Basketball Hall of Fame
After the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the 2020 ceremony until May of this year, Saturday wraps up a busy stretch of two inductions in four months. We’ll see a new crop of candidates this fall, with finalists chosen at NBA All-Star Weekend and inductees announced at the NCAA Division I men’s Final Four, with the Hall of Fame hopefully returning to its regular schedule.
Consider which new NBA players will be on the ballot four years after their retirement as we project classes in 2022, 2023, and 2024 as we look ahead to next year and beyond. Given that only one of this year’s selections (Paul Pierce) was in his first year of eligibility, let’s take a look at the holdovers who may have a chance to make the team in the future.
The lack of transparency in the process, which is conducted behind closed doors by committees with unknown members, makes projecting Naismith Hall of Fame inductees difficult. Nonetheless, we’ll do our best to predict which NBA legends will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the near future.
1. Manu Ginobili
Ginobili will undoubtedly be inducted into the Hall of Fame. As I discussed in a column shortly after his retirement, Ginobili’s NBA career alone makes him a borderline pick. Finally, I came to the conclusion that Ginobili’s contributions to four championship teams, as well as his impressive advanced stats, outweighed his limited counting statistics. When you consider that he led Argentina to Olympic gold in 2004, as well as winning the EuroLeague and being named MVP, he’s an easy choice with a better NBA career than other international selections.
2. Joe Johnson
Johnson’s resume is more typical of a Hall of Famer than you might think, as I noted during his playing career. In the modern era, every eligible player with at least seven All-Star appearances, as well as nearly every player with at least 20,000 career points, has made it (Tom Chambers and Antawn Jamison, the two players to clear the bar by less than Johnson, are the exceptions).
We may have to revisit the 20,000 mark as a Hall of Fame standard as scoring continues to grow, but given Johnson’s broad career similarity to Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond (six All-Star appearances, less than 100 career points), I believe he’ll eventually make it in.
Newly eligible in 2023
1a. Dirk Nowitzki
1b. Dwyane Wade
Nowitzki and Wade’s careers will be linked by Finals matchups in 2006 and 2011 that resulted in each of them winning Finals MVP and winning their first titles, and they will undoubtedly be inducted as first-ballot Hall of Famers in 2023.
3. Tony Parker
Parker finds himself in a similar situation to his longtime Spurs backcourt mate. He’d be on the edge based on his NBA accomplishments. Parker came up just short of 20,000 points in his career, and his six All-Star appearances don’t guarantee him a spot. (Shawn Kemp and Jermaine O’Neal, two recent All-Stars who haven’t gotten much Hall attention, have six All-Star Games between them.) Parker would likely be pushed over the top if he won the Finals MVP in 2007, but even without Ginobili’s international exploits, he’s an easy international pick.
Newly eligible in 2024
1. Vince Carter
Remember when we were debating whether Carter deserved to be in the Hall of Fame? That question was answered affirmatively by his illustrious longevity. Carter not only surpassed 20,000 career points, but also surpassed 25,000, placing him 22nd all-time in NBA history. There’s no doubt that Carter will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2024, most likely as a first-ballot selection due to the lack of other candidates.
Without an All-Star appearance, Jamal Crawford would need to return to the NBA and reach 20,000 points, and Pau Gasol has pushed his eligibility until at least 2025 by playing for FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team since his NBA career ended.
Given the Hall of Fame’s structure, it makes the most sense to look at the finalists who haven’t made it in recent years to see which players who are already eligible have the best chance of filling future classes. Consider that Ben Wallace and Chris Webber, both chosen this year, were two of the three finalists who did not make it in 2019. (Under a streamlined process announced after the death of Kobe Bryant, one of the three legendary first-time candidates that year, along with Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, there were no finalists in 2020.)
1. Marques Johnson
2. Tim Hardaway
3. Michael Cooper
Who else should the Hall consider?
1. Shawn Marion
2. Horace Grant
3. Jimmy Jones