The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of achievement for every NBA player, coach and executive -- a sign that your career was not only great but also worthy of immortalization. The 2023 class is riddled with familiar NBA names, including Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich, who will all be inducted on Saturday.
Like most of the sports world, we generally have a hard time living in the present and always want to look to the future, so we thought it would be interesting to take a look at all 30 NBA teams' current roster to see who their most likely next Hall of Fame inductee would be.
Please note the key words there: First, "current roster" -- the player has to be with the team at this very moment to be considered. Second, "most likely" -- meaning we're not saying that the person is certainly going to get in, but it is just the best candidate available. And lastly, "next," indicating that the person selected has to be the one who's going to reach the Hall of Fame the soonest.
For the purposes of this exercise, we looked at players, coaches and members of the front office (we decided to leave owners and governors out, because that's not much fun). As you'll see, some are extremely obvious -- hi, LeBron! -- and others are true head-scratchers -- Wizards, yeesh!
Anyway, without further ado, here is every NBA franchise's most likely next Hall of Famer.
Mills probably presents the closest challenge to Young given his international contributions to the Australian national team, but it's still a long shot given his modest NBA numbers and only a single title with the Spurs. Snyder is currently 56th on the all-time coaching wins list and is still without a championship, which means he's got a ways to go before hitting Hall of Fame consideration.
So, despite being only 24 years old, Young is most likely to be the Hawks' next Hall of Famer. His numbers through his first five seasons put him on par with players like Clyde Drexler, Ray Allen and Kyrie Irving, and he's shown no signs of slowing in terms of his scoring and assist output. Ultimately, even if Young isn't ever the best player on a championship team, his numbers alone should eventually push him past the HOF threshold.
Also considered: Jayson Tatum, Brad Stevens
This would have been much easier had Blake Griffin re-signed with the Celtics at the time of this writing, but instead, he looms as a free agent. Therefore we have to delve into the murky waters of Horford's Hall of Fame case, which is certainly in the eye of the beholder. At the end of the day, Horford's consistency (five-time All-Star, one-time All-NBA and All-Defense), his varied skill set that involves switchability and 3-point shooting, plus his contributions in college (back-to-back titles at Florida) and on the international stage (three medals representing the Dominican Republic) make a strong case. He's also one of four NBA players to notch at least 10,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, 1,000 blocks and 500 3-pointers. The others are LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion (who has a similarly polarizing HOF candidacy).
You'd have to imagine that if he is able to win a title before he retires, however, that could push Horford over the edge.
The next pick would be Tatum, but he's only
19 25 years old and has a long way to go. So for now, we'll assume Horford has a couple more solid years left that could make his case a bit clearer.
Also considered: Sean Marks
Ben Simmons' trajectory would have made him the clear favorite for the Hall of Fame on the current Nets roster, but the last few seasons have obviously derailed that train. That leaves Brooklyn with very few candidates after the exodus of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
Marks is a sneaky option, having keenly finagled a rapid return to contention following a disastrous depletion of assets by his predecessors. But, it's incredibly difficult for front office executives to make the Hall of Fame as contributors, and, unfortunately, Marks' legacy could be one of failure given the disappointment of his ignominious "superteam."
Therefore, despite its gross prematurity, we're basically forced to go with Bridges, who showed last season that he could be capable of becoming -- at the very least -- a No. 2 option on an excellent NBA team. His Basketball Reference similarity scores through five seasons include Hall of Famers Chris Webber and Jamaal Wilkes, so there's reason to believe that Bridges could join them if he stays along his current path. That's just a very hard thing to predict since he's entering his age-27 season.
Also considered: LaMelo Ball, Mitch Kupchak
Hayward's chances probably aren't great -- he currently has a very slim Hall of Fame probability according to Basketball Reference -- but he's still the most likely candidate in the Hornets' organization. His track record of staying healthy isn't the best, but if Hayward, 33, can put together a few more productive seasons, it would at least make his case interesting. When looking at his career averages through over 600 games, he's in the same region as Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Joe Johnson -- all players potentially worthy of a Hall of Fame conversation.
