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Destined for Greatness: These Active NBA Players Are a Lock for the Hall of Fame

Sports fans everywhere know when they see greatness. Watching a player transcend those around them is truly a magical scene. When you see them on the court or field, you can feel the difference. Players destined to be the greatest in the sport change the game, draw fans, and fill stat books throughout their careers. From the career point leader with a skyhook, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to the single-game points leader towering above the rest, Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, these athletes are honored with an induction into the NBA Hall of Fame.

To be considered, players must have been retired for at least five years. Another person must nominate the player, and a form and supporting documentation must be with the President of the Hall of Fame by November 1. But you don’t have to wait for them to retire to know they are bound for the Hall. Some players are destined for induction the moment they reach eligibility.

The Company They Will Keep

Magic vs. Bird
Sporting News

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is located in the birthplace of basketball, Springfield, Massachusetts. Nearly 200,000 people visit the hoops mecca in hopes of catching a glimpse of their favorite player or their parent’s favorite player or learning about a new favorite.

There are over 400 inductees enshrined in the more than 40,000 square feet of basketball royalty. These inductees include nearly half of them who are players, 26 women, 20 from outside the United States, and 5 who received the honor as coaches. Coaches, contributors, teams, and referees make up the rest of the inductees.

Players such as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Dr. Julius Irving brought a new level of interest to the game and made the NBA one of the top three most popular sports in the country. There were 10 players enshrined in the 2021 ceremony, which included Ben Wallace, Chris Webber, and Yolanda Griffith. But who can we look forward to glorifying in the years to come? Here are the players still playing who are shoe-ins for the Hall of Fame. 

Who Are the Active Players Destined to Join Them?

LeBron James
The Athletic

LeBron James

Drafted – 2003, Cleveland Cavaliers
Teams – Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers
All-Star Appearances – 18
Championships – 4
Current Team – Los Angeles Lakers

There should be no surprise at this selection. With 18 all-star selections, 4 Most Valuable Player trophies, 6 All-Defensive awards, and 4 NBA titles, Lebron James is, without a doubt, the most influential player in the world. He was dubbed “King James” with a $90 million contract with Nike out of high school, and it seems the whole world knew James would be a Hall of Famer before he even graduated high school.

Chris Paul
Courtesy of the National Basketball Association

Chris Paul

Drafted – 2005, New Orleans Hornets
Teams – New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns
All-Star Appearances – 12
Championships – 0
Current Team – Phoenix Suns

Drafted 4th overall in the 2005 NBA draft, Chris Paul has played 17 seasons and nearly 40,000 minutes on the court. Out of the 55 draft picks from that season, he accumulated 198.9 Win Shares (a metric used to divvy up credit for team wins). Only four players have more than him in their career, with Michael Jordan accumulating the most at an even 214. Add that to his 12 All-Star selections, 9 All-Defensive trophies, and the 2005-06 Rookie of the Year, and Paul is about as sure of a thing as you can get. 

Kevin Durant
The New York Times

Kevin Durant

Drafted – 2007, Seattle SuperSonics
Teams – Seattle SuperSonics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets
All-Star Appearances – 12
Championships – 2
Current Team – Brooklyn Nets

After the Seattle SuperSonics selected Kevin Durant second overall in the 2007 draft, he played the final season in Seattle before the team relocated to Oklahoma City. He made up the team’s core for almost a decade, along with Russell Westbrook and James Harden. After signing with the Golden State Warriors in 2016, Durant became a superstar with 2 NBA titles. He has accumulated 12 All-Star selections, 4 Scoring titles, a Most Valuable Player, and a Rookie of the Year. 

James Harden
The Sports Rush

James Harden

Drafted – 2009, Oklahoma City Thunder
Teams – Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers
All-Star Appearances – 10
Championships – 0
Current Team – Philadelphia 76ers

After spending three seasons as the second part of the trio of superstars on the Oklahoma City Thunder, James Harden became the face of the Houston Rockets over the next decade as a perennial playoff contender. With 10 All-Star selections, 3 Scoring titles, and a Most Valuable Player on his shelf, he may have the best beard in the Hall. 

