Often, there are certain metrics that people use to determine sport axioms. For instance, in baseball, if a batter hits 500 home runs or racks up 300 wins, you punched your ticket to the Hall (Cooperstown). Basketball really hasn’t adopted the comparable as in where if you score this many point, or grab these many rebounds, or dish out these many assists, you are on your way to Springfield (Springfield, MA is where the basketball Hall of Fame is).
Note, we use Points, Rebounds, and Assists because they are the most tangible stats folks can relate to. Therefore, to be considered for the Hall of Fame, we understand, it isn’t contingent on just these stats. And often, you cannot consider someone a lock just because they scored a lot. Or grabbed a lot of rebounds.
But there is inherit value in determining a number that makes what you did in the league special. 500 home runs and 300 wins is a benchmark in baseball, that for the most part, has done a service to the selection committee. It helps distinguish rare excellence. So, what are those numbers for Basketball?
Of course, there will be justification to put people into the Hall if they don’t hit these numbers. But the point of creating magic numbers is to say “this one feat is so rare, so impressive” that for the basis of the Hall of Fame – and entry – that it should be considered an automatic check mark. Be so objective with these numbers, that it makes certain selections unequivocal.
We compiled a list of players and rankings on points, rebounds, and assists. And determined basically, what is the right benchmark. We did run some analytical procedure tests, but for just these three stats, we did basic range testing to determine what is the right number. We took players already in the Hall of Fame or are locks to get in, as the major weighting in our calculations.
And based on that range, we selected what is the minimum of points, rebounds, and/or assists that serves as a cutoff to getting us that magic number. So, here they are:
The Magic Number for Points: 20,500
Every player who has scored these many points are either in the Hall of Fame or a lock to go into the Hall. To put this into context, only 41 players have ever reached this milestone. The player at bottom of this pool, which is again HOF credentials, is Mitch Richmond who scored 3 shy of the 20,500 (so basically 20,500). The next player up is the Iceman (George Gervin), so this list is not one to snicker at.
And the 11 players who are not yet in the HOF but are locks and will get in are: Kobe, LeBron, Dirk, Duncan, Pierce, KG, Melo, Carter, D-Wade, KD, and Pau (note how we either reference them by a nickname or one name).
The Magic Number for Rebounds: 14,000
This one we went back and forth. 14,000 rebounds - only 11 players have ever been able to accomplish that feat. All 11 players are no longer active and are Hall of Famers. Duncan and KG are part of this list and are awaiting eligibility.
Why we went back and forth, was in wanting to originally make this number 13,000. If we made this the benchmark, we are looking at 16 players who have ever accomplished it. But at #16 on the list with 13,017 rebounds, Buck Williams is not in the Hall of Fame. The top 15 rebounders of all time will be in the Hall of Fame, but Shaq who is 15th on the list is at 13,099. That just doesn’t have a “magic number feel” to it. And given that rebounds have a valuable impact to the game, but not as much as points, it should be a number that truly captures one or two in a generation type of player.
The Magic Number for Assists: 10,500
This one, for determining the right cutover, presented similar issues to that of the rebounds magic number. Currently eight players have eclipsed 9,000 assists. Gary Payton with 8,966 would be nine if you round up. All the top nine players are in the Hall, except for one, being Mark Jackson. Furthermore, Mark Jackson is 4th in the all-time assist leaderboard at 10,334.
Therefore, as much as 9,000 felt as a good number, we just don’t feel right placing so much value to that number, and then having to make a “Mark Jackson” exception. And having the rebound number be extraordinary, we applied similar logic with assists being 10,500 (in which only John Stockton and Jason Kidd have been able to eclipse).