This year’s Naismith Hall of Fame class is stacked with names like Paul Pierce, Chris Webber, Chris Bosh, Toni Kukoč, and Ben Wallace. But which player would you start your franchise with in today’s era? The Crossover staff answers.
Howard Beck: Chris Webber
I’ll take Chris Webber, without hesitation. In his own time, Webber was one of the
league’s most skilled power forwards, averaging 22.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists,
1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks from 1994 to 2003. Today, he’d be an incredible small-ball center, too, combining post moves, a face-up game and elite passing from both inside and out.
Big men didn’t shoot many threes back then, but Webber was a good enough shooter to
suggest he could extend his range to the arc. Indeed, today’s up-tempo, pace-and-space game was tailor-made for Webber’s diverse skill set.
Michael Pina: Paul Pierce
Powerful, skilled wings who can hit tough shots from the mid-range, get to the free throw line and drill threes at a respectable rate are a timeless commodity increasingly coveted in today's league. Even if Pierce doesn't have ideal shooting around him, he'll be able to create his own shot, draw help from defenders and be the center of an effective offense. He's also a versatile defender who can match up with threes, fours and even small fives.
Michael Shapiro: Chris Webber
The adjustment for era makes this quite an interesting question, and with that in mind, I’ll actually side with Chris Webber.
Paul Pierce’s scoring brilliance wouldn’t necessarily reach new heights in 2021, and while expanded spacing can only help Chris Bosh, perhaps he’s more of a perfect complementary piece than a true championship engine. So why Webber? A closer look at his career reveals a major missed opportunity.
Webber entered the NBA in 1994, and much of his 15-year career was spent in an era of limited scoring and offensive creativity. Drop rookie-year Webber into 2021, and a superstar would likely emerge. Young Webber had the skill set to be a dynamic point forward à la Zion Williamson, and he was one of the best big-man passers of his generation despite limited spacing next to Juwan Howard and Vlade Divac. Give Webber the advantages of modern offenses and sprinkle in a respectable jump shot (a given for players of Webber’s size and pedigree nowadays) and perhaps we see him emerge as one of the greatest forwards in NBA history.
Ben Pickman: Paul Pierce
Having wings that can create their own shot and stretch opposing defense seems to be instrumental in modern-day team building, so it’s hard not to pick Pierce as the player to build around from this group. While Pierce was never known for his three-point shot, he retired having been a 37% three-point shooter for his career, currently standing at No. 9 all-time in terms of three-pointers made with 2,143. Pierce is also No. 25 in terms of all-time field goals made, having scored more than 26,000 points throughout his illustrious 19-year NBA career.
Robin Lundberg: Paul Pierce
This Hall of Fame class has a lot of excellent players, but when it comes to who I would build a team around, it is a difficult decision to make. Ben Wallace was great for his day but some of his limitations would be more prevalent today, especially as a centerpiece. Both Chris Bosh and Toni Kukoc would still fit right in seamlessly but I think their games are at best as super complementary players. So, it comes down to Chris Webber and Paul Pierce for me and ultimately I go with The Truth due to his ability to get his own shot, even if he's been shooting himself in the foot a bit post playing career.
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