The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted another star-studded class Friday night, headlined by NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming. All three reached the hall in their first year of eligibility, which created a problem for some other players who are hoping to join them.
Former Suns point guard Kevin Johnson was a finalist for induction, but failed to receive enough votes. During a career that lasted more than 12 seasons, Johnson was a five-time All-Star who made five all-NBA teams and turned Phoenix into one of the league’s elite teams.
Johnson’s best opportunity at enshrinement will come next year, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. There won’t be any slam-dunk enshrinees joining the ballot in 2017, but that changes in 2018 when Jason Kidd, Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady become eligible.
Johnson will have plenty of fellow contenders when the votes are cast next year. There are several players who have been lingering on the ballot for a long time, and like Johnson, they may be approaching their last really good chance to reach the hall.
Along with K.J., these are the players with the best shot at induction in 2017, according to Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders:
- Jack Sikma — The former SuperSonics and Bucks center has a championship ring and seven All-Star appearances on his resume. All other eligible players who reached the All-Star game at least seven times are already in the hall.
- Shawn Kemp — He made it to the NBA Finals once and the All-Star Game six times. Kemp had more than 15,000 career points and 9,000 rebounds in 14 seasons. He is one of the greatest players in Sonics’ history and one of the most electrifying dunkers ever to play the game.
- Mark Aguirre — The first pick in the 1981 draft, Aguirre won two rings with the Pistons’ “Bad Boys” teams. Aguirre was a three-time All-Star and averaged 20 points per game in his 14-year career.
- Ben Wallace — The defensive anchor of the 2004 champion Pistons, Wallace could become the first undrafted player to reach the hall. He was named Defensive Player of the Year four times and was voted to the All-Defensive First Team five times.
- Tim Hardaway — A member of the highly regarded “Run TMC” teams in Golden State, Hardaway also prospered in Miami. He made five All-Star teams and was a first-team all-NBA selection in 1996/97. He topped 15,000 points and 7,000 assists in a 14-year NBA career.
- Chis Webber — He was the top star on the highly successful Kings teams from a decade ago. Webber made five All-Star teams and was a five-time all-NBA selection. He scored more than 17,000 points in 15 years in the league.
- George McGinnis — An ABA legend and a three-time NBA All-Star, McGinnis is the only eligible MVP from the NBA or ABA who hasn’t reached the hall. McGinnis won two ABA titles with the Pacers and played in the 1977 NBA Finals with the Sixers.
That brings us to tonight’s question: Who is the best eligible player not currently in the Hall of Fame? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.