Keltner List: Vince Carter

Recently, it’s come to my attention that the mere possibility of VC making the Hall of Fame apparently evokes an angry, violent, nauseous reaction on par with this. Then again, there’s no doubting he’s been one of the defining figures of the post-MJ era, for better or for worse. So what’s the verdict? Hall or no Hall for Mr. Carter? Let’s do this…

Vitals

Position: SG/SF
Height: 6-7 Weight: 215 lbs.
Born: January 26, 1977 in Daytona Beach, Florida
High School: Mainland in Daytona Beach, Florida
College: University of North Carolina
Draft: Selected by the Golden State Warriors in the 1st round (5th pick, 5th overall) of the 1998 NBA draft.

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in basketball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in basketball? There may have been a brief moment in the spring of 2001 when someone may have whispered that Carter may have been the best player in basketball… But honestly? No.

2. Was he the best player on his team? Sometimes. Carter was consistently the best player on his Toronto teams — some good, some bad. In New Jersey, it was probably a toss-up between VC and an aging Jason Kidd, with Richard Jefferson making his own bid in 2006 and Devin Harris taking the title in 2009. He’ll likely finish a distant 2nd on the 2010 Magic in Win Shares.

3. Was he the best player in basketball at his position? At his peak, he may have been the best SG in the NBA, but there was plenty of tough competition in Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Ray Allen. SPM says the best SG in 2001 was Allen Iverson; WS says Ray Allen. I’m going to go with “no”, then — Carter was close, but never quite #1.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of NBA Finals or Conference Finals? No. The deepest Carter ever went into the playoffs were a trio of Conference Semifinal losses, including a 7-game defeat vs. the Sixers (2001) in which Carter infamously attended his UNC graduation in the morning and returned to Philadelphia that afternoon to miss a game-winning jumper.

Of course, this could all change in a few months…

5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime? Yes, he’s doing it right now. Although, weirdly, his “prime” probably came at age 24.

6. Is he the very best (eligible) basketball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame? Incomplete, because he’s still active. Although even if he was retired and eligible, he still wouldn’t be better than Artis Gilmore or a handful of other guys.

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame? Every player who matched VC’s career line of 22.9 PPG/5.3 RPG/4.2 RPG/.537 TS% is either in the Hall of Fame or is a lock to be there someday. And even if you relax the standards to 22/5/4/.500, you still get a list of blue-chip HoF talent. I’m going to go with “yes”.

8. Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards? Carter’s Hall of Fame probability is currently 86.1%, which ranks him 71st all-time and definitely within the realm of HoF territory. In fact, according to HoF Probability, VC’s resume is a better match for past voting tendencies than established Hall members like Pete Maravich and Alex English. That still puts him more in the “borderline” camp than that of a “no-doubter”, but he’s definitely inside the range of numbers that meet the Hall’s standards.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his basic statistics? Carter’s typically listless defense is not reflected in his gaudy basic per-game stats. While VC had the tools to be a good defender, he rarely showed the inclination, as evidenced by his DPA numbers:

Year Age Team DPA
1999 22 TOR -0.36
2000 23 TOR -1.08
2001 24 TOR -1.36
2002 25 TOR -1.38
2003 26 TOR -1.66
2004 27 TOR -0.94
2005 28 TOR -1.19
2005 28 NJN -0.42
2006 29 NJN -0.21
2007 30 NJN -0.92
2008 31 NJN -0.84
2009 32 NJN -1.24
2010 33 ORL -0.28

There’s also the huge elephant in the room: Carter’s basic stats fail to reflect his demonstrable, indefensible willingness to tank both his own performance and that of his team. With the Raps in 2004-05, an unhappy Carter not only loafed on defense (which, while annoying, is hardly a new phenomenon among star players), but he may have been the first player in league history to openly mail it in on offense, averaging 15.9 PPG and 3.3 RPG on a .475 TS% at age 28 — numbers so out of step with his talent and past production that it shocked no one when he admitted later that he didn’t always try his hardest as a Raptor. (Really, Vince? You think?) Lobbying for a trade to a contender the previous summer, his apathetic play forced Rob Babcock’s hand into trading him to the Nets for Alonzo Mourning (who promptly refused to report), Aaron Williams, Eric Williams, and a pair of 1st-rounders. As if by magic, Carter suddenly started tearing up the league the second he stepped off the plane in Jersey, averaging a ridiculous 28 PPG & 6 RPG on a .556 TS% the rest of the way, which spurred the Nets to a 33-24 record and a playoff berth down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Raptors have had just one winning season since.

