The 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame nominees are a star-studded group. Where does San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan rank among his fellow NBA first time nominees?
The 2020 group of Basketball Hall of Fame first time nominees is absolutely loaded. With guys like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Chris Bosh all up for induction as first-ballot selections into the Basketball Hall of Fame. But where does the San Antonio Spurs legend rank amongst his fellow first-time nominees?
These four have been phenoms at their positions seemingly from the second they laced up sneakers. From Kobe and Kevin being drafted straight out of high school to Bosh and Duncan dominating Division 1 basketball, their play was superb whenever they touched the hardwood.
All of these guys were surefire first-round picks. All won an NBA Championship. All of them made regular appearances in All-Star games and on All-NBA teams.
Their accolades are quite similar, but their style of play and career path to get to this moment couldn’t be any more different.
Which begs for the question, who’s the best player from this class?
Kobe and Timmy have the most rings. Kevin Garnett is the most athletic from the bunch. Chris Bosh helped revolutionize the game as a stretch forward, having a sensational mix of post-up game and three-point shooting.
Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan played their entire careers with the same organization, but the routes to their championships couldn’t be any more different. Garnett and Bosh won rings with their second team, choosing a similar path en route to their championships.
With so many differences and so many similarities, the task of ranking these four first-ballot Hall Of Famers is quite difficult. Here’s how I think the four rank out.
The 11-time All-Star, All-Rookie team member, and two-time NBA Champ easily had first-ballot Hall of Fame career. A true game-changer, Chris Bosh is a pioneer for what skills a modern-day forward needs to have in order to be successful.
Bosh had a skill range that came close to unmeasurable. Offensively, he had a bunch of tools in his bag. A blend of solid post-footwork and paint iQ offensively that resembles the old era of NBA basketball, as well as his fantastic jump-shot from both mid-range and beyond the arc. Bosh was as well rounded and dynamic of an offensive force as we’ve seen.
You can’t ignore the impact he had on the defensive end either. How in the world Chris Bosh never made an All-Defensive Team is mind-blowing. Bosh was a very versatile defender, especially in his Miami years. He possessed the ability to guard players 2-5, with outstanding footwork, lateral quickness, strength, and defensive IQ.
Although Bosh is one of the greatest Forwards of this millennium, he is the 4th best player from this Hall Of Fame class. He’s more so a prisoner of this class being so substantial in terms of talent, because more than likely in just about any other HOF class, he’s surely the first or second-best in the class.
He was never the best player on any contending team and was the 3rd best player on the Miami Heatles squad that featured LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. While that isn’t a shot at him, because his importance was immense to the success of that squad, talent for talent, he isn’t up to par with the three others in this class of Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant.
“ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!” After delivering one of the most emotional interviews after a hard-fought battle to win his first NBA title, Kevin Garnett’s legacy was cemented.
Garnett is a trailblazer in terms of not only his level of play but also in the way in which he played the game. Furthermore, he’s also one of the best prospects to ever come to the NBA straight out of high school.
KG was one of the most athletic power forwards the game has ever seen. He had a unique combination of size, athleticism, strength, and tenacity that was unheard of, especially from a 19-year-old kid. Garnett was a four that stuck to his roots despite the NBA’s three-point revolution. Regardless of that, he still maintained a potent offensive game as he hit his mid-30’s.
Garnett was one of the best two-way players to ever grace the sport. An absolute beast on the glass who also loved defense. He was someone who was among the NBA’s elite defensively for 12 of his 14 career seasons, and offensively was an absolute cheat code no matter the matchup.
KG has all the accolades you look for in a first-ballot Hall Of Famer. Multiple All-Defensive nods, multiple All-NBA team selections, an MVP trophy, and a championship ring, he has all the awards you could ask for. KG’s legacy on and off the court is elite.
All of that said, in this ranking, Garnett, like Bosh, is a victim Iof one of the deepest HOF Classes in years. As we know, his only title came from the original big-3, which was formed in Boston during the 2007-2008 offseason.
With that Boston Celtics team that was loaded with talent, the team significantly underperformed as it pertains to championships won and postseason success. That isn’t entirely Garnett’s fault, but he was never the best player for the Celtics throughout his tenure, and regardless of the talent they had, that team never saw the Larry O’Brien trophy again after 2008.
While he was impactful throughout his career, his teams never found postseason success when KG was viewed as the team’s best player. In a class with Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant, leading your teams to titles and postseason success as the teams #1 option and the best player is a must if you want to be ranked above them.
Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba, an absolute assassin, marched into the NBA straight out of high school, a year after KG entered the league. In an entirely different era, where the big-man dominated the floor, Bryant made the All-Star team in only his second season at age 19 and helped transition the NBA into a much more guard dominated league.
Taking All-Star Eddie Jones‘s spot by his third year, Kobe was immediately dominant. With athleticism that was out of the gym, the tenacity on the defensive end to shut down the opposing team’s best offensive player, and lastly an absolute duffle bag of an offensive game at such a young age, Bryant had all the makings of an NBA legend from early on.
He was utterly dominated throughout his entire tenure in the NBA. From scoring 81 points in a game to being a 5-time NBA champion with near as many All-NBA appearances as you have both fingers and toes combined, the man is a top 10 player without a doubt.
He’s so legendary that his very name is a noun, verb, and adjective. He built a legacy that is cemented as not only a top 10 player of all time but is also the greatest Laker ever.
While injuries took their toll on him, and his career as he aged went downhill at a rapid rate, his game progressed and aged well until his 2013-2014 NBA season. Up until his very last few years, Kobe was an absolute baller.
His success in his early to mid-’30s is unquestioned. Not only did he win 2 rings and get both of his finals MVP’s out of those series, but his game aged well. In those 08-09/09-10 campaigns, he put up his 8th and 12th lowest turnover totals while leading his team in assists both years. Pretty good for a guy who supposedly doesn’t pass.
He truly was one of the greatest players ever but there are a few nagging questions. Can we truly say Kobe Bryant was the NBA’s best player for more than two or three seasons? I do not believe we can.
While he was one of the most versatile and elite scorers we’ve ever seen, can we for sure say he made his teammates better? Did Kobe truly always make the winning play? He’s had several clutch moments, but on game-tying/go-ahead FG’s with 10 or fewer seconds left in the postseason, Kobe’s field-goal percentage was a whopping 23 percent.
Kobe is an NBA legend. He had all of the successes that NBA players dream of. He’s one of the most inspirational players on the floor that you’ll ever see. He changed the game and impacted the next generation of players in a way that only guys like Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, and LeBron James can.
Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward ever to play the game and a legendary San Antonio Spur. Yes, he didn’t play his entire career at that spot, but for his first three NBA titles, Tim Duncan was among the NBA’s elite and the clear-cut best power forward in the league.
His impact on the floor and his importance to the San Antonio Spurs franchise is at a level where only players like LeBron and MJ can relate. Without Tim, none of what you see in the Silver & Black would exist.
There would be no prestige to the organization. There would’ve never been an unselfish, team-first, win-first type of attitude embedded in and embraced by every player to play for the Spurs during the Duncan era.
Without Duncan’s leadership, and ability to be coachable and a cornerstone for the organization from the moment he was drafted, the Spurs as we know them wouldn’t exist.
Duncan’s success surpasses Kobe Bryant on the court. It blows away both Bosh and Garnett. He has more finals MVP’s than Kobe and KG combined, and 1 more regular-season MVP than both Kobe and KG. Do you want a clutch gene? Duncan shot 46 percent in the clutch since 2000, the best mark among his peers in this class.
Duncan has made both more All-NBA teams and more All-Defensive teams than all three of his peers. His dominance in the NBA lasted throughout his entire career, as he never missed the playoffs.
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The San Antonio Spurs won 50 or more games every single season number 21 was on the floor. Even when he hit the later ages of his career he was among the NBA’s elite in terms of defense, rebounding and rim protection. Duncan’s success as an individual was as consistent as they come, and the success he hit individually led to an abundance of team success as the years went by.
Tim Duncan’s game is unlike anything the league has ever seen. He had some sneaky athleticism to him, just ask LeBron after Timmy hit him with a nasty crossover or Ben Wallace after Timmy jammed it on him.
They didn’t call him the Big Fundamental for nothing. His footwork in the post was perfected and unstoppable. His passing from the post was phenomenal, his IQ on both ends of the floor was superb.
You have to love the guy who wore baggy Old-Navy jeans, and 3X tall fitted button-ups to games and then gives you 23-13-4-3 on 52% shooting. Walk softly and let your game do the talking, that was the Duncan way. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs legend, first-ballot Hall Of Famer, and the best player from this 2020 Hall Of Fame class.