Jason Kidd was expected to headline the Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2018 class.
He’ll likely have company.
After recently reducing the waiting period for eligibility from five years to four years after retirement, the Hall of Fame dropped it to three years. That means the former NBA players who are 2018 first-time nominees are, in order of likelihood of enshrinement:
- Jason Kidd
- Steve Nash
- Ray Allen
- Grant Hill
- Chauncey Billups
- Bob Dandridge
- Richard Hamilton
Kidd, Nash and Allen are locks. There will be time to celebrate their basketball accomplishments. It’s futile to debate their worthiness.
Hill makes an interesting case considering he was elite at his peak then, after all the injuries, still wound up playing more games than numerous Hall of Famers, including Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Jerry West and David Robinson. Hill’s late-career resurgence could add the necessary longevity for inclusion, though his prime might have been too short. The Hall of Fame will also consider his distinguished career at Duke. But I don’t care how a potential Hall of Famer played at a lower level.
Billups could be the rare Finals MVP not in or headed to the Hall of Fame. He made only one All-NBA second team, two All-NBA third teams and five All-Star teams. His peak just wasn’t quite high or long enough for me.
I’m not sure how Dandridge, who retired in 1982, suddenly got nominated for the first time. He had a nice career, but the Hall was fine for decades leaving him out. There’s no need to change that.
Hamilton made just three All-Star teams and no All-NBA teams. He was very good, but that’s not the same as Hall of Fame worthy.
That said, the Basketball Hall of Fame is convoluted, and it’s difficult to predict what it will do. To that end, here are NBA players who’ve been re-nominated, again in my projected order of likelihood of enshrinement:
- Tim Hardaway
- Maurice Cheeks
- Ben Wallace
- Sidney Moncrief
- Chris Webber
- Muggsy Bogues
Hardaway should get in, as well as maybe a few others. But Kidd, Allen and Nash will come first. The rest is up for discussion.