The other options for Charlotte were Ball and Kupchak, and you can't really feel comfortable with either. Ball hasn't even played 200 career games, and Kupchak hasn't made a significant enough mark as an executive to merit induction as a contributor. Therefore we're left with Hayward despite his steep, uphill battle to get into the HOF.
Also considered: Billy Donovan, Zach LaVine
While Donovan should have an interesting case by the time he retires, there's very little doubt that DeRozan will end up in Springfield, especially if he keeps up his production for the next few seasons. The 34-year-old has averaged over 20 points for 10 consecutive years, earning six All-Star appearances and three All-NBA selections. He's 39th on the all-time NBA scoring list, and will only continue to climb.
LaVine is probably going to have a strong case by the time he hangs them up, but since we're talking about the most likely next Hall of Famer, it has to be DeRozan.
Also considered: Ricky Rubio
Rubio is worthy of consideration given his crucial role in the success of Spain's national team, but his NBA credentials leave a bit to be desired when it comes to the Hall of Fame. If we assume Rubio falls short, that only leaves Mitchell as the next probable candidate.
The 6-1 guard is a prolific scorer, averaging at least 20 points in all six of his NBA seasons and getting up to 28 in his first season with the Cavs. There's no reason to believe that, if he stays healthy, Mitchell won't be a lock to make the Hall of Fame by the time he retires.
Dallas Mavericks: Kyrie Irving
Also considered: Luka Doncic
With head coach Jason Kidd already in the Hall, that leaves Irving as the most likely candidate to get in next. Basketball Reference has Irving with a 0.94 chance of getting in, as close to a lock as it gets, and he should still have several prime years remaining. Availability has been an issue throughout his career, but there's never been a doubt regarding his on-court production, averaging at least 24 points and five assists per game in each of the last seven seasons.
He also hit arguably the most clutch shot in NBA history to deliver the Cavs their only title.
If voters decide to hold Irving out for whatever reason, Doncic would be next in line for the Mavericks franchise -- but at 24 years old, that's a long way off.
Also considered: Michael Malone, Jamal Murray
Any doubts about Jokic's potential Hall of Fame status were eliminated when he went on one of the most devastating postseason runs of all time to lead Denver to its first NBA title a couple of months ago. At 28 years old, the two-time MVP could have more on the way, and he'll almost certainly add to his five All-Star and All-NBA selections -- unless he gets sick of playing basketball and decides to race horses full time back in Serbia.
Malone is 53rd on the all-time NBA coaching wins list, so he could eventually get to the HOF level, but that will take considerable time. Same with Murray, whose per-game production indicates a potential Hall of Fame career, but we'll need to see if he stays on the court. Anyway, this one was easy. It's Jokic.
Detroit Pistons: Monty Williams
Also considered: Bojan Bogdanovic
Bogdanovic is the closest thing to a Hall of Famer the Pistons currently have on their roster, and he would need an improbably productive back half of his career to even get on the radar. So instead we turn to coaching, where Williams should have a decent shot of getting in if he continues to have success.
Williams won Coach of the Year with the Suns in 2021-22, and is a two-time NBCA Coach of the Year Award recipient. He ranks 57th in all-time wins, and he'll continue to move up the ranks after locking himself into a six-year, $78.5 million contract with Detroit.
Cade Cunningham is probably the most likely player to ascend to Hall of Fame status, but he's appeared in just 76 NBA games, so it's way too early to make that assumption.
The Warriors have four stone-cold Hall of Fame locks, so this is really just a prediction about who will retire first -- and that's most likely Paul. While Curry, Thompson and Green still appear to be going strong, Paul has clearly shown signs of decline both physically and on the floor over the past couple of seasons.
