Shane Battier’s curious comment about McGrady’s return

I am a fan of Shane Battier. Shane is a consummate professional, comports himself well on and off the court. Unlike the responses you get from NBA players, when asked a question, with Shane, you typically can expect to get intelligent, non-inane, answers to reporter’s questions. I think, he is one of the few players, who are completely aware of how the game looks for someone outside, while he is playing in it. He is cerebral, and is not easily carried in the moment, and sticks to his strengths, and game plan. In my view, Shane Battier is one of the significant advantages that the Rockets have. I am fairly convinced that for the younger players in the Rockets uniform, playing with Shane Battier, is like playing with one of the coaching staff on the floor, and I think that is one of the secrets behind the success of the Rockets this season.

Given all that, I was a bit surprised to read what Shane had to say about Tracy McGrady’s in the Chronicle.

""We all look good in half-court situations, playing one-on-one," Battier said. "He has a ways to go. … When he comes back, he comes back."

I believe that this is one of the few occasions that we have had a clear confirmation of where McGrady stands in terms of his ability to play – other than the bromides that we routinely hear from Rick and Morey. I think McGrady is yet to buy into the offensive philosophy of Rick Adelman. In the past, opposing teams had great success in pressuring McGrady into shooting contested, low percentage jump shots. Perhaps in half court situations, McGrady is still doing that. He might be successful, but the team will suffer. If you go up and down for five possessions, and see McGrady jack up five contested shots, and even if he hits three out of the five shots that will completely ruin the ‘team’ approach that the Rockets are attempting to build. I think, we may find, that McGrady may not get on the court, unless and until, he demonstrates that he has bought into the coaching philosophy of Adelman, at both ends of the court.

This is a chance for McGrady to grow as a player, and I also think that he has high basketball IQ and talent to be an elite passer in the league, and a strong defender. If McGrady really commits to the team approach and philosophy, the game will actually be easier for him, prolong his basketball career, and perhaps will be more fun with more success. But, can he do it, and not settle for the ‘one on ones’ – as Battier alludes to in this conversation?

May be I am reading too much into this one quote. In any event, it is clear that the Rockets have thrown down the gauntlet to McGrady to see if he can adapt to the role that the team needs.


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