So while a lot of voters will love Carter’s talent and (for the most part) his production, isn’t his behavior in Toronto one of the worst sins a player can commit? I mean, holding a team hostage for a trade by openly not playing at anywhere near 100% of his ability — despite having signed a 6-year, $94 million extension to be the team’s franchise player just 3 years before? I feel like that incident is (justifiably) going to be a major negative mark on VC’s permanent record.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame? Incomplete, for now. But when he retires, he’ll likely go out around the same time as Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen, two players I think you have to rank ahead of Carter in the world of SGs. Also, Allen Iverson will likely be in already when Carter hangs it up (heck, A.I. might be retired right now for all we know), but he’s another SG who ranks higher on the all-time ladder than VC.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close? Carter brushed with an MVP-type season in 2000-01, ranking 6th in the NBA in Win Shares, 2nd in PER, and 3rd in Statistical +/-. Yet even then, he only tied Ray Allen for 11th in MVP voting, which was actually one position lower than he’d been in 2000.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame? Carter is an 8-time All-Star (2000-07), but probably wasn’t a deserving, All-Star-caliber player in at least two of those seasons (2003 & 2004), and you could probably object to 2005 on moral grounds. Players named to 8 ASG rosters include Rick Barry, Dave DeBusschere, Alex English, Bob Lanier, Larry Foust, Paul Pierce, Dikembe Mutombo, & Bill Sharman — a bit of a mixed bag, but one leaning towards the Hall of Fame. But when you drop down to 5-6 ASG selections, a far smaller % of players are in the Hall of Fame.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win an NBA title? No. Carter was the franchise player for a Toronto team that was built around him, and they maxed out at 47 wins and a loss in the 2nd round. In New Jersey (where he wasn’t even necessarily their best player), Carter’s teams peaked at 49 wins and a loss in the 2nd round. Even at his peak, surrounded with a solid cast of complementary players, Carter didn’t appear to be capable of leading a team to an NBA title.

14. What impact did the player have on basketball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way? Was his college and/or international career especially noteworthy? He’s the greatest dunker in basketball history, hands down (just ask Freddie Weis). He single-handedly revitalized the dunk contest in 2000, and the buzz from his jaw-dropping performance in Golden State reverberates through All-Star Saturday Night to this day, a decade removed from his last appearance in the competition. Carter’s performance in that contest will likely be his greatest legacy in the sport, but as long as the dunk is a part of basketball, his name will always be remembered.

The Verdict: I don’t think he gets in, barring some kind of postseason success with Orlando (and even that may not be enough). It’s much easier to make a case for him never stepping foot in the Hall than it is to argue for his induction, and this simple fact is going to weigh heavily on the minds of the voters. David Thompson was inducted despite never reaching his potential, and his fall from grace was actually less defensible than Carter’s Toronto tankfest (drugs and a knee injury — caused by falling down the stairs at Studio 54 — ruined Skywalker’s career), but Thompson was also a winner/statistical monster in college, and his long-run impact was massive: he helped further legitimize the ABA, leading to the merger; he helped pioneer the high-flying, dunking style we see today; he influenced the Greatest Player Ever™ more than anyone else; his career-ending drug addiction was one of the prime incidents that motivated the league to clean up its image… etc. In other words, Thompson gets a pass where Carter doesn’t because Thompson came first, and people view Thompson’s career arc as tragic, while they see Carter’s career arc as self-inflicted. Is this fair? Probably not. But is Carter as talented as Thompson was? Probably not. Thompson was viewed as arguably the best player in basketball during the 1978 season, and we’ve already established that Carter was never viewed as the NBA’s top player, even at his peak.

There’s also the question of whether Carter deserves to be in, which depends on how you view the ever-changing (or is that eroding?) standards of the Hall of Fame. In many ways, what newly-inducted Dennis Johnson is to APBRmetricians (his numbers underwhelm, but all he did was win ballgames), Carter is to the “intangibles” crowd, because he has good numbers but the non-statistical aspects of Carter’s profile are off-the-charts horrible (or as the popular narrative goes, he has no toughness, no heart, and isn’t a winner). Because of this, a few days ago I argued that as long as we’re going to include players like DJ, why not include Vince Carter and anybody else who’s a borderline candidate? I mean, they’re borderline for diametrically opposed reasons, but they’re both still borderline, right?

