Was McGrady ever this bad?

Just a quick recurring thought I’ve had over the past few weeks as discussion of James Harden’s lack of defensive effort has gone viral on a national level: was Tracy McGrady ever this bad?  T-Mac too was notorious for coasting on “that other end” of the court…but I don’t remember him getting embarrassed at the level Harden repeatedly has, by the likes of Reddick, Hayward, and Klay Thompson.  At the same time, I’m fairly certain he wasn’t trying that much harder than Harden.  That really goes to show the advantages ‘length’ provides a player in covering up for inabilities but even more, it speaks to how well a job Jeff Van Gundy–and later Rick Adelman, using the same infrastructure already set in place–did in hiding the team’s best player on that end.  Having Shane Battier, of course, was tremendous, but its not like he was picking up T-Mac’s man on rotations every time down.

Another point: the disaster that has been the Rockets’ perimeter defense this season creates a newfound appreciation for the memory of Battier.  I would argue that the ability to make smart defensive rotations and not get lost under screens is/are the single most underrated trait among NBA players.  Fans saw Battier–who often got abused in man coverage–and didn’t really get the hype.  What they didn’t see were the things he prevented: those wide open shots that can be disastrous in the final score.  When a man scores one-on-one, at least he is expending energy.  That was how Battier won so many matchups with Bryant despite giving up huge point totals.  When someone roams free for an open ’3′ or a backdoor layup, the floodgates open.

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Total comments: 19
  • thenit says 4 months ago

    The championship window is so small, and we all know how hard it is to win one, not literally, but as fans. Stars needs to align and etc. If Jordan never went to play Baseball would we have won? But that window of opportunity arose and we took it. This current roster has a 4 year window. They aren't favorites this year by no means but if everything goes our way we can win it. Injuries, fate etc can change the course of this team, but the way morey built this team, I don't want to look back 10 years from now, that we had 2 legit top 10 players. Emerging stars in Jones, Parsons, Lin with some good veterans in Casspi, Brooks and Garcia, not winning due to lack of effort on defense by our best player. I just think he should set the tone, and he is not the worst defender in our team, but if he takes accountability, then EVERYONE has to do that as well.

    Sidenote there are different ways you can lead your team but Kobe and Jordan was on people like hounds if they didn't do their job.

    LBJ is a little more relax but most championship winners had their players lead by example. This would also help McHale a lot making his job easier when he can point the finger to people who aren't trying the hardest.

  • feelingsupersonic says 4 months ago

    Yes we are making excuses. We pretend that the issue is not that big and sweeps it under the rug by saying he is saving himself or etc. He needs to be accountable for his lack of effort. You saw the difference when he actually engaged in D against GS. I like that the national media has kind of publicly shamed him, and hopefully the GS game is just the beginning. There is no other player except for LBJ that I would trade Harden as of Today, but just because I wouldn't trade him doesn't mean that I have expectations as a fan that he should commit to D. He doesn't have to be an all defensive player, just show that he is willing to do the dirty work and lead the team as the undisputable best player. If people see him play tough D other players would follow. That's what great superstar does, they lead by example. I don't think that's too much to ask for.


    Fair enough and I generally agree with what you are getting at but I definitely don't consider myself as someone who makes excuses I just call it the way I see it. I also don't expect kids to transform overnight into a man on the court. Harden is in his mid twenties, he has a road ahead of him and he has to travel it himself, and he will in good time.
  • thenit says 4 months ago

    Yes we are making excuses. We pretend that the issue is not that big and sweeps it under the rug by saying he is saving himself or etc. He needs to be accountable for his lack of effort. You saw the difference when he actually engaged in D against GS. I like that the national media has kind of publicly shamed him, and hopefully the GS game is just the beginning. There is no other player except for LBJ that I would trade Harden as of Today, but just because I wouldn't trade him doesn't mean that I have expectations as a fan that he should commit to D. He doesn't have to be an all defensive player, just show that he is willing to do the dirty work and lead the team as the undisputable best player. If people see him play tough D other players would follow. That's what great superstar does, they lead by example. I don't think that's too much to ask for.

