Friday, June 26, 2015

Hall of Fame Projector - The method and the Top 14 Players

It's time to update the Hall of Fame Projections.  I used to do these for Swish Appeal, but since I'm not writing there now, I'll be adding them to my blog.

What are the Hall of Fame Projections?  The idea, essentially, is to see if a WNBA player has a career anything like that of an NBA Hall of Fame player.  We then assign a percentage that indicates the chances that a WNBA player, based solely on her pro career, would make it to the Hall of Fame.

It's important to note that we are not looking for the best players, just the players that look the most like Hall of Fame players.  So what do Hall of Fame players look like?

A big weight on "traditional stats".  The "traditional stats" in this case are Points Per Game, Reounds Per Game, and Assists Per Game.  Obviously, those three stats don't tell the whole story of a player - they say nothing about defense - but the Projection System weights them for two reasons.  First, those are the stats that get quoted a lot.  Second, when a player fades away from memory, and fewer and fewer people living have seen her play, all that's really left are the stat sheets to look at.

MVP Shares.  How many votes for MVP did the player get over her career?

All-Star Selections.  How many times was the player voted an All-Star?  Note that the WNBA occasionally doesn't hold All-Star games in even-numbered years, so when that happens I have substituted selection for their national FIBA or Olympic teams.

Height.  Feats by smaller players are more impressive than feats by bigger ones.

Rings.  Hall of Fame voters value championships.

A few notes:

* American Basketball League stats have been included.  For those who don't remember, the ABL competed with the WNBA from 1996 to 1999.
* Players who stopped playing before 2005 get added weight to their scores, as they lost productive years in their career to the lack of a women's league.
* You have to have played at least 160 games by the end of 2014 to make this list.  This is why Maya Moore is not on the list.  She will be next year.
* I didn't invent Hall of Fame projectionThe wonderful people at did.  However, they have tweaked their method to include Peak Win Shares, which my method doesn't have.  Maybe after 2015, I'll add that to my method.

So who are my leaders as of the end of the 2014 season, and what are their chances of getting into a Pro Basketball Hall of Fame?  This post might be stretched out over several days, so watch this space!

Lead Pipe Cinches

1.  Lisa Leslie (100 percent):  Two WNBA titles.  If she were a NBA player, she would have averaged a double-double for her career.  Three-time MVP and eight-time WNBA All Star.  First player to dunk in a WNBA game.  Women's Basketball Hall of Fame member.

2.  Tamika Catchings (100 percent):  One WNBA title.  One MVP award, nine-time All Star.  Member of the All-Decade and Top 15 teams.  Since the Projector doesn't take into account her defensive skills, she might rank above Leslie for greatest of all time in the modern era.

3.  Lauren Jackson (100 percent):  Two WNBA titles. Three time MVP winner, seven-time All Star.  Member of the All-Decade and Top 15 teams.  A post player who could shoot threes like anyone's business. She has four WNBL (Australian league) MVP awards.  Injuries, however, have hindered her and I don't think she'll play in the WNBA again.

4.  Diana Taurasi (100 percent):  Two WNBA titles.  One MVP award, seven-time WNBA All Star.  One of the most dangerous players imaginable.  She was paid a seven-figure contract by a Russian team to sit out the 2015 season.

5.  Cynthia Cooper (100 percent):  Four WNBA titles.  Two-time MVP.  Three time All-Star, four time WNBA Finals MVP.  And when she started playin in the wNBA...she was 34 years old.  If she had started playing at age 22, they'd consider her the true Greatest Of All Time.  Women's Basketball Hall of Fame member.

6.  Sheryl Swoopes (100 percent):  Four WNBA titles.  Three-time MVP.  Six time All-Star.  Was 26 when the WNBA started.  Fist women's basketball player to have a Nike shoe named after her, the "Air Swoopes".

7.  Candace Parker (100 percent):  Two time MVP.  First player on the list not to have a WNBA championship.  Second woman to dunk in a WNBA game.  Missed several games due to injury.  Still active, but taking some time off (how much time?) to recuperate for the 2015 season.

8.  Natalie Williams (100 percent):  Won an MVP award with the American Basketball League. Three seasons with the Portland Power, then played with the Utah Starzz and Indiana Fever, which weren't the greatest teams in the WNBA.  Excellent power forward.

9.  Yolanda Griffith (100 percent):  One WNBA title, one MVP, eight time All-Star.   WNBA All-Decade Team Member.  In the 1997-98 ABL season, she was MVP runner up to Natalie Williams.  Women's Basketball Hall of Fame member.

10.  Tina Thompson (100 percent):  Four WNBA titles.  Nine time All-Star.  All-time leading scorer in WNBA history.

11.  Cappie Pondexter (100 percent):  Two WNBA titles.  Six time All-Star. Top 15 All Time list. 

12.  Sue Bird (100 percent):  Can't have Diana Taurasi without Sue Bird.  Two WNBA titles.  Eight time All-Star.  WNBA All-Decade team. Top 15 All Time list.

13.  Tina Charles (100 percent):  One MVP award.  Three time All-Star  Incredible rebounder.

14.  Lindsay Whalen (100 percent):  Two WNBA titles.  Five time All-Star.

Next time:  The seven players in the 90-99th percentile, the ones that are "virtually in". One of these players is already in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

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