Friday, September 3, 2010

McGrady Puts Pistons In Driver's Seat

The Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls officially have some competition. The Detroit Pistons' signing of Tracy McGrady changes the entire balance of power in the Central Division and may decide the eventual champion.

The Pistons were already picked here to be one of the most improved teams in the NBA, and that was before they signed Tracy McGrady. The addition of McGrady only makes that pick more certain and the improvement more dramatic.

The Bulls worked McGrady out but eventually decided not to sign him and instead opted for Keith Bogans. Choosing Bogans over McGrady is a catastrophic error in judgment and player evaluation and will cost Chicago dearly.

Without McGrady or some player like him, they simply aren't that impressive. A healthy Tracy McGrady makes the Bulls an elite team. No McGrady makes them a team which may be able to win a playoff series and scare a team in the second round but do nothing more.

It looks like Chicago will wait until at least next year to bring in another top player to play with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and the others and try to become a championship team.

The status of the Milwaukee Bucks hasn't changed since early July: They are a healthy Michael Redd away from being elite. It has been reported that Michael Redd isn't coming back until February, a wise move but one which may cost Milwaukee in the short term.

That leaves the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons were picked to improve because of the reason why they lost so many games last year: injuries to key players like Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.

With those players coming back healthy and the addition of No.7 pick Greg Monroe and now Tracy McGrady, Detroit is in prime position to take the Central Division crown.

The only question left to be answered is ... How much does McGrady have left?

The answer to that question is slowly coming forward.

The Pistons have what they consider a secret weapon in strength-and-conditioning coach Arnie Kander, and they believe that with Kander's guidance, Tracy McGrady will be just fine.

It should again be pointed out that McGrady is still five months away from the two-year mark, when players start feeling like themselves again, on his microfracture surgery.

Kander did some research on McGrady and had two things to say which should trouble Bucks and Bulls fans: (1) He believes McGrady has a good chance to revive his career with the Pistons, and (2) "From all the people I’ve spoken to, he’s not someone who cuts corners."

That means that whatever Tracy McGrady has to do to get his game back, he is going to do it and do it to the best of his ability.

Coach John Kuester watched McGrady work out recently and came away impressed and optimistic about the season.

He's not the only one.

The addition of Tracy McGrady makes Detroit absolutely loaded: Rodney Stuckey, McGrady, Prince, Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Greg Monroe, plus the young guys coming off the bench.

It is an abundance of talent.

Detroit is at least a playoff team and could come close to being one of the top teams in the East. Few teams are as deep and talented. They also have great team chemistry, something they will need with all of these players who deserve minutes.

McGrady may never get back to his Orlando level, but 80% of Tracy McGrady is better than 90% of the NBA.

He is also a veteran now with a high basketball IQ, meaning he can beat the opposition with his mind like he used to beat them with his speed and athleticism.

Here is footage of McGrady in his prime* with the Orlando Magic, an outstanding video of his trials and tribulations while fighting injury with the Houston Rockets and a radio interview he did after signing with the Detroit Pistons (scroll to bottom).

The Arnie Kander "Eagle Eye" article was posted by John Schuhmann on the league website, and the radio interview was posted by Bill Ingram at HoopsWorld.

*Video update 2-25-2012, 2:20 PM

Comment or e-mail: thenbaoutsider@yahoo.com


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