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Could Pistons and former Pistons in the late stages of their career make the Hall of Fame?

In the spirit of this weekend’s Naismith Hall of Fame festivities, Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated recently took a look at some NBA veterans in the late stages of their careers who might have a chance at enshrinement someday. Quite a few Pistons and former Pistons are included. Here’s a rundown:

Ben Wallace:

Wallace is No. 8 all-time in the NBA in rebounding rate, won a ring as part of a Detroit team that played in six straight conference finals, made five straight first-team All-Defensive teams and guarded Shaquille O’Neal decently during the 2004 Finals. But his career got off to a slow start, with three fairly low-minutes seasons in Washington, and it has ended with unspectacular (but solid) play in Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit again. Wallace was a horrid free throw shooter and less of an offensive threat than Camby, but he made up for it to some degree with nasty screen-setting and decent passing.

I’m going to take his case up more vigorously once he officially retires. Although I am admittedly biased, Wallace getting in the Hall of Fame is a no-brainer.

Chauncey Billups:

Voters love Finals MVPs, and though Billups never quite lived up to the “Mr. Big Shot” moniker — his clutch numbers are pretty average overall — he did make some huge shots for the Pistons, upgraded Denver as soon as he got there and has won universal respect as a locker-room leader. He could finish with close to 17,000 points and a PER around 19.0 — a top-100 mark — if he stays healthy and productive for two more seasons. He has proven himself very smart at remaining very efficient as his athleticism declines by focusing almost entirely on threes and free throws. A five-time All-Star and a solid, smart defender during his prime, Billups has had trouble cracking the All-NBA teams with so many elite point guards, old and young, scattered around the league. Gun to my head, I bet Billups gets in.

I’m in the same boat as Wallace when it comes to Billups — no question he should get in.

Grant Hill:

Hill is going to get in, even though a series of devastating ankle injuries limited him to six truly dominant seasons at the start of his career — a streak that ended right after he signed a massive free-agent contract with the Magic during the same summer spending bonanza that netted the next guy on this list. But Hill was one of the league’s top half-dozen or so players during that six-season stretch, and he has since reinvented himself as an effective two-way third/fourth option on the wing.

Lowe also notes that because the Naismith Hall of Fame factors in more than just professional career, Hills outstanding four-year run at Duke will put him over the top.

Tracy McGrady:

McGrady’s apex was incredible, peaking with a 2002-03 season that ranks among the very best in the sport’s history. At top form, McGrady shot 45 percent, hit an above-average percentage from deep, sported perhaps the best wing passing skills in the pre-LeBron era and even bought in on defense — most famously in the 2005 playoffs, when McGrady guarded Dirk Nowitzki effectively as a depleted Rockets team pushed the Mavs to seven games in a losing effort.

As I’ve written before, McGrady is one of my favorites. He made some truly bad Orlando teams formidable. I hope he gets in.

Lowe lists former Pistons Richard Hamilton and Jerry Stackhouse among the players who had great careers but probably aren’t quite Hall of Fame level.

22 Comments

  • Sep 8, 201210:21 am
    by esrom

    Reply

    Why would someone write an assesment of Ben Wallace’s hall of fame chances and not mention the 4 defensive player of the year awards?

  • Sep 8, 201210:43 am
    by labatts

    Reply

    The Hall of Fame should be called the Hall of Really Good.  Honestly, the only ones I would even think about is Wallace and McGrady (he wasn’t REALLY a Piston, was he?).  I know that it has been this way for a while, and most people don’t look at it that way, though.

    • Sep 8, 201210:12 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      I find opinions like yours really irritating because you can’t possibly be using the history of what players have actually gotten in as a measure.   And despite what you said, knowing the history, it has actually gotten harder for players to get in.  20,000 points or even approaching the mark used to make for automatic inclusion but not anymore. 

      • Sep 9, 201210:28 am
        by tarsier

        Reply

        Just like you have to be better to get drafted today than you did once upon a time. Players are bigger, faster, more numerous, and have more resources available to teach them.

        Although, I honestly don’t see what’s so irritating about an opinion that the bar of how good a player’s career must be for induction should be set at level x or level y. There basically needs to be some arbitrary bar set. 

        • Sep 9, 20122:21 pm
          by Max

          Reply

          Maybe so but using the history of players who actually got in as the bar is a lot less arbitrary then just throwing out a random opinion of where the bar should be set. 

          • Sep 9, 201211:58 pm
            by tarsier

            agreed

  • Sep 8, 201212:14 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    Lowe didn’t include him because he’s not technically an active player, but one more former kind of Piston will likely be inducted is Allen Iverson.

  • Sep 8, 201212:53 pm
    by Scout

    Reply

    Yeah, I just don’t believe that Billups should make it. Nice player, but I don’t know if he was ever truly elite.

    • Sep 8, 20121:21 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      5-time All-Star; 3-time All-NBA; 2-time All-Defense; Finals MVP; finished top six in MVP voting twice. Could be top 25ish all-time in assists if he plays another two seasons.

      I think he’s borderline, but I don’t buy that he was never elite. He was in the conversation with Nash and Kidd for best PG in the league for a two or three year window before Paul/Williams/Rondo/etc. I think what hurts him is he had a shorter ‘elite’ period than a lot of top PGs, but he’s supplemented that with a really lengthy ‘pretty good’ period both pre-Detroit for a couple years in Minnesota and post-Detroit on Denver. If he bounces back from injury and has another solid season or two in him for LA, I think he has a strong case to get in.

