NBA Today: Reggie Miller Heads Hall of Fame Candidates
Rookie Norris Cole has given the Heat a nice lift off the bench.
On Friday, the 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame finalists were announced, and the list is headed by five-time All-Star Reggie Miller, appearing on the ballot for the first time.
The other first-timers are college coach Rick Pitino, who has guided his teams to five Final Fours, former NBA coach Bill Fitch and Katrina McClain, who twice won Olympic gold.
Returning candidates include coach Don Nelson; Maurice Cheeks, who starred as a player and, as a coach, he… well, he starred as a player; Bernard King, the NBA’s leading scorer in 1985; Dick Motta, one of the NBA’s all-time leaders in coaching wins; Hank Nichols, long-time NCAA referee; Ralph Sampson, one of the best college players ever and a four-time NBA All-Star, although his pro career was diminished by injuries; Jamaal Wilkes, who was part of four NBA titles and was an All-Star three times; and the All-American Red Heads, the first professional women’s team and essentially the female version of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Now the debate rages: does Miller deserve to be a Hall of Famer?
Let’s look at the reasons why he wasn’t a Hall of Famer: he never won a championship; in 18 seasons, Miller was never named to either the first or second All-NBA Team, receiving just three nods as a third teamer; only twice did he receive any MVP votes, never winning the award; he wasn’t much of a rebounder, didn’t get many assists and, while he’s currently 14th overall in points, his career PPG average of 18.2 only ranks 91st; he’s only 45th all-time in 3-point percentage.
On the positive ledger, Miller was the sport’s greatest three-point shooter (from a career perspective) ever until a year ago when Ray Allen overtook him; he was a superb FT shooter even up to the end (in fact, his 93.3 FT shooting in his final season was a career best); he’s one of only five NBA players to ever shoot 50 per cent or better from the field, 40 per cent or better from 3-point range and 90 per cent or better from the line in a season while qualifying at every category (the others are Larry Bird, Mark Price, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki – some pretty good company).
There’s no doubt that Miller was the greatest Pacer ever, a dynamic and exciting player who at times could electrify a building (especially MSG, it seemed), but we just don’t think his resume is well-rounded enough for Springfield. Sorry, Reggie.
The Miami Heat has been on a serious tear lately, winning eight straight games – all by at least a dozen points. At the break, Miami has opened up a 5.5-game lead on the Magic in the Southeast Division, and has taken over the Eastern Conference lead, one half-game ahead of the Bulls. The Heat is tied with the Thunder for the NBA’s best record overall heading into the second half.
LeBron James has been better in his second season since taking his talents to South Beach. After shooting a career high 51 per cent from the field last season, his shooting touch has been off the charts good this season at 54.7 per cent, helping King James be the best player in Fantasy, until perhaps recently when Kevin Durant started to go hog wild the past couple of weeks.
Better yet for his Fantasy owners, LBJ has been knocking down the treys after a slow start. He’s averaging one 3-pointer per game in February, helping offset reduced scoring, rebounding and assist numbers this month.
We knew Miami’s defense would be good, but what’s surprised most people is the fact that it leads the NBA in scoring. This despite the fact that Dwyane Wade missed nine games and his scoring is down 3.1 PPG while Chris Bosh’s scoring is also down slightly. With James’ scoring only up 0.7 PPG, who’s making the difference for Miami this season?
After struggling to stick as a starter in his first two seasons in Miami, Mario Chalmers has been much better this season. Earlier in the season it looked like rookie Norris Cole was a threat to his job, but so far he’s managed to hold off youngster and has responded with a career-best 11.1 PPG. Better yet, he’s increased his scoring almost five points per game despite the fact that he’s only taking 2.2 more shots per game – that’s an efficient improvement. Chalmers has also become a beast from downtown, canning 45.6 per cent of his looks from beyond the arc.
With James and Wade running the offense, you can’t really expect much in the way of assists from Miami’s point guards, but Chalmers has done enough to be pretty much a much-own Fantasy player this season, and that definitely had not been the case in either of his two previous seasons with the Heat.
Speaking of Cole, his presence has given the Heat a legitimate offensive weapon off the bench, and that’s really helped spur the team’s offensive improvement. The rookie hasn’t been getting as much touches this month, but is doing a better job of sinking his shots and his perimeter game has been improving as the season has progressed. Cole has really settled down after that early-season splash, but we like this kid’s chances of continuing steady growth in the second half. He’s an excellent keeper league option and we expect him to offer increased value in redraft formats towards the end of the season.