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In his criticism of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade playing together with Miami Heat, Tracy McGrady rebukes Joe Dumars’ positional philosophy

In case you haven’t heard, Tracy McGrady doesn’t think LeBron James and Dwyane Wade complement each other. Via Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

“It’s what I expected,” McGrady said. “You’ve got two guys who really don’t mix. They’re the same type of player. If you look at Boston’s big three, they’re traditional guys. You’ve got a true shooting guard, you have a true small forward and you have a true power forward. You have a shooting guard (Ray Allen) that doesn’t need the ball. In their case, both of their guys need the ball. They’re not great outside shooters, so they just can’t stand out there and wait for one to pass the ball and knock down open shots.

“That’s not their game. They have to have the ball to make plays and catch a rhythm that way. I’m the same way. I’m not the type of player who can stand on the perimeter and wait for somebody to pass me the ball and knock down jumpers. That’s just how it is. They just don’t complement each other.”

McGrady certainly isn’t the first person to criticize the Heat stars this season, and it’s certainly a reasonable opinion. I still think LeBron and Wade are versatile enough to play well together. Just because they haven’t so far doesn’t mean they can’t.

But what I found most interesting is McGrady’s comments pretty much contradict what Joe Dumars told Langlois before last season:

If you look around the league and look at rosters, the more you can have versatile guys on your roster, the better off you are. Less and less now, you find guys pigeon-holed into one position.

It’s nice to have guys who can play multiple positions, but I’m mostly with McGrady on this. You need players who a good at certain and things and other players who are good at others. Everyone doing everything is difficult to pull off, evident by this year’s Pistons.

26 Comments

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  • Nov 30, 201010:13 am
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    I like how Tracy finishes off his comment about the topic with ‘they’re rhythm players that need the ball…I’m like that
    Personally i would rather McGrady keep his head down and keep working harder to get himself better like he has but i am sure he has just said what he did to spice up our game against them (Miami) in a couple of days. I mean you could understand him saying it to work up Miami if we have a chance to beat them but i doubt it. Hopefully we can come out of the Florida trip with a win but i think we have more chance of dealing Rip!

  • Nov 30, 201010:54 am
    by Odeh

    Reply

    So Tmac, you mean Lebron and Wade dont compliment each other like Rip and Gordon dont complement each other.  You mean they need the ball in their hand like you need the ball in your hand.  I don’t think Tmac has room to talk about another team.  Until the Pistons are relevant again, deal with your teams problems before you try to handle someone else is problems.

  • Nov 30, 201011:14 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Odeh:
    In T-Mac’s defense, he didn’t bring this subject up on his own. These comments came after the NY game, and several members of the NY media began asking T-Mac about the Heat, so he gave honest answers.

  • Nov 30, 201011:33 am
    by Odeh

    Reply

    @Patrick
    IMO that makes it worse.  Your coming off a double OT Loss and answering questions about another team?  As a “leader” on this team he should of changed the subject and talked about the loss and how we can get better.

  • Nov 30, 201011:42 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Odeh:
    Your principle is correct. But you have to understand the dynamic of a locker room media scrum, particularly for a player like McGrady, who has done tons of interviews. I’m sure he just robotically answers questions. Guys don’t want to be hanging around talking, particularly after a loss like that. The easiest way to get the media to go away is just answering what they throw at you. Those comments were mixed in with him commenting on the game, the disappointing loss, etc. No one used those quotes though, I’m sure, because someone piped up and asked about the Heat, McGrady threw an answer out there, and they ran with that because the angle was more interesting than McGrady saying, “We just gotta keep fighting,” or whatever athlete-speak he said about the game.
    Every player in the NBA is getting asked about the Heat this year, and a lot of guys, like McGrady, have given an unflattering account of what they think of the team so far. I think if it was a different environment where McGrady had more time to think about his answers or it was a more formal interview, he probably would’ve chosen words more carefully or done a better job of dodging the subject.

