he ever has in a single season. His lack of a championship and only four All-League selections hurt his case, but in fewer than 3,200 points he will cross the 20,000 point threshold. That combined with another All-Star game or two will really help solidify his case, but I still think he really needs a championship considering he was never considered amongst the top tier of players in the league.
Wall missed about half of the season this year, but he still managed to make his fifth All-Star game. Wall can score, but he is also one of the league’s best passers and has averaged over ten assists per game three times in his career. However, and uncomfortable aura is settling around Wall. His teams have underachieved in the playoffs and there was some infighting amongst him and his teammates after he got injured and the team started winning more during the regular season. His lack of All-League awards is another issue that he will need to fix to be considered a Hall of Fame player.
He is already a five time All-Star, but despite consistent numbers, he hasn’t been an All-Star in the last three seasons but could make it next year in a less talent heavy Eastern Conference. He has no significant postseason accomplishments and people have seemed to sour on him in general after his first five years. Throw in his constant injuries and he’s actually a player in danger of slipping into the Outside Chances category if he doesn’t throw together another All-Star campaign or two.
Who is Love really? Is he the five time All-Star, or the man who seems to disappear entirely from the offense at times? He was thought highly of enough to make his fifth All-Star game this year, but he only played in 59 games, one fewer than last year’s total. Love, in the Cleveland Cavaliers current offense, is mostly limited in his contributions and is not an elite level defender, despite leading the league in rebounds during the 2011-12 season. He’s in a similar category as Blake Griffin, but I don’t know if Love will ever be looked upon as the talented player that Griffin was and still is at times. To put it simply, I don’t think he’ll ever be looked at as a Hall of Fame level talent.
He doesn’t put up great scoring numbers. He doesn’t have to. Green is the emotional enforcer on the Golden State Warriors, the same way Dennis Rodman and Ben Wallace were on championship teams of old. Green won his first Defensive Player of the Year award last season. He’s a three time All-Star and has made three All-Defensive first teams consecutively. If he keeps winning championships and collecting defensive accolades, he should be a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. Getting in the range of six or seven All-Star games will make things easier.
The four time All-Star is the other half of the legendary splash brothers. Thompson is a three point maestro, just like his counterpart Stephen Curry. While he’s generally not put in the top tier of guards in the league, he’s a solid defender with a sustainable game that should carry him well into his thirties. He also rarely suffers long term injuries, which allows him to post consistent numbers. That will be key in building his career stat line, but he might not need the numbers. Just being a star on the current historically great Golden State Warriors team and reaping all the rewards and championships that come with that status, might be enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.
After the playoffs this year it is particularly apparent that DeRozan has struggled in the postseason despite being a four time All-Star and the best player on his team. He’ll likely need some kind of significant future success in the playoffs to solidify a place for himself in the Hall of Fame. DeRozan rarely suffers long term injuries and is regarded as one of the best mid-range game players in the league. He’s got good career numbers so far too, but numbers aren’t enough. In the coming years DeRozan must do something to separate himself from the rest of the league’s All-Star guards and bring home some All-NBA selections.
Cousins is a four time All-Star, but he missed a lot of this past season with a ruptured Achilles. We can only hope he comes back the same way he was prior to the injury, because he was having a career year. He’s become a player that almost guarantees twenty-five points and ten rebounds a night, and he added in five assists in 2017. Cousins is a vocal presence on the court to say the least and has a certain likable angry demeanor. If he returns from the injury without setback, he’ll have a good chance to one day join the 20,000 point, 10,000 rebound club and earn himself a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Lillard having just three All-Star selections is a crime. He could easily have five, the same as Kyrie Irving, and he would if it wasn’t for the Western Conference being stacked with tons of legendary guards. While major playoff success has eluded Lillard, he scores at such a high clip that his numbers might be enough to raise him to the rank of a legend. In his six NBA seasons, he has eclipsed the 10,000 point mark and will now turn his attention to 20,000 but he has a long way to go. While his scoring is incredible, Lillard needs to experience more regular and postseason success to keep improving his chances of making the Hall of Fame.
He’s got a number of awards but they aren’t really anything to boast about when compared to most players in the Legends category. His numbers don’t really jump of the page either, and he just crossed the 10,000 point threshold at age 33. Even with his three All-Star selections and 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year award, Marc Gasol wouldn’t get into the Hall of Fame if it wasn’t with his work on the Spanish Olympic team. Marc has 3 medals in total, 2 silver and 1 bronze, and I believe he will get into the Hall of Fame because of them.
