First off, I just want to get the news out that my first child, Liliana Grace Miller, is due December 13, 2012. I couldn't be more excited. The fact that I get to introduce her to a revitalized Lakers lineup this season only sweetens the deal. I was checking the schedule, and saw that the Lakers are playing the Knicks on Christmas Day this year - which is really the biggest, marquee matchup after her due date, and someone tried to tell me that game is going to feature at least seven Hall of Famers. (Bryant, Gasol, Howard, and Nash for LA, Anthony, Kidd, and Stoudemire for NY). I was a little skeptical about this claim, so I thought I'd take a look at how likely it is those guys, and the other guys who are still playing who are most likely to make it in.
Now, I know basketball-reference.com has an actual Hall of Fame probability/percentage listed for every player, but I haven't even come close to tackling my own formula for that, so I'm just going to take a simpler look at things. I'm going to designate guys as "Locks" (first ballot, no doubt about it - I don't think I need to give any examples of these guys), "Almost Certainties" (pretty much locks, but I wouldn't be surprised if it takes a couple ballots, and I wouldn't be willing to bet my daughters life on it - think a Reggie Miller/Dominique Wilkins type player) "Likely" (guys who most people would agree belong but are still missing some essential accomplishments on their resumes - this is your Dennis Rodman/Chet Walker type player), "50/50" (if they're out, you'd have a hard time arguing they should be in; and if they're in, you'd have a hard time arguing they should be out - Jack Sikma/Bob Lanier/Kevin Johnson), "Outside Shot" (you really would have to talk yourself into these guys making it - Tom Chambers/Dan Majerle/Mark Price) and "No Way" (pretty much everyone who wasn't at least as good as Jeff Hornacek).
For the record, everyone who has scored over 200 on my Greatness Equation and is eligible for the Hall, is in the Hall. (Technically, everyone who has scored 197.5 or higher is in, since that's what Bob McAdoo scored, but let's just leave at 200+ for ease.) However, just looking at the names on there, it looks like someone doesn't become a definite, first ballot "Lock" until they get to about 275-300, so here's roughly how my personal ranges shake out:
200-300: Almost Certainty
180-200: Likely (I know this is a short range, but a lot of guys cluster here)
100-150: Outside Shot
Below 100: No Way (There are guys in this range in the Hall of Fame, but they usually have extenuating circumstances that my Greatness Equation doesn't take into account, such as excellent international/college careers, or careers cut short by serious injuries.)
So, I won't waste your time and mine going over the active "Locks" for the Hall of Fame. I'll just briefly mention who they are and what they scored. I'll also throw in BBR's Hall of Fame % as well. They are Kobe Bryant (702.8/100%), Tim Duncan (688.6/99.99%), LeBron James (500.6/99.76%), Kevin Garnett (475.9/99.85%), Dirk Nowitzki (448.5/98.82%), Jason Kidd (334.9/96.13%), Dwyane Wade (312.8/99.67%), and Steve Nash (312.0/57.61%). I think BBR is down on Nash because he hasn't played in the Finals, but a 2 time MVP is getting in regardless of whatever else happens in his career.
The only player there that I could see anybody who knows anything about basketball could have a minor quibble with as being a "Lock" is Wade - where if he never played another game (which is what I always assume when doing this type of assessment), would he really, definitely get in? But he's got two titles, another Finals appearance, a Finals MVP, an Olympic gold (as well as an Olympic bronze and a FIBA World Championship bronze, which I know is shameful for the US, but the Hall of Fame actually looks favorably on that), .789 MVP Award Shares, 2 All-NBA 1st Teams, 3 All-NBA 2nd Teams, 2 All-NBA 3rd Teams (I don't factor those into my equation, but the Hall of Fame probably does), and 8 All-Star Games. So, yeah, I'd say even if he never plays another game, he's a lock.
Now for the Almost Certain range:
Chauncey Billups (253.9/23.87%)
My gut reaction on Billups is no. He just doesn't feel like a Hall of Famer in my mind, just as far as my initial reaction goes. But after looking at his career resume, you pretty much have to reconsider: 119.8 win shares, .375 MVP award shares, a title with a Finals MVP, another Finals loss, five more trips to the conference finals, 1 All-NBA 2nd team, 2 All-NBA 3rd teams, 5 All-Star games, a decent college career, and a FIBA World Championship gold. It's not a "no doubt about it" type of career, and I don't think he'll make it on his first year of eligibility, but I think he'll get in eventually.