However, your mileage will definitely vary — heck, my feelings on the matter change constantly, too. We know that in a high-standards Hall, there’s no way Carter should be in. But that Hall of Fame doesn’t exist right now, so we’re stuck with the one that actually does — and I think that even with the tanking and the intangible concerns, Carter is on the fence and leaning toward falling off on the “deserving” side, pending what happens with Orlando. Does that mean he’s an all-time great player? No. But then again, that’s not really a requirement for the Hall of Fame at this point. In the end, Carter meets a ton of historical HoF qualifications, and he has made a definite impact on the culture of the game. At a certain level, what more can you ask from a Hall of Famer?

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About Neil Paine

I work for Sports-Reference.com. I've been a freelance writer for ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, and Basketball Prospectus.

Posted on April 9, 2010, in Hall of Fame, History, Keltner List. Bookmark the permalink. 100 Comments.

  1. @Luke

    Nah, it wasn’t just Simmons. It seemed like most sportswriters and ex-players were pretty supportive of his candidacy. But, because he didn’t average 20-25 ppg or lead the league in Win Shares (or whatever) he isn’t a “real” HoF now. Vince Carter is, though, with all of his playoff success and memorable, none-Slam Dunk contest moments.

    Also, you raise an interesting point in regard to the number of HoFs playing in the league right now. Duncan, Kobe, Shaq, Garnett, Kidd, Nowitzki, Iverson, Nash, Pierce, Allen, and (possibly) Billups all seem like locks at this point. LeBron and Wade seem like safe bets as well. And then there’s Howard, Melo, Paul, Williams, Roy, Durant (if this season is any indication of what his future’s going to be like), Rose, and Evans, all of whom have the ability to make it to the Hall someday as well.

    I don’t think this is unheard of, though. I chose a random season (1988), and decided to find the HoFs who were playing that year: MJ, Bird, Magic, Barkley, Ewing, Hakeem, Dominique, Stockton, (Karl) Malone, Drexler, Isiah, Kareem, McHale, Parish, English, Dantley, DJ (ha!), Worthy, Pippen, and (Moses) Malone. This doesn’t even include guys who haven’t been elected yet, but still have a shot: Reggie Miller (who’s a lock to me, but whatever), Gilmore, Mullin, KJ, Moncrief, Nance, King, Cheeks, etc.

  2. sp6r=underrated

    Couldn’t the alleged number of future HOF just be due to the expanded size of the league?

    Also Vince Carter was a much better player in the PLAYOFFS than DJ. I wouldn’t put Vince in the HOF, but if the coach feuding, trade demanding, DJ deserves the HOF so does Carter. At least Vince was never accused of holding a knife to his wife’s throat while threatening his son.

    Finally, the comments of players have to be taken with a massive grain of salt. With the exception of a few pricks like Barry, most former players say nice things about each other.

  3. sp6r=underrated

    BTW Billups is a lot better at the game of basketball than DJ ever was. I probably wouldn’t vote for Billups, but if DJ deserves it . . .

  4. sp6r=underrated

    Here’s a fun one for Bostonians. Who was a better basketball player? DJ or Bill Laimbeer. Laimbeer has two rings, so you really can’t flaunt the championship rings in comparison to DJ. Laimbeer has comparable stats, and pretty good award recognition, though not as good as DJ. I guess Laimbeer’s a HOF.

  5. sp6r=underrated

    Another point guard who deserves to make the HOF if DJ does is Tim Hardaway.

  6. @sp6r=underrated

    I actually think Billups and DJ have a lot in common, career-wise. Billups is a better offensive player, DJ was a better defensive player; but they both play/played the “heady point guard on teams that make the playoffs year after year” role excellently.

    It’ll be interesting when Billups’ candidacy comes up. A lot of people will hold the years in which he bounced around the league against him, but I think leading teams to seven straight Conference Finals (as well as two consecutive Finals, one of which he won) and turning a talented-but-rudderless squad into a true contender allows one to make a compelling case for his induction.

  7. sp6r=underrated

    “Why does that have to be an either/or proposition? Moncrief should be in the Hall. And K.C. Jones should not, no doubt.”

    It doesn’t have to be. But it makes me very angry that there was a huge push by journalists located on the Eastern Seaboard for DJ, when a clearly superior player who was a contemporary of DJ (and you have to be a brain dead ring counter to disagree) is almost trapped in anonymity. DJ, doesn’t meet the criteria for a HOF. Being the 4th best player on championship teams shouldn’t get people into the HOF. And no Neil citing your HOF Probability meter, which has HEIGHT as a factor, is totally unconvincing. For most cases, thankfully, it doesn’t. But not for Boston players.

