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Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Pat Riley highlight an elite group that have been placed on the final ballot for enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame. While anyone that remotely follows the NBA can tell you that those three belong in the Hall, what current players may someday have a plaque in Springfield?
Let's find out, as it's time to play everyone's favorite little game: "Is he a Hall of Famer?"
(*As always, to make the debate more interesting, I am ommitting players that almost certainly will make the Hall of Fame barring something catostrophic happening to their career. Active players such as Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Jason Kidd).
Vince Carter: 6'7", 215 lbs, G/F, University of North Carolina
Nicknames: Vinsanity, Air Canada, Half-Man/Half-Amazing, Invinceable
5th pick of the 1998 NBA Draft (Golden State Warriors)
23.9 points per game
5.5 rebounds per game
4.2 assists per game
1.3 steals per game
- 8 time NBA All-Star
- 2 time All-NBA team (Second Team 1999, Third Team 2000)
- 2000 Slam Dunk Champion
- 1999 NBA All-Rookie First Team
- 1999 NBA Rookie of the Year
- 83rd on NBA career scoring list (16,028)
- 17th on NBA career points per game list (23.85)
- 44th on NBA career 3 point field goals made (1003)
- Co-holds NBA playoff record for most three-point field goals made in one game with 9
- Member 0f 2000 USA Olympic team (Won Gold medal)
Argument Against Out of the three candidates today, Carter has the best shot at the Hall. He has all the talent of a hall of famer, but none of the heart, competitiveness, leadership, or mental toughness which one would expect from one. That is why Vince Carter as a Hall of Famer is such an interesting debate. Would a Hall of Famer get his degree on the very night right before the biggest playoff game of his career (up until that point)? Would a HOFer yell out plays to the opposing team like Carter was allegedly doing as a Raptor against the Sonics in 2004 because he felt the organization didn't surround him with enough talent? Would his current team say the following about him, "Inside and outside the organization, people have been stunned at how willing Carter has been to mail-in games. Rod Thorn defended Carter's larger body of work in Jersey but acknowledged an "inconsistency" this season." Durability is also a question mark as it led some people to call him Half-Man/Half-Season (although he has averaged 67 games played per season). He only finished in the top 10 of MVP voting once (1999-00).
Comparison to Current Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins ("The Human Highlight Film") and Vince Carter are perhaps the two best dunkers in NBA history (my apologies to Connie Hawkins, Dr. J, and Elgin Baylor). Wilkens was a 9 time All-Star, All-NBA First Team once in 1986, and All-Rookie Team in 1983. Had 11 consecutive seasons in which he averaged more than 20 points per game (Carter currently has 9).
Final Verdict Vince Carter's numbers will be good enough to get him inducted. However, his plaque will appear in the WNBA section.
Tracy McGrady: 6'8", 210 lbs, G/F, Mount Zion Christian Academy
9th pick of the 1997 NBA Draft (Toronto Raptors)
22.4 points per game
6.3 rebounds per game
4.6 assists per game
1.4 steals per game
- 7 time NBA All-Star
- 2000-01 NBA Most Improved Player
- 6 time All-NBA (First Team in 2002, 2003)
- 2 time NBA Scoring Champion
- In 2003, he was the youngest player ever to win be the NBA scoring champion with 32.4 points per game in 2004; he was 23 years old)
- 23rd on NBA career points per game list (22.4)
- 81st on NBA career scoring list (16,197)
- Shares NBA record for most three-point field goals made in one half with 8
- 44 career games with at least 40+ points
- Ranked #75 on SLAM Magazine's Top 75 NBA Players of All Time in 2003
Argument Against Between playoff failure and injuries, T-Mac has never really reached his full potential on the big stage. He has all the ability and athleticism to make difficult play looks easy but frowns when things aren't going his way. Sometimes he looks like he is not playing very hard.
Comparison to Current Hall of Famer George Gervin ("The Iceman") is one of only 3 players to win 4 or more scoring titles (T-Mac has 2). Both were All-NBA First Team at least twice. Both play a similar, creative style of basketball. The finger roll master was silky smooth and McGrady has the ability to use the pump fake and create his own shot off the screen.
Final Verdict Suprisingly, McGrady isn't that far away from being in the serious discussion as a future Hall of Famer. Who ever thought that was possible when McGrady was averaging less than 10 points per game off the bench in his first two seasons in Toronto?
Rasheed Wallace: 6'11" 230 lbs, F/C, University of North Carolina
4th pick of the 1995 NBA Draft (Washington Wizards)
15.3 points per game
6.9 rebounds per game
1.9 assists per game
1.4 blocks per game
- 4 time NBA All-Star
- 2nd Team All-Rookie (1995-96)
- NBA Champion (2004)
Argument Against Rasheed’s on-court temper tantrums and controversial comments in the media have always gotten more attention than his game (He holds the NBA record for most technical fouls in one season: 44). While his individual abilities are respected throughout the NBA, he doesn’t have much hardware to show for it; zero All-Defensive Team selections and not even an All-NBA third team nod. Averaging only 15.3 ppg and under 7 rpg will hurt a big man.
Comparison to Current Hall of Famer No one. The closest player could be Nate Thurmond, but Thurmond averaged 15.0 ppg and 15 rpg. Wallace only averages 15.3 ppg and 6.9 rpg. Although they played in completely different era's, both were over 6'10 and shot around 45% for their careers.
Final Verdict Even though Wallace revolutionized the power forward position (along with guys like Chris Webber, Kevin Garnett, and Dirk Nowitzki) he has never been the star of a team. While he has been an integral part of the defining team of the decade in the East, he has yet to finish any season in the top 10 of any major statistical category. He is currently on the outside of Springfield looking in.