He was an All-Star two years ago and was again this year. His old back to the basket style of play is kind of out of place in the current NBA, but he’s led the league in rebounds three times and offensive rebounds five times. He’s also had five straight 1,000 point seasons, and he’s still just 24 years old. Drummond just needs to raise his offensive game and he could compete for All-Star selections every year.
Gaining a Foothold
He was good in Orlando, disappointed in Oklahoma, and explosive in Indiana. He made his first All-Star appearance because of his crazy athleticism and scoring capabilities. Oladipo led the league in steals this season. Obviously, he needs many more years as an All-Star before he gains any serious Hall of Fame consideration, but he’s finally fulfilling his potential.
Beal just made his first All-Star game this year and it was just his age 24 seasons, despite that it was still his sixth season. His biggest issue is that he will forever be overshadowed by players like Klay Thompson and other guards who make up the tier of players above him. This was only his second season averaging over twenty points per game, but he needs many more.
The former Rookie of the Year has averaged twenty points per game twice already in his four seasons but saw a drop in production this year when Jimmy Butler joined the team. Wiggins, who just turned twenty-three, is rarely injured and almost always plays. He doesn’t offer much in terms of defense, but he can be an offensive juggernaut. Wiggins needs to do something to take his game to the next level and become and All-Star, but for now he’s in a good place for his age.
LaVine is the same age as his former teammate, Andrew Wiggins. He’s a two time Dunk Contest Champion, but he missed most of the last two seasons with significant injuries. One can only hope that he won’t be continually plagued by injuries in the future, because he’s an explosive athlete who can do a little bit of everything.
Arguably, he should have been an All-Star this year, or at least should have received more consideration. While his availability has been an issue. The 22 year old power forward would really benefit from a change of scenery and being part of an actually competitive team, unlike his current team, the Orlando Magic.
He’s a two time All-Star and was a significant MVP candidate last season, but injuries and poor play resulted in him having the worst season of his career. Thomas is already 29 and has less than 9,000 career points, which isn’t impressive considering he’s considered a high volume scoring guard. He hasn’t found stability in the NBA, playing on five teams in seven seasons, but maybe he’ll find a place to stick and reignite his career in 2018.
While he has never been an All-Star or won any major awards, McCollum has averaged twenty points per game in three straight seasons. He’ll already be 27 next season, but still has less than 6,000 career points. To make a significant push for the Hall of Fame, McCollum will need to play for many more years and finally break into the All-Star ranks.
Injuries cost Hayward his 2017 season, which was following his first All-Star year in 2016. Hayward is now an eight year NBA veteran, and, assuming he comes back from his injury alright, he will return to All-Star status. He just doesn’t and won’t have the career statistics and accomplishments to be considered for the Hall of Fame. He has just over 8,000 career points and no accolades outside of the one All-Star appearance. While he’s a good player, he has and will continue to be overshadowed by the premier forwards of this era.
Walker has made his only two All-Star appearances in his previous two seasons. In the last three years he has averages over twenty points per game and the three years before that he averaged just over seventeen per game. While Walker is a star, he’s not a top shelf player and he’s been stuck on a largely irrelevant Charlotte Hornets squad for his seven year career. With the arrival of fellow point guard Ben Simmons in the Eastern Conference, Walker will have to fight to earn more All-Star spots, and even then, he won’t have the career totals or accolades for the Hall of Fame. He did win a national championship in college with UConn.
Anybody who has watched Rondo in the postseason knows playoff Rondo is real and he’s scary for opposing teams. He’s never been a great scorer, but he is one of the purest point guards in the NBA. His passing skills and court vision are nothing short of magical, and he’s an aggressive trash talking defender. Rondo, who is past his prime, led the league in assists per game three times and steals per game once. He won a championship as the fourth star of the 2000s Celtics Super Team, earned All-NBA third team honors in 2011, and has been named to two All-Defensive first and second teams. He’s also 23rd all time in assists. His case will be an interesting one when the time comes, but guards with his skill set are so underappreciated and he has underachieved in recent years, so I think he’ll miss the Hall of Fame.
