This biggest news from the weekend was Tracy McGrady’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, but there was a reasonable expectation that he would make his way into the Hall this year. More notable in some ways was the inclusion of former Indiana Pacers great George McGinnis, who had been the only eligible player to have won the MVP award in either the ABA or NBA and not be inducted.
McGinnis had been among the most glaring exclusions from enshrinement, and that has of course remedied itself, leading to the question of who might be next for the Hall’s hallowed dome of plaques.
Jason Kidd and Grant Hill both will be eligible in 2018, as they will have been retired for four full seasons, and both seem like sure things.
Plenty of other players will get yet another opportunity as well, with the following being among the most notable:
Jack Sikma – Every year Sikma isn’t admitted into the Hall of Fame, the less likely it seems he’ll find his way there. Frankly, the argument for Sikma could go either way. He was a seven-time All-Star, but his career stats (15.6 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game) are good but not awe-inspiring. He dominated in college and won an NBA championship, but he attended tiny Illinois Wesleyan University, a Division III school, and his championship was with the 1979 Seattle SuperSonics, which wasn’t exactly the most memorable in history. He never made an All-NBA Team, but how could he as a center playing in the same era as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Moses Malone? Despite everything, he’s the only seven-time All-Star in league history not to be enshrined. There could be a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode about the Hall of Fame cutoff, and Sikma is exactly where Larry David would be throwing a fit.
Tim Hardaway – Once again, Hardaway was named a Hall of Fame finalists without actually earning enshrinement. He has been on the brink of Hall of Fame enshrinement for a few years now but has continually come up just a bit short as voters can’t quite seem to agree on whether or not he belongs. Over the course of his career he was named to five All-Star teams, one All-NBA First Team, three All-NBA Second Teams and one All-NBA Third Team. He remains among the top 20 players in career assists and finished with over 15,000 total points, numbers that are undeniably Hall-worthy. It seems like he’ll get there eventually, but for whatever reason he keeps falling just short.
Chris Webber – Like Hardaway, Webber was nominated as a finalist for 2017 induction but was not enshrined. In his two years of college he led the University of Michigan to back-to-back Final Four appearances, and as a contemporary of Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett in the NBA, two sure-thing Hall of Famers, there once was a real argument that Webber was the best of them. He ran the break like a point guard, passed as well as any big man the game has ever seen and played some of the most efficient and exciting basketball of the era. Nobody could stop Webber in his prime, which is a big reason why he made five All-Star Teams and five All-NBA Teams, including an All-NBA First Team selection. There aren’t a lot of eligible players with a resume like this, which is why it seems likely he’ll ultimately end up enshrined, too.
Kevin Johnson – The numbers are there for KJ, who averaged 17.9 points per game, 9.1 assists per game and 1.5 steals per game over the course of 12 NBA seasons. He made five All-Star teams, was named to five All-NBA Teams and played in the 1993 NBA Finals against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Had he spent more seasons healthy, he’d probably be a lock for the Hall of Fame, but he played 70 games or fewer in six of his 12 seasons. He was named a finalist in 2016, but didn’t make it that far in 2017. Health, apparently, is the deal breaker with him, but that doesn’t mean his name won’t pop up another time or two in the years to come.
Sidney Moncrief – Yet another five-time NBA All-Star, Moncrief also won NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice over the course of his career. He made four All-Defensive Teams and even was named to the All-NBA First Team once in 1983. He averaged 15.6 points and 4.7 rebounds in his 11 seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, and while not necessarily a championship contender, the mid-‘80s Bucks were perennially among the best teams in the league with Moncrief as their best player. If he were a no-brainer Hall-of-Famer he’d already be there, but his resume may not be strong enough to move him past his finalist status.
Shawn Kemp –Athleticism alone does not a Hall of Fame player make, but Kemp has a resume that should at least garner him some consideration for the Hall. He was named to the All-NBA Second Team three times and earned six All-Star selections, and while Kemp didn’t retire with any rings, he did make it to the Finals in 1996 and helped give Michael Jordan’s Bulls a decent run for their money. He finished his career with over 15,000 points and 9,000 rebounds, and he was arguably the most exciting dunker of his era. Dunking doesn’t punch a ticket to the Hall, but when the rest of the package is as good as Kemp’s, it is at least worth a conversation.