When he does decide to retire, Paul will go into the Hall of Fame as arguably the best point guard of all time -- the "Point God," as he's come to be known. He ranks third all-time in both assists and steals, is a 12-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA selection, nine-time All-Defense selection and a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. He also has two Olympic gold medals and numerous collegiate accolades from his days at Wake Forest. All he's missing is an NBA title, which he hopes to collect in his first season with the Warriors.
Curry, Thompson and Green will likely have their turn, but it appears Paul will be the next Warrior to grace the Basketball Hall of Fame with his presence.
Well, this is a tough one. Green and Sengun have both shown promise in their first two NBA seasons, but they're far too early in their careers to even mention the words "Hall of Fame." Ime Udoka is in just his second season as an NBA head coach. So that leaves us with the only veteran on the team who really has a conceivable shot, and that's VanVleet -- but it's going to take steady production for the rest of the 29-year-old's career.
The good news is he was already a vital part of a championship team, but he also has just one All-Star appearance and has yet to make an All-NBA or All-Defensive team. VanVleet has a chance to take his game to another level with an intriguing Rockets group, but as of now, Basketball Reference has him at a 0.0030 probability of making the Hall of Fame. That said, he's probably the best this current Rockets roster has to offer.
Indiana Pacers: Rick Carlisle
Haliburton and Turner are too early in their careers to call them Hall of Fame locks, and Hield will have an interesting case given his prolific 3-point shooting. But ultimately the next Hall of Famer from the Pacers has to be Carlisle, who is 14th in NBA history in coaching wins and led the 2011 Mavericks to an improbable Finals win over the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh "superteam" Miami Heat.
Carlisle also won Coach of the Year in 2002 with the Detroit Pistons, bolstering what should be a Hall of Fame career when he decides to call it quits.
Another team with three surefire Hall of Famers, the Clippers' next representative comes down to who will retire first between Westbrook, Leonard and George. Considering Leonard and George are younger, play highly coveted NBA positions, and are still performing at All-Star levels when healthy, it's safe to assume that the 34-year-old Westbrook will be the first to call it quits. There's always the outside chance, however, that Westbrook just heads overseas and plays until he's 60 because he just loves the game that much. Time will tell.
In any case, four years after whenever Westbrook decides to retire, he'll enter the Hall of Fame as one of the most unique and prolific NBA players of all time. Assuming a relatively productive upcoming season, he will quickly join LeBron James as the only players in league history to put up at least 25,000 points, 9,000 rebounds and 8,000 assists in a career. Westbrook is also the only player to average a triple-double in multiple seasons (four times) and he won the 2016-17 MVP by putting up a ridiculous 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game.
Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James
Also considered: Anthony Davis
The only hair of uncertainty about the Lakers' next Hall of Famer is if LeBron decides to play until he's 50 and outlasts Davis -- and it's pretty insane that we can't definitively rule that out. In all likelihood though, James will retire in the next few years and will become the next Laker to be enshrined in Springfield.
We don't need to list all the accolades and accomplishments for a player who's the greatest of all time in some peoples' books, but the fact that he's the NBA's all-time leading scorer and fourth in career assists speaks volumes about his ability to both takeover games individually and facilitate for his teammates. The scary part is, LeBron is still performing at an All-NBA level with very few signs of decline.
Rose isn't a surefire bet to make the Hall of Fame, but he's been able to put together a solid post-injury career that has complemented the dynamic, explosive form of his early NBA days. Basketball Reference has his Hall of Fame probability around that of inductees Bobby Jones, Pete Maravich and Spencer Haywood, so that could bode well for Rose's chances.
Prior to devastating knee injuries, Rose was a Rookie of the Year, MVP, three-time All-Star and one-time All-NBA selection. In the later portion of his career, Rose averaged over 18 points per game during stints with the Knicks, Timberwolves and Pistons. With Morant and Jackson still so young, Rose is probably the best bet for the Hall of Fame on the current Grizzlies roster.
