Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Is He a Hall of Famer? NBA Edition

Guess who's back? Back again? "Is he a Hall of Famer?" is back. Tell a friend.

OK, I am done ripping off Eminem for a cheesy introduction. Let's get right to business.

Today's edition about who may or may not eventually become inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame is just like last time. For those of you who didn't read, I'll recap real fast. Vince Carter -in, Tracy McGrady -will be in, Rasheed Wallace -out, and Yinka Dare -in. Ok, I made up that last one. But who else will become enshrined in Springfield, Mass?

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 omitting players that almost certainly will make the Hall of Fame barring something catastrophic happening to their career. Active players such as Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Jason Kidd).

Again, today's edition will be about three players: Grant Hill, Chris Webber, and Anfernee Hardaway.

Grant Hill
6'8", 225lbs, Forward
College: Duke University
1st round draft pick (3rd overall) of the 1994 NBA Draft (Pistons)
Teams: Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons

Career Averages: 19.5 pts, 6.8 rebs, 5.1 asts, 1.4 stls per game
7 time All-Star
1995 Co-Rookie of the Year
1996 member of USA Gold Medal winning Olympic team
1996-97 finished 3rd in MVP voting
4 time member of NBA All-First or Second team
First player in any sport to be the leading vote getter for an All-Star game in their rookie season
2005 NBA Sportsmanship Award
Led NBA in Triples Doubles twice (1995-96, 1996-97)

Argument Against
Grant Hill was on his way to becoming the next Scottie Pippen before injuries caught up to him. He missed 374 out of his next 574 possible games going into the 2008 season. He has made the playoffs 5 times but has failed to get past the first round.

Comparison to Eventual Hall of Famer
Grant Hill can be compared to an eventual Hall of Famer from another sport: Ken Griffey Jr.
The similarities between the two in different sports is eerie. While you cannot compare direct stats, you can compare the course of their careers. Both were high draft picks (top 3) expected to be the next great player in their sport. They both produced early and often winning Rookie of the Year Awards. Both enjoyed tremendous success throughout the 1990s. Griffey batted over .300 for seven of the years of the '90s, and hit with power as well, slugging 422 home runs during the decade. During the same decade, Hill had a total of 9,393 points, 3,417 rebounds and 2,720 assists. Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird are the only two players in league history to eclipse these numbers after their first six seasons. Both men were traded in year 2000, Hill to the Orlando Magic and Griffey to the Cincinnati Reds. For 4 of the next 5 years, Hill spent most of his time injured averaging only 27 games played per season. Likewise, Griffey spent 4 of his next 5 years mostly on the disabled list averaging only 92 games played per season.

Final Verdict
Grant Hill had all the potential to become a sure bet Hall of Famer. During the 90's he shined as he was one of the best basketball players on the planet. His 1996-97 season was his finest, with averages of 21.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He became the first player since Larry Bird in 1989-90 to average 20 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in a season. This feat has not been duplicated since. Unfortunately for Hill, when he got traded to the Magic in 2000 his career went severely downhill. He was seemingly injured all the time and never regained his earlier dominance. These days he is a solid role player but will never again be the focus of an offense or command a double team. He had a great college career, is active in the community, and no one will ever question his dedication and knowledge of the game. However for Hill, it was an above average career, but not one that is Hall of Fame worthy. OUT.

Chris Webber
6'10", 245lbs, Power Forward
College: University of Michigan
1st round draft pick (1st overall) by Orlando (traded to Golden State)
Teams: Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, Washington Bullets/Wizards, Golden State Warriors

Career Averages: 20.9 pts, 9.8 rebs, 4.3 asts, 1.5 stls, 1.4 blks per game
5 time All-Star
5 time All-NBA Team (First Team in 2001)
Ranked #64 in Slam Magazine's Top 75 NBA Players of all time in 2003

Argument Against
Not including the 1999 season because of lockout, Webber has played fewer than 65 games 5 times in his 13 year career. Injuries have robbed Webber of his once dominant athleticism. Now it is painful to watch him run up and down the court because of his knee problems. His eroding skills and nagging injuries have led him to become strictly a face up jump shooter. Also, he was only a 65% free throw for his career. In his prime, C-Webb was never able to lead his Kings past the Western Conference Finals.

Comparison to Eventual Hall of Famer
Webber compares favorably with Kevin Garnett (whom most think is a future Hall of Famer). Both have been unable to the reach the NBA Finals as leaders of their teams. That may change this year with Garnett leading the Celtics. Statistically, Garnett averaged 20.4 pts, 11.3 rebs, 4.4 asts, 1.4 stls, and 1.6 blks per game while Webber averaged 20.9 pts, 9.8 rebs, 4.3 asts, 1.5 stls, and 1.4 blks per game.

Final Verdict
From a statistical point of view (and natural ability), Webber compares favorably to some of the greatest power forwards ever to play the game. However, while Webber's numbers may be in the same neighborhood as Dr. J and the Mailman's, was he ever that dominant? No. He wasn't quite as memorable as Kevin McHale and Kevin Garnett either. To Webber's credit, he was just as responsible as Garnett at redefining the modern day big man. He was able to pass, shoot, rebound, run the floor, and score from mid range. His postseason failures do not help his case especially never being able to beat the rival Lakers when he was the leader of Sacramento. Since Webber called the famous time-out in the NCAA championship game to being traded as the first pick in the NBA Draft, his career has seemed to be incomplete and cursed. Yes, he compiled great statistics but there will be no fairy tale ending to this sports hero. OUT.

Anfernee Hardaway
6'7", 220lbs, Guard/Forward
College: Memphis State University
1st round draft pick (3rd overall) by Golden State (traded to Orlando)
Teams: Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic

Career Averages: 15.2 pts, 4.5 rebs, 5.0 asts, 1.6 stls per game
4 time All-Star
3 time All-NBA (First team twice)
1994 All-Rookie First Team
1996 Member of USA Gold Medal winning Olympic team
1996 Finished 3rd in MVP voting

Argument Against
He only had 4 Hall of Fame worthy seasons (his first four). Since then he has been somewhat effective but not very good. His overall stats are plain and don't jump off the page at you. Ever since Shaq was traded to LA after Penny Hardaway had a breakout 1995-96 season, Penny's career went downhill. He eventually became a role player for multiple teams and was plagued with injuries. He wasn't even a starter for most of the 2000's. He only shot 31% from 3 for his career. He reminds me of a Latrell Spreewell type player and Latrell isn't getting inducted into the Hall anytime soon (besides, Spree's busy trying to feed his family and make ends meet).

Comparison to Current Hall of Famer
Like Grant Hill, Anfernee Hardaway can be compared to a Hall of Famer from another sport: Gale Sayers. Sayers is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite playing basically 5 seasons. In that short time, though, Sayers was unbelievable. Was Hardaway on a Sayers-like level in his prime years? Not exactly, but he was close. And the fact that so many current NBA stars say they patterned their game after Penny’s says a lot. Sadly, injuries took there toll on both athletes sapping them off their extraordinary athletisicm that made them stars.

Final Verdict
Penny Hardaway was the closest thing we had seen to another Magic Johnson. He was a tall player able to shoot, pass, and run the point effectively. He was capable of filling a stat sheet and recorded his best season in 1996 averaging 21 points, 7 assists, and 2 steals per game. Unfortunately for Penny, that was the beginning of the end. He became a reserve on a few teams and wound up being cut by Miami in December of 2007. He hasn't been relative to basketball in almost a decade. OUT. (Lil Penny - IN)

Thanks to:
NBA Hall of Fame

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