    • Sep 8, 201210:08 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      If Billups doesn’t get in, than the committee doesn’t consider winning to be any criteria.

      • Sep 9, 201211:05 am
        by tarsier

        Reply

        That is a total bullshit statement. Obviously winning is among the criteria considered. But it is not the only criterion worth looking at; so yeah, a guy can win a ton and not get in and that doesn’t mean the committee doesn’t consider winning. I would hope it is not even all that strong of one, though, because winning is not about one player. i mean, sometimes it is, when one guy really carries a team (see LBJ in 08-09 and 09-10). But Billups won a ton because he was on good teams. I mean, look at his record before he ended up on those good Detroit teams: a combined 141-156.

        • Sep 9, 20122:26 pm
          by Max

          Reply

          What about his record when he starts?   What about following up the Pistons run by taking Denver to the conference finals?   When you approach nearly a decade of making the conference finals every year as the point guard and arguable best player on each team, you are a shoe in in my mind.   K.C. Jones made the hall of fame for basically playing great D and riding Bill Russell’s coattails and Billups was not only a much better player but had a lot more responsibility for the winning–although he obviously didn’t win nearly as much.   The point is that Billups didn’t just win but overwhelmingly won and was a fixture of the NBA’s final four for nearly a decade.  Very few players who have made the hall of fame can say the same. 

          • Sep 9, 201211:59 pm
            by tarsier

            Billups was fantastic, it’s undeniable. And the turns that both the Pistons and Nuggets took after his trade is a huge plus to his case. But he was not arguably a better player than Melo.

  • Sep 8, 20122:22 pm
    by Gus

    Reply

    Ben Wallace… the best defensive player on the decade 2000s… Big Ben

  • Sep 8, 20128:16 pm
    by Venice

    Reply

    I really hope T-mac can make it in the hall.

  • Sep 9, 201210:02 am
    by DG

    Reply

    I think the Pistons will be hurt by two things.  First they were a top defensive team that played efficient, but according to most people, boring offense.  Second they played with a team concept that hurt individual statistics.  Hill and McGrady are probably the only ones on the above list that most people will say probably should be in.  Personally I think Wallace and Billups should be in for sure also.

    I don’t know how many players, but I’m pretty sure it’s less than ten have led the league in both rebounds and blocked shots in the same year.  He absoultely shut down opposing teams and was the undeniable leader of one of the best defenses in the history of the league.  the league became a more defensive league because of the Pistons, and Ben was the leader of that movement.  That makes him a hall of famer in my book.    He helped change the way the game was played.

    I think Billups, Hamilton and Prince’s numbers were all effected by the team concept.  On other teams each of them could have averaged 20+ at their apex.  I think Hamilton is out because he wasn’t a great two way player.  Prince is not a strong offensive player on a good team, but would have looked better on a poorer team. 

    Billups was the offensive team leader, who most definitely would have better numers on a different team.  The Pistons were efficient were because they were a very good passing team and his assist to turnover ratio was a big part of that.

    I’m a little surprised nobody has mentioned Rasheed Wallace yet.  He was a huge factor in the Pistons getting over the hump and winning in 2003-04.  He was also a 20 10 guy prior to being a Piston.  He might not have quite lived up to his talent level, but he also sacrificed to win in the end.   

    • Sep 9, 201211:14 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      They all could have averaged 20+? Sure if they were “the man” on their respective teams. but that would have meant they were on pretty bad teams, as none of those guys were great offensive players. Good to very good, but not great. Their odds for making the Hall were definitely better having played on the Pistons team they did than on some terrible team where they would have been 20+ guys. Don’t believe me? When has anyone ever even mentioned Kevin Martin and HOF in the same breath?

      The “player x could have gotten __ points on another team/if he had wanted to” argument is bullshit. Every NBA player of all time could have averaged more stats in a different context or if that was their priority. So instead of comparing what player x could have averaged to what player y did average or what player x could have averaged to what player y could have averaged, let’s compare what player x did average to what player y did average. That just makes the most sense.

  • Sep 9, 201210:09 am
    by DG

    Reply

    Scratch Rasheed.  I just looked back at his numbers.  They weren’t as good as I thought.  Hamilton, Prince and Rasheed were all very good players, but not really deserving of the hall of fame.

    • Sep 9, 20122:42 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      Rasheed deserves inclusion in my book because he was one of the most complete players ever and his stats don’t tell nearly the whole story.  As per my comments on winning earlier regarding Billups, Rasheed got to most of the conference finals for a whole decade when you include his time with the Blazers.  Also, Rasheed was fully capable in his prime of outplaying the greatest two of the absolute greatest power forwards of all time in Duncan and Garnett and wasn’t a mismatch when playing them at all.   Charles Barkley for instance might have been much better than Rasheed but he couldn’t match up as well to players like Duncan, Garnett and Rasheed was probably involved in 2 out of 3 best big man tandems ever at playing Shaq—Sheed and Sabonis, Sheed and Big Ben and Webber and Divac.   Looking at those three tandems, Sheed is probably the only player who won’t get in but I think he merits inclusion as intangibles are incredibly important when judging a basketball player. 

      • Sep 10, 201212:02 am
        by tarsier

        Reply

        If Sheed had played at the level of his ability (which was Duncan/Garnett level), he’d be shoo-in. As it is, he’s a long shot.

  • Sep 10, 20123:22 pm
    by mkd monroe knight drummond

    Reply

    why isnt resheed wallace not on this list as a possible hall of fame inductiee

    • Sep 10, 20123:43 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I believe the writer was only looking at active players who are close to retirement. Sheed’s technically already retired.

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