Who's eligible for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame over the next three years?

On Saturday, the Hall of Fame will welcome 12 new inductees, including four NBA players: Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Dwyane Wade. All four stars were chosen in their first year of eligibility, having last played in the NBA in 2018-19, and it's unlikely we'll see a stronger class any time soon.

As we look ahead, let's consider which NBA players will be coming onto the ballot four years after their retirement as we project classes in 2024, 2025 and 2026. With relatively few stars becoming eligible, let's also look at the holdovers from past ballots who might have a chance to make it in the Hall.

Projecting Naismith Hall of Fame inductees isn't always easy because of the lack of transparency in the process explained last year by our Baxter Holmes, conducted by committees with unknown members behind closed doors.

Still, we'll do our best to consider which NBA legends might soon be getting a Hall call.

Eligible in 2024

1. Vince Carter

Hey, remember when we debated whether Carter was a Hall of Famer? His impressive longevity answered that question. Not only did Carter clear 20,000 career points, but he also topped 25,000 to finish 20th in NBA history. There's no longer any doubt that Carter is headed to the Hall, surely as a first-ballot pick given the lack of other first-time candidates.

2. Amar'e Stoudemire

The inclusion of Gasol in this year's class complicated our understanding of what the Hall defines as "full retirement," after which there's a four-year waiting period before eligibility. It appears the Hall ruled Gasol's return with FC Barcelona in 2021 "[coming] out of retirement for a short period of time," which is to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Based on Gasol, then, it's possible Stoudemire may have already been eligible. Having announced his retirement in 2017, Stoudemire returned to play as recently as 2019-20 in China and Israel before actually hanging it up and becoming an NBA assistant coach. As a candidate, Stoudemire is borderline. His six All-Star appearances and five All-NBA selections point toward the Hall, but the long-term effect of microfracture knee surgery limited Stoudemire's prime and career totals.

Honorable mention

Among players who last played in the NBA during 2019-20, Jamal Crawford is the next-best contender. Crawford has three Sixth Man awards but probably needed to get to 20,000 points to have a chance without making an All-Star Game. Crawford fell 581 points short of that milestone.

Eligible in 2025

Honorable mention

The best player who retired from the NBA after 2020-21 was Gasol's brother, Marc, but he continues to play in Spain for the club he founded, Basquet Girona. ESPN analyst JJ Redick is the next-best candidate. Without an All-Star appearance or a title, Redick's candidacy would rely heavily on his accomplishments as a college player at Duke.

Eligible in 2026

1. Carmelo Anthony

The only retired member of the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team who has yet to be chosen for the Hall of Fame, Melo will join the rest of the group in Springfield, Massachusetts, as soon as he's eligible. Anthony retired ninth in career NBA scoring with more than 28,000 points and is a 10-time All-Star in addition to six All-NBA selections.

2. LaMarcus Aldridge

The biggest question is if Aldridge's career will merit first-ballot selection. Whether it's alongside Anthony in 2026 or later, Aldridge will surely make it by virtue of checking the boxes both in terms of awards (seven All-Star appearances and five All-NBA picks) and career scoring (20,558 points). Although 20,000 points no longer assures selection, every eligible player who has scored more than Aldridge is in the Hall.

Honorable mention

Basketball-Reference.com's Hall of Fame probability metric has Rajon Rondo (61%) as more likely to make it than Aldridge (51%), but I'm skeptical the Hall will value Rondo's two championships as highly as the model given the itinerant back half of his career. Had Rondo reached 10,000 assists, that milestone in conjunction with four All-Star appearances might have made him impossible to ignore, but he finished his career behind three players who haven't gotten serious HOF consideration: Mark Jackson, Andre Miller and Rod Strickland.

Holdover candidates

Given the way the Hall of Fame operates, it makes the most sense to look at the finalists who have not made it in recent years to see who has the best chance for future classes. Aside from the two finalists who weren't chosen in 2022, remarkably just one NBA player to reach that stage in the past 15 years has not been selected: Kevin Johnson, last a finalist in 2016.

1. Marques Johnson

A finalist three of the past five years, Johnson seems nearly certain to eventually reach the Hall. Johnson's career totals were limited by injury, but he was a five-time All-Star who was also a legend at UCLA, where he helped John Wooden to his final championship and later won national player of the year honors as a senior.

2. Michael Cooper

As a role player on the Los Angeles Lakers' championship teams, Cooper was a finalist in 2021 and 2022 despite not having a conventional HOF résumé. He never made an All-Star appearance, which would seem to shift the criteria for Hall of Fame selection. But Cooper was part of all five Lakers titles in the 1980s and was picked for five first-team and three second-team All-Defensive honors in addition to winning Defensive Player of the Year in 1986-87. Cooper can point to K.C. Jones, a member of eight Boston Celtics championship teams but never an All-Star, as a Hall of Fame precedent.

3. Joe Johnson

Although Johnson hasn't yet even been nominated, as I noted back during Johnson's playing career, his résumé is more typical of a Hall of Famer than you might believe. Every eligible player with at least seven All-Star appearances in the modern era has made the Hall, as have nearly all players with at least 20,000 career points (Tom Chambers and Antawn Jamison -- the two players to clear the bar by less than Johnson -- are the exceptions).

At some point as scoring proliferates, we may have to revisit the 20,000 mark as a Hall of Fame standard, but given Johnson's broad career similarity to Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond (six All-Star appearances, less than 100 more career points), I think he'll eventually make it.

Who else should the Hall consider?

1. Shawn Marion

Steve Nash is the only member of the "Seven Seconds or Less" Suns to reach the Hall, with both Marion and Stoudemire strong contenders to join him. I prefer Marion, who had the longer career and rated better than Stoudemire by advanced stats when they played together in Phoenix, but a heavier emphasis on awards would favor Stoudemire.

2. Horace Grant

If the Hall wants to reward a defensive-minded role player on championship teams, I think Grant is the better choice than Cooper. He was an All-Star once, in 1993-94, and his career would perhaps be viewed differently had there been more emphasis on efficient scoring during Grant's heyday. Per Basketball-Reference.com, Grant's 118 career win shares rank third among eligible players not in the Hall behind Chauncey Billups (121) and Buck Williams (120).

3. Jimmy Jones

The Hall did well recently to expand its ABA representation with the inductions of Indiana Pacers teammates Roger Brown (2013), Mel Daniels (2012) and George McGinnis (2017). That left Jones as the most deserving ABA candidate remaining. A six-time All-Star and three-time All-ABA first-team pick, Jones produced more ABA championships added than either Brown or McGinnis. However, Jones' short post-ABA career with the Washington Bullets and lack of an ABA title (his teams lost in the 1968 and 1974 ABA finals) have been difficult to overcome.