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Basketball Hall of Famer Claims MVP in ‘What If’ Scenario

Hall of Fame forwards and MVP candidates Grant Hill and Vince Carter

For basketball enthusiasts, NBA lore is rife with “what if” scenarios. From injuries to Draft Day decisions, fans routinely wonder about alternate realities.

Grant Hill Claims MVP in ‘What If’ Scenario

In this era, a common question is what if the Atlanta Hawks had kept Luka Doncic after they drafted him? Golden State Warriors fans ask whether the Cleveland Cavaliers would’ve won the 2016 NBA Finals if Draymond Green hadn’t been suspended. Alternately, Cavs fans wonder whether the Warriors would’ve won in 2015 if Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were healthy. NBA fans generally wonder what the league would have been like with less star movement.

Grant Hill

In the generation past, Grant Hill‘s injury-ravaged career may be the biggest “what if?”

Hill was selected with the third overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. After his first six seasons, he had won Rookie of the Year, was a five-time All-Star selection, and a five-time All-NBA selection. Hill was also top-10 in MVP voting in five of his first six seasons. Indeed, he even had a top-three finish in his third season. Averaging 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game, the point-forward was highly regarded, and rightfully so.

In an interview with former teammate and freshly minted Hall of Fame forward Vince Carter, Hill says, “If things went a little bit differently, we were on that trajectory, we could’ve been MVPs.”

“It just didn’t happen or whatever” – Grant Hill on The VC Show

In the 1999-00 season, Hill sprained his ankle shortly before the 2000 NBA Playoffs. He attempted to soldier on, succumbing to the pain in the Pistons’ second playoff game. Traded to the Orlando Magic the following offseason, Hill only played 47 games over the next four seasons due to complications from his original ankle injury.

Vince Carter

Carter’s story is a bit different than Hill’s but not as much as one would think.

Selected with the fifth overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, Carter was sent to the Toronto Raptors in a draft night trade for Antawn Jamison. Jamison, eventually a two-time All-Star, had been drafted fourth overall.

Carter’s electrifying play style immediately led to individual success. After being named Rookie of the Year, the high-flyer was named an All-NBA selection for the next two seasons. He earned MVP votes each of his first three seasons, with his best finish (10th) coming in just his second season. His sophomore season also saw him winning the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest; one of the NBA’s most memorable moments.

An All-Star selection in eight of his first nine seasons, Carter averaged 23.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per game from 1999 to 2009. In addition, Carter was a 3-point marksman, converting 37.6 percent of his 3s in that stretch.

During the 2003 offseason, Carter underwent surgery to address mounting knee injuries. Productive but less explosive, his days as an MVP hopeful soon fell behind him.

The Last Word on Grant Hill and Vince Carter

Both Hill and Carter experienced unfortunate injuries early in their career. Though there’s no guarantee that either would have ever won MVP, there’s no doubt that they were limited after their surgeries. With that being said, their stories are reminders of how important luck is in an NBA career.

Hill and Carter are two of the most popular players affected by injuries. Ralph Sampson, Brandon Roy, and John Wall —who have each earned top-10 finishes in MVP voting —are a few others. However, Hill and Carter have been afforded peace by achieving the highest accomplishment.

“When you get that call and you’re inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Hill says, “everything you didn’t do or didn’t accomplish, it feels like it cleanses you. You’re validated because you’re in this rarified air.”


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