As a leading player, Tracy McGrady never got past the first round in the NBA playoffs. Last season, with the Atlanta Hawks, this time as a fringe bench player, he didn’t get past that impossible barrier once again. Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs are hoping the chance they’ve given a player who spent all season in the Chinese league doesn’t blow up in their faces.
Becuase when McGrady was one of the best players in the NBA, him leading the Houston Rockets or the Orlando Magic, regardless of the players around him, nothing really helped. After messing up in three of his first four seasons with the Rockets playing next to Yao Ming, always finding a way to miss out on the second round. In 2008-2009 was the only time the Rockets made it out of the first round (beating the Portland Trail Blazers), but McGrady wasn’t a part of that team, beginning his slow way out of Houston.
McGrady put up impressive numbers in China this season, averaging 25 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists. When a 33 year-old player (not as old as some may think) dominates individually the way he did, it raises some questions on the level of that league. McGrady’s team finished last, with an 8-24 record. Another warning sign.
Last season for the Atlanta Hawks McGrady got only 16 minutes a night, averaging 5.3 points per game. He played six times in the postseason as the Atlanta Hawks lost to the Boston Celtics, getting even less time on the floor, scoring 4.2 points per game.
With the Spurs? The good thing is that he isn’t out of shape, relatively, staying in some sort of basketball circuit over the past few months instead of simply waiting for an NBA team while gathering rust. While McGrady will be the third option in any position Popovich uses him in, especially because he isn’t familiar with the system, it might indicate the Spurs are worried about some of their injured players, hoping McGrady’s regular season experience will help fill in the gap.