For a while, Grant Hill looked like a lock for the Basketball Hall of Fame. However, his career would not go as expected. Instead, he would retire as a shell of his former self and as one of the biggest what-ifs in league history.
So, it’s only fair to ask: Is Grant Hill in the Hall of Fame?
Who is Grant Hill?
Grant Hill is currently the managing director of Team USA. But for basketball fans, Hill is more popularly known as a player with the ability to reach Michael Jordan’s level of success in the league but would never reach it due to injuries. And because of this failure to reach expectations, Hill’s professional career is considered a tragedy.
Grant Hill burst into the national consciousness when he played for Duke University in the NCAA. He was one of the most celebrated collegiate players in history as he starred in the Blue Devil team that won two straight National Championships in ’91 and ’92. He also led the team to the Finals in his last playing year but eventually lost to the Razorbacks.
During his incredible college career, he won several prestigious awards, such as the NABC Defensive Player of the Year in ’94 and the ACC Player of the Year in ’94. And, as a testament to his impact on the dominant Blue Devils team, his number 33 jersey was retired when he graduated.
As one of the premier college players of his era, he was called up to help train the legendary ’92 Dream Team as a practice team. Rumor has it that Hill and his fellow collegiate teammates were so good that they could beat the actual Dream Team in scrimmages.
Boosted by a successful collegiate career, Hill was selected third overall in the ’94 draft. And as a physically gifted player with natural talent and work ethic, he immediately made a significant impact on the Detroit Pistons’ win-loss record. He won the co-Rookie of the Year award for his rookie campaign with Jason Kidd.
He became one of the best two-way threats in the NBA so quickly that he became the first rookie to lead the NBA All-Star Game in votes. Not even the Lakers legend Kobe Bryant could do that.
In his second season (1995-96), Hill would again lead the ballot for the All-Star Game, with none other than Michael Jordan coming in at a close second. There was very little doubt about Hill’s star potential.
Hill’s first six years in the league can be considered some of the most successful first seasons for a young player, as he scored a solid average of 21 points on an efficient 47% field goal percentage. He also led the assists column among forwards with 6.3 per game and 7.9 rebounds. He was, by all means, a stat sheet stuffer.
However, several injuries limited his effectiveness after his 6th season in the league. He was never able to recover fully from these injuries, so he ended up playing a significantly reduced role in the latter parts of his career.
Grant Hill’s Impact on the NBA
The case for Grant Hill’s Hall of Fame induction is a simple one. He was one of the best players in the league when Michael Jordan was still playing. He held his own against all the best players of the ’90s and even beat them occasionally.
He was considered the heir apparent to Michael Jordan’s throne because of his athletic and high-scoring style of play. His impact on the Detroit Pistons was also tremendous, as he carried the team from the moment he was drafted.
And those early seasons couldn’t be interpreted as anything but a success. Hill was consistently named an All-Star year after year, only missing the ’98 and ’99 selections due to injuries. The Pistons were also consistently in the playoffs for that time period. And when the fateful ankle injury came for Hill, he still managed to find ways to help his team as a role player.
Did Grant Hill Make It into the Hall of Fame?
The Hall of Fame is a special honor given to players who have made great contributions to the advancement of the sport of basketball. To be considered for induction, a player must have retired from professional play for at least four full seasons.
On their fifth year in retirement, only then can the Screening Committee begin to consider and vote on the Basketball Hall of Fame (BHOF) of a certain player. Players will also need to pass through several other committees, such as the Honors Committee and the Board of Trustees.
Everyone involved in these committees is either engaged or has contributed to the integrity of the sport of basketball in some capacity in an international setting and not just in the North American region. This means they have the means and the knowledge to make an informed decision on who should be inducted into the BHOF.
They study a player’s body of work, including his non-professional and off-court contributions to the game. And with Grant Hill’s achievements in college basketball and the immediate impact he made on the NBA stage, he is definitely a player that has contributed to the game of basketball. In 2018, Grant Hill was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Does Grant Hill Deserve to Be in the Hall of Fame?
Because most of his professional career was spent either injured or at a level below what he’s already proven capable of, many people are skeptical about Grant Hill’s induction to the Hall of Fame. But those who have followed his career closely know that Grant Hill has been a solid player and an excellent role model for future generations of players. He still holds records at Duke University, where he helped lead the Blue Devils to a dynasty for two seasons. He was also named Naismith College Player of the Year that same year.
He continued that impressive play as he entered the NBA, winning Rookie of the Year in 1995 and becoming an All-Star five times by 1999. He achieved all of this within the first six years of his 19-year-long career, which speaks volumes of Hill’s natural talent and ability.
Hill was considered Jordan’s heir apparent for a reason. And the fact that he was a 6’8″ playmaker in the forward position makes him a rare gem that defenses needed to prepare for every game. He’s also a defensive specialist, which makes him even more valuable.
So, while there is some weight to the criticisms, Hill’s impact on basketball, not just in the NBA, was enough to earn him a spot in the BHOF.
Wrapping Things Up: Is Grant Hill in the Hall of Fame?
Grant Hill is, no doubt, one of the greatest basketball players to ever grace the NCAA. And while his professional career didn’t go as expected, he was still one of the best players in the league for the brief period when he was at 100%.
But, most importantly, Grant Hill became the early prototype of future NBA players – a big forward who could handle the ball, make plays, and defend. This is why he’s one of the most important players in basketball history and deserves his spot in the BHOF. In a way, he paved the way for the likes of Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
If you’re interested in learning Grant Hill‘s story, check out this basketball biography book.
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