Iâ€™ll miss Reggie Miller. He is no longer the great shooter he once was (not that the Pacers still donâ€™t run him off multiple picks, just like the old days), but since he played at UCLA heâ€™s been fun to watch. And Iâ€™m sure he’s still on Spike Lee’s Christmas card list.
Last night during the Pacers/Lakers game, play-by-play guy Paul Sunderland called Miller a sure-fire Hall of Famer. That made me balk (sorry for the baseball reference, but it is Spring Training). Is he really that automatic? Has he been the kind of dominant player who deserves to be enshrined with the game’s greats?
First, let me say I think heâ€™ll get in. Play 18 seasons and score more than 24,500 points â€” some of them dramatic points in big games in NYC â€” and youâ€™re likely going to get there.
But Iâ€™m not convinced he should be, and certainly not a shoe-in the same way I consider Shaq or Tim Duncan a shoe-in. First, from basketballreference.com, hereâ€™s a list of comparable statistical players for Millerâ€™s career:
Clyde Drexler (in HOF)
On that list, one guy is in and two others (Payton and Barkley) are in likely will be. But the guys at the top of that list, the guys with the most similar careers, are guys who are on the bubble, guys who had very good careers but Iâ€™m not sure belong in the Hall.
Back to Miller, baskeballreference.com also has a Hall of Fame monitor that, while not perfect, is a good starting point, adding together awards and efficency numbers to get a rating. It has Miller on the bubble, (his score is 128, they say a score of 135 gets you in; for comparison, Shaq has a score of 332, Duncan 379, Kobe even has a 158).
Miller does have some solid offensive numbers (coming into the season). A career points per shot attempt of 1.23, a career PER of 18.4 (with six seasons above 20) and a player wins percentage of 81.5%. He averages 25.6 points per 48 minutes.
A lot of people, when they think of Miller they think of great playoff performances (right Knickerblogger?). While he averaged 18.4 points per game over his career, it is 21.2 in the postseason, but he did that by taking more shots (he shot 54.6% eFG% for his career, compared to 52.7% in the postseason, which is still a good rate).
But Miller was never one of the most dominant players of his time. Look at his two best statistical years, 89-90 and 90-91, and he is still 15th in the league in PER (among players who logged 4,000 minutes those seasons), 10th in points produced, 12th in player wins and 19th in player win percentage. Look at the years of the deep playoff runs for the Pacers (97-98 to 99-2000) and Miller is 22nd in the league in PER, 21st in points produced, 13th in player wins and seventh in player win percentage.
I tend to be a tough grader on who should get into the HOF, I think you should have been â€œdominant,â€ a tough word to define, but you know it when you see it in person and statistically. While Miller has had great moments, Iâ€™m not sure heâ€™s ever been dominant over a length of time. I think thatâ€™s what got me about Sunderlandâ€™s assessment, Miller is on the bubble to me and not a sure thing.
If I had a vote, Miller wouldnâ€™t get it. Maybe someone can convince me otherwise, but to me Miller is a bubble guy for the HOF who ends up on the outside.
As a side note, this post is not possible without the great basketball-reference.com, which now allows the sortable stats by year, has added the Hollinger stats and is the reference site I use most; and basketballreference.com., which rocks as well.