Ray Allen (251.2/93.82%)
135 win shares, a title, 10 All-Star games, an Olympic gold, and the NBA's 3 point king? Yeah, he's getting in. Maybe not right away, but he'll be in there sooner or later.
Dwight Howard (251.1/72.09%)
Howard's tricky. I feel like he hasn't done enough yet to make the Hall if he were to never play again, but he probably has. I mean, he's made 5 All-NBA 1st teams. Since 1956, when they started voting on players by position (before that the five highest vote getters, regardless of position, were named to the team), virtually everyone who has made an All-NBA 1st team has gotten in. Only 12 who are eligible haven't. Only two of those 12 made multiple All-NBA 1st teams (Bernard King with two, Paul Westphal with three). And every All-NBA 1st team center since then is a Hall of Famer. So yeah, Howard's probably a lock. And that's not even counting his 3 Defensive Player of the Year Awards, his 6 All-Star games, his Olympic gold, his 1.249 MVP Award Shares, his finals appearance, or his 87.5 win shares. So... I can't explain why he doesn't feel like a Hall of Famer to me yet. It really doesn't make any rational sense. But it is what it is. I'll probably feel different when I see him in purple and gold for the first time. (If he's not still acting like a complete ass.)
Paul Pierce (244.7/98.36%)
Pierce has a little bit left to be desired, in that he never made an All-NBA 1st team, but other than that, what can you really say hurts the guy? Okay, yeah, he was on the 2002 FIBA team that got 6th, and the only Hall of Famer there was Reggie Miller, but let's give the guy a pass on that, shall we? I think every basketball fan in America has collectively decided to forget that that team ever happened. And it's not like Pierce put that team together. He's the only guy who started every game in that tournament. I mean, really, look at that team. It's almost a miracle they even got 6th... Ugh... Let's just move on. Here's what he has done: 131 win shares, a title with a Finals MVP, another finals, 10 All-Star games, an All-NBA 2nd team, and 3 All-NBA 3rd teams. I think he'll make it.
Pau Gasol (234.9/63.56%)
Well, he's international, so that helps, see: Petrovic, Drazen or Sabonis, Arvydas (I'm not trying to diminish either of those guys' careers or Hall of Fame worthiness, but their international careers certainly helped.) But even if you just looked at Gasol's NBA accomplishments, I think he'd still be a borderline candidate. 106.4 win shares, 1 All-NBA 2nd team, 2 All-NBA 3rd teams, 4 All-Star games, not to mention the two titles and the one other Finals appearance. The players with 100+ win shares, 4+ All-Star appearances and at least one title that aren't in the Hall of Fame? Jack Sikma, Bill Laimbeer, and Maurice Cheeks. That's it. And none of those three made an All-NBA team. Throw in Gasol's FIBA gold and two Olympic silvers, as well as all those European awards and whatnot, I think he's getting in on his first shot.
Tracy McGrady (213.9/58.22%)
Oh, T-Mac... What happened to you? Or, more accurately, what happened to your knees? I'm still not entirely sure he didn't piss off an elderly Eastern European woman who cursed him by turning his knees to glass. Everything was going so well. Then 2006 hit. Then 2008. Then every subsequent year starting with the number 2. I mean, he still had a really good career: 2 All-NBA 1st teams, 3 All-NBA 2nd teams, 2 All-NBA 3rd teams, 7 All-Star games, 97 win shares, and 0.856 MVP award shares. I mean, that's really good. That's great even. But the lack of playoff success just kills him. I mean, even one conference finals appearance would have been enough to make a legitimate case. But not even making it out of the first round just absolutely kills his chances. He played 44 playoff games over a 15 year career. Hell, he played 938 regular season games, and 1693 playoff minutes. Those are some astounding ratios. There's no way to compare playoff stats with regular season stats, but I have to imagine there aren't a lot of guys who played in 21 times more regular season games than playoff games. Or 1.8 playoff minutes for ever 1 regular season game.