Miami Heat: Kyle Lowry
Spoelstra, Love and Butler are all locks to make the Hall of Fame, but the best bet to be the next inductee is the 37-year-old Lowry, who appears to be nearing the tail-end of his career. After bouncing around for the early part of his career, Lowry found a home in Toronto, where he helped lead the Raptors to the 2019 title by logging 26 points and 10 assists on 4-for-7 3-point shooting in the clinching Game 6 win over the Warriors.
Lowry is one of three players in league history (LeBron James, James Harden) to notch over 15,000 points, 6,000 assists and 2,000 3-pointers in an NBA career. He's also a six-time All-Star and one-time All-NBA selection.
Also considered: Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo
We all know Giannis is the headliner here, but at just 28 years old he's still a long way from entering the Hall of Fame. That leaves three borderline potential Bucks inductees in Lopez, Middleton and Holiday. Basketball Reference has Middleton with the highest probability, but he's only 31 and has a lot of time left on the court. A 35-year-old center with plenty of miles on his basketball odometer, Lopez seems closest to retirement -- but he's not exactly a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
Ultimately he should have a strong case given the second act of his career that he's pulled off in Milwaukee, becoming a prolific 3-point shooter while also in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation from season to season. This is in addition to his early days with the Nets, where he averaged 19 points, seven rebounds and nearly two blocks per game over nine seasons.
Lopez is a one-time All-Star, a two-time All-Defense selection and won the 2021 title with Milwaukee. He's also the only player in NBA history to put up at least 1,700 blocks and 700 3-pointers, which could help his Hall of Fame case -- especially if he has a few more years of solid production.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Rudy Gobert
Conley is most likely going to be the first of this group to retire, but it's hard to imagine him making it into the Hall of Fame. He's a one-time All-Star and All-Defensive player, and despite his memorable playoff runs with the Grit-N-Grind Grizzlies, he has no titles to show for it. As such, Basketball Reference has him with a 0.0069 Hall of Fame probability, around players like Pascal Siakam and Udonis Haslem.
So that leaves us with Gobert, who, at 31, is a long way from retirement, but will be pretty much a lock to get into the Hall of Fame with a few more productive seasons. He's one of four players in league history to win three Defensive Player of the Year Awards, is a six-time All-Defense selection, four-time All-NBA selection, three-time All-Star and has led the league in both blocks and rebounding. When he decides to retire, Gobert shouldn't have a problem getting in.
McCollum has averaged at least 20 points for the past eight seasons, but with no All-Star or All-NBA selections it's going to be very difficult to make a legitimate Hall of Fame case. And while Griffin has made some shrewd moves, the standard for getting in as a front office executive is hard to breach. Finally, as dynamic as Williamson is, he hasn't been on the court often enough to merit even the most premature Hall of Fame discussion.
Therefore, despite being just 25 years old, Ingram is the most logical choice to be the Pelicans' next Hall of Famer. He won the Most Improved Player award in 2019-20, when he earned his first All-Star appearance. Availability has been an issue, but he's put up at least 23 points per game in each of the past four seasons, including a career-high 24.7 last year. He still has a long way to go, to be sure, but the path to the Hall of Fame is clearer for Ingram than any other current member of the Pelicans.
New York Knicks: Tom Thibodeau
With no current players on the verge of enshrinement, the Knicks' most likely next Hall of Famer is Tom Thibodeau, currently 39th on the all-time wins list after head coaching stints with the Bulls, Timberwolves and Knicks. He's a two-time Coach of the Year recipient (2011, 2021) and finished second and third in two other seasons.
The most likely players to have a shot are Randle and Brunson, but both must put up many more accolade-filled seasons to even get into the conversation. At this point, Thibodeau seems like the most likely pick.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Sam Presti
Also considered: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
As we've mentioned a few times in this story, it's very difficult for a front office executive to make the Hall of Fame. Former Bulls exec Jerry Krause is the most recent example of a general manager making it in, but they are few and far between.
