Tracy McGrady, former NBA star
What’s up: McGrady, one of the most athletic, explosive and productive players in NBA history, is a candidate for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Should he be selected?
Background: Before his back was less sturdy and his knees became unstable, the majority of McGrady’s career passed every eye test. He was a 6-foot-8 shooting guard. And few players could score like McGrady. He once scored 13 points in only 35 seconds to win a game. He was a two-time NBA scoring champion. He finished in the top 10 in scoring six times in a 15-season career. He was a seven-time allstar. He made first-, second- or third-team all-NBA seven times. As a pure scorer, if not a great shooter, there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do on the court. In the 2002-03 season, he posted a 30.3 player efficiency rating, one of only seven players in the NBA’s modern era to do that. And he is one of only eight players to average at least 30 points in four different playoffs. For a big chunk of time, there was real conversation as to whether McGrady or Kobe Bryant was the better player.
Dempsey’s take: Playoff success, and sustained production over a longer amount of time, eventually separated McGrady and Bryant. Bryant, a former Lakers star, played on five NBA championship teams. McGrady didn’t win any league titles, and this is where McGrady’s candidacy gets cloudy. In nine tries he never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. The last two times — when his injuries relegated him to mostly watching — can be tossed aside, but that still leaves seven instances when he was unable to lift his team past the first round. Hall of Famers have to have a winning component to accompany their statistics. Despite lighting up the NBA, McGrady ranks only 62nd on the league’s all-time scoring list. The guess here is that he eventually becomes a Hall of Famer, just not on his first try.
Tracy McGrady, the ninth pick in the 1997 draft, had NBA career averages of 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. He played 15 seasons in the league. Elsa, Getty Images file