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Assessing the HOF chances of current and former Nuggets...

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Melo_chauncey_mediumAs we recover from Michael Jordan's awkward Hall of Fame induction speech and begin to tally the votes for the second annual Denver Stiffs Hall of Fame, I thought we'd look into the HOF chances of current and former Nuggets still active in the NBA.

Before getting started, we have to clear up one of the biggest misunderstandings about The Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.  It's a basketball Hall of Fame, not a pro basketball Hall of Fame.  Therefore, a player's collective career spanning college, the NBA and international play are all taken into consideration for Hall of Fame induction.  The geniuses (and I mean that sincerely, I love their site) at Basketball-Reference.com already have a Hall of Fame probability index, so we'll go in order using their forecasts.

Ai_mediumALLEN IVERSON (Basketball-Reference HOF Probability: 100%)

The Case For: In spite of a number of off-the-court incidents, Iverson's entry into Springfield is a no-brainer.  Among active players, Iverson is second in total points scored, fifth in assists and second in steals.  Throw in an MVP Award, 10 All-Star Game appearances, two All-Star Game MVP Awards, four scoring titles and the fact that he's only 5'11" makes Iverson one of the great stories in basketball history.  Iverson was also an exceptional college player at Georgetown and won a Bronze Medal at the 2004 Olympics.

The Case Against: Many traditionalists will argue that Iverson represented/represents all that is wrong with the modern NBA.  A me-first, "hip hop" diva that's disrespectful to those who came before him.  His refusal to come off the bench with the Pistons last season while the Nuggets thrived without him certainly didn't help to negate this reputation.  

The Verdict: While some of the negatives thrown at Iverson are undoubtedly true, his numbers and impact on the game are too overwhelming.  To quote former CIA Director George Tenet, getting A.I. into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility is "a slam dunk."

Melo_mediumCARMELO ANTHONY (Basketball-Reference HOF Probability: 27%)

The Case For: In just a short time, Melo has compiled a remarkable basketball career that includes an NCAA Championship, a Bronze Medal from the 2004 Olympics, a Silver Medal from the 2006 World Championships and, of course, a Gold Medal from the 2008 Olympics.  It should also be noted that in his six seasons in Denver, the Nuggets have appeared in the postseason every time, culminating with last season's Western Conference Finals run and back-to-back 50 win seasons.

The Case Against: Other than those six straight postseason appearances and two All-Star Games, Melo's done nothing notable winning-wise at the NBA level.  Melo has also been embroiled in some unfortunate incidents, including a brawl at Madison Square Garden in 2006 and a series of off-court incidents that we're all hoping he's put behind him.  But he's only 24 and his best years could be ahead of him if he's willing to improve his game and non-basketball life. 

The Verdict: If Melo stays on the trajectory that he's on and doesn't go the way of Glenn Robinson or Antoine Walker - other talented, shoot-first small forwards who spent their latter years chucking jumpers rather than driving to the basket - a Hall of Fame entrance should be a shoo-in.  But until he racks up a few more playoff series victories, he's not a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Chauncey2_mediumCHAUNCEY BILLUPS (Basketball-Reference HOF Probability: 25%)

The Case For: A late bloomer by NBA standards, Billups has appeared in a stunning seven consecutive conference finals and the last four NBA All-Star Games.  While in Detroit, Billups led the Pistons to the 2004 NBA Championship and was named NBA Finals MVP.  And in his return to Denver, Billups led the Nuggets to their best season in NBA franchise history.  On both ends of the floor, Billups does a little bit of everything well.  But most importantly, Billups is a winner and the Hall of Fame historically looks kindly upon players who rack up lots of postseason wins.

The Case Against: Too little, too late?  While Billups has been playing like a Hall of Famer recently, he was anything but for the first half of his NBA career.  He also accomplished very little in college (by NCAA standards, not CU standards) and hasn't made an impact on the international level.  And career numbers like 15.1 ppg, 5.6 apg and 41.6% are hardly Hall of Fame-caliber.

The Verdict: Whether or not Billups deserves to be in Springfield has been and will continue to be greatly debated.  I'm too biased to see his case with any sort of objectivity.  But perhaps the best example of why Billups should get in is the fact that Joe Dumars - the man who brought Billups to Detroit - is a Hall of Famer.  Like Billups, Dumars didn't have "Hall of Fame numbers" (16.1 ppg, 4.5 apg, 46% shooting) and appeared in just six All-Star Games.  But also like Billups, Dumars, a fellow NBA Finals MVP, was a quiet, dignified, professional who demanded excellence from himself and his teammates, even if he didn't have the stats and personality typically associated with Hall of Fame players.  Billups' enshrinement might be on the fence today, but if the Nuggets have another 50-win season under his leadership he should get in.

Miller_mediumANDRE MILLER (Basketball-Reference HOF Probability: 1.6%)

The Case For: I'm not really sure why Basketball-Reference gives Miller any chance whatsoever of being in the Hall of Fame some day.  If anything is in Miller's favor, it would be that he's the modern NBA "iron man", having missed just five games in his professional career. But Miller's numbers and win totals hardly jump out at you.

The Case Against: Miller has never won a playoff series, has never appeared in an All-Star Game, averaged over 10 assists game just once and had the honor of being the starting point guard on the 2002 USA Basketball Team that finished an embarrassing sixth at the World Championships.

The Verdict: Other notable "iron men" of NBA lore - such as Randy Smith and "All Christian" (A.C.) Green aren't Hall of Famers and neither is Miller.  In fact, Miller has about a good a chance of entering the Hall of Fame as I do making the Nuggets roster this year.  Although, that 13th roster spot is technically still open...