There’s no speculation quite like categorizing NBA superstars.
To that point, the 2016 NBA Hall of Fame finalists were revealed at All-Star Weekend in Toronto last weekend, with a few of the millennial generation’s biggest icons – like Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, and Yao Ming – leading the way.
So naturally, the next step one’s brain takes is to think of the other icons who are still playing that will be joining them soon.
You have your shoo-in’s like Kobe Bryant (who appears to be getting inducted in every NBA stadium’s Ring of Honor this season), Tim Duncan, and LeBron James. From there, it’s much easier to just go team-by-team and spark some debate along the way.
But first, a courtesy reminder on how the NBA Hall of Fame admissions process works.
Induction into the NBA Hall of Fame is a two-step process. First, they must pass the ‘Screening Committee’ who submit North American candidates as Finalists; and then the ‘Honors Committee’ will select the enshrined players for the Hall.
As of 2011 there’s been a backdoor route known as the ‘Direct-Election Committee,’ but the only one with an impact worth talking about is the ‘International Committee’ – which can directly select foreign players based on their contribution to the NBA.
For example, this would make the path to the NBA Hall of Fame a bit easier for Argentinian pioneer Manu Ginobili and French hoops symbol Tony Parker.
Goddamn Gregg Popovich, man.
Atlanta Hawks: None
Well, Kirk Hinrich did just get traded to Atlanta….
Brooklyn Nets: None
Joe Johnson has a strong case, but ultimately I think we see a Maurice Cheeks-like result by the voters and he gets left at the altar.
Boston Celtics: None
Paul Pierce, KG, and Jesus Shuttlesworth aren’t around anymore and as much as I’d love to see my guy Jonas Jerebko enshrined one day it ain’t gonna happen.
Charlotte Hornets: None
Can we enshrine Jeremy Lin’s hair at the very least?
Chicago Bulls: Pau Gasol
It sucks because no current player is going in as a Chicago Bull. Pau Gasol will most certainly be honored for his years in Los Angeles. All it makes me do is wonder, what if, you know, nothing happened to that flower guy.
Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James
In other news the sky is blue and everybody poops.
Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki
The greatest foreign-born player in NBA history should have his own wing in Springfield as far as I’m concerned. Been simply padding the resume since getting the ring in 2011.
Denver Nuggets: None
Can you even name more than three players on the Nuggets right now?
Detroit Pistons: None
The Pistons are a street ball team that would undoubtably go undefeated for life at Rucker Park. In terms of the NBA, just another group of average to above average offensive players.
Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson
I’m going to assume that Klay and Steph never break up and continue splashing/terrorizing the league together forever.
Statistically, there’s a great chance they end up with the first and second most three-pointers made all-time. And intangibly, they end up as the classic, “you can’t have one without the other” argument.
Also, leaving Draymond Green off this type of list – who has a damn good case for being the real sidekick to Curry – probably means he’ll triple-double his way into the Hall of Fame.
Houston Rockets: Dwight Howard
Like it or not, Dwight Howard is going to end up in the NBA Hall of Fame regardless of the fact that he’s the basketball version of Terrell Owens. His years in Orlando (three consecutive DPOY awards) are good enough alone to get him in, and despite the fact he can’t stay healthy – Howard has a realistic shot at finishing Top-10 all-time in blocks.
And because the world is a bad place, he’ll probably get a ring as an aging third piece on a championship team.
Indiana Pacers: Paul George
At 25, Paul George has already received three All-Star nods in five seasons, been on the All-NBA Defensive First Team, won a Most Improved Player award, and has been on the All-NBA Third Team twice. He’ll add Comeback Player of the Year to that list after his breakout season in 2015-16, where’s averaging career highs in points (23.7) and assists (4.2).
Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul, Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce is a first ballot Hall of Famer of life while Chris Paul is a first ballot Hall of Famer of being a dick. Egos aside, both get into the actual NBA Hall of Fame quite easily.
Doc Rivers, not so much.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant
Have you watched SportsCenter lately?
Memphis Grizzlies: Vince Carter, Marc Gasol
Vince Carter is my favorite “Is he a Hall of Famer?” argument to get into, because he’s never been to an NBA Finals but his intangible value beyond stat lines is so important to the game today.
His stat line is justifiable, too, so take it how you wish.
The younger Gasol brother has a good chance of making it by way of the International Committee. I’m not sure he gets in by the standard processes without winning at least one ring.
Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh may be the most under-appreciated superstar that this game has ever seen. For being a two-time NBA champion, 11-time All-Star, and the leading scorer in Toronto Raptors history; he sure gets treated way too similarly to Carlos Boozer.
D-Wade is my pick for the next hyped-up Kobe-style farewell tour.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett is one of the greatest players of the 2000’s. Karl-Anthony Towns is Kevin Garnett, Jr. I don’t care if he just turned 20 and a rookie, he’ll be a Hall of Famer one day.
Milwaukee Bucks: None
Does Jason Kidd count?
New Orleans Pelicans: None
Lots of people are going to be offended Anthony Davis isn’t listed here. Which is fine, because I don’t think he’s going to reach his HoF potential so long as he stays in New Orleans. A change of scenery that leads to playoff success and less responsibility and I’ll change my tune.
New York Knicks: KRISTAPS GODZINGIS.
This is a joke, people. What is not a joke is that I intentionally left off Carmelo Anthony because he’s the most overrated player in NBA history. True story.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant
Well Kevin Durant already has an MVP and four scoring titles. Russell Westbrook is a bonafide superstar whether Durant is on the court or not. These two are about four years away from virtually locking up Hall of Fame nods.
Orlando Magic: None
Go back and look at the Orlando Magic rosters during the Stan Van Gundy era (’07-’11) and it reads like the greatest compilation of “damn I forgot he played for them” list.
Philadelphia 76ers: None
Can we enshrine “The Process” into the Hall of Fame?
Phoenix Suns: None
I wish Tyson Chandler had like two more really good years so I can make the argument for him. He’s a first ballot guy in the Hall of Very Damn Good, though.
Portland Trail Blazers: None
Damian Lillard is so dope, so good, and still so young. But I can’t bring myself to say it just yet.
San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan
At first, I worry that Kawhi Leonard is too quiet of a star to garner the recognition and then I remember that Tim Duncan guy.
Sacramento Kings: None
I love me some Boogie Cousins but a million career 30 and 15 games aren’t enough.
Toronto Raptors: None
Only one member of the NBA Hall of Fame actually played for the Raptors, for one season, at the end of his legendary career. DeMar DeRozan will just have to settle for the USC Hall of Fame.
Oh yeah, that player above is Hakeem Olajuwon. Not Drake.
Utah Jazz: None
I would enshrine Gordon Hayward’s combover though.
Washington Wizards: None
But would Colin Cowherd vote for John Wall? That’s the real question.