Some people may not understand why Grant Hill is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Younger fans of the NBA may only know him as a role player in various teams and now an analyst and host on TV—older viewers may have forgotten how good he was amid the rise of numerous superstars in the 2000s. But make no mistake, Hill deserves to be enshrined in Springfield among his peers.
A decorated college player for Duke, the 6'8" forward won two national championships with the Blue Devils and garnered several individual awards. Upon graduation, Hill was drafted third overall by the Detroit Pistons, where he ended up putting up 19.9 points, corralling 6.4 rebounds, and dishing out 5 assists per game. He was an All-Star in his first season, sharing the Rookie of the Year award with Jason Kidd.
Throughout his tenure with the Pistons, Hill was one of the Top 5 players in the league. Regularly leading team in points, assists, and rebounds, Hill was the prototype of players such as LeBron James and Ben Simmons. Hill initiated the offense like a point guard and could hurt the defense in any way he saw fit. Too strong for smaller players and too quick and skilled for bigger players, Hill was a monster.
Upon becoming a free agent, Hill signed with the Orlando Magic as Tracy McGrady's partner. They were supposed to be a dynamic duo capable of propelling the Magic to glory. Sadly, various injuries sidelined him, playing only 200 games out of the possible 574 games in his tenure with Orlando.
Hill then signed with the Phoenix Suns, where he became a valuable locker room presence and a respectable role player. He finished his career with the Clippers after the 2012-2013 NBA season. Hill is considered as one of the most respected and well-regarded players of his generation.
So why does he deserve to be in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame?
First, while Hill may not have a sustained superstar career like others, he did still have a long career. Playing 19 years is no small feat. Second, his peak was ridiculous. Hill beat out Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal in All-Star voting multiple times, and while he never won an MVP award, Hill was consistently on the ballot. Third, Hill is a true gentleman of the sport and one of its best personalities on and off the court.
Grant Hill's NBA run turned out to be a big what-if. He could have become one of the all-time greats based on his first few years in the league. If injuries hadn't sapped him of his athleticism, we might be considering him in the same league as LeBron and Kobe Bryant. He is a Hall of Famer though, and that shouldn't be in doubt.