Grant Hill (205.8/40.69%)
Pretty much re-read the previous paragraph, and just change some of the numbers around. 7 All-Star games, 1 All-NBA 1st team, 4 All-NBA 2nd teams, 0.529 MVP award shares, 100 win shares. So, basically the same career. Hill has a bit of an edge with the Hall since he has an Olympic gold, two college titles, and a Rookie of the Year award. And Hill only made it out of the first round once - in 2010 when the Suns went to the conference finals. He and McGrady basically each had one great year, three really good years, a couple decent seasons, and a handful of injury plagued limping or lost seasons. If Hill gets in it'll be because the international/college career gives him an extra nudge, but I don't think either of these guys are going to make it. (Which would make them the only players to score 200+ on my rating scale and not get in.)
And the Likely range:
Manu Ginobili (189.0/14.51%)
Like Gasol, his international career helps a ton. But also like Gasol, his NBA career has its own merits. It's not as good as Gasol's, but he's a 2 time All-Star, 2 time All-NBA 3rd team, and 3 time champion. That alone won't get him in, but the Olympic gold and bronze, and the FIBA silver, and his pre-Spurs Argentinian/Italian career will. Plus being the best South American basketball player ever doesn't hurt. Personally, I think he's a lock, but it might take a few ballots.
Chris Paul (183.7/84.08%)
I don't think he's there yet, mostly because of the lack of playoff success to date. Although his resume is impressive. 1.184 MVP award shares, 2 All-NBA 1st teams, 1 All-NBA 2nd team, 1 All-NBA 3rd team, 5 All-Stars, 2 Olympic golds, and a FIBA bronze. But I still think he's either one title or two more All-NBA 1st teams away from being a lock.
Amare Stoudemire (177.9/60.27%)
If Amare makes it into the Hall of Fame, I'll eat one of those goofy looking hats he's so fond of wearing. I'll even wash it down with a pair of those giant black horn rimmed glasses without any lenses all the young players seem to think are so cool. He's had a good career, but looking at the non-Hall of Famers around him on my rating scale (Jack Sikma, Bob Dandridge, Shawn Kemp, Tim Hardaway, Paul Westphal, Kevin Johnson, and Buck Williams), I just don't see anything that makes him stand out and say, "he's in and they're not." There's no stretch of transcendental greatness within his career, no postseason heroics, no college or international career to fall back on. (He won the bronze at the Olympics in 2004, but that's not going to help his chances that much.) He would set a precedent for being the first All-NBA 1st team center not to make the Hall, but he only did that once, and I don't see him likely to repeat that feat.
Kevin Durant (173.4/only calculated at 400+ games)
I fully believe Durant will make the Hall one day. If, for whatever reason, he never played another game though, I don't know that he would. It would probably depend on why he didn't play again. If he voluntarily quit - probably not. If he suffered some horrible, catastrophic injury or died (a la Maurice Stokes or Drazen Petrovic) - then yes, probably. But that brings up an interesting point: if Durant were to just destroy his knee or ankle or something and was never the same player, but still managed to play for another five or ten years as a productive role player/bench guy, would he still get in? I doubt it. And that makes me wonder, if Grant Hill or Tracy McGrady had hung it up after their first knee injuries, would they have better odds of making it into the Hall? Durant is obviously better than both of them, has had a better career through five years, and has a far higher ceiling of potential, but it's an interesting conundrum to ponder.
Vince Carter (159.7/81.35%)
Would anyone like to guess how many 8+ time All-Stars aren't in the Hall of Fame? One. Larry Foust. My Greatness Equation has Carter ranked as having the 101st greatest career of all time with a 159.7 rating. It has Foust at 100 with a 160.1 rating? Coincidence? Well, yes actually, but I still think Carter joins him as the second 8 time All-Star not in the Hall. It's just that none of Vince's other achievements are anything all that extraordinary: 1 All-NBA 2nd Team, 1 All-NBA 3rd Team, and an Olympic Gold from 2000. That leaves a lot left to be desired: no titles, not even any Finals appearances, only one conference finals appearance, virtually no MVP votes (0.051 Award Shares for his career), and no All-NBA 1st Team selections. BBR gives him such a high Hall probability because of his All-Star selections, but let's face it, a lot of those were fans voting him in, where he wouldn't have been an All-Star otherwise. Now, I don't have a problem with that; it happens all the time. But it does tell me that he wasn't really having a great season where he would have racked up any other accomplishments to bolster his resume. (And if anyone's curious, Foust's Hall probability is about 39%, but he was a far less prolific scorer than Vince: 13.7 PPG to Vince's 21.4 PPG.)
