Is Larry Nance a Hall of Famer?
Breaking down the Hall-of-Fame case for Larry Nance.
Although the system was designed to evaluate baseball players, with a few minor tweaks it can also be used to assess the Hall-worthiness of basketball players. In this post, I will examine Larry Nance’s case for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Was he ever regarded as the best player in basketball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in basketball?
Nope and nope.
Was he the best player on his team?
Nance was, in my opinion, clearly the best player on the Phoenix Suns from 1982-83 until he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 25, 1988:
Larry Nance — 407 GP, 35.7 MPG, 20.2 PER
Walter Davis — 398 GP, 31.3 MPG, 18.4 PER
Alvan Adams — 460 GP, 24.7 MPG, 16.2 PER
From 1988-89 through 1992-93, it’s not so clear. Nance was one of the best players on the Cavaliers, but those were some very good teams, and it’s hard to decide who was the best player among Nance, Mark Price, and Brad Daugherty:
Larry Nance — 373 GP, 35.3 MPG, 20.2 PER
Mark Price — 311 GP, 33.8 MPG, 21.6 PER
Brad Daugherty — 339 GP, 37.0 MPG, 20.2 PER
I think Price was their best player when he played, but he missed 99 games in those five seasons, including 66 games during the 1990-91 season*. Regardless, Nance was in the running for best player on his team for 11 straight seasons, an impressive run.
* That season was a disaster for the Cavs, as they limped to a 24-42 finish after Price’s knee injury. Perhaps that’s a good argument in favor of Price.
Was he the best player in basketball at his position?
No, he was not. The best power forwards in basketball during Nance’s era were Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and Kevin McHale. For what it’s worth, I would rank Nance fourth in that time period.
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