    Neil, doesn’t believe there is Boston bias. How does he explain something like what Dan Shaughnessy wrote about Tim Duncan? If it was just about championship rings, that column would never have been written. Why are the 71 bucks totally forgotten, and the 86 Celtics frequently proclaimed the best team of all time.

  8. sp6r=underrated

    I actually think Billups and DJ have a lot in common, career-wise. Billups is a better offensive player, DJ was a better defensive player; but they both play/played the “heady point guard on teams that make the playoffs year after year” role excellently.

    There are rough similarities between the career arc of Billups and DJ. But, Billups is much better statistically than DJ. Its a massive difference in favor of Billups once you factor in pace which shouldn’t be ignored. His peak recognition in MVP voting is much greater than DJ. Billups was just better at playing the game of basketball. Now, I probably wouldn’t vote for Chauncey but he is far more deserving than DJ.

  9. @sp6r=underrated:

    Okay, I’m going to settle this on-going argument now, so that the comments on these posts don’t run into the hundreds.

    1.) Are there players in the Hall of Fame who I think shouldn’t be there, and who are there in the stead of much better players? Of course. K.C. Jones, Frank Ramsey, Tom Gola, Calvin Murphy, Bob Houbregs, Bill Bradley, Walt Bellamy, etc., shouldn’t have been inducted. Bernard King, Gilmore, KJ, Moncrief, Chet Walker, Jo Jo White (sorry, I know, another Celtic), Rodman, etc., should have, IMO.

    2.) I (and sorry, this is just my personal opinion, along with the HoF voters and many others) think DJ is not part of the first group. I think if one were just to judge his career off of his years in Boston (despite how good they were), then no, he’s not a HoF; but it’s because of his years in Seattle and Phoenix that I think he belongs in the Hall. Say what you want about his head-strong ways, but those teams got a lot worse when he left them, and I don’t think that’s really a coincidence.

    3.) I think we just differ on how we define a Hall of Famer. I’m more inclusive, you’re probably more exclusive. I’m a fan of Bill Simmons’ idea of a tiered Hall that recognizes that not all great players are created equal. DJ was not as good as, say, Stockton, and Stockton wasn’t as good as Magic; but I think all three are important and great in their own right.

    4.) I’m curious: of the guys who are playing today, who would you induct, or consider “great” (whatever that means)?

  10. sp6r=underrated

    Neil,

    My recommendation for a Keltner list: Shawn Kemp.

    Positives
    Great Stats
    Nice recognition (all stars, all nba teams)
    relatively successful teams
    A few memorable playoff series

    Negatives
    fell apart pretty quickly
    Sonics were regarded as Payton’s team
    Sonics were generally post-season disappointment
    off-court

    He’s a great candidate for a keltner list.

    Neil: Sorry about tone and posting style, but I feel very strongly that DJ didn’t deserve to make HOF. It was not my intent to insult.

  11. sp6r=underrated

    I guess I would include, no question, the following players

    Shaq
    Duncan
    KG
    Dirk
    Kobe
    LBJ
    Kidd
    Nash
    AI: not really a fan at all. I have grave doubts about his true value to a team. But enough people thought highly of him, and he’s so massively recognized with individual awards, that I’ll disregard my reservations

    There are a few borderline players, I would consider like T-Mac or Hill.

    Also understand I’m a little buzzed as I did the list so I may have missed a veteran who is still in the league unintentionally.

    I was a bit harsh on young player because I don’t want to project their careers. I generally avoided considering young kids like Howard, Durant, etc. So if you think there is an omission focus on the older guys, because I left out the young players.

  12. @sp6r=underrated:

    Nah, I have no problem with that list. I was surprised by your statement that T-Mac and Hill are borderline for you; I thought you’d have a strong aversion to them haha

    Those two are quite problematic, though. Hill was arguably a top 5-10 player in his six year prime, and was probably the second best small-forward in the league, behind Pippen. And even after all his injuries, he’s still a valuable role player on a playoff team.

    T-Mac’s another guy who was probably one of the ten best players alive for several seasons, and even as recently as 2008 he was still producing at a high level on a 55-win team. But man, the way he ended his time with Houston has really hurt his legacy. Hopefully he pulls a Bernard King and gives us a couple of good seasons before he retires (which seems like it will be sooner rather than later).

  13. DJ and his betters: http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=8gL2N

    Carter’s company: http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=zpaIy

    Just 10 guys have more of all stats.
    Vince of course isn’t done. Add 20% to his current Pts, Reb, Ast, Blk and Stl, and the only players with as many of all are: Erving, Malone, and Jordan.

