Ever since Tracy McGrady officially announced his retirement, pundits and pretenders have debated his Hall of Fame credentials. Now McGrady himself has weighed in, and it’s a reminder that no matter what, the guy at least made a career in the NBA. His numbers and accolades are pretty good, too.
T-Mac called in to CSN Houston’s “SportsTalk Live” and was asked about his Hall of Fame credentials. Here’s what McGrady said:
“I think my numbers match up with some of the guys that are in the Hall of Fame. Whether or not I get in or not, it really doesn’t matter to me. I’m a guy from Auburndale, Florida [with] a population of 10,000 people, grew up in a pretty bad neighborhood, so to me, I’m Hall of Fame just by making it through my career. That’s Hall of Fame to me.”
The discussions surrounding McGrady’s Hall of Fame bonafides center on his incredible scoring output, his remarkable 2002-03 regular season (sporting the 16th best PER of all-time), and his inability to get his team out of the first round of the playoffs. On that last point, Orlando Sentinel scribe Mike Bianchi writes that he’s one of history’s great underachievers.
During the best 7-year stretch of his career — between the 2000-01 season and the 2006-07 season when McGrady never averaged less than 24 points per game — here are the second leading scorers on those teams, not counting Grant Hill:*
2000-01: Darrell Armstrong (15.9)
2001-02: Mike Miller (15.2 and he only appeared in 53 games that season)
2002-03: Mike Miller (16.4)
2003-04: Juwan Howard (17.0)
2004-05: Yao Ming (18.3)
2005-06: Yao Ming (22.3)
2006-07: Tracy McGrady (24.6) Yao was the leading scorer for the Rockets that season at 25 PPG, but he only started in 48 games.
That 2000-01 Magic team lost 3-1 to the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs after finishing the regular season 43-39 with Darrell Armstrong as their second leading scorer. McGrady averaged over 33 points per game in their first round playoff series, but he also averaged over 30 shots per game to get there, shooting 41.5 percent from the field.
The 2001-02 Magic finished 44-38 with Mike Miller — their second leading scorer — hobbled by injury. During the playoffs, McGrady averaged over 30 PPG on 46 percent shooting. Darrell Armstrong and Troy Hudson were the only other Magic players to average double-figures during Orlando’s 3-1 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Conversely, Baron Davis led five Hornets players in double-figures during their series win.
The 2002-03 Magic team finished the season 42-40 and lost 4-3 to the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the playoffs. That Pistons team was just one Rasheed Wallace acquisition away from capturing a title, and finished with the top spot in the Central Division that year.
The 2003-04 Magic team was just really bad. After starting 1-10 on the year, Doc Rivers was fired as coach. McGrady only appeared in 67 games that season (not a small number, but still), and Juwan Howard was their second-leading scorer. They didn’t make the playoffs and McGrady was dealt that offseason.
The 2004-05 Rockets team was stingy on defense and finished the year at 51-31 under Jeff Van Gundy. They faced Dirk‘s Mavs in the first round and went up 2-0 in the series before losing in seven games. This is probably McGrady’s best team, with Yao at full strength (he played all seven games); except, the only other player on the Rockets to average over 10 PPG in the series was backup Mike James. Just like against Baron Davis’ Charlotte squad, Dallas had five players average in double figures led by Dirk.
The 2005-06 Rockets were hobbled by injuries to McGrady and Yao during the year and didn’t even make the playoffs.
The 2006-07 Rockets lost to a very good Utah team (that made the Western Conference Finals that year), but it’s worth nothing how inefficient McGrady was in that series. He shot under the Mendoza line of 40 percent for the series even while averaging over 25 PPG. Even Yao shot poorly. But both McGrady and Yao dropped 29 points on pretty good shooting in Game 7 (a shade under 50 percent for both). Unfortunately, Deron Williams had 20 points and 14 assists, Carlos Boozer was at his apex and had 35 points and 14 rebounds. Even Mehmet Okur had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds as Utah escaped with a 104-99 win to advance.
Did McGrady underperform in the playoffs? Somewhat, but his detractors can’t overlook his supporting cast or crappy luck in drawing some strong teams in the first round.
But McGrady’s performance in the playoffs shouldn’t be held against him when discussing his Hall of Fame worthiness.