That being said, Presti has set up the Thunder to be a very special franchise, and it's largely due to his vision and execution. He's led the way in the recent trend of asset collection and trading stars at the peak of their value, so he could truly be perceived as a historic influence, particularly if he ends up winning a title or two.
The closest thing to a Hall of Fame player on the young Thunder roster is Gilgeous-Alexander, but he's just beginning his ascent to stardom. Because of that, we'll go with Presti as OKC's most likely next Hall of Famer.
Young team. Young coach. First-year GM. This is a tough one. The only vet on the Magic roster who may have a shot is Ingles, but his Hall of Fame probability is .00002, according to Basketball Reference. So it really comes down to the newbies on the roster and projecting which one has the best chance.
Jalen Suggs has shown flashes, but he's not really shown star potential yet. Carter is solid, but doesn't have a Hall of Fame-level game at this point. So that essentially leaves Wagner and Banchero, who both have the potential to be great NBA players. While Wagner has been excellent in his two seasons and possesses an incredibly versatile game on both ends, former No. 1 overall pick Banchero probably has a better shot at being the guy, which could eventually lead to the Hall of Fame.
Again, this is all rampant speculation, but there really weren't any other options given the current Magic roster.
Philadelphia 76ers: James Harden
Also considered: Joel Embiid, Daryl Morey
Embiid will get in one day, but he's only 29. Morey has a shot, but he'd need to get in as a contributor, and he's still yet to win a title. So, since he's technically still on the 76ers roster (for now), Harden is their most likely next Hall of Famer.
Say what you will about the aesthetics of his game and his penchant for changes of scenery, but the man has put up unassailable Hall of Fame production over the course of his career, which could still have several years left. He's an MVP, a ten-time All-Star, a seven-time All-NBA selection, a three-time scoring champion, a two-time assist leader and a Sixth Man of the Year. Harden made the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, and currently sits 25th all-time in both total points and assists.
Harden is undoubtedly going into the Hall of Fame, and at 33 years old, he'll probably get there before Embiid and/or Morey.
Phoenix Suns: Kevin Durant
No doubt about this one. Booker will almost certainly get in one day, and Beal has an outside shot. But Durant is absolutely the most probable choice to be the next Suns Hall of Famer. The 34-year-old is currently 13th on the all-time scoring list and rising, and he collected two NBA Finals MVPs while winning back-to-back championships with the Warriors.
The accolades speak for themselves: MVP, 13-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA, four-time scoring champion, NBA 75th Anniversary team. And the scary part about Durant is that he appears to be getting even better with age -- his .677 true shooting percentage last season was the best of his career, while averaging nearly 30 points.
Durant is truly one of the special ones, and he's a lock to be the next Phoenix Sun in the Hall of Fame.
Also considered: Chauncey Billups
Let's hurry up and get this published while he's still on the team! Lillard is a 100 percent lock to be a Hall of Famer, and there's nobody else really in the Blazers organization who could get there before him. Billups is an interesting case since he's still eligible to get in as a player, but he's never been a finalist. Plus, Billups getting in as a player who never suited up for the Blazers would kind of miss the point of this exercise.
So Lillard it is, who is in the top 60 all-time in scoring and sixth in career 3-pointers made. Both those rankings will surely go up quickly as Lillard, 33, is coming off arguably his best season with averages of 32.2 points, 7.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game on 46/37/91 shooting splits.
He may not finish his career with the Blazers, but he's almost certainly going to be the next Portland representative in the Hall of Fame.
Also considered: Domantas Sabonis, Mike Brown
Sabonis actually has the higher probability according to Basketball Reference (Fox has yet to crack the list), but we're going to take some liberties based on the progression we saw last season. After winning the league's inaugural Clutch Player of the Year Award, Fox was an absolute menace in the Kings' opening-round playoff loss to the Warriors, averaging 27.4 points, 7.7 assists and 5.4 rebounds in the seven-game series.
