The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame has announced their 2020 nominees for induction. So, naturally, we ranked them.
The nominees for the 2020 class at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame have been announced, with an impressive list of first-time nominees, including Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant. In honor of this annual exercise in subjective evaluation, I’ve subjectively ranked my 10 favorites from the list of nominees.
As a reminder, the Hall of Fame separates nominees out into several categories including female players, international players, and early African-American pioneers. Swin Cash and Tamika Catchings were both nominated by the women’s committee and should be obvious inclusions but for this silly exercise I focused only on NBA nominations from the North American committee, and looked at both first-time nominees and those who had been nominated before but not selected.
10. Michael Finley
Finley’s career per-game averages are depressed by his longevity and several seasons as a veteran reserve but his peak was impressive — a five-year run with the Mavericks where he averaged 21.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game, earning two All-Star selections and leading the league in minutes per game three times. He also won a title as a key contributor for the Spurs in 2007, playing 26.9 minutes per game off the bench and hitting 41.9 percent of 3s in the playoffs.
Williams is a first-time nominee, even though he retired in 1998. He played 17 rock-solid, if unspectacular seasons for the Nets, Blazers and Knicks, averaging 12.8 points and 10.0 rebounds for his career. He’s a longshot to make the Hall of Fame but his case hinges heavily on his longevity — more than 20 years after he retired, he’s still 24th on the all-time list for minutes played, third in offensive rebounds and 16th in rebounds overall.
8. Shawn Marion
Marion’s career had two separate epochs. The first was when he averaged 18.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.4 blocks per game over eight and a half seasons for the Phoenix Suns. It may have been Steve Nash‘s brilliance that made the Seven Seconds or Less Suns a historic offense, but it was Marion’s athleticism and versatility on defense that made them viable. The second important era of his career was the five seasons he spent in Dallas as an offensive afterthought, channeling all of his energy into defense. He was instrumental in the Mavericks’ 2011 title run, taking primary responsibility for LeBron James and still managing to average 13.7 points per game in the Finals.
Billups has a ring and the 2004 NBA Finals MVP on his resume but statistically, there’s not much to separate him from other players who presumably won’t end up as Hall-of-Famers. For example, Tim Hardaway (another longshot who is on the nomination list) averaged more points, rebounds, assists and steals per game over this career than Billups. Even in the playoffs, there isn’t much to separate their individual numbers so if Billups does make it in he better send a big thank you note to…
6. Ben Wallace
Wallace is not a first-time nominee and was passed over last season. It seems like his offensive limitations may have him languishing for a bit but he absolutely deserves inclusion. He was the premier defender of his era, winning Defensive Player of the Year four times in five seasons and helping the Pistons secure a title in 2004. His case may be hurt by a long career with a relatively short peak but his longevity is the reason he ranks top-20 all time in offensive rebounds and blocks.
5. Chris Bosh
At first glance, Bosh may seem like a borderline case because of how much his basketball legacy is bound up with his team playing third fiddle to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with the Miami Heat. Look closer, and he’s a lock. In seven seasons before joining the Heat, he averaged 20.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks per game, making five All-Star games and earning a Second Team All-NBA selection in 2006-07.
Even during his Heat tenure, his individual numbers are remarkably solid and he added two titles and six more All-Star selections, while transforming into a plus and versatile defender and adding stretch to his game.
4. Chris Webber
Webber’s career was undoubtedly depressed by injury. But he was one of the most uniquely talented big men in the league with a seven-year peak where averaged 23.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.7 blocks per game for the Washington Bullets and Sacramento Kings. His passing and creativity helped fuel those early Kings teams and they were perhaps just some referee shenanigans away from winning a title. In addition, the Hall of Fame recognizes contributions from outside the NBA and Webber’s central role in Michigan’s Fab Five deserves recognition as well.
3. Kobe Bryant
He’s an obvious lock. Do we get a “Crying Kobe” meme out of his acceptance speech?
2. Kevin Garnett
I mean, the man “broke” LeBron James. What else do you want from a Hall-of-Famer.
1. Tim Duncan
He’s got it all. Five titles spanning two decades. Rookie of the Year. An MVP. A Finals MVP. Fifteen All-Defense selections. An instrumental role in building one of the most consistently successful organizations in the history of sports. The No. 1 spot on my dumb list.