There is no bigger honor in basketball than being a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Imagine having your name called for your contributions in your league and how it has affected the world of basketball, there must be no feeling in the world that could top the esteem that this prestige gives.
With the recent class of inductees in the Basketball Hall of Fame, it makes you wonder about the NBA legends and greats that we wish we could have witnessed first-hand.
Talking about basketball contributions and the current NBA, it makes you fascinate who would be the perfect legend out of these fabled basketball stars to impart their vast knowledge to the current stars making them better than they are right now.
Here are some NBA star pairings of the old and new who need to get a workout done.
Giannis Antetekounmpo and Jason Kidd (Three-point shooting)
The 2nd pick overall of the 1994 NBA draft, point guard Jason Kidd was one of the earlier triple-double machines. With size, excellent court vision, and passing, he could rebound and get some assists effortlessly.
The Hall of Famer had it all going with his exceptional skill and talent, except consistent perimeter shooting. Especially the first half of his career, he was a capable shooter at best, but not the knockdown sniper that he eventually evolved into as he played out the latter half of his career.
Aside from the slick long range sniping that he developed, he is notoriously known for his great ball handling and phenomenal passes throughout his career. The 10-time All-star and six-time All-NBA finished his 18-year career with an average of 12.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists while shooting nearly 35 percent from the three-point arc.
On the other hand, Milwaukee Bucks All-star Giannis Antetekounmpo is nearly a cut from the same mold as Kidd, if not only for the monstrous 6’11 size and freakish athleticism. He is a same do it all kind of guy with scoring, rebounds, assists, and blocks, the two-time All-star is the epitome of the evolution of position-less basketball.
For a career five years young, Antetekounmpo’s game is hampered by his lack of outside shooting just like Kidd’s younger years. It is not like the Greek Freak is in dire need of help in the scoring department. On the contrary, as is it is near impossible to stop him scoring especially in transition. With two to three strides from the three-point line he can get to the rim easily, but developing a simple jumper can alter a status from All-star to legend.
With the guidance of Kidd, not only does he get pointers from a ball handling and passing wizard, he gets schooled by one of the most consistent shooters who played the game. If there is someone who can get a message to Antetekounmpo about the importance of shooting in a basketball career it would definitely be Jason Kidd.
It is interesting to note that Kidd’s perimeter shooting average was a pedestrian 32 percent for his first five years in the NBA. Ever since the 2004 season till he retired in 2013, for those nine years he averaged nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc. Compared to Antetekounmpo, the former Bucks 15th pick is shooting a horrible career 28 percent from the three-point arc.
Nonetheless, if they both get things right, under the tutelage of the legendary point guard we may see Antetekounmpo scarily transform into a complete powerhouse that he was billed to be.
Lonzo Ball and Ray Allen (Shooting form)
As talented and gifted as the 2nd overall pick of the 2017 NBA draft is, Laker point guard Lonzo Ball has one of the most awful looking shooting mechanics in the game. It might have worked for Ball as he played for UCLA; he averaged 41 percent from the arc, but playing in the NBA is a different animal. He only managed 30 percent of his long balls last season, not to mention an awful 45 percent from the foul line.
For a point guard-centric league, that spells trouble for the future franchise point guard of the Lakers. With the NBA’s space and pace game, having a decent perimeter shot is a must in today’s modern league. Sadly, guards who can’t shoot are nearly irrelevant in the NBA. His wonky inefficient Kevin Martin-like jumper is clearly the culprit to his shooting woes.
At 6’6, with the physical tools and talent, there is no doubt that the ceiling is high for Ball. Although if he can’t perform like he was billed to be in college, which is him able to space the floor, then he might not ever reach his ceiling at all.
In comes arguably the best NBA shooter of all time, legendary shooting guard Ray Allen. Though it was well-documented in an interview that the storied three-point marksman would pick Ben Simmons over Lonzo Ball to help in the shooting department, it was not set in stone that he would not help what so ever. With friend and former teammate LeBron James as the new face of the Lakers, it would not be a surprise to have the renowned shooter act as a shooting coach for his young apprentice.
For 18-years in the league, the Hall of Famer has career averages of 18.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the three-point line. Not an easy percentage to achieve, knowing that he is the current NBA three-point leader with 2,973 three-point makes.
If Lonzo Ball achieves to reset his shot mechanics and manages to get the fundamentals of Jesus Shuttlesworth’s silky smooth jumper, we might just see the makings of one of the best point guards in the league.
Ben Simmons and Tracy McGrady (Scoring)
Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady was a legendary scorer. He could light it up near unstoppable at any time and at any place on the court. When you get called “the toughest guy to play against” by one of the greatest to play the game in Kobe Bryant, you must be in special company. McGrady’s mythical scoring prowess was validated in the greatest half-time comeback in NBA history, 13 points in 33 seconds.
