During the playoffs, I had an interesting exchange with my father about the Big Three and whether they were Hall of Famers.
Me: “Kevin Garnett.” Pops: “Yes.”
“Paul Pierce.” “Yes.”
“Ray Allen.” “No.”
Allen – or Judas Shuttlesworth, as he is known in Boston now – is still playing so we can only assume he will add to his career totals with the Heat.
He has the most 3-pointers of all time (2,718) and he has led the league in 3s – what else? – three times. He also has led the playoffs in 3s three times, including in 2001, when his Milwaukee Bucks lost in the conference finals.
(Side note: It’s actually this particular season that boosted him in my eyes, as he led a team with Glenn Robinson, Sam Cassell, Tim Thomas. Lindsey Hunter and Scott Williams to within one win of the NBA Finals.)
Allen was never first-team All-NBA, which concerned me at first until I discovered that recent Hall inductee Reggie Miller was never even SECOND-TEAM all-NBA. Hard to believe, really. Alex English was 2nd team just once and he’s in Springfield.
He has a 20-point scoring average for his career, which puts him behind non-HoFers Bernard King (22.49), Mitch Richmond (21), ABA great Charlie Scott (20.69) and – yes – Chris Webber (20.68)
(Side note #2: C-Webb was a five-time all-NBA player, including one first-team pick and three seconds. He was top 10 in MVP voting five times, where Allen was ninth in MVP voting once in 2005. I still don’t think Webber should be anywhere near any Halls of Fame but it raises questions about Allen once again.)
Allen is fourth in points among active players (24th all-time) and is a 10-time all-star. But one of the guys he is often compared to, career-wise, is Gary Payton.
Payton was a nine-time all-NBA pick (two firsts, five seconds) with nine first-team all-defense picks. Payton was a top 10 MVP player eight times including a third-place finish. He’s fourth all-time in steals and eighth in assists.
For my money, Payton had a better career than Allen, too. Both won one championship, with Allen being the third-best player on his team and Payton being a hang-on scrub for the first Heat title-winner. But Payton led a lot of mediocre Sonics teams deeper than they should have gone, and he was The Glove.
So Allen falls short of Payton and maybe even Webber in some ways, but let’s look at Allen’s former pals whom he betrayed to join the LeBron Machine.
Pierce, like Allen, was a first-team all-American in college and was a 10-time all-star. He has a 22-point career average and he has been all-NBA four times, but including three thirds and one second. He has been a top 10 MVP player just once (7th).In many ways, Allen and Pierce have similar careers. They’ve compiled nice numbers and won a title together, but both fail the “Should they be Hall of Famers?” test in my book.
Garnett, meanwhile, has the lowest career scoring average of the trio (19.3), which surprised me. But he has plenty of other stuff to pad the resume.
How about 14 all-star berths, four rebounding titles, seven MVP top 10s (including an actual MVP award in 2004 and a runner-up the year before), 12-time all-defense (nine firsts), and 13th all-time in rebounds.
Add in that KG is 21st all-time in steals (only Hakeem Olajuwon and Karl Malone have more among big men) and 52nd all-time in assists. That last one doesn’t sound as impressive, but it really is if you think about it.
So if it’s me, I have to disagree with Pops. I would only have Garnett in out of the three, but I have a feeling with Springfield’s open door policy that all three will one day be enshrined.