CAN you tell the story of basketball without mentioning that player? It’s a question that should be asked every time a new case emerges for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Some past giants of the game had a dramatic impact on and off the court as their legacy lives on today in the NBA, but for every inductee, there’s another 5-6 time All-Star who missed the cut. Don’t expect to see Chris Paul. Steph Curry or LeBron James on this list, but I ran a fine-tooth comb through the resumes of 10 active players to determine whether their career was Hall of Fame worthy or not.
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Resume – 1x champ, 1x All-NBA, 6x All-Star
Career Averages – 14.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.2 APG
WINNING a championship a year ago was a massive boost for Kyle Lowry’s HOF case, but he still has work to do to convince me he should be inducted. The savvy point guard spent his first half a dozen seasons bouncing between the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets before finally finding a home north of the border. In eight seasons as a Raptor, Lowry was a huge contributor to their success, making the All-Star team for the last six seasons all while averaging 17.1 PPG and 7.6 APG. However, the first half of his career wasn’t nearly as impressive, with the savvy veteran compelling averages of 10.4 PPG and 4.8 APG during his Grizzlies/Rockets days. Adding a few more All-Star berth’s or another title to his resume could swing things in Lowry’s favour, but I think he’s done enough for his current accolades to push him over the line.
Resume – 3x champ, 2015 Finals MVP, 1x All-Star, 2x All-Defense
Career Averages – 12.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.3 APG
CEDRIC Maxwell and Chauncey Billups are the only Finals MVP’s currently not in the Hall of Fame, with the other non-members either ineligible for induction or still playing in the NBA. Andre Iguodala could find himself as the third member of that unwanted group, despite the pivotal role he played in Golden State’s three most recent championships. Iggy became the first player to win Finals MVP and not start a single game during the regular season, with his defense on LeBron in the 2015 decider a huge factor in the Warriors’ triumph.
BEFORE he made his way to the Bay, Iguodala forged out a reputation in Philly and Denver as a versatile wing player, who excelled above the rim and on the defensive side of the ball. Sacrificing his own personal stats (and a boatload of money) for the good of the team allowed Golden State to stay atop the NBA food chain for a five-year stretch and even though his resume is lacking in quantity, the quality of his achievements should see Iggy land in the HOF.
Resume – 5x All-NBA, 7x All-Star
Career Averages – 19.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.0 APG
I was somewhat surprised to learn LaMarcus Aldridge had five All-NBA appearances next to his name with the Blazers/Spurs forward becoming a picture of consistency over the past decade. Ever since his second season in the NBA, the stretch big man has annually averaged over 17 points and seven rebounds, helping space the floor with his trademark jumper. Similar to a poor man’s Karl Malone, Aldridge has compelled a ton of stats in his pro basketball career, but he hasn’t been able to capture the ultimate prize. He was hardly a passenger during the postseason, with 20.8 PPG and 8.5 RPG averages for his playoff career, however, he and Portland/San Antonio have only made it past the first round three times over his career. While he’ll be remembered as one of the better players from his generation, Aldridge will only be visiting the Hall of Fame for his teammates’ inductions.
Resume – 2011 MVP, 1x All-NBA, 3x All-Star, 2009 Rookie of the Year
Career Averages – 18.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.6 APG
I don’t want to hear any arguments for Derrick Rose as a Hall of Fame snub. At all. Ever. The youngest MVP in league history was on track to become a megastar with the Bulls, but an ACL injury in the first game of the 2012 playoffs instantly derailed those plans. Before Rose went down just over eight years ago he had 21.0 PPG and 6.8 APG averages from his first four seasons, making three All-Star teams and becoming a member of the All-NBA first squad in his lone MVP season. Three more knee injuries to the high-flying guard ruined any chance he had of living up to the hype he generated, leading to Chicago trading him away.
AFTER bouncing between the Knicks and Cavs, Rose started to repair his reputation with the Timberwolves last season, before signing with Detroit and continuing his success in the 2019-20 campaign. Averaging 18 points and five assists over his last 100 games, which included a memorable 50-point outburst, has been a welcome sign for long-time D-Rose supporters. If he can maintain that form over the next few seasons then I think Rose can change the perception around his HOF candidacy, but regardless of what the future holds, I feel comfortable in saying he’s already produced a HOF calibre career.
Resume – 1x champ, 2x All-NBA, 5x All-Star, 2011 Most Improved, 1x REB leader
Career Averages – 18.2 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.4 APG
KEVIN Love was/is one of the hardest cases to examine for the Naismith hall with two very different chapters in his 12-year career to date. During his half a dozen years with Minnesota, there wasn’t a lot of winning going on, but that didn’t stop Love from emerging as a walking double-double. He erupted in 2011 to claim the Most Improved award, becoming the first player since Moses Malone back in 1982-93 to average 20 points and 15 rebounds over the duration of an entire season. Love’s per-game numbers took a hit once he arrived in Cleveland, but he settled into a supporting role alongside Kyrie Irving and LeBron James to deliver the franchises first title in 2016. I can see both sides of the argument for Love’s place in the hall and with another strong season or two, I think he’ll solidify his place amongst basketball’s greats.
