The 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers might be the most decorated team in NBA history. Frankly, it might not be close.
The roster features:
- 57 All-Star selections — the most in NBA history for one team on opening night
- 24 All-NBA First Team selections
- 48 All-NBA Team selections
- 13 All-Defensive First Team selections
- 10 championships
- 5 regular-season MVP trophies
- 9 Olympic gold medals
(And that’s after the September departure of Marc Gasol — a three-time All-Star, two-time First Teamer, and NBA champion.)
Yes, the Lakers will open the season with the oldest collective opening night roster in the 75-year history of the league. However, they’re focusing on collective wisdom, not mileage.
“Everybody’s up there in age,” Rajon Rondo said in training camp when asked about comparisons to the 2003-04 Lakers, who added Karl Malone and Gary Payton, then fell in the Finals. “We’ve got a couple more guys. I think they have four (Hall of Famers); we supposedly have six, five-and-a-half. I don’t know.” (The “half” is a reference to himself.)
Regardless of when, or if, you think the Lakers will jell, Rob Pelinka and LeBron James have objectively compiled the NBA’s most star-studded roster, with perhaps the highest Q-Score of any team in hoops history.
Everybody involved has incessantly brought up the notions of “sacrifice” and “championship mindset” since free agency. Beyond talent, the Lakers are banking that experience, IQ, and the combo of past accomplishments and present minimum contracts will curb any egos.
“We got a bunch of guys … that’s been competing for a long time and it’s the reason why a lot of these guys are Hall of Famers,” Russell Westbrook said. “Competing and having a competitive spirit as a part of our practice, as a part of our DNA. It’s going to be a part of our team and our mindset.”
So — just for fun — let’s ponder how many future Hall of Famers the Lakers truly have? (With assists from Basketball-Reference‘s HoF probability calculator and analysis by The Athletic’s Rob Peterson.)
And keep in mind: Mitch Richmond is in Springfield.
Anthony Davis: 99%
Davis, 28, may not quite own the individual hardware nor the league-leading seasons of other all-time greats, though his numbers are clearly Hall-worthy.
He’ll surely rack up more individual honors, rocket up all-time lists, and probably add more jewelry. Eventually, he’ll do so as the face of the most glamorous franchise in the game. AD is a lock if he retired today.
Even if Westbrook never gets that ring, he’s going to finish his career as far-and-away the NBA’s all-time triple-double king. After six decades of Oscar Robertson’s triple-double season of 1961-62 taking center stage on the pedestal of NBA achievements, Westbrook, unfathomably, has shattered his mark. Russ has averaged a triple-double in four of the past five seasons, including his 2017 MVP campaign. Over the past seven seasons, 35% of Westbrook’s box scores have displayed a triple-double.
At 32, Brodie has pulled three ahead of the Big O (184 to 181) on the all-time list.
Westbrook has also led the league in assists three times and has been named First or Second Team All-NBA seven times. Lock.
Carmelo Anthony: 99%
Like Westbrook, Anthony is a surefire Hall 0f Famer regardless if he ends up with a championship.
He’ll begin the 2021-22 season as the 10th leading scorer in NBA history — 40 points behind Moses Malone and within striking distance of Shaquille O’Neal. He’s one of the most unstoppable scorers of the 21st century, and amongst the greatest players of a talent-rich generation of hoopers. His legendary, one-season title-run at Syracuse and three Gold Medals won’t hurt his cause, either. He’s in.
As Rob Peterson noted, every player who has won a scoring title is in the Hall. Melo did so in 2012-13 (28.7 PPG).
Dwight Howard: 97%
Count me as an initial skeptic of Howard’s Hall-worthiness as recently as three years ago, at least at first glance.
Beginning with his unsuccessful first go-round with the Lakers in 2013-14, Howard’s unflattering journeyman run — including consecutive forgettable campaigns with the Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, and Washington Wizards, in which his teammates couldn’t wait to get rid of him — clouded his candidacy, IMHO.
However, upon reflection, there is no debate. For one thing, his stint with the Houston Rockets was more successful than folks remember. Secondly, a la Vince Carter, he’s rebuilt his reputation as a teammate over the past three seasons, flourishing in limited minutes and earning a ring in the process.
