NBA Hall of Fame: Why Kevin Durant Is a Hall of Famer Right Now

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NBA Hall of Fame: Why Kevin Durant Is a Hall of Famer Right Now
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The Hall of Fame finalists will be announced in a matter of days.  Around this time a year or two ago, Bleacher Report was filled with stories about how LeBron wasn't a Hall of Famer, based almost exclusively on the facts that he didn't have a ring and he hadn't done as much in his career as Kobe Bryant.

That was ridiculous then and is even more ridiculous now that LeBron won an MVP, a ring and a gold medal last summer. 

After all, the NBA Hall of Fame doesn't just contain your Michael Jordans and your Bill Russells, it includes your Tommy Heinsohns, your Calvin Murphys, and perhaps most importantly, your Adrian Dantleys.

After a wait, Adrian Dantley made it into the Hall in 2008.  He won two scoring titles, but never made MVP or even All-NBA First Team.  No rings either—he was dealt from the Detroit Pistons only months before they won their first title. 

Based on that, I am comfortable with saying that Kevin Durant could get elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame on the strength of his first six seasons alone. 

I'm not going to assume that Durant will win the MVP or a title this season (LeBron has a little to say about that).  I don't need to.  I will, however, make two relatively safe assumptions: K.D. finishes in the top three in MVP voting and he is selected to the All-NBA First Team.   

Durant has won an All-Star Game MVP, although that doesn't correlate perfectly to being in the Hall of Fame; five men have won it, been retired long enough and not been enshrined.  Of those five, Mitch Richmond could get in this year, while Glen Rice and Tom Chambers still have a legitimate shot at the Hall in the future.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Despite having one fewer scoring titles than KD and no All-NBA First Team selections, Adrian Dantley (blue) is in the Hall of Fame.

 

Kevin Durant has won three straight NBA scoring titles and is cruising toward a fourth.  Only Bernard King (who may very well get in this year) and the late Max Zaslofsky (who won way back in 1948) have won scoring titles and aren't in the Hall; every player who has won multiple scoring crowns (consecutive or not) is in the Hall. 

Every player who has won an MVP is in the Hall.  Kevin Durant hasn't won one yet, and this will most likely not be the season he does.  However, another key measure of Hall of Fame likelihood is MVP award shares. 

Durant is currently 27th in that stat with 1.4 (LeBron has 4.4, Michael Jordan has 8.1).  However, finishing in the top three in MVP voting this season would give him at least 0.4 more award shares. That would vault him into the top 25, trailing only Jerry West as the man with the most award shares without an MVP (Durant currently needs 0.7 shares to pass West, which is not out of the realm of possibility this season if he is first or second on most of the writers' ballots).  Nearly all of the top 30 in MVP award shares are already in the Hall or are likely to be. 

In terms of player efficiency rating, Durant is currently second this season and 18th all time.  As with award shares, that stat correlates fairly well with being in the Hall of Fame: Everybody in the top 40 is either in the Hall of Fame already or is likely to be in the Hall.   

Durant is seventh in career scoring average among players with 10,000 or more points.  The other players in the top 10 are Jordan, Chamberlain, LeBron, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Allen Iverson, Bob Pettit, George Gervin and Oscar Robertson.  Seven of those guys are Hall of Famers; Lebron and AI will get in when the time comes.  

Is Kevin Durant a Hall-of-Famer right now?

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Kevin Durant has made the last three All-NBA First Teams and will most likely make a fourth this season.  Zaslofsky is the only Hall-of-Fame-eligible man with four NBA First Team selections (the first four All-NBA First Teams) who hasn't gotten the call; Zaslofsky and Paul Westphal are the only men with three First Team selections and nothing in Springfield. 

Finally, I'd like to note that being the most talented player in the NBA (more talented than LeBron) is not a prerequisite for K.D. to get into the Hall.  Walt Bellamy is in the Hall and he played against Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Willis Reed, Dave Cowens and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to say nothing of plenty of non-bigs who eclipsed him as the greatest of the era.  The aforementioned Dantley played against Larry Bird, Julius Erving and Michael Jordan.      

Bottom line: Kevin Durant isn't Max Zaslofsky.  No matter what he does for the rest of his career, he's a Hall of Famer.

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