    (These are regular-season only.)

  14. @sp6r=underrated, your boston hatred is a little irrational; the 86 Celts won 67 games, the 71 Bucks won 66, so I don’t know how you can say Kareem’s bucks were so much better. As for DJ, you keep calling him the 4th best player on the celts, while ignoring the fact that he was the best player on 2 straight finalists with Seattle. Gus Williams was the best scorer on those teams but not the best player. DJ was dominant defensively for those teams,as well as being their second best scorer. And do you really think VC has had a better postseason career!?

  15. On this page – http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/SEA/1979.html
    Scroll down to Playoffs Advanced.
    Gus Williams led the Sonics in playoff WinShares, 2.7 to 2.2; despite DJ playing more minutes.

    In ’78, DJ was 5th in playoff WS, after Gus, Webster, Sikma, and Fred Brown.
    His WS/48 were barely half those other guards’.

  16. PS whether you like it or not, people place a lot of importance on postseason play; that’s why Hakeem is considered so much better than DRob even though their numbers are very similar; that’s why James Worthy and Joe Dumars are HOFers; that’s why Chris Mullin isn’t

  17. Mike G, that doesn’t surprise me, because DJ wasn’t a high pct shooter, and advanced stats place a lot (too much?)of importance on efficiency. (And clearly WS undervalues DJ’s prowess as a defender in 79).

    According to WS/48, David Robinson is in a virtual tie with Michael Jordan as the most productive player all-time; meanwhile, Dirk is higher than Shaq, and Stockton is higher than Oscar, Karl Malone and Bird. Ed Macauley ahead of Bill Russell! Almost forgot, Manu Ginobili is top 10!

    DJ was the best player on the 79 Sonics according to the finals MVP voters….

  18. sp6r=underrated

    I put a lot of stock in point differential in evaluating teams. Its proven that point differential is significantly better predictor of team quality than overall record. 71 Bucks have much greater point differential total than 86 Celtics. They also have, the best player, in KAJ. Now, I can see a case for Boston. But statistically 71 bucks > 86 celtics clearly. But in the basketball press, 86 Celtics get much more ink spilled about them in comparison to 71 bucks, which is very much undeserved. 71 Bucks are forgotten while 86 Celtics get hyped upped to no end. The difference is Milwaukee is small market, while too many of our basketball journalists bleed celtic green. Also doesn’t hurt that Bird was white.

    Vince Carter vs DJ
    VC: 25.9, 6.9, 5.2, .516
    DJ: 17.3, 4.3, 5.6, .507

    If you adjust stats for pace, VC crushes DJ. You can’t ignore elephant in room that DJ did a much better job picking teammates throughout. Oh wait, you can, that’s how you managed to ram in phony DJ over superior players.

    Mike G

    Nice Post. I’d also add basic box score stats maker clear Gus superiority over DJ. Recognition is a tie in those years between the two. But overall, greater picture clearly supports proposition Gus > DJ.

  19. sp6r=underrated

    Here are numbers for DJ fans, 0-14.

  20. sp6r=underrated

    Boston bias isn’t just in hoops. Jim Rice is a joke.

  21. Funny, you failed to mention how DJ played 180 playoff games, while Vince has only played 42; can you say small sample size? Or that Vince has never made it past the 2nd round, while DJ made conf finals 8 times. You also forgot to mention VC’s career postseason fg% of .418 (DJ’s is .439)

    20.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.65 spg, 1.53 bpg in 79 playoffs
    22.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 6.0 apg, 1.8 spg, 2.2 bpg in finals

    As for Kareem’s Bucks, they made 2 finals trips and won 1 title; Bird’s Celts made 5 finals trips and won it all 3 times; so on the whole, the 80’s Celts were clearly the better team. They also faced tougher competition. By the 80’s the level of comp was similar to today; in the early 70’s players were smaller and less athletic; they also had the rival ABA diluting the talent pool; I’m curious as to how you think the 6’5″ MIL forwards would handle Bird and Mchale?

