This year it was a strong Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class — Gary Payton was a lock, Bernard King should have been there long ago, Oscar Schmidt was a given for the international game.
Now, what about next year?
The list is just not as strong, at least not to my eyes. But here are three guys you can make a case for:
Chris Webber. He averaged 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds a game over a 15 year NBA career. He was the 1994 Rookie of the Year, a five time All-Star, All NBA First Team once (and three more times on the second team). He and the Fab Five had a famed college career that helped change the game, then in the NBA he was a very good player that led some very good Sacramento teams. To me, Webber is not a lock Hall of Famer, and likely doesn’t get in on the first ballot, but he’s a guy with a good enough resume you need to discuss him.
Tim Hardaway. Part of the legendary Run TMC in Golden State, Hardaway is a five-time All Star, a guy who made the All-NBA First Team once and was on the second team three times, plus he averaged 17.7 points and 8.2 assists a game. Like Webber not a lock, but as time moves on (he’s been eligible for a couple years) he looks more and more like a guy who could get in.
Vlade Divac. His NBA numbers are not exactly what gets him into the Hall of Fame (11.8 points and 8.2 rebounds a game), but he did make one All-Star team. Rather, you have to discuss Vlade as a guy on the front end of the influx of European talent that we see now throughout the game. As an international player he is a trendsetter. Also, his flopping and cigarette smoking are legendary.