Top 10 NBA (hall of fame) what-if careers:
1. Bill Walton
2x champion, 1x mvp, 1x finals mvp, 2x all star, 2x first team. What if Walton was healthy is the biggest what if in hall of famer history because he only had 2 healthy seasons when he was in the NBA. during those 2 healthy seasons, he won 2 rings, an MVP, a finals mvp, 2x all star and 2x all-NBA. That’s as good a 2 year stretch as any of the greatest players ever. He had various foot and ankle injuries after 1978, that season was also his best season averaging 19/13/5 the most Russell like stats out of any center in recent memory. Had he not been injured? Maybe he would be considered on par with Kareem who is one of the top 3 greatest players of all time.
2. Arvydas Sabonis
Considered one of the best European players of all time, he was never able to play for the NBA in his prime due to the Soviet Union restricting him. By the time he came to the NBA in 1995 (he was drafted in 1986) he was a shell of himself due to many injuries. We will never know how good a prime Sabonis would have been in the NBA, but his best season was in 1998 averaging 16/10/3. If he hadn’t been injured? Maybe he would have become a top 5 center of all time.
3. Maurice Stokes
3x All star, 3x All NBA, HOF the most tragic story on here, Maurice stokes led the league in rebounds in 1958, and only played 3 seasons before suffering a career ending head injury and stroke thus becoming permanently paralyzed on his last regular season game in 1958. one could only imagine how good he could have been. his average was 17/18/6 in 1958 before the injury. Maybe he could have ended up a top 20 or top 15 player of all time.
4. David Thompson
4x All star, 2x all NBA, HOF the player who stopped UCLA’s 88 game winning streak. Had 73 points in a game before and was considered Michael Jordan’s idol. never got injured but had a drug problem. Because of his cocaine habits, he was averaging 27/5/5 a game in 1978 his best season before those stats steadily declining since. He wasn’t even in his prime yet, and who knows? He could’ve been a pseudo-Jordan if he didn’t do drugs.
5. Grant Hill
7x All star, 5x all NBA, was a triple double machine and considered the next Magic or Oscar when he was playing with the Pistons. Right after he got traded to the Magic he had various ankle injuries and was never the same again. best season was in 1997, averaging 21/9/7/2. Maybe he could’ve been a top 5 SF of all time if he wasn’t injured.
6. Drazen Petrovic
Never an All star or all NBA, but was a rising star on the Nets before his untimely death at age 28 in a car accident. the previous season in 1993 he was averaging 22/3/3.5. Maybe he would’ve been a top 15-20 shooting guard if he didn’t die.
7. Tracy McGrady
7x All star, 8x all NBA, was scoring champion 2x, since 2006 suffered recurring injuries and never was able to sustain his excellence. Was considered on par with Kobe for being the best shooting guards at that time before those injuries. Best season was in 2003 averaging 32/6.5/5.5. Maybe he would have been a top 10 shooting guard if he wasn’t injured.
8. Bernard King
4x All star, 4x all NBA, HOF was the 1985 scoring champion when he tore his ACL which at that time was a career ending injury. He was averaging 33 points a game before this injury. best season was in 1985, averaging 33/6/4. Could have been a top 10 SF if he wasn’t injured.
9. Derrick Rose
3x All star, 1x all NBA, 1x MVP – No one will know what Derrick Rose could have been if he didn’t suffer his ACL tear in 2012 during the playoffs; he was considered one of the best players in the league before then, and won an MVP before in his best season in 2011, averaging 25/4/8 a game. Could’ve been similar to Russell Westbrook, a top 15 point guard, if he wasn’t injured.
10. Penny Hardaway
4x All star, 3x all NBA, had persistent injuries from the 1998 season onwards. Was considered then next Magic Johnson due to his combination of size and passing ability. Best season was in 1996, averaging 22/4/7. Maybe would have been a top 15 point guard if he wasn’t injured.
Honorable Mention: Yao Ming
8x All star, 5x all NBA, HOF, had persistent ankle foot injuries during 2006 and never was fully healthy again. only had 3 full healthy seasons in the NBA, best season was in 2007 averaging 25/9/2. Maybe would have been a top 15-20 center if he wasn’t injured.
The Blazers have to be most unluckiest NBA franchise:
1972 – Larue Martin, possibly the biggest #1 draft pick bust of all time
1975 – Bill Walton – only had 1.5 healthy seasons for the Blazers
1984 – missed Jordan and picked Sam Bowie who was also injured his whole career
1995 – got Sabonis who was far past his prime and also injured
2006 – Brandon Roy, had to retire from degenerative knee condition
2007 – Greg Oden, another one of the biggest draft busts ever
has there been an unluckier NBA franchise?