The NBA Hall of Very Good

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“Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups” by Jesse D. Garrabrant licensed under Getty Images

Every year there are a bunch of players who are snubbed from the hall of fame. Some are even snubbed for the rest of their lives. After their playing career, these very good players miss out on any sort of recognition from the NBA and media alike. What if there was a way to reward these players for their hard work on the court that put fans in seats for organizations?

The “Hall of Very Good” solves that issue by selecting the best remaining players never inducted into the hall of fame into its idiosyncratic club. So what are the rules of this exclusive consortium? The only comparison to the NBA Hall of Very Good is the NBA Hall of Fame. Thus, the rules are shaped analogous to the NBA Hall of Fame.

  1. There have been 177 NBA Hall of Fame players in total. Since very good players account for about 1/10 the accolades of actual Hall of Famers, I will induct a worthy 15 players into the club (177 divided by 10 equals 17.7, but since I am not detaching limbs of players into the Hall of Very Good, I will cut it off at 15).
  2. It takes 3 seasons for a player to be retired until they can be inducted. Since this isn’t quite the actual hall of fame, we’ll do one year since the players retired (sorry Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, and Andre Iguodala, maybe next year).

Point Guards

Penny Hardaway

15.2 points 4.5 rebounds 5.0 assists

4 All-Star Games

17.4 PER

61.9 Win Shares

Hardaway was on track to become a surefire Hall of Famer. Prior to crippling knee injuries, he averaged 19.6 points 6.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds. Unfortunately, the star talent peaked by year 3 and found himself in a bench role by age 29. In his prime, Anfernee (his real name) was an all-around player who can get out in transition, dish the ball with major-league zip on it, and dribble through defenders like a Globetrotter. He was compared to Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. He was like Tracy McGrady before Tracy McGrady.

Tim Hardaway

17.7 points 3.3 rebounds 8.2 assists

5 All-Star Games

18.6 PER

85.0 Win Shares

Donning a tantalizing crossover, Tim Hardaway broke so many opponents ankles it was as if they had their shoelaces tied together. He was a basketball trailblazer, his crossover inspired today’s youth. He was also the featured player on a legendary Run TMC Warriors squad. That team was second-generation Showtime and the grandparents of the Hampton’s 5.

Kevin Johnson

17.9 points 3.3 rebounds 9.1 assists

3 All-Star Games

20.7 PER

92.8 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Dominant Prime

KJ was a tremendous talent whose career was devalued by the Jordan era. During his prime, Kevin Johnson had a legitimate argument for the best point guard of the 1990’s. In his 599 game prime, KJ produced 19.8 points 10.0 assists with 84.8 win shares and 27.0 VORP. Johnson was as good as any point guard in his prime.

In 541 games Gary Payton put up 21.1 7.9 assists with 79.0 win shares and 36.9 VORP. In 570 games, John Stockton averaged 16..0 points 13.5 with 95.4 win shares and 33.2 VORP. Based on statistics, KJ indubitably has an argument for the best point guard of the 1990’s.

Chauncey Billups

15.2 points 2.9 rebounds 5.4 assists

5 All-Star Games

18.8 PER

120.8 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Championship and advanced statistics

Mr. Big Shot His prime started when others end at age 27 (!), he somehow won a championship as the best player (?) and was one of the best three-point shooters of all time.

Some people debate that Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, or Rip Hamilton were more significant to a Pistons championship in 2005-2006. Billups’ advanced statistics disprove this notion. He was in the top-5 in 2005-2006 in; win shares (3rd), offensive rating (1st), offensive box plus/minus (4th). He even was 5th in MVP voting and 4th in assists per game that season. We don’t commemorate Billups as a dominant force but maybe we should.

According to basketball reference, Mr. Big Shot has a great chance, 84.4%, of making the hall of fame. For now, he boasts the strongest resume in the Hall of Very Good.