Shawn Marion (158.9/33.68%)
Marion's had a good career, but I don't think anyone would argue that he's been anything close to Hall-worthy.
Tony Parker (158.9/71.21%)
I think the three titles, the Finals MVP, and the international factor push him over the top.
Chris Bosh (154.9/84.08%)
This is going to come down entirely to how many championships the Heat end up winning. He'll get the All-Star games, he probably won't make very many All-NBA teams or get many MVP votes, and the one Olympic gold is about all he's going to do internationally (well, that and his bronze.) I would say he needs to be an extremely productive member of three more title teams before I'd say it's likely for him to get in. Or one or two more with a Finals MVP - which seems unlikely as long as he's playing with James.
Richard Hamilton (137.4/6.11%)
Jermaine O'Neal (116.9/4.57%)
Not going to happen.
Carmelo Anthony (105.8/68.98%)
Surprised he's this low? Well, you shouldn't be. He hasn't done much so far. One All-NBA 2nd team, 5 All-Star games, and one conference finals. That's about it. (He does have 3 All-NBA 3rd teams, two Olympic golds, and an Olympic bronze, but my formula doesn't award points for those.) His career is far from over, but as of now, he's not going to make it in. However, with Durant and LeBron dominating the All-NBA 1st team forward spots for the next decade or so, he's going to have to improve his stock with postseason play and MVP votes. So, I don't really know how much I like his odds. I would say it doesn't look good. (Again, he's much higher on BBR's odds scale because they put a lot more emphasis on All-Star games and points per game than I do.)
Other players of note:
These guys are below 100 as of right now, but have some interesting twists for assessing their Hall worthiness
Derrick Rose (90.0/only calculated at 400+ games)
Rose is interesting because I don't think he's done enough in his short career to merit inclusion in the Hall, but then again, he has an MVP. And every player who has ever won an MVP is in. It's the equivalent of the pre-steroid era 500 home run club or 3000 hit club in baseball. I'm pretty sure a ticket to Springfield comes with the MVP trophy. And I think that's the only achievement in any sport that's like that - now that the baseball comparison is no longer valid. Still, his other accomplishments so far are 30 win shares, 1 All-NBA 1st team, 3 All-Star games over a 4 year career, plus a FIBA gold. (He also has a Rookie of the Year award, but that seems fairly irrelevant for Hall of Fame consideration purposes.) I mean, that's not bad by any means, he's got a great start and is well on his way, but if he never played another game, I'm not entirely positive he'd get in. Just to accentuate my point, the only players who have played in fewer games as Rose (279) and are in the Hall are Al Cervi, Mel Daniels, Bob Houbregs, and Maurice Stokes. Cervi and Houbregs were already old when the NBA started so they were already on the tail end of their careers. Daniels played 11 NBA games, but played 638 games in the ABA. And Stokes had to quit playing when a freak on court accident paralyzed him from the neck down. The next closest is Drazen Petrovic (290 games), who, you know, died right as he was finding his groove in the league. And the next closest is Jim Pollard at 438 games.
Derek Fisher (74.0/3.03%)
Robert Horry will be the litmus test here, but I don't like Fish's odds. (Or Big Shot Bob's, for that matter.) 25 players have won 5 or more titles. 15 are in the Hall, with Bryant a lock to be the 16th when his career is through. The guys who aren't in: Tom Sanders, Jim Loscutoff, Michael Cooper, Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, Don Nelson, and Larry Siegfried. Horry and Fisher are the other two who aren't yet eligible, and while I would say they're significantly better than Loscutoff and Siegfried, you could have a pretty healthy debate about their placement amongst the other guys.
So, to answer my initial question, I think that Christmas Day Lakers-Knicks game features five Hall of Famers, tops. Bryant, Nash, and Kidd are locks, Howard and Gasol are near locks. I don't think Stoudemire or Anthony are going to get there.