The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced the nominees for the 2018 class of inductees, and it looks pretty powerful.
The Hall changed its rules this time, allowing players to be eligible after just three years of retirement, rather than the five years required by baseball and football.
This gives the players a bit of recency bias that might help their cause, but in these cases, I don’t think the guys need much help – certainly not for three of the six guys up for consideration.
The star power includes Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Ray Allen, Grant Hill, Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton.
Others who officially retired in 2014 and technically are eligible include Michael Redd, Juwan Howard, Brandon Roy and Eddy Curry.
To give that list some pop, let’s look at the accolades.
This group is responsible for a co-rookies of the year (Hill and Kidd), Finals MVP award (Billups), two league MVP awards (Nash), two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and numerous top-10 finishes. These players account for a total of 44 all-star game appearances and one three-point contest win on all-star weekend (Allen).
Even by today’s Moneyball advanced metrics, this group lines up quite nicely.
Win shares is based on the idea that if you pulled this guy out and stuck in a perfectly average player, how many fewer wins per season would one expect.
Allen ranks 29th all-time with 145 extra wins created. Kidd is 32nd with 138.6 wins. Nash is 38th with 129.7 wins. Billups is 46th with 120.8.
That’s four players ranked in the top 50 in the history of the NBA.
By the way, Grant Hill (despite missing most of four seasons) is still 84th with 99.9 wins. Richard Hamilton is 240th with 62.8 wins.
Redd, who was only 29 years old when his career derailed, didn’t thrive long enough to make the top 250 on Basketball-Reference.com. After being part of the 2008 Olympic team, Redd played just 33 games the next season before tearing both his ACL and MCL in his left knee. He had surgery, tried to come back and just 10 months later tore both ligaments again.
People forget Redd was one of the top scorers in the league, averaging 21.7, 23.0, 25.4 and 26.7 points in four consecutive seasons, with a career three-point shooting mark close to 40 percent. At the rate he was going, Redd would have reached top 50 in career scoring by age 32, possibly 33 if he began to slip with age.
Football tends to give players consideration for injuries or other circumstances – just look at Gale Sayers, Roger Staubach and Lynn Swann.
Redd likely won’t get consideration, but injuries will play a part for Hill. The Duke graduate had six straight great seasons for the Detroit Pistons, then signed with Orlando to play with Tracy McGrady. He injured his ankle and over the next four years he played in just 47 of a possible 328 games.
Then in 2004-05, he came back and played 67 games, scored 19.7 points and reminded everyone he was a good player. But then he promptly missed three-fourths of the next season.
His big contract with the Magic finally ran out, and he signed with the Suns for the veteran’s minimum. Then he floored everyone by playing 313 of 328 games over four seasons with Phoenix, including three straight quality years of 80 or more games.
So do seven great seasons and four decent seasons equate to the Hall of Fame?
The top three are easy.
Ray Allen was a 10-time all-star and two-time NBA champion. He scored 20 points a game for 10 seasons until joining Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and taking a lesser role. His clutch shooting is the reason LeBron James was able to get a ring over the Spurs.
He is number one in three-point makes, sixth in free throw shooting, 29th in points, 40th in three-point percentage, 49th in steals.
Kidd was a 10-time all-star, nine-time all-defensive team member and 2011 NBA champion.
He led the league in assists five times. His first five years in the league his foul shooting was in the high-60s; the rest of his career jumped into the 80s. Likewise, he made himself into a decent three-point threat (35 percent) over his career and is ranked ninth in career makes.
He ranks second only to John Stockton in both assists and steals. He is 82nd in points scored, and his value over a replacement player ranks 11th all time.
Nash won two MVP awards and eight all-star selections. He led the league in assists five times (often competing with Kidd for that title), led twice for foul shooting and once for effective field-goal shooting.
While a shooter is considered to have had a great season if he goes 40/50/90, Nash nearly averaged that for a whole career. He went 42.8 from deep, 49.0 overall (51.8 on two-point tries), and 90.4 from the line.
He finished third in career assists, right behind Kidd, 85th in points, 18th in three-point makes, ninth in three-point percentage, tops in foul shooting and 13th in offensive rating.
The surprise for me was how well the Detroit PG Chauncey Billups measured up to that group.
Billups made five all-star teams, two all-defensive teams and was the MVP of the 2004 finals.
In the first five years of his career, Boston, Toronto, Denver and Minnesota all gave up on him. Then he landed with Coach Larry Brown, and his career took off.
Despite five subpar years in the prime of his athleticism, Billups still managed all his accolades from age 27 on.
He is 13th in made three-pointers, 42nd in assists, fifth in career foul shooting, 56th in true shooting percentage, 28th in offensive win shares (and yet was known on the Pistons for his gritty defense). Basketball-Reference.com puts his Hall of Fame probability at 84.4 percent.
Next week I’ll see how this group stacks up to the best classes ever.
Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.