  • Nov 30, 201012:14 pm
    by Jason

    Reply

    I’m with you on this one, Patrick. He was answering questions from the media, really don’t see why it would a problem to anyone.
    Anyways, I agree wholeheartedly with what T-Mac is saying. I don’t agree with Dumars logic for a second, if you look at all of the successful teams in the league today, they have defined roles. Look at the last decade of Pistons success, our bread and butter was team chemistry, only made possible by defined roles!!
    I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have players that can play multiple spots, but at the same time these guys are rarities. Someone might be able to technically speaking slide into multiple roles, but that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be successful - as we’ve seen with Daye at PF.
    San Antonio, Lakers, Boston, Orlando, Dallas, etc. These teams have clearly defined roles set, they have guys that play their positions well, and that’s their focus. This is the formula for success in the NBA. Not a bunch of guys running around the floor aimlessly, playing street ball 1-on-1 ISO style offense, then getting burned on the other end because were mismatched at multiple positions. It’s just not going to work, on a consistent basis..
    Even the teams who have had success with the up-tempo, versatile rosters – there is always at least one anchor to make that possible. For instance, the Phoenix Suns would never have had the success they have, without a TRUE PG like Nash. Even look to Golden State, who since losing a true PG in Baron Davis, have been much less efficient with a versatile, up-tempo roster, with combo guards running the point.
    I guess I’m failing to see what teams around the league are stacked with versatile players, and are actually doing well. I’m usually in Dumars corner, but this is one area we’ll have to agree to disagree. Focus on YOUR position, and you’ll be much better off in the long run. Build a team, at least a starting 5 with players who have clearly defined roles, that’s how you build chemistry.

  • Nov 30, 201012:30 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    I don’t care that Mcgrady commented about the Heat. He’s right about them, but everyone is talking about them. I don’t know that it will never work, because if you look at their efficiencies they are a pretty good team with an unlucky record. Lebron and Wade are shooting like crap (well, by their standards), but the Heat are still 5th in offensive efficiency. Scary to think where they would be if Lebron and Wade could co-exist, or when they co-exist.
     
    Hollinger’s per diem he wrote this week he blames the big 3 for the Heat’s record. Which is fine, but then goes on to say that Miller and Haslem basically aren’t very good, or not good enough to help them. And that the rest of the bench is too crappy to matter. So it’s all on the big 3. Yeah, so the two guys that are clearly better then everyone else off the bench don’t matter at all. I don’t get Hollinger’s argument. It’s fine to argue that Lebron or Wade are playing poorly, but to say Miller and Haslem don’t matter is beyond belief. Those are two good players, how they heck don’t they matter?
     
    Lebron and Wade are the same player in different bodies. Neither can play off the ball or take a spot up jumper. They’ve become accustomed to having the ball in their hands. This is one of those scenarios where you can stare at the advanced metrics all day, but at the end it comes down to being able to complement the other player.
     
    This is another NBA lesson I’ve absorbed recently. Just like you need to assemble a roster in tiers with roles, you need to also limit the ball handlers. You can’t have too many guys that need the ball in their hand’s to be successful, but you do need a primary ball handler to be a successful team.

  • Nov 30, 201012:48 pm
    by Odeh

    Reply

    Hypothetically speaking: Miami finishes the season with a 50-32 record and gets knocked out of the playoffs in the second round.  Do you trade Wade and build around Lebron?  That’s what I would do.

  • Nov 30, 201012:50 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    personally i like the fact that McGrady often gives a straight forward answer to a media question. And his answers are not “off the cuff” but usually show intelligence and forethought. I am very impressed with T-Mac as a person & teammate this year. His basketball IQ is the highest on the team. He plays team ball and sees the floor better than any other Piston. He stood up in the locker room and reminded his (new) teammates that they have to stick together even if they disagree with the coach. If he can get healthy and his knee allows him to play a second half as good as his first halves – we have a steal and a player with a lot of value at the deadline.