This came after a regular season in which Fox put up 25 points and 6.1 assists per game en route to his first All-Star and All-NBA selections. Sabonis may have a slightly more accomplished career so far, but the trajectory that Fox is on seems more likely to end up in Springfield someday.
Also, don't sleep on Brown, a two-time Coach of the Year who is 54th all-time in NBA wins. He just seems a bit farther off from the Hall of Fame than Fox at this point.
San Antonio Spurs: R.C. Buford
Also considered: Victor Wembanyama
This would have been a much easier exercise this time last year, but with Gregg Popovich being inducted on Saturday, it leaves slim pickings on the young, largely unproven Spurs roster. The quick and easy answer would be Wembanyama, but we simply can't predict that someone who's never played an NBA game is going to make the Hall of Fame, despite whatever impossibly lofty expectations have already been bandied about.
So instead we'll move to the front office, where Buford has been a strong voice in San Antonio since 1994, and was the general manager for four Spurs titles before being promoted to CEO in 2019. He's also a two-time winner of NBA Executive of the Year, helping to helm one of the great dynasties in sports history.
The path to the Hall of Fame for executives is a difficult one, but the induction of Jerry Krause in 2017 could open the door for decorated, influential front-office mavens like Buford.
Toronto Raptors: Masai Ujiri
Also considered: Pascal Siakam
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will likely be the next Raptors in the Hall of Fame, but they're not currently on the roster, so we had to get a bit creative. Siakam is an excellent player, but at this point it's hard to say with certainty that the Hall of Fame is in his future -- his probability is 0.0067, according to Basketball Reference.
A more likely next Hall of Famer is Ujiri, who earned Executive of the Year honors with the Denver Nuggets before becoming the architect of the only Raptors championship in franchise history in 2019. He famously pulled off the trade that landed Kawhi Leonard, who wound up being the Finals MVP.
Ujiri has also done important work with the NBA's Basketball Without Borders Africa program, which would certainly be considered on his potential Hall of Fame resumé.
Utah Jazz: Danny Ainge
Also considered: None
No player on the current Jazz roster could even be mentioned in the same sentence as "Hall of Fame," so thank goodness that Ainge is the one calling the shots in the front office. Some have campaigned for him to get into Springfield as a player, but the more likely path is that Ainge gets in as a contributor for his work with the Boston Celtics and, now, the Jazz.
Ainge's most notable move with the Celtics was bringing in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the same summer to join Paul Pierce, which paid immediate dividends with the 2008 championship. Ainge is also known as somewhat ruthless, later trading away an aging Garnett and Pierce for draft picks that became Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. He also traded fan-favorite Isaiah Thomas for Kyrie Irving in 2017.
The trend continued in Utah, where Ainge dealt away franchise cornerstones Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in the summer of 2022, bringing in a stockpile of draft picks and promising young players like 2022-23 All-Star Lauri Markkanen.
Ainge has become synonymous with shrewd front-office decision-making, so he should have a decent shot of getting into the Hall of Fame.
Washington Wizards: Kyle Kuzma
Also considered: Jordan Poole
Of all the franchises to pick a next Hall of Famer, Washington is probably the most difficult. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. is still unproven, new front-office head Michael Winger has only been a prominent executive for six years, and the team just traded away its only fringe Hall of Fame candidates in Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis.
With that being the case, Kuzma seems to be the most likely next Hall of Famer of the bunch -- but that certainly doesn't mean we're endorsing his candidacy. One selling point for Kuzma is that he was already an important piece on a championship team with the Lakers, so that's one box checked off. He's also shown more all-around growth in his two seasons with Washington, increasing his scoring, rebounding and assist averages significantly and setting the foundation for an interesting trajectory.
Kuzma is in a similar situation to Poole, where they should both get plenty of opportunity to put up numbers for at least next season and maybe beyond. Perhaps that means that they compile enough career points to make things interesting, and then become a key piece of a title team down the road? Yeah, we're grasping at straws -- but we had to pick someone, and Kuzma seems like the best of limited options.