One of the many prevalent talking points across sports is what players will end up in the Hall of Fame. Here’s a question: which active NBA players would make the Hall of Fame if they retired today?
Career accolades: four-time NBA MVP, 16-time All Star, 15-time All-NBA, six-time All Defensive team, three-time NBA champion, one-time scoring champion
This is a no-brainer. James is the best player of his generation and has shown zero signs of regression. From the outset of his career, the Akron, Ohio native has been a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the floor. He has a knack for getting a step on his defender, flying above the rim, hitting stepback jump shots, and matching up with a team’s top scorer.
He’s also adept at hitting the boards, turning missed shots into points, and serving as a point forward. Heck, he was averaging a career-best 10.6 assists per game before the NBA hiatus. James has arguably been the best player in the sport on three different teams (the Cleveland Cavaliers twice, the Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers). He has put together a legendary career.
Career accolades: 2013-14 NBA MVP, 10-time All Star, nine-time All NBA, four-time scoring champion, two-time Finals MVP, two-time NBA-champion
Durant is as cool as the other side of the pillow as a scorer. He’s quick, an exceptional shooter off the dribble, dangerous from distance, and takes the ball inside as well as any “6-foot-10” specimen ever has. Durant is also an underrated defender, from a blocking and pure on-ball standpoint.
Outside of his rookie season, Durant has never averaged less than 25.1 points per game. That’s pretty good. That production has come alongside the likes of Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and a young James Harden. An efficient shooter and clutch scorer, Durant is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
Career accolades: 10-time All Star, six-time All-NBA, one-time scoring champion
Love him or hate him, Carmelo Anthony is one of the best scorers in NBA history. There wasn’t a single defensive gameplan that slowed Anthony down in his prime. He created his own shot with ease, was an elite scorer out of the post, and gradually developed a reliable midrange game.
Anthony was an explosive scorer with the Denver Nuggets and evolved into a gritty scorer with the New York Knicks; he was equally as productive with both teams. When he began to slow down a bit, he made up for it with his size and outside shooting ability. A year removed from NBA play, Anthony has made a profound impact on the Portland Trail Blazers’ offense this season.
Career accolades: two-time NBA MVP, three-time NBA champion, six-time All Star, six-time All-NBA, one-time scoring champion, one-time steal champion
Curry changed the NBA. His absurd range and ability to get on a roll from beyond the arc is a sight to behold. His ability to do so while producing at the level of a superstar furthered his impact on the NBA. Curry has also coexisted alongside star players such as Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
A career 43.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc, Curry is perhaps the most lethal outside shooter among league stars. Albeit the 6.6 assists per game he has put forth for his career don’t wow anybody, the Davidson product is proficient at finding his teammates in the right places and being the driving force of an offense from both a scoring and facilitating standpoint. Curry is the new standard for what teams look for in point guards.
Career accolades: 10-time All Star, nine-time All Defensive team, eight-time All-NBA, six-time steal champion, four-time assist champion
Paul is an old-school, halfcourt player who plays well on both ends of the floor. He’s an elite midrange shooter, a capable shooter from distance, can play in the high post, and runs an offense at a high level. Paul is a hard-nosed player who doesn’t get pushed around.
An impressive aspect of Paul’s career is that he has always been the same player. He hasn’t given into the temptation of relying on the three, rather taking what the defense gives him and slowing the game down. This has worked, as the point guard hasn’t missed the playoffs since the 2009-10 season. Paul is one of the best players of his generation.
Career accolades: 2017-18 NBA MVP, eight-time All Star, six-time All-NBA, two-time scoring champion, one-time assist champion
The historical significance of Harden’s accolades seem to run deeper whenever he steps foot on the floor. It has reached the point where we almost expect an alert on our phones that he totaled 40 points; that’s what happens when you average over 34 points per game in each of the last two seasons.
Harden is a well-rounded scorer. He uses his stout frame to get inside off the dribble, is a savvy shooter, and is difficult to slow down in isolation. When he doesn’t put the ball in the cup off the dribble, he usually gets to the free throw line — which is an essential free two points for him. His offensive production is off the charts; he’s already one of the best scorers in league history.
Career accolades: 2016-17 NBA MVP, nine-time All Star, eight-time All-NBA, two-time scoring champion, two-time assist champion
Westbrook may be the most exciting player of his generation. Sure, he’s been an, at best, mediocre outside shooter and has been unable to find playoff success without Kevin Durant. At the same time, we’re talking about a player who literally averaged a triple-double in three consecutive seasons, is a walking layup/dunk, and virtually unguardable with a head of steam.
Anything he does is exciting. He explodes off the dribble, hits the boards at an elite level for a guard, and has only grown more compelling with age. Westbrook has been this player with two different teams (Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder) and shown no signs of regression.
Career accolades: eight-time All Star, eight-time All-NBA, five-time All-Defensive team, five-time total rebounding champion, three-time Defensive Player of the Year, two-time blocking champion
Superman at his best was the NBA’s best center. Sure, he never possessed a dominant post game, and he’s one of the worst free throw shooters in NBA history, but close to no one could hold their own against Howard in the paint, let alone keep him from jamming the ball on their head.
Howard was a walking double-double. In his 14 seasons as a starting center, the big man averaged 17.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, and two blocks per game. He also put the Orlando Magic on his back in the 2008-09 season, leading them to the NBA Finals. All in all, Howard is one of the best big men in league history.