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Basketball Hall of Fame announces finalists

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In this May 14, 2013 file photo, New York Knicks point guard Jason Kidd (5) shoots past Indiana Pacer George Hill during the first half of Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series in Indianapolis. Kidd, fellow point guard and two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Ray Allen are among six first-year candidates for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In this May 14, 2013 file photo, New York Knicks point guard Jason Kidd (5) shoots past Indiana Pacer George Hill during the first half of Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series in Indianapolis. Kidd, fellow point guard and two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Ray Allen are among six first-year candidates for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. (AP file photo/Darron Cummings)

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced the finalists for its 2018 class.

The list includes players notable for their performance in both the collegiate and professional ranks - Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Grant Hill, Chris Webber and Maurice Cheeks. There are also some names from the coaching ranks (Lefty Drisell, Rudy Tomjanovich and Kim Mulkey), a pair of greats from the women’s game (Katie Smith and Tina Thompson) and a longtime NBA official (Hugh Evans). The Wayland Baptist University squad from the mid-1950s is the lone team finalist.

The official class of inductees – all those from the list who receive 75 percent of the vote from the 24-person honors committee – will be announced during the NCAA Final Four.

While these are all worthy nominees, the lion’s share of the attention is likely going to land on the pair of point guards at the top.

Jason Kidd is one of the most prolific point guards in NBA history. He is second on the all-time NBA list for assists with 12,091 and for steals with 2,684; he’s behind only John Stockton in both categories. Kidd led the league in assists per game five times. He was the 1994-95 Rookie of the Year and a 10-time All-Star, making five All-NBA teams and four All-Defensive teams along the way. He won an NBA title in 2011 with Dallas and won a pair of Olympic gold medals as part of Team USA – one in 2000 and the other in 2008. Kidd also put up career averages of 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game to go with his remarkable assists and steals totals.

Steve Nash had an impressive career of his own. Over his 18 years in the NBA, he wound up with over 10,000 assists – his total of 10,335 is behind only Stockton and Kidd on the all-time list. He is also a two-time MVP winner, taking that trophy in back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006. He led the league in assists per game five times. Nash was named to the All-NBA team three times and is one of the greatest NBA players to ever come out of Canada. He struggled with some back issues in his later years, but there was a stretch when he was easily the best point guard in the league. For his career, he averaged 14.3 points and three rebounds per game.

Those two aren’t the only players who warrant a look, however.

Boston Celtics fans certainly have fond memories of Ray Allen, even if he spent just five of his 18 seasons in Boston. He was part of the Big Three – along with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce – that won the title in 2008. But his claim to fame has always been his sweet shooting stroke. Allen is the all-time leader in three-pointers made with just shy of 3,000 (2,973, to be exact), though that record is doomed to fall soon. He shot a career 40 percent from three while also managing a free-throw percentage of .894 – sixth all-time. He finished with per game averages of 18.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

Grant Hill is one of the great “what if” players of his generation. He was a hugely celebrated collegiate player, winning both All-American status and a national championship twice during his time at Duke. But injuries hit him hard in his time in the NBA; in 19 years in the league, he managed just over a thousand games, averaging just 54 a season over his career. He flashed brilliantly early on – he was named an All-Star in six of his first seven seasons – but ultimately struggled to stay on the court. Still, he made a handful of All-NBA second teams and one first team. His per game averages of 16.7 points, six boards and 4.1 assists are impressive, but we’re left to wonder what might have been.

Chris Webber could never live up to the outsized expectations that people had for him. He was an exceptionally skilled player – an evolutionary leap at the power forward position – but for whatever reason, it was never enough for people. He averaged over 20 points per game for his career – 20.7 to be exact – but his scoring acumen was questioned. He pulled down 9.8 board per game over his career and averaged double digits in six seasons, including five straight. He was a great passing big man, with 4.2 assists per game, and had the same career per-game average in both blocks and steals (1.4 each). However, his last great season was at 32 and he was done by 34.

Mo Cheeks had a solid 15-year career as a point guard (11.1/2.8/6.7) and a nine-year run as a head coach in the league. Katie Smith and Tina Thompson are both all over the WNBA’s all-time leaderboards – in points, Thompson is second and Smith is fifth; Thompson is fourth in rebounds while Smith is 12th in assists. They’re one-two in most minutes played.

Frisell is a college coaching legend, taking four different schools to the NCAA tournament. Tomjanovich won back-to-back NBA titles coaching the Houston Rockets in the mid-1990s. And Mulkey won an NCAA title as a player at Louisiana Tech and two more as Baylor’s coach.

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