  22. Maybe people forget those Bucks because LA won 69 games the next year, and BOS won 68 the next? Nobody ever talks about Celts of the 70’s either; I think the whole decade is sort of forgotten, except the Lakers and Knicks

  23. Sp6r,

    I never said I believed DJ was a “glaring omission”. I said he “had been long regarded as one of the HoF’s most glaring omissions,” meaning he was considered that by other people — sportswriters, former players, etc. I have already said I wouldn’t put him (or a ton of other guys) in the Hall of Fame if I had a choice. But I also said that if we were going to put Joe Dumars in, and Calvin Murphy, and Earl Monroe, and Gail Goodrich, and K.C. Jones, and every other undeserving player you can name, then I can’t muster a lot of anger about DJ, whose traditional stats/accomplishments make him a borderline candidate according to past voting tendencies and whose “intangibles” make every sportswriter in the country consider him a no-brainer. Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

  24. Re: #44/Luke,

    That’s a great idea, counting the HoFers in the NBA in any given season. We could also use HoF probability to count the # of “expected HoFers” in the league at any given time, which would catch modern guys. Also, regarding Reggie, if it were my decision, I would put Reggie near the inner circle of the HoF, that guy was an amazing player. But we’ll have to run down how the voters have traditionally (and irrationally) weighed things like championships, etc.

  25. sp6r=underrated

    I mentioned ts% which is much more important than fg%. Also care to imagine what difference would be if we had handy pace adjusted numbers. As to your point about advancing out of 2nd round. Totally due to difference in teammate quality. VC was a significantly more productive player in the postseason.

    I’m talking about single season teams of all time. No justification for 86 Celtics getting so much more credit than Bucks championship.

    “I’m curious as to how you think the 6’5″ MIL forwards would handle Bird and Mchale?”

    I’m curious how you think Boston would handle prime KAJ, when 800 year old KAJ took massive dump on your front-line in 80s.

  26. “Mike G, that doesn’t surprise me, because DJ wasn’t a high pct shooter, and advanced stats place a lot (too much?)of importance on efficiency.”

    The burden of proof is on you for that one.

  27. sp6r=underrated

    Neil

    No sarcasm here, if you have time of course, I would honestly be interested in a statistical analysis of whether

    – championships won in Boston is more valuable for making HOF than rings with other teams
    – whether statistical production in Boston is more recognized with awards than with other teams. I suspect this is so, but bias may be due to racial factors, Boston has had a lot of white guys who could ball. So maybe, its racism in this area and not city bias.

    You were able to figure out that height was a factor for making HOF.

    And for those who still don’t get the anger over DJ. Consider that Rondo has already had a peak roughly as good as DJ. His role on the 08 Celtics was as big (maybe bigger than DJ) on either Celtics team. Does anyone think of Rondo as HOF caliber right now?

    There are a ton of players now who absolutely deserve HOF if DJ got it. I’m curious how many columns Simmons will write on this subject. I’m curious will ESPN, SI, and other national publication that pushed hard for Boston joke, come out for those players, I doubt it. I laughed while reading what Simmons wrote about Sheed, and his support for DJ who did similar crap (And was a questionable person as well, depending if you believe arrest was deserved).

  28. FWIW, I feel the same way about DJ’s HoF induction that I feel about Nash’s MVPs now. When I was younger, I got extremely incensed about Nash winning 1 MVP, and a year later I was apoplectic about him winning a 2nd. But now I’ve mellowed; I don’t think he deserved them but it’s not really worth arguing, since it’s ultimately an opinion, other poor decisions have been made in past MVP voting, and it’s not worth going to war with the legions of sportswriters who adore him. The same holds true for DJ’s HoF induction; I don’t think he deserves it but it’s not really worth arguing because it’s ultimately an opinion, other poor decisions have been made in past HoF voting, and it’s not worth going to war with the legions of sportswriters who adore him.

  29. TS% is problematic, because it treats a 33% shooter from 3 as equivalent to a 50% shooter from two; but on any given attempt, the 2pt shooter is still 50% more likely to hit the shot. (33% isn’t even considered a good % from 3!). Anyway, ts% favors modern players because they didn’t even have the 3 back in the 70’s; and the trey didn’t become used regularly until the late 80’s/early 90’s.

    “I’m talking about single season teams of all time. No justification for 86 Celtics getting so much more credit than Bucks championship.”

    You’re talking about media attention and public perception; and those things are affected by sustained excellence; the 96 Bulls would seem less impressive if they hadn’t repeated as champs the next 2 seasons. Well, the Kareem’s Bucks never repeated; I seem to recall them losing in the 74 finals to a Celts team with 6’8″/6’7″/6’5″ frontline.

    Another reason Bucks are forgotten? Kareem’s Laker teams of the 80’s were better

  30. sp6r=underrated

    If your bringing up 74 finals, I’m curious for your thoughts about officiating in series.

  31. Anon, we have seen inefficient scorers who are almost universally regarded as great. Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, Cousy, Isiah, and Jason Kidd are a few examples off the top of my head.

