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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tracy McGrady is Clearly a Hall of Famer

Tracy McGrady officially retired from the NBA on Monday. It seems like only yesterday that he jumped from high school to the pros, but McGrady put it in 15 seasons of work--and he worked over opponents, averaging 19.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 4.4 apg in the regular season, numbers that he bumped up to 22.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg and 5.0 apg in the playoffs. McGrady made the All-NBA Team seven times (including two First Team selections), he made the All-Star team seven times, he finished in the top six in MVP voting four times (including a pair of fourth place nods) and he won two scoring titles. I get the impression that many casual fans and media members do not perceive McGrady as a legitimate Hall of Famer. This article will set the record straight.

There are many different perspectives and opinions about Hall of Fame voting. I remember a Sporting News article that declared that the Baseball Hall of Fame should have a small, fixed number of members and that no one should be voted in without someone else being voted out. That is intriguing at first glance but asinine once you think about it in greater depth; a Hall of Fame should honor a sport's entire history and all of its greatest players, not set up artificial barriers to induction.

Before the PED users skewed Major League Baseball's record book, certain numbers--like 500 home runs for a slugger and 300 wins for a pitcher--were considered automatic Hall of Fame tickets. Basketball has never had a similar overt attachment to specific statistical plateaus but research indicates that players who register certain accomplishments are very likely to be inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

McGrady ranks 60th on the all-time ABA/NBA scoring list with 18,381 points. That ranking and that total may not look impressive at first glance but almost all of the players who are ahead of McGrady are either already in the Hall of Fame or will be inducted as soon as they become eligible--and McGrady scored more points than several Hall of Fame guards, including Dave Bing, Calvin Murphy, Lenny Wilkens, Magic Johnson, Earl Monroe, Bob Cousy, Nate Archibald, Joe Dumars and Pete Maravich.

McGrady's seven All-NBA Team selections are tied for 31st-39th on the all-time ABA/NBA list. Every eligible player who is ahead of McGrady on this list is already in the Hall of Fame--and there are many Hall of Famers who did not earn seven All-NBA and/or All-ABA selections, including Walt Frazier, Elvin Hayes, Nate Archibald, Billy Cunningham, Clyde Drexler and Isiah Thomas.

There was a lot of outrage expressed when Reggie Miller was not voted in as a first ballot Hall of Famer. Miller played 18 seasons and he was much more durable than McGrady so he accumulated more total points but Miller only earned five All-Star selections and three All-NBA Team honors. Miller never finished in the top 10 in MVP voting and he never was the best player at his position or even an All-NBA First Team performer. From a skill set standpoint, he was a better three point shooter and free throw shooter than McGrady but McGrady was a much better all-around scorer, a much better rebounder, a much better passer, a much better defender and a much better ballhandler.

Despite McGrady's nagging injuries, he averaged at least 20 ppg in eight straight seasons--including 25-plus ppg for five years in a row--and he scored at least 2000 points three times. McGrady averaged at least 25 ppg, at least five rpg and at least five apg in four straight seasons. Miller never once averaged 25 ppg in a season, he never once averaged four rpg in a season and he only averaged four apg in a season once.

McGrady is criticized because his teams never made it past the first round (until last season, when he rode the bench for the NBA Finalist San Antonio Spurs) but McGrady carried several subpar teams to the playoffs and during his prime he was a tremendous playoff performer, averaging at least 30 ppg in four straight postseasons.

The point of this article is not to say that the validity of McGrady's Hall of Fame candidacy can or should be determined purely by using certain statistics and/or purely by comparing his numbers to any one particular Hall of Famer; McGrady's total body of work--his all-around skill set, his individual statistical accomplishments and the awards he earned--are more than sufficient to justify classifying him as a clear cut Hall of Fame caliber performer.

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posted by David Friedman @ 8:48 AM



At Tuesday, August 27, 2013 4:29:00 PM, Anonymous AW said...

Even though McGrady and Yao failed to make it out of the first round together, they probably could have made some noise if they both stayed healthy. Injuries help close the curtain on those teams.

McGrady at was a top five or six player in the league at some point. He definitely was a franchise player.

As you stated, he led subpar teams to the playoffs and was a great playoff performer in his prime. So he is not an underachiever like some would say.

Putting titles to the side he had a better career than probably most players that are in the hall of fame.


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