Tuesday, March 11, 2008

T-Mac for President...I mean MVP

You've heard all about Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as potential NBA MVP winners this season. Paul's line of 21.3 PPG and 11 APG is one of the more remarkable you'll see in basketball. Only seven players in NBA history have done it for an entire season, with the gay-bashing Tim Hardaway being the last 16 years ago. Kobe has suddenly become re-energized with the addition of Pau Gasol, is averaging 28.1 PPG and is actually spreading the ball around the court. LBJ is averaging a gaudy 30.8 PPG, adding over 8 boards- and 7 assists-per, and is absolutely carrying the Cavaliers. One player we haven't heard as much hoopla about, though, is Tracy McGrady. His numbers aren't quite as powerful as Kobe and Bron-Bron but T-Mac, who missed 15 games due to injury, has always been the main ingredient to this team's success. The past few seasons while the media were questioning whether Yao Ming even had the intestinal fortitude and size to make it in the NBA, McGrady was leading the team, averaging over 20 points per night. When Yao went down a few weeks ago, after the team had won 12 straight, the media thought that, like the 7'6" center, the Rockets were done. And again T-Mac has carried them to seven straight wins since Yao was injured, extending the overall streak to 19. The last five games T-Mac is averaging over 27 points per game and almost 7 assists, without Yao. The team hasn't missed a beat thanks to the play of finger-wagging Dikembe Mutombo and excellent defense, although the Rockets certainly miss their injured big man. That is one thing that hurts McGrady in the argument for MVP. You could say the play of the others around him has been responsible for the success. But T-Mac goes off for 22 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists per night, stats comparable to CP3's. And Paul has a cast that might be better than what Houston has. You're telling me that Kobe - with Pau, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and a soon-to-be-back Andrew Bynum - has a weaker supporting cast than McGrady's squad of Deke, Shane Battier, Bobby Jackson and Luis Scola? I'll admit, it is a bit of a stretch to be thinking MVP for Tracy McGrady right now, but this team is in the midst of something that we rarely see in the NBA. If they win Wednesday night in Atlanta and Friday at home against Charlotte, they will have the second longest winning streak in NBA history, behind a ridiculous 33 game streak by the '71-'72 LA Lakers. The Rockets are approaching the top seed in the Western Conference, they went from 24-20 to 43-20 in a matter of weeks, and they are playing defense like you don't usually see in the NBA. Tracy McGrady is a very valuable part of that. (Image courtesy SI Kids.com)

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