The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (NBA ) is widely considered the most prestigious recognition a basketball player, coach, or contributor can receive. It is the pinnacle of achievement in basketball. It is the prize that these athletes work toward their entire life.
Every year (except during the pandemic), a new group of former NBA players isinducted into the Hall of Fame, paying tribute to the greatest basketball figures in history. This is a celebration of the achievements, dreams and contributions of the most impactful players to ever grace the basketball world.
For someone to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, they must have had a significant impact on the game of basketball. According to the Hall of Fame’s official criteria, a player must have met the following requirements:
- The player must have been retired for at least three years before being considered for induction.
- The player must have played at least five seasons in the NBA.
- The player must have achieved significant individual success, such as being named an All-Star or winning major individual awards.
- The player must have made significant contributions to the team’s success, such as winning championships or leading the team to deep playoff runs.
- The player must have had an impact on the game beyond just their individual accomplishments.
Once a player meets these criteria listed above, they are eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame. The selection process is conducted by a committee of experts, including media members, former players, and coaches. The committee considers the player’s overall career accomplishments, as well as their impact on the game, before voting on whether or not to induct them into the Hall of Fame.
While there are many players who have rightfully earned their place in the Hall of Fame, there are also those who have been overlooked or snubbed, despite their impressive careers and achievements. These players have not been recognized with the highest honor in basketball, despite their sustained excellence and undeniable impact on the game. Many fans of the game would suggest these players have been improperly overlooked in this regard and are happy to argue about it online daily.
This list highlights 20 of the best NBA players who have not yet been inducted into the Hall of Fame. These players were all incredibly talented and had a significant impact on the game of basketball during their careers. They dominated on the court, led their teams to great success, and left a lasting impact on the league. For various reasons, some fair and some not, they have yet to receive the recognition they deserve from the Hall of Fame.
Many of these players were NBA All-Stars, some were even multiple times. They won championships, led their teams to deep playoff runs, and earned individual accolades. Some of them set records and were among the league leaders in various statistical categories. They all had impressive careers and were beloved by fans.
It is puzzling why some of these players have been overlooked for induction into the Hall of Fame. Some of them may have been overshadowed by the accomplishments of other players during their era, while others may have suffered from bad timing or politics. Regardless of the reasons, it is clear that they are all deserving of recognition and should be remembered as some of the best players to ever grace the NBA hardwood.
- Chris Webber – Despite being one of the most talented players of his generation, Webber has been kept out of the Hall of Fame due to some controversies in his career. These include his connection to the infamous “Fab Five” scandal, getting caught lying to a congressional jury, taking a plea to avoid jail time, and his role in the Sacramento Kings’ controversial loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Still, his statistical accomplishments and impact on the game cannot be ignored. Webber was a dynamic scorer and passer, who had a rare combination of size, speed, and skill. He was a dominant force in his prime and was the cornerstone of some of the best teams of the 1990s and 2000s.
- Tim Hardaway – Hardaway was one of the most exciting and creative point guards of his era. He was a master of the crossover dribble, famously dubbed “the UTEP two step” and had a deadly outside shot. Hardaway was a key part of the Golden State Warriors’ high-scoring teams of the early 1990s, dubbed “RUN TMC”, and he also had success with the Miami Heat later in his career. He was a tenacious defender and a strong leader on and off the court and one of the most well liked players of his era. After his playing career, he briefly worked as a TV analyst at ESPN.
- Ben Wallace – Wallace is widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders and rebounders in NBA history. He was a dominant force in the paint, blocking shots and grabbing rebounds at a high rate. He was not known as an effective offensive player, particularly in the pick-and-roll game, however, his value on defense dwarfed his limitations on offense. He was a key player on the Pistons’ championship team in 2004 and was a model of consistency and toughness throughout his career. Later, playing with the Chicago Bulls, he helped mentor a team full of young players.
- Shawn Kemp – A walking highlight, Kemp was one of the most athletic and explosive players of his era. He was a high-flying dunker and a dominant force around the rim. Kemp was also a skilled post player and a strong rebounder. He had some of his best seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1990s, playing alongside Gary Payton, racking up dozens of posterizing dunks and leading the team to the NBA Finals in 1996.