  • rocketrick says 4 months ago Last night is the James Harden that I would prefer to see rest of this season. It seems D12's words after the loss to the Suns the other night had a positive effect.
  • feelingsupersonic says 4 months ago

    I think excuses like that are just enabling him to keep doing what he does. He may have injuries or saving himself, but that's what we said last year and he didn't really do much better in the playoffs. I think he might learn in time but my concern is that it might be too late for our championship window while d12 is still in his prime will run out.
    Also regarding comparing better player harden hasn't reached his prime yet but he has been better than what tmac was at this age but there is no certainty that he will equal or surpass t Mac.
    Agree JVG stars was injury riddled and with no supporting cast. JVG is ten times the coach mchale is and time will tell if mchale can improve.



    Excuses? What are you talking about? I am a fan voicing an opinion about facts (like the fact that Harden sat out a couple of games) and our opinions happen to be meaningless. Enabling? We are fans, we really have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. How does any of our meaningless talk enable anyone or anything?
  • blakecouey says 4 months ago

    Yes. TMac often had lapses and times showing no effort, just as Harden does. Harden can be so good on defense when he tries...I just wish that he had that intensity more often.

  • thenit says 4 months ago

    Completely agree rocketrick. When Harden plays defense he is many times better than Tracy at anytime in his career. Tracy gets a pass in my opinion and he was softer than Harden. Harden can go toe to toe with elite players. Has he been playing through an injury this year and saving himself on the defensive end? In my opinion yes. I still can't believe this kind of talk goes on but then again everyone is entitled to an opinion.


    I think excuses like that are just enabling him to keep doing what he does. He may have injuries or saving himself, but that's what we said last year and he didn't really do much better in the playoffs. I think he might learn in time but my concern is that it might be too late for our championship window while d12 is still in his prime will run out.

    Also regarding comparing better player harden hasn't reached his prime yet but he has been better than what tmac was at this age but there is no certainty that he will equal or surpass t Mac.

    Agree JVG stars was injury riddled and with no supporting cast. JVG is ten times the coach mchale is and time will tell if mchale can improve.
  • rockets best fan says 4 months ago

    I don't think JVG ability deserves to be criticized like so.

    Starting from the 2004-2005 season (TMac's first season as a Rocket), I took at the playoff performance of the Rocket players

    1. 2004-2005: Only 3 players were above 15 PER (TMac, Yao, and Mike James)

    2. 2005-2006 was an injury riddled year where Yao and TMac played 57 and 47 respectively

    3. 2006-2007 again, only 3 players were above 15 PER (Tmac, Yao, and Mutumbo)

    If you can't surround your star players with role players that are at least of league average quality, I really don't think it falls on the coach.

    very good points

  • Chai says 4 months ago

    And the end result speaks for itself. No playoff series win during the JVG era. Need I say more?

    I like Jeff Van Gundy and always enjoy hearing what he has to say during the NBA games he calls.

    I just find it weird that some posters enjoy lambasting Coach McHale then apparently forget that Van Gundy never did anything special while coaching in Houston.

    I don't think JVG ability deserves to be criticized like so.

    Starting from the 2004-2005 season (TMac's first season as a Rocket), I took at the playoff performance of the Rocket players

    1. 2004-2005: Only 3 players were above 15 PER (TMac, Yao, and Mike James)

    2. 2005-2006 was an injury riddled year where Yao and TMac played 57 and 47 respectively

    3. 2006-2007 again, only 3 players were above 15 PER (Tmac, Yao, and Mutumbo)

    If you can't surround your star players with role players that are at least of league average quality, I really don't think it falls on the coach.

