Because of reclamations like Dana Barros and Antonio McDyess, everyone considers Arnie Kander a genius. It’s not necessarily out of line. He has a great track record. For years, I’ve called Kander the most underrated aspect of the organization. His ability to keep the team healthy over the years has meant countless wins, especially in the playoffs. But were last year’s injuries a sign Kander isn’t as great as he seems? Has the hype finally surpassed the substance? Or did chance fall so far on the negative side that it outweighed Kander?
If Tracy McGrady looks anything like he did in his prime, the legend of Arnie won’t die anytime soon.
DF now: Yes (or at least maybe)
McGrady played in 72 games – his most since 2004-05, when he was still averaging 25 points per game. He also played 1686 minutes – his most since 2007-08, when he was still averaging 22 points per game. So, obviously, those days were a long time ago.
But how much did Kander have to do with it? McGrady played a lot more – and did so with a lot more explosiveness – than anyone could have reasonably expected this year. But McGrady played in 24 of 28 games with the Knicks after New York traded for him last season, and he played more minutes per game with the Knicks (while posting similar stats).
So, Kander didn’t return McGrady to his peak level, but he kept McGrady healthy all season. It’s been a long time since anyone did that.
His health, combined with a McDyess-like transformation in style of play, gave McGrady a successful season by any reasonable measure. That ends with McGrady, but it starts with Kander.
After he was traded to Detroit, Allen Iverson went from one of the league’s most popular players to a guy who couldn’t beat Mike Conley for a starting job in Memphis. Now, another 2000s alpha dog icon in the twilight of his career finds himself on the Pistons. I don’t know what McGrady will produce. I just hope that his career is not going to end embarrassingly in Detroit the way Iverson’s did. Whatever you think of either of them personally, they are two of the most brilliant players of this era and deserved to be remembered for that. I don’t know what to expect from T-Mac. I just hope he’s still a solid player.
PH now: No
McGrady was much better than anyone could’ve reasonably expected production-wise, but his temperament was most impressive.
Iverson ran himself out of the league because he never learned to work within his limitations. McGrady reinvented himself as a deliberate playmaker, a solid shooter, a multi-positional threat and even showed occasional glimpses of his past explosiveness. I don’t think McGrady or the Pistons are all that interested in a long-term relationship, but it was nice to watch McGrady work himself back into form and he proved he will be a valuable player on most any contending team’s bench.