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Resume – 5x All-NBA, 6x All-Star, 2011 Rookie of the Year
Career Averages – 21.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 4.4 APG
MUCH like the previously discussed power forward, Blake Griffin’s HOF candidacy could be determined by a coin flip, with the oft-injured high flyer teetering on the edge of inclusion. Giffin burst onto the scene in 2011 after missing his ‘first season’ due to a stress fracture in his knee, becoming an All-Star in his rookie campaign, something only he and Yao Ming have achieved in the 21st century. Injuries and above the rim antics have been his calling card in the league, for better and worse, but Griffin is much more than just a dunker, boasting a healthy career assist average of 4.4 and a scoring punch close to 22 points a night. He latest All-NBA berth came just one season ago, so there’s still a chance he can improve his list of accomplishments and convince the naysayers he belongs in the hall.
Resume – 2x All-NBA, 3x All-Star, 2013 Defensive Player of the Year, 1x All-Defense
Career Averages – 14.7 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.4 APG
THE five seasons the now 35-year old Spaniard spent playing overseas helps Marc Gasol present a decent case for the Hall of Fame. Before arriving in Memphis in 2008 the ‘Big Burrito’ claimed already has a Spanish league championship and an MVP award to his name, establishing a reputation as a stout defender and a solid finisher around the basket. He carried that play-style over to the NBA, adding a reliable deep-ball as his career progressed to become a key contributor on the ‘Grit & Grind’ Grizzlies teams from nearly a decade ago. His DPOY win in 2013 looks good on his resume, but that season marks the only time Gasol finished inside the top-5 for voting. Kudos on a stellar career Marc, but it’s a no from me.
Resume – 3x Sixth Man of the Year
Career Averages – 14.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.5 APG
THERE aren’t many Hall of Fame cases more unique than Lou Williams, who developed into the NBA’s career leader in points scored off the bench. For a 14-year stretch now he’s thrived off the pine like none before him and he’s the resounding favourite to claim another sixth man award this season – breaking a tie with Jamal Crawford for the most in league history. Unfortunately for Lou Will, his career accomplishments lack All-Star and/or All-NBA selections which will likely see him miss the cut. A few championships may change that, but he faces a steep climb to join Springfield.
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Resume – 1x champ 1x All-NBA, 4x All-Star, 4x All-Defense, 3x AST leader, 1x STL leader
Career Averages – 10.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 8.3 APG
FROM the moment he entered the NBA, Rajon Rondo made a difference for Boston, materializing into a championship level floor general. Despite his inability to hit consistent jumpers, Rondo’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed, chalking up a title with Beantown in his second season and lifting his output when the going got tough in the postseason. There aren’t many players that can say they outplayed LeBron in a playoff series, but Rondo’s efforts in 2010 against the Cavaliers might be the best accomplishment of his career. For the series, he shot nearly 55% and averaged over 20 points and 10 assists as Boston took down Cleveland in six games – the last season LeBron had in Ohio before joining the Miami Heat.
RONDO tied a franchise playoff record with 19 assists in a Game 2 win, dominated with a triple-double (29 points/18 boards/13 assists) in Game 4 and then hammered the nail in the coffin with 21 points, 12 assists and five steals in the series-clinching Game 6. His post-Celtics career hasn’t been as fruitful, with Rondo spending short stints on five different teams in the last six seasons. Contributing to a title for the Lakers will strengthen his case and this is a really tricky one to define. As of right now, I’m leaving him out, but there’s every chance I will backflip on my decision within the next few years.
Resume – 6x All-NBA, 10x All-Star, 1x PTS leader
Career Averages – 23.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.9 APG
RESURRECTING his NBA career with the Trailblazers has vaulted Carmelo Anthony back into relevance and presented him with the opportunity to go out on a high. Failed stints in Oklahoma City and Houston left Melo contemplating retirement before Portland threw him a lifeline. Long before he became a Blazer, Anthony was pouring in buckets for the Nuggets and Knicks, carving out a career as a walking 25-30 PPG on a nightly basis. That helped him make 10 All-Star teams in 11 seasons and six All-NBA squads in just eight campaigns, highlighting his elite consistency Melo demonstrated over a decade long stretch.
BASED on his NBA triumph’s alone Melo should be rewarded with a spot in the Hall, but his collegiate and Olympic career help to easily push him over the line. As a freshman, he led Syracuse to a 30-5 record and a national title while pouring in 22.2 PPG and snagging 10.0 RPG. For his Olympic career, Anthony once again excelled, claiming three gold medals during his playing days with USA, retiring as the nation’s all-time leader in points, rebounds and games played. These triumphs all but assure his Hall of Fame status and hopefully for Melo’s sake he can manage another deep postseason push or two before he hangs ’em up.
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