- Chauncey Billups – known as “Mr. Big shot“, Billups was one of the most clutch players of his era. He had a knack for hitting big shots in crucial moments and was a strong leader on and off the court. Billups was also an effective scorer and passer, particularly in the pick-and-roll game. He had some of his best seasons with the Pistons, leading the team to the championship in 2004 and earning Finals MVP honors. As of 2023, he is the Head Coach of the Portland Trailblazers.
- Mark Aguirre – Aguirre was a skilled scorer and a versatile offensive player. He had a strong post game and was also an effective outside shooter. Aguirre had some of his best seasons with the Pistons in the late 1980s after famously being traded for Adrian Dantley, playing alongside best friend Isiah Thomas and helping the team win back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990. His versatile offensive game would likely thrive in the modern era.
- Gilbert Arenas – Known as, “agent zero,” Arenas was one of the most prolific scorers of his era. He had a rare combination of shooting ability, ball-handling skills, and fearlessness. Arenas had some of his best seasons with the Washington Wizards, averaging over 29 points per game in the 2005-06 season. He was also a three-time All-Star and a two-time All-NBA selection.unfortunately, he is also famous for bringing guns into his locker room while playing for the Washington Wizards.
- Kevin Johnson – Johnson was one of the most explosive point guards of his era. He had a rare combination of speed, athleticism, and passing ability. Johnson had some of his best seasons with the Phoenix Suns, leading the team to the NBA Finals in 1993 and earning three All-Star selections. He was also a civic leader in the Sacramento area, serving as the city’s mayor from 2008 to 2016 and helping secure a new sports arena in Sacramento, California .
- Sidney Moncrief – Moncrief was a tenacious defender and a versatile offensive player. He was a great scorer and rebounder, but he was also a skilled playmaker and a solid defender. Moncrief was a key member of the Milwaukee Bucks team that made deep playoff runs in the 1980s, and he was also a five-time All-Star.
- Buck Williams – Williams was a dominant power forward in the 1980s and 1990s. He was a great rebounder and defender, and he was known for his toughness and work ethic. Williams was a three-time All-Star and won the NBA rebounding title four times, playing for the legendary Trailblazer teams of the early 1990’s.
- Rasheed Wallace – Wallace was a versatile big man who could play both power forward and center. He was a great scorer and shooter, but he was also a solid defender and shot-blocker. Wallace won an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and was a four-time All-Star. He was also known for getting a lot of technical fouls, even causing a rule change regarding them.
- Shawn Marion – “The Matrix”, Marion was a do-it-all forward who could score, rebound, defend, and pass. He was known for his athleticism and versatility, his ability to defend all five positions, and he was a key member of the Phoenix Suns team that made deep playoff runs in the 2000s. Marion was a four-time All-Star and won an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011.
- Brad Daugherty – Daugherty was a dominant center in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was a great scorer and rebounder, and he was also a skilled passer. Daugherty was a five-time All-Star and led the Cleveland Cavaliers to multiple playoff appearances.
- Jack Sikma – Sikma was a skilled big man who could play both center and power forward. He was a great scorer and rebounder, and he was also a solid defender and passer. Sikma won an NBA championship with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979 and was a seven-time All-Star.
- Richard Hamilton – Hamilton was a smooth-shooting guard who could score from anywhere on the court. He was known for his mid-range game and his ability to move without the ball. Hamilton won an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and was a three-time All-Star.
- Michael Cooper – Perhaps the first ever “3 and D” player, Cooper was a tenacious defender and a solid all-around player. He played his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers and won five NBA championships. Cooper was a five-time All-Defensive Team selection and also won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award in 1987.
- Rod Strickland – “Hot Rod” Strickland was a crafty point guard who could score and pass with equal skill. He played for several teams during his career and was known for his ability to get to the basket and finish around the rim. Strickland was a one-time All-Star and also had success as an assistant coach after his playing career ended.
All of these players had outstanding careers and made significant contributions to the NBA. Some may be surprised that they have not yet been inducted into the Hall of Fame, but eligibility and selection criteria can be complicated.