KD: TMac 2.0?
OKC fans hear me out before you send a tornado after me.
I hear people saying that Kevin Durant is the smoothest and most effortless scorer since George Gervin. That’s a nice compliment but leaves out Tracy McGrady, who was every bit as smooth and effortless a scorer as KD or Ice. After all of the injuries and the disappointment McGrady has given hoop fans over the years, people sometime forget his skill level. McGrady’s problems are from the neck up but I will get to that later.
TMac in his prime was one of the most explosive yet effortless scorers the NBA has ever seen. He could put up 30 without breaking a sweat. Much like McGrady, Durant is long for the SG position, is super skinny, and has one of smoothest shots around. Also like TMac, if you get too close, KD will go by you and use that length to finish with power around the basket. Both have unlimited range and can hit shots with or without hands in their faces.
Durant has the benefit of being the focal point of his team’s offense right out of the gate. McGrady played sidekick to his cousin in Toronto for a few years before exploding after signing as a free agent with Orlando in 2000 winning the most improved award after the season. McGrady topped out at 32.1 along with 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 2003 which garnered his second First Team All-NBA nod.
Then the injuries and the mental shortcomings started showing up. He battled knee and back injuries while complaining about everything from coaching to the introduction of zone defenses over the next couple years before he was traded to Houston. The same whining cycle followed him there and so did the first round playoff exits. Those early outs haunt his legacy more than anything giving any critic an easy mark to limit his ranking.
To be fair, never was McGrady on a championship caliber team. His best team was the 2007 Rocket team that won 52 games which was only good for 3rd in their division and 5th in the conference. After McGrady and Yao Ming (who missed 30 games that season) their best player was Shane Battier. I can’t honestly think of a playoff series where his team was the favorite. You’d expect a star of his status to be able to will his team to one series win but he couldn’t get it done. Still he has the 5th highest playoff scoring average in NBA history at 28.5 points per game.
Hopefully KD has better luck in the injury department and by all accounts, he seems to a little more mentally focused and stronger than McGrady has proven to be. With those upgrades, I’m looking forward to seeing how this version fares.
It was kind of ironic though to see McGrady return with the Knicks the other night only to face……….KD and the Thunder.