Despite the magical talent he possessed, the supposed career of the 9th overall pick of the 1997 NBA draft was cut short by injuries that plagued him. He will always be one of the greatest “What Ifs” in the NBA, being able to go toe-to-toe with the best, the ending to his career that fans had envisioned will always be captured in our imagination.
For his 16 seasons under his belt, he averaged a career 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game.
At the same time, young Sixer point-forward Ben Simmons has the necessary physical tools to score like a McGrady, but due to his lack of offensive dimensions, he just manages to scores linearly. Not to knock on the 2016 1st overall pick’s talent, it is actually a testament on how good he truly is utilizing that high basketball IQ to exploit and stick with his strengths, which he does brilliantly.
As is, Simmons is a great rebounder and passer, but what he lacks are go-to scoring moves that can take over any kind of defense. His 6’10 frame paired with deceptive speed and strength is more than enough physical tools to expand his offensive repertoire.
If there is someone who could turn Simmons into an offensive juggernaut, it would definitely be Tracy McGrady. From the free throw line, fadeaways, and to the three-point jumpers, downloading a T-Mac offensive move list on Ben Simmons would be a scary thought to be against.
If Simmons can score 15.8 points as a 56 percent free throw shooter with no three-point makes, just imagine what he can do under the development of one on the most dominating offensive figures in the NBA.
Karl Anthony-Towns and Hakeem Olajuwon (Defense)
Hakeem “the Dream” Olajuwon was one of the best defensive big men during his time. A two-time Defensive Player of the Year, being a defensive force on his team has translated to two NBA championships with the Houston Rockets. The 12-time All-star and 12-time All-NBA is not a one trick pony solely on defense. From pump fakes to fancy footwork, the Hall of Famer’s scoring domination in the post was clearly ahead of his time.
With a career average of 21.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 3.1 blocks per game from his storied 18-year career, Olajuwon is the perfect mentor to young talented big men who need an old-school flavor to their game.
The 1st overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, Karl Anthony-Towns is the definition of a young talented big man. At 7 feet and 244 pounds, you’d be surprised how quick and agile the Wolves center is. Surprisingly equipped with an offensive game that goes beyond the arc, Anthony-Towns is easily a mismatch for almost everyone in the league.
Unfortunately for his defense, a lot is still to be desired for a young big man as quick and athletic as he is. His unique diversity on the offensive end of things does not necessarily translate to being a dynamic defender. If there is a perfect person who can light a defensive fire in Anthony-Town’s belly, no doubt it would be the great Hakeem Olajuwon.
KAT is not necessarily famous for his post acumen on offense. Although face-up scoring and three-point shooting is highly valued in today’s game, being post proficient adds another level to his offensive game. As a center himself and as one of the low post scoring greats and pioneer of the infamous “Dream Shake”, he knows how to develop and add to KAT’s basketball tools to make him more effective.
Most importantly, as a nine-time All-Defensive team selection, the former Rockets star can enhance the defensive fundamentals of the Wolves center to make him more potent on defense. Positioning and timing on shot blocking will be key, but being completely disciplined on the defensive end will be one of bigger things that the Nigerian big man can impart.
All in all, Anthony-Towns becomes a much more rounded player not only being a threat on offense but a consistent threat on the defense as well.
Devin Booker and Allen Iverson (Attacking the rim)
Devin Booker is one of the youngest and brightest stars in the league. The 13th overall pick of the 2015 NBA draft, he has transcended from shooter to a legitimate scorer. Describing him as a scorer still even seems like an understatement knowing how such a flamethrower he could be. In fact, he had a 70-point outing on a loss against the Celtics, which set a new franchise record and tallied the most points since Kobe Bryant’s insane 81-point explosion.
Despite the volume on his shots, a concerning aspect of his game is his lack of free throw shots. Being a near 88 percent free throw shooter with only six attempts per game makes you wonder how much more points can he put up with more charity stripe buckets.
In perspective, reigning MVP and scoring extraordinaire James Harden gets an average of 10 free throws a game on an 85 percent clip. Booker’s contact elusiveness on scoring opportunities is costing him and his team precious points knowing how accurate he is on the free throw line.
To be a legitimate All-star caliber kind of scorer, he should embrace the responsibility of carrying the scoring load on his shoulders, while creating more contact and settling less for midrange and long-range jumpers.
A legend who is familiar with the scenario and who can help Booker complete the jump from scorer to an All-star scorer is none other than Hall of Fame scoring guard Allen Iverson.
At 6 feet, with a reputation of being tough as nails, Iverson challenges the land of the giants on the court night in and out. The impressive part was he was either the smallest guy on the court or one of the smallest players on the court, where he had a daredevil-like ability to just fearlessly attack the basket.
His style of play paid dividends on the scoring end, with a career average of 26.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game in his 14-year career.
Iverson was never the perimeter marksman that Booker was, but Booker was never the slasher that the former was. As the legend imparts to the young star, out of their workouts may spawn one of the greatest inside-outside scoring threats the NBA has ever seen.