    We can either acknowledge these players as exceptions to the rule, or simply decide that they weren’t actually great because our made-up formulas say so; I will continue to do the former…

  32. sp6r=underrated

    If its sustained excellence, why are 80s Celtics given so much more credit than 00s Spurs who have very similar point differential totals?

  33. PS I like very much the 86 Celts chances against an ancient Oscar Robertson and toothpick-thin Kareem (who routinely got out-muscled by shorter players like Reed/Cowens/Unseld/Thurmond/Moses even in his prime)

  34. This is all very simple. We can create a stat-geek hall of fame where every inducted player gives a powerpoint presentation of their merits for induction. Noone would attend this ceremony and thats why things are the way they are. HOF is about publicity for the sport. Hall of Fame recognizes those players who brought eyeballs to the sports. I think the sports columnists have a pretty good handle on this since it is their job to know who moves the needle.

    However, as more and more of the population becomes versed in the meaning of advanced stats I think some long forgotten players will become important again. Then they will get their just due. Just have patience. If you can’t use win shares in a bar argument then its not going to aid in any hof discussion. That time will come though.

  35. @ Sean/#51
    Don’t forget about some international guys who are going to get bonus points for their accomplishments outside of the NBA: Yao & Gasol come to mind as guys who might be talented enough to get in just on NBA accomplishments if they can rack up enough titles. Probably unlikely for Yao at this point given his injuries, but it’s not impossible, but he also has a ton of FIBA and Chinese Basketball Association (I think that’s what it’s called) awards and accomplishments, so he might be good as it is right now. Then there’s guys like Ginobili and Tony Parker who have a bunch of titles and might end up borderline, and get pushed over the top because of their international appeal. Ginobili has an Olympic gold, I believe, and I don’t think Parker has won (or even done) anything significant in international events, but being the best/only good basketball player from France has to count for something, right? And I’m sure there’s a few that I’m not even considering that might have some traction with the voters.

    Also @Sp6r/#52
    I really doubt that the league’s expansion has any affect on the number of HoF players in the league. HoF calibre players are always going to be in the league, regardless of how many teams there are. Expansion just spreads them out so that it’s more unlikely that there will be multiple guys on the same team. The number of teams really only influences how many bench/role players are able to make it onto team rosters.

  36. Neil, just wanted to thank you for putting WS/48 on this site; any chance we could get WS per game listed? I think advanced stats punish players who play a lot of minutes too much sometimes, so I would love to see WS/g production listed in absolute terms.

    When I was a young budding teenage stathead, I noticed the best players played the most minutes; so when I saw a player who wasn’t a star playing a lot of minutes, it was an indicator to me that somehow that player was very valuable to his team, even if hes wasn’t scoring alot or otherwise putting up big numbers. But that guy (often a great defender, like DJ) gets short-changed by advanced stats IMO

  37. Thanks, but I can’t take credit for that, it was all Justin.

  38. No to Vince Carter for the HOF. I never even CONSIDERED he could make it, it’s THAT firm of a ‘no’.

  39. sp6r=underrated

    I really doubt that the league’s expansion has any affect on the number of HoF players in the league. HoF calibre players are always going to be in the league, regardless of how many teams there are. Expansion just spreads them out so that it’s more unlikely that there will be multiple guys on the same team. The number of teams really only influences how many bench/role players are able to make it onto team rosters.

    You really don’t think the talent pool has expanded at all over the last 50 year. I’m sure somebody here has the exact number, but I believe there are 70-90 international guys in the NBA right now. Even in the early 90s there was less than 30, and plenty of international guys are legit superstars. There a lot of other things I could get into, but this seems the most obvious. The average team from 1960 should CRUSH any team today, and most teams from 80s should Dominate as well, if the # of HOF caliber players hasn’t changed over the last half century.

  40. “Anon, we have seen inefficient scorers who are almost universally regarded as great. Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, Cousy, Isiah, and Jason Kidd are a few examples off the top of my head.”

    All of these players are overrated on offense anyway. Perhaps Baylor isn’t, but alot of his legend came from what he did before his injuries, in which he WAS an efficient scorer.

  41. Elgin wasn’t more efficient early in his career:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/bayloel01.html

    Besides the first couple years (1965-66)when he was hurt, Baylor shot better from the field in the latter part of his career.

  42. People do know that players have roles that they are expected to play on teams, right? It’s not some organized pick up game where you can just try to get to the line every time all by your lonesome to make sure that your TS% and PER stay as high as possible?