Ben Wallace – If admitted, Wallace would be the first undrafted NBA star to make the Hall of Fame, which is pretty incredible, frankly. At only 6-foot-9, Wallace never should have been as dominant defensively as he was, but he still put up amazing defensive numbers in his prime—enough to earn him four Defensive Player of the Year Awards and five All-Defensive First Team designations. In 2002-03, he averaged a career-high 15.4 rebounds per game and the following season he swatted away a career-high 3.5 blocks per game, all of which came right around the same time he won a title with the Detroit Pistons. His career six points per game and atrocious free-throw shooting might work against him, but he’s one of the best defenders ever. Even with dismal offense, he’ll be one of those guys who at least ends up in the conversation every single year until he makes it in.
While Kidd and Hill are likely to headline the 2018 class of Hall of Fame inductees, a couple of these guys also could find their way into the Hall. It would be excruciating to have been one of the best players of an era, only to fall just shy of playing well enough to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, but hopefully these guys won’t have to wait too much longer. If George McGinnis can get his opportunity, the guys on this list can, too.
#28 – Jacob Evans – Golden State Warriors
With the 28th overall pick, the Golden State Warriors selected Cincinnati Junior Jacob Evans.
Evans represents a solid pick for nearly any NBA team. Evans fits in the mold of a potential 3-and-D role player. Evans improved in his time at Cincinnati, culminating in his junior year, where he scored 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Evans spent three seasons at Cincinnati and rounded himself into a versatile two-way player who can bring a lot of value at the NBA level.
Evans is a very cognitive player, especially on the defensive end. He has a better grasp of his limitations than most players at this stage of their respective careers and is able to maximize his individual defensive ability within a team concept. Evans generally makes the right rotations, double-teams at the right times and funnels his opponents to where his teammates are when he cannot contain the ball-handler on his own. With the right coaching, he could become a valuable defensive wing in an NBA rotation sooner than some anticipate.
Additionally, Evans is more than just a shooter. He led his team in assists last season and has some skill as a playmaker. Evans will be more of a shooter and finisher in the NBA, but the ability to make the right pass, swing the ball when he isn’t open and take the ball off the dribble when necessary make him an intriguing prospect. This is especially true when you consider how valuable a player like Khris Middleton has become over the years, adding layers to his 3-and-D skill set each season.
The Warriors aren’t in need of an influx of talent but are happy to add Evans regardless.
#27 – Robert Williams III – Boston Celtics
With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.
With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.
Although there were early week rumors that the Celtics might try to trade up, they’ve ultimately elected to find a difference-maker at the end of the first round instead. For a team that nearly reached the NBA Finals despite debilitating injuries to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, Boston’s roster didn’t need a wholesale change on draft night. But at No. 27, they’ll be more than happy to leave with the mysterious-but-talented Williams.
Last year, Williams was viewed as a potential first-rounder before he returned to Texas A&M for his sophomore year. In 2017-18, Williams averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds on 63.2 percent from the field, fueling the Aggies to a 22-13 record. During this current pre-draft process, Williams looked poised to become a mid-first-round selection once again — but his stock faded as the big night got closer. In fact, Williams even decided to watch the draft with his family, even though he was a green room invitee.
His stock has undoubtedly dropped as of late, but this may end up being the steal of the draft — naturally, he dropped right into general manager Danny Ainge’s lap. Williams, 6-foot-10, is a freak athlete that’ll bring a new look to an already fearsome defensive unit in Boston. At A&M, Williams won back-to-back SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and averaged 2.5 blocks per game. Of course, he’ll get the opportunity to learn from the hard-nosed Al Horford, a five-time All-Star and the defensive linchpin for Boston — a win-win situation for all.
Williams, 20, joins an extremely young core in Boston that also includes Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum, among others.
#26 – Landry Shamet – Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers select Landry Shamet with the 26th overall pick.
With the 26th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select guard Landry Shamet of Wichita State.
Shamet, if he is able to fulfill his potential, should provide the Sixers with some much-needed shooting, as their rotation was noticeably starved for another deadeye sniper.
A career 43.7 percent three-point shooter, Shamet sank 44.2 percent of his shots from downtown last season, and he did so while firing nearly six attempts from deep a game. Sliding Shamet at the guard position alongside franchise point guard Ben Simmons allows for another weapon at Simmons’ disposal.
Standing at 6-foot-5 and 21 years old, Shamet has the size to play either guard spot in the NBA (especially given Philadelphia’s lengthy and versatile lineup). Along with his shooting ability, Shamet also led the American Athletic Conference with 166 assists last season. With Markelle Fultz still a question mark for Philadelphia, Shamet provides a secondary ball-handler and playmaker, whether in the starting lineup or in the reserve unit.
The first round of the 2018 NBA Draft was a whirlwind for the Sixers, and they ultimately land two guards of very separate varieties: an upside-laden athlete in Zhaire Smith, and a skillful “veteran” rookie whose skillset is established.