Steph Curry
NBC Sports

Steph Curry

Drafted – 2009, Golden State Warriors
Teams – Golden State Warriors
All-Star Appearances – 8
Championships – 3
Current Team – Golden State Warriors

Five teams selected six players before Steph Curry, which could be some of the biggest mistakes in recent draft memory. After 13 seasons, he has brought 3 NBA titles to the Golden State, along with 8 All-Star selections, 2 Most Valuable Player trophies, and 2 Scoring titles. Few people can say they literally changed the game, but with Curry on the court, the half-court press has to defend his 3-point shot to the literal half-court. 

Russell Westbrook
Sports Illustrated

Russell Westbrook

Drafted – 2008, Seattle SuperSonics
Teams – Seattle SuperSonics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers
All-Star Appearances – 9
Championships – 0
Current Team – Los Angeles Lakers

Russell Westbrook was the third part of the core in Oklahoma City and was the face of the franchise for nearly a decade. He has more triple-doubles than any player in history, even averaging a triple-double in four seasons of his career. If that wasn’t a big enough argument for the Hall of Fame, Westbrook has 9 All-Star selections, 2 Scoring titles, and a Most Valuable Player to his credit.

Dwight Howard
Sports Illustrated

Dwight Howard

Drafted – 2004, Orlando Magic
Teams – Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers
All-Star Appearances – 8
Championships – 1
Current Team – Los Angeles Lakers

Following Shaquille O’Neil as a big man in Orlando is no easy task. It might be just as difficult as following Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant in their respective cities. However, Dwight Howard used his insane athletic ability and toothy smile to win the town over. After nearly two decades in the league, he leads all active players in rebounds and blocked shots. Add to that his 8 All-Star selections, 3 Player of the Year awards, and 2-time block titles; Howard is sure to follow Shaq to the Hall. 

Anthony Davis
The Bird Writes

Anthony Davis

Drafted – 2012, New Orleans Hornets
Teams – New Orleans Hornets, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers
All-Star Appearances – 8
Championships – 1
Current Team – Los Angeles Lakers

Despite losing out on Rookie of the Year to Damien Lillard, Anthony Davis has been an All-Star in eight of his nine seasons in the league. He landed the league block champion three times and was selected to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Davis’ career averages of 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game were enough to help the Lakers win the title in 2020, all but solidifying his place. 

Carmelo Anthony
Courtesy of the National Basketball Association

Carmelo Anthony

Drafted – 2003, Denver Nuggets
Teams – Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers
All-Star Appearances – 10
Championships – 0
Current Team – Los Angeles Lakers

Carmelo Anthony has a career primarily defined by being overshadowed by his contemporaries. He was drafted third in a draft class where the top five included LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, all of which are Hall of Famers or are on their way to the Hall of Fame. While Anthony has never been able to capture that elusive NBA ring (some could argue that his three contemporaries teaming up had a big part in that), he is one of the most talented scorers in the game’s history. He is 11th all-time and is second active, only behind James. 

Damian Lillard
Sports Illustrated

Damian Lillard

Drafted – 2012, Portland Trail Blazers
Teams – Portland Trail Blazers
All-Star Appearances – 6
Championships – 0
Current Team – Portland Trail Blazers

Since Damian Lillard beat out Anthony Davis for the Rookie of the Year award in 2013, he has been a mainstay in Portland for a decade. His 6 All-Star and 6 All-NBA accolades go along with being one of the most talented scorers in the league. He joins Wilt Chamberlain as the only two players to score 60 points three times in a single season. The one drawback to his Hall of Fame bid is his lack of a ring. He chose to stay in Portland over joining a superteam, putting his legacy over a championship. 

What Championship Team Enshrined the Most Hall of Famers?

Bill Russell
National Basketball Association

The Boston Celtics in the 50s and 60s are widely considered the greatest dynasty in the history of North American sports. The team won 11 titles in 12 years, from 1957 to 1969. Since that run, no other team has won more than 3 consecutive titles. The 8 won by the Celtics from 1959 to 1966 is a record no one, not Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James, has even gotten halfway to reaching. Of course, with that much success, there is a whole roster full of Hall of Famers. Led by Bill Russell, 9 players from the 1962/63 championship team made it into the Hall. Tom Heinsohn, Clyde Lovellette, John Havlicek, Frank Ramsey, Satch Sanders, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, and Bob Cousy all have been enshrined.

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