Photo by Fernando Medina-NBAE via Getty Images
There really isn’t a fresh angle to take when writing about the impact that Tracy McGrady had in Orlando that hasn’t already been covered.
He’s being honored tonight at Amway Center, and the Magic faithful will likely roar like a pack of lions for one of the most unbelievable talents to ever suit up in an NBA uniform. And if you’re attending the game but not planning on roaring, I suggest you read this piece as I cover the broad strokes of T-Mac’s career. Who knows? Maybe you’ll change your mind and let out a roar yourself.
McGrady was LeBron
When I was first learning about advanced statistics, Eddy Rivera had a pretty simple way of explaining PER to me: 15 is the league average, 20-24 is All-Star level, 25-29 is MVP level, and anything over 30 is LeBron territory. For the most part, he’s been right in that basic assessment.
So let’s compare apples-to-apples. In his transcendant 2002-03 season, the third year that T-Mac was with Orlando, he averaged 32.1 points to go along with 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. By comparison, LeBron James averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game in 2012-13 — regarded almost unanimously as the finest statistical season of his career.
Oh, and McGrady’s 30.3 PER in 2003 was a hair behind LeBron’s 31.6 PER in 2013. But perhaps the most ironic comparison is that T-Mac was LeBron before LeBron. McGrady was a 6-foot-8 maestro that bent the game to his will on the court with incredible ease. Sound familiar?
And in case there is any question about this, allow me to put it to rest. At his zenith in 2003, Tracy McGrady was the absolute best player in the league — better than Shaquille O’Neal, better than Tim Duncan, and better than Kevin Garnett. McGrady was a king among giants.