As the 2013-2014 National Basketball Association season has progressed, there have been a lot of impressive performances. There have been buzzer-beater 3-pointers, colossal slam dunks, and just all-around remarkable offensive performances. Most notable has been Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who’s had his way with opposing defenses. Durant is currently averaging 31.5 points per game, and in his last 26 games has scored more than 40 points seven times. These are gaudy numbers, even for NBA standards.
But scoring streaks come and go. Some of the best players of all time haven’t been the most prolific scorers — they’re multidimensional players who find ways to win. While the 25-year-old Durant might very well be in the Hall of Fame someday, right now, he’s still making a name for himself. There are a lot of players who can score at will in the NBA, but championships won, MVP awards earned, or even the ability to influence the game are harder to come by. Using those attributes along with scoring ability, here’s our list of six current NBA players who are likely to become future Hall of Famers.
1. Kobe Bryant
Nobody knows how much longer Bryant will play, but he’s almost assuredly a future Hall of Fame selection. He has been in the league for 18 years and during that time, averaged 25.5 points, 4.8 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per game. The fact that he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets right out of high school in 1996 and then traded to the Lakers, where he has played his entire career, shows his durability and allegiance, something the Hall of Fame committee looks for.
It isn’t just his impressive tenure that will wow the committee, either. The Black Mamba, as he’s nicknamed, has won five championships (three straight in 2000, 2001, and 2002, and back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010) and one league MVP award, in 2008. Bryant also garnered Finals MVP awards in 2009 and 2010. Besides a few off-the-court issues, Bryant has epitomized talented consistency and the drive to win in the NBA for almost the past two decades.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to correct Bryant’s drafting details. Thanks to our readers for pointing it out.
2. Tim Duncan
After playing four years in college at Wake Forest, Duncan was selected as the first overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs. In his first season with San Antonio, Duncan had an immediate impact; he’s still making an impact, 16 years later. He was and is one of the most dominant power forwards in the history of the game, and this is evidenced by how he’s averaged a career double-double (20 points and 11.2 rebounds per game).
Similar to Bryant, Duncan has played with only one team. This consistency started in 1998, when he was named the NBA Rookie of the Year, and has yet to taper off. He’s a four-time NBA champion, three-time Finals MVP, and two-time league MVP. Not only is Duncan the storied Spurs’ all-time leading scorer, but as he was too small to be a center (he was a bigger power forward), he’s made the most out of his physical attributes.
3. Kevin Garnett
In 1995, the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Garnett in the first round, making him the first player drafted directly out of high school since the 1975 draft. After being traded to the Boston Celtics in 2007, he won his first and only championship that season, and he also won the league’s MVP award in 2004, with Minnesota. Garnett’s addition to this list isn’t a result of his accolades — he’s a big, strong power forward who played an instrumental role in the ongoing evolution of the position that we still see today. His defensive prowess in the paint made him one of the best in the game these past 17 seasons, and no one will soon forget the mark he left on the NBA, even despite his reputation for trash talking.
4. LeBron James
By far the youngest player on this list, this is just James’s 11th season as a professional — but he has made the most out of every year. Prior to the start of the 2011-2012 season, James probably wouldn’t have made this list, because while he was worthy statistically, he had failed to win a championship and was still young. That all changed in 2012, though, when he won his first title in just his second season with the Miami Heat, having played his first seven NBA seasons in Cleveland. He would win his second title a year later and is in search of a three-peat this season.
James’s dominance might have gotten him into the Hall of Fame without a championship, but now he has it all. He’s a four-time league MVP and the league’s 2008 scoring champion. He’s also won two Olympic gold medals for the United States, though that does not relate directly to his future Hall of Fame candidacy. At 6-foot-8, James can play any position on the floor — and has done so at different points during his career — which makes him currently one of the best in the game and maybe one of the best of all time.
5. Ray Allen
Allen, playing for four different teams over a 17-year career, made a name for himself as a 3-point specialist. He also notched his only two championships late in his career (2008 and 2013 with the Celtics and Heat, respectively). While Allen might not go down as a prolific scorer, he is the NBA’s all-time 3-point leader.
Making a league-record 2,923 3-pointers on an even more impressive 40 percent shooting performance from behind the arc on his career, these numbers are second to none. And that doesn’t even take into account his late-game heroics from deep, most notably his series-saving, buzzer-beating 3-pointer in last year’s NBA Finals for Miami.
6. Steve Nash
The lone true point guard on this list, Nash has epitomized how much a good floor general can impact a team. In his 18 NBA seasons — playing with four different teams — Nash has averaged 8.5 assists per game. On five different occasions he’s led the league in assists, and he currently ranks fifth on the all-time assist leaders board. The only pitfall in Nash’s Hall of Fame potential is that he has yet to win a championship, despite winning the league’s MVP award twice. If the 40-year-old Nash can play a few more years, there’s still a chance for him to notch that elusive title. But that shouldn’t matter come his retirement, because Nash has been one of the most dominant point guards over the past decade.