When a bunch of nerdy guys got together in a room at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Tracy McGrady took a beating.
In a discussion of guys who most wasted the talent they had, former Rockets coach (and current ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy) as well as Rockets GM Daryl Morey listed McGrady. He was a good player, at times a very good player, but never the guy he could have been. They said his immense natural talent got in the way of his willingness to work at his game and so he never became what he could be.
Now with Detroit, McGrady didn’t exactly go Iverson practice rant, but he admitted to Chris Tomasson writing for Hoopshype that he was not a practice guy.
“I just wasn’t a great practice player,’’ McGrady, a Detroit guard, said in an interview with HoopsHype. “I just wasn’t. I wasn’t.’’
“That could be it,’’ McGrady said. “I just think I could cruise through practice and still be effective. Some guys have to really go (all) out to really have an impact on practice. My ability was just I had God-given talent to where I could just cruise through practice and still be an effective practice player… I was inconsistent. Some days, I have really good (practice) days where I just go hard and a lot of days where like, ‘Uh,’ and I just go through the motions. But I work hard. But I’m just not the best practice player.’’
McGrady basically confirms what Van Gundy said. To use the easy and obvious example, Michael Jordan could have cruised through practice and had an impact, but that was not his makeup. And those legendarily hard Bulls practices are a key reason the banners hang at the United Center. We could go down the list of Kobe and Garnett’s practice habits, but the point is made.
We’re talkin’ ‘bout practice. And it does matter.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.
After a bumpy season where the he fought with Suns coaches, then a summer where he and his twin Marcus felt they were blindsided by a trade, Markieff Morris has been plenty vocal about his unhappiness in Phoenix. To the point it has cost him some serious cash.
So what should we expect from Markieff Morris’ upcoming season?
Relative calm, I tell Jenna Corrado of NBCSports in this latest edition of PBT Extra previewing the NBA season.
The reasons are twofold. First, he has to realize the Suns aren’t trading him anyway (especially not while he publicly demands a trade, lowering his trade value). Second, can you imagine how new locker room leader Tyson Chandler is going to react to that? Chandler was brought in to fill a leadership void in the locker room, and you can bet he will make his displeasure at such team-disrupting antics known.
Still not sure if that’s enough to get the Suns to the playoffs.