Stephon Marbury

19.3 points 3.0 rebounds 7.6 assists

18.7 PER

77.5 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Star Power

The mercurial Marbury started and ended his career a controversial figure, but one thing remained. Coney Island’s Finest earned that nickname by earning his stripes playing on the toughest courts in the world. He was roughed up when he was younger, driving him in becoming a highly-touted prospect that was labeled “can’t miss” by every major media outlet.

He was a human highlight reel at his best and a faulty teammate at his worst. Marbury was a circus act and you knew you were going to be in for a treat if you flipped to a Marbury game on the television.

Andre Miller

12.5 points 3.7 rebounds 4.5 assists

0 All-Star Games

17.4 PER

100.9 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Longevity

Andre Miller is like the Omar Vizquel of the NBA. He played solid B- basketball for so long it made his career seem a lot better than it actually was. The Professor (which the most fitting nickname of all time) played for 21 seasons and was a solid role player until his last season with the Spurs. His accumulation of vast experience led him to play for 9 teams.

 

Honorable Mention: Gilbert Arenas (the Javaris Crittenton incident muddies up his chances), Mike Bibby, Mark Price

Shooting Guards

Sidney Moncrief

15.6 points 4.7 rebounds 3.6 assists

5 All-Star Games

18.7 PER

90.3 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Similarity Scores

Okay, so admittedly I never imitated or even watched the former Buck great, but from what I can discern from statistics he is an obvious snub from the actual hall of fame. Maybe it’s because he played where mainstream basketball goes to die or that his teams never reached the pinnacle of success. Whatever it is, Moncrief belongs in the Hall of Very Good.

In his prime, Sid the Kid put up hall of Fame-worthy numbers, 21.0 points 5.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists. His player similarity scores on Basketball-Reference even put him in an esteemed group; Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Dwyane Wade, Walt Frazier, and Kevin Johnson being some of the names in the same sentence as Moncrief. Obviously, similarity scores are not an exact science but if they tell us one thing, it is that Sidney Moncrief is a diamond in the rough.

Steve Francis

18.1 points 5.6 rebounds 6.0 assists

3 All-Star Games

18.3 PER

54.1 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Inspiration

Steve Francis inspired me to play basketball, and there’s something to be said of that. He embodied the cliche basketball statement, “2-guard in a point guard’s body.” Stevie Franchise was the face of the Houston Rockets, averaging 20.0 points 6.2 rebounds and 6.5 assists. He was a straight-shooter, in many ways representing early 2000’s basketball.

He cherished isolation basketball, backing up the ball only to race at his defender with a swift crossover and an explosive pull-up or sly finish. His inconsistency ultimately led to his downfall though, his effective field goal percentage of 46% was highly inefficient, even then. With that, as soon as Francis touched down in the NBA, he was out.

Michael Redd

19.0 points 3.8 rebounds 2.1 assists

1 All-Star Game

19.5 PER

55.9 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Constantly Underrated

Talk about a smooth lefty jump-shot. Manu Ginobili and James Harden should take notes on his wet jumper, it was that nice. His smooth jumper allowed him to sink 2751 three’s on 38% shooting. Redd could have easily been the third-best option on a championship team, but he toiled away in Milwaukee only playing in a mere 16 playoff games. I think people forget how good Redd was, producing 23.5 points 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists, statistically validating himself as a top-4 shooting guard in those years.

*Redd also ties Tayshaun Prince for the most forgettable player on the renowned 2008 USA Redeem Team.

 

Honorable Mention: Rip Hamilton (the masked one obviously), Latrell Sprewell

Small Forwards

Glen Rice

18.3 points 4.4 rebounds 2.1 assists

3 All-Star Games

16.2 PER

88.7 Win Shares

Defining Factor: One Memorable Season

Rice is a unique player because, at a specific point in time, he was commonly recognized as a top-5 player at his position. On his way to scoring the third most threes, Rice held the highest three-point percentage (47%). He also led the Hornets to their most wins ever (54) and his best statistical season, producing a gaudy 26.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. He was also third in total points behind MVP Karl Malone and best player Michael Jordan. His standout season proved to be a fluke though, as he put up just 16.9 points and 4.1 rebounds over the following four seasons.

