Back in 1985, Bill James devised a method for considering a player's qualifications for the baseball hall of fame called the Keltner List. It consists of a series of questions comparing a player to his peers. The name comes from a brief (and ill-fated) movement to get Ken Keltner selected for the Hall. Keltner was a good player, but not someone who belongs in the Hall of Fame. This method is easily adaptable to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. With Becky Hammon recently announcing her retirement, let's run her career through the list and see how she does.
1. Was she ever regarded as the best player in the WNBA? Did anybody, while she was active, ever suggest she was the best player in the WNBA?
This is the toughest standard of the bunch. If you can give an unequivocal yes to this one, you almost don't need to bother with the others. In Hammon's case, it's an easy no. No one seriously claimed she was the best player in the league,
2. Was she the best player on her team?
In her last two seasons in New York and for all of her time in San Antonio, yes. Some might quibble about whether Sophia Young was better during their Silver Stars run, but most people would agree that Hammon was the indispensable one.
3. Was she the best player in the WNBA at her position? Was she the best player in the conference at her position?
She didn't become a part of this conversation until she was traded to San Antonio in 2007. Was she the best combo guard in the WNBA or even in the Western Conference during those years? Being the same WNBA and same Western Conference that Diana Taurasi was playing in, I would have to say no.
4. Did she have an impact on a number of postseasons?
Yes, she did. As I type this late in her final season she is second all time in playoff games. She played in the finals four times. Granted she did not play well in any of her finals appearances and her team lost all four times, but her impact in getting the team there is undeniable.
5. Was she a good enough player that she could continue to play regularly after passing her prime?
She started full time in her last season at age 37.
6. Was she selected to any All WNBA teams?
Yes. Hammon was All WNBA 1st team twice and All WNBA 2nd team twice. Every player with two or more 1st team selections is either already in the HOF or a serious candidate to get there once eligible. She has more All WNBA mentions than her fellow class of 1999er Chamique Holdsclaw, who is a shoo-in for selection.
7. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
The WBHOF doesn't have enough WNBA players to have established benchmarks. If we run similarity scores we see that the most similar player to Hammon is Katie Douglas. If you think that's an odd comparison, I agree. So does the similarity score system, which rates no players as very similar to Hammon. That's a positive sign for her. Great players are generally unique.
8. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player is better or worse than her statistics?
None that I am aware of.
9. How many MVP type seasons did the player have? Did she ever win the MVP award? If not, how many times was she close?
Hammon never won MVP. The only time she really came close was 2007, when she was 2nd behind Lauren Jackson. Hammon has 1.36 MVP shares.
10. How many All Star type seasons did she have? How many All Star games did she play in? Are most of the other players with this number of All Star appearances likely to make the Hall of Fame?
Hammon is a six time All Star. That puts her in a group with Holdsclaw, Taj McWilliams, Cappie Pondexter, and Sheryl Swoopes. Pondexter is still active and likely to add to her total. The others are two sure fire HOFers and one very strong candidate.
11. If this woman was the best player on her team, is it likely that the team could make the playoffs?
The only time San Antonio missed the playoffs while she was there was 2013, when she was limited to one game due to injury. The team had missed the postseason four consecutive years before her arrival.
12. What impact did this player have on WNBA history? Did she help establish the league? Was she responsible for any rule changes? Did she change the game in any way?
She is the most successful undrafted player of All Time. She was a trailblazer in the now common practice of American players seeking dual citizenship for the sake of basketball (more on this in a moment). Upon her retirement, she became the first woman to be a full time coach in the NBA.
13. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and community service?
In 2008, Hammon accepted Russian citizenship and agreed to play for their national team in the Olympics. It was a controversial decision, borne of money and her feeling of having been overlooked by Team USA. She was criticized by many in the US. National team coach Anne Donovan said "If you play in this country, live in this country, and you grow up in the heartland and you put on a Russian uniform, you are not a patriotic person in my mind." For many people this will be the first thing they think of when Hammon's name comes up.
Is Becky Hammon a Hall of Famer? You tell me...