Tracy McGrady is a Hall of Famer and a three-time NBA champion. He once held the NBA record for consecutive games with a three-pointer. His numbers never quite matched his height, but you would never have known that seeing McGrady smile ear to ear on a video that aired at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Sunday. McGrady, now a television analyst for TNT, is a fan of the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry, and a part of TNT’s commentary team during this season’s NBA finals, which begins on Wednesday.
On Monday, he picked his favorite Warriors from a group of seven. He liked Curry’s court vision and execution. He thought Kevin Durant’s ability to score at will was exciting. He liked how he could drag his teammates along. He liked how Draymond Green’s relentlessness helped set up his teammates for high-percentage shots. He liked how Stephen Jackson, Curry’s teammate for three seasons, was able to find ways to free up the shooter in open spaces.
But he liked the Warriors most of all for their dynamic combination of young talent and old vets. He liked how all seven of the squad’s titles came with Curry taking the floor. He was delighted when he first saw how hard Curry worked to become the best player on the court. And he was enthusiastic about what he saw coming from Durant, a seven-time All-Star.
“I think he’s going to be a hell of a player,” McGrady said on Sunday, “and then, you know, even from the core group of guys that he has right now, you got Klay Thompson, you got Draymond Green, who’s an All-Star, and Shaun Livingston, who played in the league for nine years.”
For a moment, McGrady looked a little irritated. He had sounded worried about Thompson at the start of last season, when he questioned why the new player had carried the scoring load while Curry was slowed by injuries. In the playoffs, though, McGrady saw from the beginning that Thompson could be the team’s other great player. And in the post-season, both Thompson and Curry had continued to grow as leaders.
“When Klay was playing with Steph, and was still in the league, we’re always talking about the lack of his game, how he doesn’t have as many assists as Steph,” McGrady said on Sunday. “I think this year, when Steph comes back, I think you’re going to see a whole different brand of basketball, a new level from Steph.”
Yet McGrady still expects this season to be competitive. The Golden State Warriors are so good that McGrady expected each team’s start to be fairly close. He had picked the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals. McGrady noted that Kyrie Irving has regressed this season. He said LeBron James will have to adapt to the quickness of the Warriors’ defenders, who will make it difficult for James to get shots. McGrady also said he would expect the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics to be realistic about where they fit in the stacked Eastern Conference.
“It’s going to be a hell of a run,” McGrady said.