This week, the NBA officially welcomed 13 former basketball greats into the exclusive Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, including San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili, fiery coach George Karl and WNBA great Swin Cash.
As with everything in the world, the pivot from celebrating the Class of 2022 to focusing on potential future Hall of Famers didn’t take long. In a recent piece for The Athletic, Rob Patterson asked which current players stack up as soon-to-be inductees, with a few memorable Portland Trail Blazers in discussion.
Portland star Damian Lillard, whose name was in the title of the article, was viewed as a no-brainer. His inclusion on the NBA 75th Anniversary Team showed the level of respect that his game commands, and, as such, Patterson viewed him as a “lock.”
Patterson’s criteria noted a “Big Four” — a quartet of accomplishments that all but guarantee a player’s Hall of Fame speech is inevitable — including a Most Valuable Player award, a Finals Most Valuable Player award, a scoring title and a top-50 finish on the all-time scoring list.
Lillard lacks each of these at this juncture in his career, but it articulates how productive he’s been in short time, respectively compared to other all-time greats. He’ll almost assuredly make it into the top 50 on the all-time scoring list before his career ends and his All-NBA team nods and overall body of work put him in a list of 15 “active locks,” which also includes former Blazer Carmelo Anthony.
The other Blazer mentioned, LaMarcus Aldridge, wasn’t viewed as an active “near-lock,” but he joined Bradley Beal, Blake Griffin, Al Horford, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo in a list of “active, but could see it happening” talents.
Aldridge fits a part of the criteria for the locks, with his 20,558 career regular season points ranking No. 48 all-time, as Patterson mentions. Yet, he never put up his numbers in a glamorous way or found deep success in the postseason. Roughly a year ago, we looked into this very topic of Aldridge’s Hall of Fame case and I still gave him the nod because of his consistent production.
As it stands today, Portland has six former players inducted into the Hall of Fame, but speculation suggests they could introduce another two or three within the not-so-distant future.