Those two paragraphs bury the lede: Howard’s tenure with the Orlando Magic — eight seasons, six All-Star teams, three Defensive Player of the Year awards, five All-NBA First Teams, multiple rebounding and block titles, an MVP-caliber 2008-09 season and run to the Finals — secured his spot in Springfield.
He’s going to finish in the top-1o all-time in rebounding and blocks. As Peterson notes, everybody above Dwight on the career Win Shares list who is eligible for the Hall has been elected.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Rondo is a four-time All-Star, four-time All-Defensive team selection, and two-time champ.
However, he only has one All-NBA selection (Third Team in 2011-12). Besides for 2019-20 (Lakers) and 2017-18 (New Orleans Pelicans), Rondo has spent a bulk of the past seven seasons unhappily going through the motions for clubs including the Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers, and Chicago Bulls.
His career averages are down to 10.0 points and 8.1 assists per game, and will further decline going forward.
On the other hand, the 35-year old ranks 14th all-time in assists, 13th in triple-doubles, and sixth in playoff triple-doubles. He’s led the league in dimes three times.
Rondo will not be a first-ballot selection, but his reputation as one of the game’s brightest minds and multiple memorable postseason performances should buoy his candidacy. Another ring would probably ensure it.
Plus, Rondo has openly expressed a desire to go into coaching upon retirement, which should keep him (and his acumen) prevalent in the basketball landscape.
DeAndre Jordan: 1%
Barring an unforeseen All-Star final act in Los Angeles, Jordan’s not getting there. He made one All-Star team and one All-NBA First Team (three All-NBA teams overall), won two rebounding titles and made two All-Defensive Teams. He ranks No. 1 in NBA history in field goal percentage.
A fine career, no doubt. But DJ will have to settle for, perhaps, a jersey retirement from the Clippers and author of perhaps the most memorable alley-oop in NBA history. Nothing to slouch at.
Talen Horton-Tucker: 1%
I know. You’re laughingat me.
R.P. Salao ·
Gerard Angelo Samillano ·
Michael Corvo ·
Obviously, nobody is pegging the 20-year old former second-round pick with one full season under his belt — in which he averaged 9.0 points, shot 30% from 3, and started four games — for Springfield. That would be both a) utterly irrational and b) completely unfair expectations to put upon his wide shoulders. (Neither am I, hence the 1%.)
In fact, THT is too inexperienced to even be included in Basketball-Reference’s HOF probability index (it gives Trevor Ariza a .00012% of getting in, if you’re wondering.)
The jury is still out on how high THT’s ceiling reaches. Talk to some folks, they project him as a future All-Star and immensely valuable asset. To others, he maxes out as a quality supporting piece. We’ll learn a lot about that this season (after he recovers from thumb surgery), as he’s suddenly the fourth-highest paid player on a contender.
Either way, I’m including him on this list as he’s, technically speaking, the only other member of the Lakers roster — outside of Hillbilly Kobe, I guess (a Hall of Fame nickname) — with a semblance of a chance to blossom into a star.
(FYI, I’m skipping percentages for non-players, as the timelines for how long they’ll remain active is impossible to gauge.)
Vogel, 47, has won a title after overseeing numerous deep playoff runs with the Indiana Pacers. He’s one of the finest coaches in the NBA. A basketball junkie and coaching addict through and through, Vogel could very well be a staple on sidelines — whether in Los Angeles or elsewhere — for another two decades (his Lakers deal runs for two more seasons).
If he adds another ring or two and racks up the career wins, he’ll be in the Hall.
Pelinka, 51, would need to construct more title teams in order to be elected. However, his run as Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations has been stellar so far, and his long-standing relationship with the team from his years as Kobe Bryant‘s agent should keep in the job for a while.
If he continues top-line success, Pelinka could be elected as an executive or special contributor, considering his prolific tenure as an agent and whatever future roles he takes on, a la Jerry Colangelo.
Jeanie’s father, Dr. Jerry Buss, is, of course, a member of the Hall. Jeanie, 60, will follow in his footsteps.
Let’s assume she gets a few more titles and continues to be a force in internal NBA matters and one of the most influential, powerful, and successful governors in basketball. That, combined with her significance as an unfortunately-rare female power broker in sports, will deservedly earn her induction. Lock.