  • rocketrick says 4 months ago

    your point carries weight. I agree this was some of case with T-Mac's game. also T-Mac had a coach who wouldn't accept less. one who wasn't afraid to call him out in the media......embarrass him. JVG was a no nonsense coach


    And the end result speaks for itself. No playoff series win during the JVG era. Need I say more?

    I like Jeff Van Gundy and always enjoy hearing what he has to say during the NBA games he calls.

    I just find it weird that some posters enjoy lambasting Coach McHale then apparently forget that Van Gundy never did anything special while coaching in Houston.
  • Sir Thursday says 4 months ago

    You have to take into account the relative complexities of the defensive schemes they were working under. Now none of us has access to the set of instructions players receive in this era or in eras past, but every account I've read has pointed to an explosion in the complexity of defensive assignments over the past few years thanks to the proliferation of Thibodeau-style defences. I suspect that this places a lot more burden on modern players to be able to 'think on their feet', and some guys suffer as a result.

    It's true that a lot of Harden's breakdowns are not explicitly to do with positional awareness (you can't blame this for him not fighting through screens), but there are also the times when he is caught ball-watching because he hasn't internalised the process of learning where to be when he is in the help defence position. The problem is that you need that process to be instinctive, but I'm not sure it is for him and it's not very easy to learn. Did T-Mac have to deal with a similar issue? I have no idea as I didn't really start watching basketball seriously until T-Mac was no longer the focus of the team. But

    It is probably possible to design defences to hide a player's tendencies, but every exception/wrinkle you add makes it harder for the rest of the team to get straight so they aren't to be added lightly. As others have said, when Battier was around we had someone who could handle that, and that probably meant the coaching staff could get a bit more creative.

    ST

  • feelingsupersonic says 4 months ago

    Nothing like same Harden dislike (hate is too strong a word) this morning.

    Harden is like at least 5 times better than McGrady at this point in JH's career.

    I digress and look forward to being dissed.



    Completely agree rocketrick. When Harden plays defense he is many times better than Tracy at anytime in his career. Tracy gets a pass in my opinion and he was softer than Harden. Harden can go toe to toe with elite players. Has he been playing through an injury this year and saving himself on the defensive end? In my opinion yes. I still can't believe this kind of talk goes on but then again everyone is entitled to an opinion.
  • rockets best fan says 4 months ago

    I think this sums it up along with the fact that the team defensive effort, as a whole, was much better back then. Because with T-mac's length, he was able to go under screens and able to recover and bother the shot, usually on a player shorter than he.

    your point carries weight. I agree this was some of case with T-Mac's game. also T-Mac had a coach who wouldn't accept less. one who wasn't afraid to call him out in the media......embarrass him. JVG was a no nonsense coach

  • Alituro says 4 months ago

    That really goes to show the advantages 'length' provides a player in covering up for inabilities

    I think this sums it up along with the fact that the team defensive effort, as a whole, was much better back then. Because with T-mac's length, he was able to go under screens and able to recover and bother the shot, usually on a player shorter than he.

  • rocketrick says 4 months ago

    He's not at TMacs prime level yet , but he's getting close.


    Why do I even bother to respond?

    Harden is younger now than when McGrady was lighting it up in Orlando.

    Not to mention the fact that the Rockets have a superior GM running things and Harden has much better quality teammates than McGrady ever dreamed was possible after signing with the Rockets-------------and this was WELL before the last CBA.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 4 months ago He's not at TMacs prime level yet , but he's getting close.
  • rocketrick says 4 months ago

    Nothing like same Harden dislike (hate is too strong a word) this morning.

    Harden is like at least 5 times better than McGrady at this point in JH's career.

    I digress and look forward to being dissed.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 4 months ago I don't think Tmac was as bad.
  • Juan Grande says 4 months ago

    Yes, TMac was this bad. Although it never got the same national focus like this.

    I see this as a possible positive. Harden has pride. Now, not just the ESPN-types but players around the league are LOLng at his matador defense. This may be a better motivating factor than his coach yelling at him about it. Time to pick it up James.