The women's basketball Hall of Fame Probability calculator: 2012 version

Michael Hickey

With the end of the season its time for statheads to look back at the mathematical highs and lows of the year. One of my favorite tools is the Hall of Fame Projector. I've written about the Hall of Fame Projector before, a lot of times. You can hit the links to resurrect the math, but the idea is to look at the kind of things HOF voters in basketball typically look at when making a Hall of Fame nomination, and see which players score well in those areas.

What would most voters would probably look at when deciding if someone is a Hall of Fame candidate?

* Points/rebounds/assists. The traditional metrics that people love to summarize a player's ability. Each of these have their weaknesses - a ballhog can score a lot of points and nothing is said about assists vs. turnovers. When it comes to voting for the Hall of Fame, however, most people tend to forget that.

* MVP shares. We're not looking at just the number of MVP awards, but the number of "partial MVPs". Let's take Cappie Pondexter as an example. Pondexter has never won the MVP award, but she has gotten a lot of votes on MVP ballots. Her best year was 2010 when she got 209 MVP votes - Lauren Jackson got 323 that year. The MVP shares system therefore gives Pondexter 209/323 = 0.65 of an MVP share. Adding up across all four years gives Pondexter 1.09 MVP shares, making her a virtual MVP if not an actual one.

Of the Lead Pipe Cinches listed below, only Katie Smith has fewer MVP shares, with 1.06 to Pondexter's 1.09.

 WNBA and ABL MVP Shares Leaders Lisa Leslie 6.40 Tamika Catchings 5.82 Lauren Jackson 5.61 Sheryl Swoopes 4.21 Diana Taurasi 3.06 Cynthia Cooper 2.98 Yolanda Griffith 2.80 Candace Parker 1.85 Natalie Williams 1.81 Tina Charles 1.77

* WNBA All-Star selections. Popular players tend to make the Hall of Fame. For Olympic years and years like 2010 when WNBA players participated in the FIBA World Championships in lieu of an All-Star Game, we consider a medal the equivalent of an All-Star selection.

* Height. A bonus is given for players that are shorter than their counterparts.

* Last year <= 2005. This bonus is given to players who may have lost years due to no league before 1996.

* Rings. People associate Hall of Famers with championships. Out of the 12 Lead Pipe Cinches the only one without a ring is Natalie Williams now that Tamika Catchings now has her first ring.

Hall of Fame projector

The first category of players is that of Lead Pipe Cinch - players who could make it to the Hall of Fame (at least according to the HOF projector) based on their U.S. professional career and nothing else. Not college, not Europe, just WNBA and ABL accomplishments. All twelve of these players scored 100 percent on the Hall of Fame Projector, but the only player who is in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame so far is Cooper.

 Lisa Leslie 100% Tamika Catchings 100% Lauren Jackson 100% Cynthia Cooper 100% Sheryl Swoopes 100% Diana Taurasi 100% Natalie Williams 100% Yolanda Griffith 100% Tina Thompson 100% Cappie Pondexter 100% Katie Smith 100% Sue Bird 100%

Tamika Catchings has actually moved up a spot to #2 on the list. More than likely, this is due to a year where she did well in MVP voting and where she won her first ring. (So which of these players would you rather have, Catchings or Jackson?)

The next list of players are those who are Virtually In. They have a rating between 90 percent and 99 percent on the HOF projector.

 Teresa Edwards 99% Becky Hammon 98% Lindsay Whalen 96% Swin Cash 94% Chamique Holdsclaw 92%

Edwards is already in the WBB HOF. It probably wouldn't be hard to polish up some of these resumes with college and international accomplishments and get the other four in the HOF. Whalen could still win a few rings and get a few MVP votes; Hammon could get a few more All-Star selections.

The next list of players are Strong Candidates. They have a value between 80 percent and 90 percent on the HOF projector.

 Deanna Nolan 88% Janeth Arcain 87% Seimone Augustus 85% Andrea Stinson 82% Taj McWilliams 80%

None of these players are in the HOF - yet. Nolan is hard to quantify, as she abandoned an American pro career to play exclusively in Europe. A good argument could be made to put Arcain in the HOF for her accomplishments as a Brazilian player. Seimone Augustus only has 193 games and there is a lot left to her career with a lot of chances to move up - but Taj McWilliams-Franklin would be a sentimental vote, one of those "grit" and "leadership" type of votes that rely on the unquantifiable.

There is one candidate with a number between 70 percent and 80 percent - a candidate that Could Go Either Way. That would be Carolyn Jones-Young, and she has the "career ended before 2005" bonus to help her out. She did lead Auburn to two national title games, and has a couple of medals (1990, 1992) earned before 1996. She retired in 2002, and new fans probably have never seen her play.

The next three candidates are Dark Horses, those between 60 and 69 percent on the HOF projector:

 Adrienne Goodson 67% Katie Douglas 64% Tonya Edwards 64%

Douglas might be the only one more recent fans are familiar with - Adrienne Goodson and Tonya Edwards might not be as well known to the current fanbase. Goodson came out of the Old Dominion program and a national title in 1985 as a freshman. She spent five years in Brazil, then played in the ABL and WNBA. Edwards won a couple of championships for the Columbus Quest.

The final three candidates are the Long Shots, earning better than 50 percent on the HOF projector:

 Jennifer Gillom 55% Sophia Young 55% Cheryl Ford 51% Penny Taylor 50%

Gillom is already in the Women's BB HOF. Sophia Young has a few more years left and was on the Baylor national championship team - the other one. If what I understand about her injuries is true, Ford's chance is gone.

Note that in order to qualify, you have to have played more than 160 professional regular-season games. This leaves certain players off the list. So who might make this list sometime in the future? I looked at the next five highest qualifiers that did not meet the 160 game cutoff limit.

Future Hall of Famers?

Candace Parker (118 games)
Tina Charles (101 games)
Sylvia Fowles (134 games)
Angel McCoughtry (125 games)
Maya Moore (68 games)

Clearly, being a big lady helps. Parker and Charles have already won MVPs, but Parker's history of injury might keep her from the threshold of games. Fowles is a five-time "combo" All-Star, counting the Olympics and FIBA. McCoughtry's scoring puts her on this list and Moore already has a ring and 0.37 MVP Shares.

What follows should be a list of future inductions at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. In the case that no one is submitting candidates, I submit the following ballot in the event that Knoxville gets desperate. (And I don't think they'll ever be that desperate.) A player is only eligible to the WBHOF five years after retirement from the highest level of pro competition.

Natalie Williams - overdue
Janeth Arcain - overdue ?
Andrea Stinson - overdue ??

Yolanda Griffith - eligible 2014
Lisa Leslie - eligible 2014
Chamique Holdsclaw - eligible 2015
Sheryl Swoopes - eligible 2016

1. Jun 15
3. Oct 22

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