Monday, September 23, 2013

The Difficult Hall of Fame Case for Chris Webber

If it were up to me, I would vote for Chris Webber for the HOF.

I saw the guy play and he was outstanding when healthy.  At his best he was tough to stop as a scorer, had a great elbow jumper, was a great passer and played on many very good teams.  He was 5 times 1st, 2nd or 3rd team all-NBA.  He had 1 first team honor, 3 seconds and a 3rd.

For reference, Hall of Famer James Worthy was inducted in 2003, with only 2 3rd-team honors.  Joe Dumars had two 3rds and a second.  Chris Mullin had a 1st team, 2 seconds and a third.  These players were great player, all deserving of HOF honors, but none of the three were obviously a better overall player than Chris Webber.

So, if you count all-NBA selections, 5 all-star appearances and the eyeball test, I say Webber is in.  In fact, I would add in the fact that he played KG fairly evenly during KG's prime.

Now, the problem -- the Advanced Stats and the similarity scores on do not shout "Hall of Famer."  Webber's PER is 47th best all-time.  Which is good; for example, he is right behind Dan Issel who is correctly in the HOF.  But he is also barely ahead of John Drew and Al Jefferson, both of whom are correctly out of the HOF (Al is not eligible, but I cannot imagine him getting in).

Elton Brand and Alonzo Mourning are ahead of Webber, I don't see them getting into the Hall (though both have arguments).

Another problem for Webber supporters is that, ordinarily, we would like to be able to say, "Sure his last 12,000 minutes as a player weren't great, but he was hurt, look at the first 18,000 minutes."

But if you look real hard at the first 18,000 minutes, Webber wasn't really an all-time great either.  Let's compare apples to apples and start with 1993 when Webber joined the league, sort for seasons by a 6'8" guy (non-guard) above a 20 PER and a .140 WS/48. 
      CWebb is at 6 seasons, same as Elton Brand, same as Chris Bosh.  Duncan has 14; Dirk has 12, KG 11, Shaq 10, LeBron 9, Karl Malone 9, Pau Gasol 8.  (No Lakers fan wants to admit it, but Kobe got to play with two of the most productive big players of our generation who carried him to titles).

Let's raise the criteria to 22 PER and .17 WS/48.   You see the same guys way up high -- Duncan 13, Dirk 11, KG, Shaq, LeBron 9.
Webber drops to 3 such seasons, below Amare Stoudemire, Elton Brand, Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh.  Tied with Yao Ming and Blake Griffin.

Then go up to a PER of 24 and a WS/48 of .2 or above.  Chris Webber disappears.  0 such seasons.

It becomes LeBron, Shaq, Duncan, Malone, Dirk, KG, Robinson and some stray seasons.

The sad thing for Webber is that he does not even have one such season (LeBron has 9).  Elton Brand has 1; Kevin Love and Amar'e?  Each has 2!!!!!!!!!!! 

For kicks - go up to 26 and .22 --  28 and .24 -  30 and .26 --   31 and .28 -

Anyway - do I have a point here?  Yes.  The most consistent big men in the past 20 years have been Duncan and Dirk and KG.  The most dominant big men over individual seasons in the past 20 years have been Shaq and LeBron and David Robinson. 

Webber does not fare real well on either list.  He disappears 5 sub-levels of greatness before LeBron's 3 best seasons.  Shaq and LeBron each has 7 seasons greater than Webber's best.   And for consistency, Webber just wasn't that good for that long.  He had 7 mid-level great seasons.

Are 7 mid-level great seasons enough to get you into the HOF?  I think so.  Some consideration has to be given to his college days (2 seasons, 2 title game losses).  Some consideration has to be given to the fact that he was EVER able to be first team all-NBA during an era that had Dirk and KG and Duncan.

I think if you line 'em all up and say, "In or out" - you put Webber on the side with Issel and McAdoo and Dumars and Worthy as "barely in."  On the other side you put Reggie Theus and Elton Brand and John Drew and Amar'e Stoudemire and Alonzo Mourning as "barely out".


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