Mark Aguirre

20.0 points 5.0 rebounds 3.1 assists

3 All-Star Games

19.8 PER

67.8 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Scoring Ability

In many ways, Aguirre is the atypical modern forward. He paved the way for undersized players like Draymond Green. He loved backing down guards with his fireplug build. Aguirre defined the moniker “juggernaut”, dropping a crazy 27 40-point games in the span of his career.

With the Mavericks, Aguirre was the number one option so when he was shipped to Detroit for Adrian Dantley, many questioned whether he could change colors like a chameleon. He did and that solidifies his legacy as a member of the Hall of Very Good.

Shawn Marion

15.2 points 8.7 rebounds 1.9 assists

4 All-Star Games

18.8 PER

124.9 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Prime and Longevity

Was the Matrix a product of the 7-second offense, a once-in-a-generation floor general, and a supplementary forward that took off tremendous pressure? His wacky jump-shot (which was the equivalent of a Kevin Youkilis batting stance) was like Owen Wilson shooting bullets in Shanghai Knight. He fired it from the right side of his hip and the ball took off like a speeding bullet at the rim.

Marion’s prime lasted a large period for a guy that could not shoot, from 2002 to 2007. Shawn never had a Josh Smith-like drop off statistically or on the court. In his prime, he averaged 19.7 points 10.3 rebounds 2.0 steals and 1.4 blocks. He could easily lock down positions 2-4. The forward was quick enough to stay with guards and strong enough to push bigger players off the block. He was the third or fourth (depending on how you value Jason Terry and Tyson Chandler) most valuable player on the 2010-11 champion Mavericks team. Starting in only 27 games, Marion produced an efficient 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds and 52.3% effective field goal percentage. Marion was always a consistent threat and played hard no matter what situation he was in. There is considerable merit to that in the Hall of Very Good.

 

Honorable Mention: Richard Jefferson, Peja Stojakovic, Tom Chambers,

Power Forwards

Robert Horry

7.0 points 4.8 rebounds 2.1 assists

0 All-Star Games

13.4 PER

66.3 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Legacy

Horry is a divisive choice. His statistics don’t match up with any of his peers. Yet he had the coolest nicknames (Big Shot Bob, Big Shot Rob, and The Key Man*) and the most illustrious legacy (7 championships). He has hit about a million clutch shots (6, to be exact) and played his best basketball in the playoffs. Horry played his best basketball when it mattered most, which is an underrated indication of a very good player.

*I admit I had no idea that ‘The Key Man’ was a Horry nickname but I think the nickname has substantial potential to become the next great Marvel character.

Larry Johnson

16.2 points 7.5 rebounds 3.3 assists

16.3 PER

69.7 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Prime

Larry Johnson’s rim-rattling dunks were a spectacle to behold in the 90’s. Him and Alonzo Mourning were like bread and butter on the court, but more like Batman and Superman off the court. He could do more than dunk though. If he snatched a board on the defensive end he could take it coast-to-coast without anyone getting in his way. He was a fluid dribbler and a great passer. In his prime, he produced a near dominant 19.6, 9.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists.

 

Honorable Mention: Rasheed Wallace, Buck Williams, Rashard Lewis, Kenyon Martin

Centers

Amare Stoudemire

18.9 points 7.8 rebounds 1.2 assists

6 All-Star Games

21.8 PER

92.5 Win Shares

Defining Factor: Inflated Statistics

Think of Amare as ground zero in the construction of today’s athletic and undersized 5. Amare made up for his lack of build in the post with trampoline jumping ability and high basketball IQ. He was the Karl Malone to Steve Nash’s John Stockton, gliding to the rim after a hard-setting screen.

Honorable Mention: Jack Sikma, Brad Daugherty, Vlade Divac, Elton Brand, Ben Wallace, Bill Laimbeer

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