Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Basketball Hall of Fame: Which recently retired NBA players have the best shot at enshrinement?

The 2024 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class was officially announced on Saturday, with a star-studded roster featuring Vince Carter, Chauncey Billups, Seimone Augustus and Jerry West among the players set to be inducted this summer. This follows an all-time 2023 class featuring Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Becky Hammon, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker as just a handful of the names enshrined.

If you’re looking for a similar crop in 2025 — at least in terms of former NBA players — you might be left a bit disappointed. There’s a chance that no recently retired NBA players will actually be inducted next year. But the weaker class could also mean that players who have already missed the cut, like Shawn Marion, Amar’e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson, will have a better shot at getting elected.

Things get a bet brighter after next year, with Carmelo Anthony and (maybe) Dwight Howard on the docket in the coming classes. Here’s a look at some of the recently retired NBA players who could ultimately find their way into the Hall of Fame.

Stone-cold locks

Carmelo Anthony (2026)

Assuming he doesn’t mount an unexpected comeback in the next couple of seasons, Anthony will certainly make the Hall of Fame when he’s eligible in 2026. The only major accolade that eluded him during his 19-year NBA career was a championship, but we’ve seen plenty of other prolific players gain enshrinement despite that hole in the resumé. A 10-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA selection, Anthony made the league’s 75th Anniversary Team and currently sits 10th on the all-time scoring list.

As if his NBA accomplishments weren’t enough, Anthony also won three Olympic gold medals with Team USA and led Syracuse to an NCAA title in his only college season. Start crafting your speech, Carmelo.

Dwight Howard (????)

Howard no longer plays in the NBA, but his ongoing career overseas brings the year of his eligibility into question. The rule is four years after “full retirement,” but the Hall of Fame recently inducted Pau Gasol after deeming that his stint with FC Barcelona counted as “[coming] out of retirement for a short period of time.” In any case, when Howard eventually becomes eligible, he should be a lock for the Hall of Fame — Basketball Reference gives him a probability of 99.7%, and every eligible player at that rating or higher is already inducted.

Howard was selected for the All-Star and All-NBA teams eight times each, also winning Defensive Player of the Year three times with five seasons as the league’s leading rebounder.

Strong case

LaMarcus Aldridge (2026)

Aldridge has hit a few of the most common thresholds for inclusion in the Hall of Fame with his seven All-Star appearances, five All-NBA selections and 20,000-plus career points. Eventually voters may start considering potential stat inflation due to the proliferation of 3-pointers and increased pace of the modern era, but that doesn’t apply much to Aldridge’s career. He should get in, even if it takes him a couple rounds of voting.

Shawn Marion (Currently eligible)

The Swiss Army Knife who in some ways set the blueprint for modern defensive wings lacks gaudy individual accolades (four-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA), but his vital contributions to two of his era’s most memorable teams — the “seven seconds or less” Phoenix Suns and the 2011 champion Dallas Mavericks — may eventually get him into the Hall of Fame despite being passed over in 2024, his first year of eligibility. Basketball Reference has Marion’s Hall of Fame probability at 76%, and pretty much every eligible player in that range has already been inducted.

Amar’e Stoudemire (Currently eligible)

Stoudemire has essentially the same Hall of Fame probability as Marion, his former teammate, according to Basketball Reference. Also eligible in 2024, Stoudemire missed the cut despite boasting six All-Star appearances, five All-NBA selections and a Rookie of the Year trophy. Injuries derailed the latter portion of his career, so it will be up to voters to decide if the dominance he displayed in his first nine seasons makes him Hall-worthy.

On the fence

Marc Gasol (2025)

Depending on how the committee views Gasol’s recent years with Bàsquet Girona, the skilled center could be eligible next year. A three-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA selection and 2013 Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol was a flagship member of the Grit ‘N Grind Memphis Grizzlies, then won a championship with the 2019 Toronto Raptors. Basketball Reference has Gasol with just a 4.2% Hall of Fame probability, and many of the players in that range have not been inducted. Gasol has the added benefit of his work with Spain’s national team, including two Olympic silver medals and two FIBA World Cup gold medals.

Rajon Rondo (2026)

A four-time All-Star and four-time All-Defensive choice with just one All-NBA selection, Rondo ranks 15th on the all-time NBA assist list. Is that, combined with his two championships, enough to get him into the Hall of Fame? Basketball Reference gives him a 61% chance of making it, but similar pass-first point guards with high assist totals like Mark Jackson, Andre Miller and Rod Strickland haven’t had much support.

Joe Johnson (Currently eligible)

Seven All-Star selections and over 20,000 points used to be a virtual lock for Hall of Fame induction, but something about Johnson just hasn’t sat right with voters so far. Holding him back is the idea that he was never one of “the guys” of his generation at any given point (only one All-NBA selection), and he also didn’t win a championship. If using Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond as the bar, however, Johnson has an argument that he should get in. We’ll see if voters eventually agree.

Andre Iguodala (2027)

One of the most hotly debated Hall of Fame cases, Iguodala last played in March 2023, so that should make him eligible in 2027. Anyone who played with or coached Iguodala almost unanimously supports his entry into the Hall of Fame, but statistically the case isn’t as clear. With only one All-Star appearance and two All-Defensive selections, Iguodala lacks the hardware generally necessary to get in, and Basketball Reference gives him a 12% chance. However, the four titles and one Finals MVP under his belt could hold more sway with voters as the years go on.

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