Here is another interesting case. Horford is a five time All-Star, so statistically his Hall of Fame chances should jump way up, but I think he’s one of the exceptions. Horford has only been on one All-NBA team, 2010-11 All-NBA third team, but did win a college championship at Florida. He’s just never been the dominant type of player you expect a Hall of Famer to be. After eleven seasons he has just over 10,000 career points. I think he could finish his career with seven All-Star selections and still not make the Hall of Fame.
He has been an All-Star for the past four seasons, but he played eight years in the league prior to reaching his current status. While he has certainly been underrated at points, Lowry has never belonged in the top tier of NBA guards. He’s only made one All-NBA team, 2015-16 All-NBA third team, and just lacks the accolades a 32 year old needs to be on track for the Hall of Fame. His points per game totals also dropped off by six from last year to this year, not a good sign.
The 30 year old point guard may be one of the best players to never make an All-Star game and has been considered a perennial snub for most of his career. That being said, his only accolade is being named to the 2012-13 All-Defensive second team. He also lacks the impressive numbers necessary to make up for that and only played in 12 games this year because of an injury.
Millsap had made four straight All-Star games with the Atlanta Hawks before he did something really stupid. He left to join the Denver Nuggets. It’s not a bad move, the Nuggets are better than the Hawks by far, but historically All-Stars have drop offs when they change teams late in their careers. Now Millsap is out for a long time with a torn ligament in his wrist and it is likely the soon to be 33 year old will not make the All-Star game again.
Rose was once one of the best players in the league and won the MVP award for his efforts in the 2010-11 campaign, but since then injuries have decimated him and reduced him to a role player. Rose did make three All-Star games and won Rookie of the Year, but his career totals are extremely low. He has less than 10,000 career points and that will ultimately sink his Hall of Fame bid.
Jordan made his first All-Star game and had his first 1,000 point season last year. He’s never been a great offensive player, in fact the reason why his field goal percentage is so high is because he rarely shoots three pointers. Jordan’s claims to fame are his defense and rebounding skills. He’s led the league in rebounds twice, has made two All-Defensive 1st Teams, two All-NBA 2nd teams, and one All-NBA 1st Team. Still, he needs to add a lot more stats and awards to even be considered for the Hall of Fame.
Z-Bo’s had several off the court issues that alone could keep him out of the Hall of Fame, but he’s also just a two time All-Star despite scoring over 1,000 points in 12 different seasons. Still Randolph is one of 40 players in NBA history with over 10,000 rebounds and could conceivably hit the 20,000 career points mark if he played two more seasons after this year. Keep in mind though, he’s already 36 years old.
Iguodala has only been an All-Star once in his fourteen year career, but he’s also been accumulating championships as a key member of the Golden State Warriors. Look no further than his Finals MVP in the team’s first championship during their current era, to see his contributions. He has just over 13,000 career points and has been named to one All-Defensive first and All-Defensive second team. Sadly, that’s not enough to make the Hall of Fame, but Iguodala has ensured he will never be forgotten.
If there was ever a blueprint for a sixth man that came to life and started balling out, it would be Crawford. He’s been in the NBA an incredible eighteen years and has won the Sixth Man of the Year award three times. He really is a strange case, as he’s never been an All-Star but seems to have mastered the sixth man position. That’s not all he’s mastered, Crawford has made the fifth most three point shots in NBA history and has played the forty-ninth most minutes of any NBA player of all-time. With the Minnesota Timberwolves this year, Crawford saw his minutes reduced from last season and failed to score 1,000 points for the first time since the 2011-12 season. This is just the fifth time he has failed to reach the mark, meaning he’s scored at least 1,000 points thirteen times in his career. Currently sitting at 18,906 career points, he can cross the 20,000 point mark easily if he decides to play for two more seasons.
West is a classy guy, but he’s an enforcer om the court. He made the All-Star game twice in his younger years before injuries and age demoted him to a supporting role. He signed with the San Antonio Spurs for the veteran’s minimum in order to chase a championship two years ago and last year he joined the Golden State Warriors and won a championship with them. West is a tough, hard working big man who will be remembered, just not as a Hall of Famer. He has just over 14,000 career points.
Gobert is relatively young to be in this category. He only recently turned 26, but I had to mention him because he just won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. He also made the All-Defensive 1st Team for the second time this year. While he’s one of the best defenders in the NBA, Gobert is injury prone and has only gotten over 1,000 points in a season once. He’s a good player, just not a Hall of Famer.