    Assuming DJ was asked to be a defensive stopper who get the ball to the best front line in NBA history possession after possession, and it led to 4 finals (and would have likely been more if Bird’s back and McHale’s foot hadn’t both been ruined in ’87)… I don’t see the problem there. I’m with everyone on Moncrief though. How DJ or Dumars makes it ahead of Syd is totally beyond me. And don’t get me started on Gilmore. It just shows again that voters value rings, the more the better. It’ll be interesting to see how Rodman, Grant, and Horry are treated.

    I wish we had adjusted +/- going back to the very beginning, just for some kind numerical value we could place on helping a team win – even if it’s a little sketchy as a measurement of the individual.

  43. Off topic, but speaking of the Spurs’ sustained excellence (#82), the Spurs have just won their 50th game of the season.
    If you include the 1998-99 season when they went 37-13 (good for 61-21 over a full season), it is their 13th consecutive regular season with 50+ wins (starting with Duncan arrival in 1997), breaking the Lakers record from the Magic era (1979-80 through 1990-91).

    What’s amazing about this run is that they had very few great seasons from players other than Duncan:

    In terms of All-Star:
    D. Robinson in 1998, 1999 (had there been an ASG I think he would have been selected), 2000, 2001;
    M. Ginobili in 2005;
    T. Parker in 2006, 2007, 2009

    In terms of All-NBA teams:
    D. Robinson in 1998 (2nd), 2000 (3rd), 2001 (3rd)
    M. Ginobili in 2008 (3rd)
    T. Parker in 2009 (3rd)

  44. Since 1997, Duncan has 7 of the top 100 Win Share regular seasons.
    (Nowitzki has 8 of them, Garnett 7, Kobe and LeBron 6 each, nobody else more than 4)

    In playoffs, Duncan owns 4 of the top 50 WS since ’97 (along with Billups, Kobe, Shaq); including the biggest-ever, 5.9 WS in 2003.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=mUfYK

  45. sp6r=underrated

    93

    I think the voters have really short-changed Manu over the years because of his mp. For about 30mpg he has played like a superstar since 2005.

  46. How about Keltnering –
    Jack Sikma
    Larry Nance
    Tom Chambers
    Walter Davis?

  47. Kenwood said “I’d like to hear your take on Bill Bradley, whose numbers were worse than DJ’s and he won fewer titles than DJ, yet managed to get in the Hall on the basis of playing in New York City. If there’s such a Boston bias, explain that.”

    KC Jones and Frank Ramsey had the All-Star Game occur during their entire career. Guess how many COMBINED times they were voted good enough to even be an All-Star, yet they’re in the Hall.

  48. When did Vince Carter become a SG? Didn’t he play most of his career at SF? Isn’t that the position he should be compared with other players at? The Kobe vs. VC matchup was always disappointing because they didn’t match up most of the time. Tell me I’m not making this up…

  49. I always enjoy reading these analysis. One guy who I was always very curious about was Sidney Moncrief. Little is mentioned about him in history, so I feel that could factor against him (despite the obvious lack of longevity). However, if you consider how WS48 ranks him and his defensive honors despite never finishing among the leaders in steals, blocks or rebounds; an argument could be made that he was the best player in the NBA the years before his injury in 1987 instead of Bird, Magic, Dr J, Moses or Kareem. I never saw him play, so if you could do a write up on “The Squid” that would be greatly appreciated. Here is a table I created to compare the top 8 players in WS48 from 1980 to 1986 (The first 7 years of Magic, Bird and Moncrief’s careers):
    Player HOF Years ORtg DRtg OWS48 DWS48 WS/48 All D 1st All D 2nd DPOY
    Larry Bird Yes 7 114 100 0.120 0.090 0.21 0 3 0
    Julius Erving Yes 7 113 102 0.113 0.078 0.191 0 0 0
    Magic Johnson Yes 7 119 103 0.139 0.068 0.207 0 0 0
    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Yes 7 118 104 0.138 0.066 0.204 1 2 0
    Moses Malone Yes 7 115 104 0.132 0.066 0.198 1 0 0
    Sidney Moncrief No 7 120 104 0.139 0.066 0.205 4 1 2
    Michael Jordan Yes 2 117 107 0.151 0.056 0.207 0 0 0
    Adrian Dantley Yes 7 121 111 0.179 0.026 0.205 0 0 0

  50. Michael E Sullivan

    “Why are the 71 bucks totally forgotten”

    I wonder to what extent it’s due to pissy old white guys who were bitter that Lew Alcindor became Kareem Abdul Jabbar?

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