  • Nov 30, 201012:54 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    @jason

    actually we did not see anything of the kind with Daye at power forward. He was actually playing his best ball of the season and had a great stroke on his shot when he was benched because Q caved into Prince’s demands that he bench Daye for Max.

  • Nov 30, 201012:54 pm
    by Jason

    Reply

    @ Odeh – No chance.. That would never fly with the fans – so there’s no way Riley would pull that trigger. If anything, they trade Bosh – sign a big, and maybe a PG and they’ll come together. Lebron needs to just take over at PG, let Wade get his rhythm back. If there is any team that can defy odds, and figure it out – I wouldn’t put it past this group, just being the caliber of players. I just don’t believe it will happen this year. Give them an off-season to get on the same page, they’ll be tough next season.
    @ pcb – Couldn’t agree more.

  • Nov 30, 201012:59 pm
    by Jason

    Reply

    @pcb-
    You can’t honestly tell me that if Daye has those same minutes at SF, he wouldn’t have done even better. He is a SF, there is no doubt about it. Again, he may have a few good nights at PF, when matched against the right players. But, he doesn’t yet have the build, and probably never will have the build to be a productive PF.

  • Nov 30, 20101:06 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    @nuetes

    defined roles are absolutely necessary in order to have a winning team. But that does not preclude versitility and players who can play multiple positions. They just have to know their role given the lineup on the floor and the position they are being asked to play at the time. Look at Scotty Pippen, one of the most vesitile players of all time – he could do everything, like Prince, but better. That didn’t prevent him from playing alongside MJ. Look at Zeke, Dumars, and Vinnie Johnson. Scorers all. Not a true point guard among them. Zeke may have been the best “small” player ever to play the game and he certainly averaged assists but his real proficiency was as a scorer. Joe took over ball handling duties when Zeke went out and did just fine.

    The problem is the coach, who has not defined roles and established a good rotation. The problem is not the players. Even lacking a rebounder, interior defender, and low post scorer they could be winning a lot of these games if they had a better coach.

  • Nov 30, 20101:18 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    @jason

    ultimately i think Daye’s best position might be at the 2 but that certainly does not preclude him from playing an effective 4. On this team his role was to front his man when possible to deny the entry pass, to make sure he had a body on his man when the shot went up and to hold the box out rather than go for the ball, to run the floor after the Pistons secured the rebound, and on offense to stretch the floor with his three point shot thereby openning lanes for Stuckey to drive. As he got more comfortable, i also wanted to see him put the ball on the floor more. One thing we would not see from him at the 4 spot is his post up. He is not strong enough to go down low on a 4.

    but i thought he was playing well and had earned continued minutes. But Prince froze him out and Q caved in to his vetern demands. Q defines roles for the young guys. He told Daye how to play correctly given his limitations. He has told Greg Monroe to focus on rebounding. But Q refuses to take on his vets and force them into appropriate roles or the bench.

  • Nov 30, 20101:37 pm
    by Jason

    Reply

    I see what your saying, Pcb. Although i don’t see Daye at the 2 either, he’s not fast enough to guard a quick SG. He will be most effective at SF, when Prince is no longer on the team.. Plain and simple.
    Q has it pretty tough though, put yourself in his shoes. He clearly has no voice in personnel moves, or a very little one if any. Q has been set up for failure with this group, having to sort out a team with many holes, and too many wing players. I agree that he needs to do more, but at the same time can understand he’s in a tough spot.
    Should be interesting to see how the season plays out if no moves are ultimately made.

  • Nov 30, 20101:55 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @PCB:
    “But Prince froze him out and Q caved in to his vetern demands.”
    I’ve mentioned it before, but that’s your perception of what happened, not an actual fact.
    I find it hard to believe that Prince would tell the coach to start Maxiell over Daye and that nothing would get leaked to the media. Stuff like that ALWAYS gets leaked because the player getting benched (Daye) or teammates who support him would have a vested interest in getting it leaked.
    The fact is Maxiell starting at power forward gives the Pistons a better chance to compete defensively than Daye does. So spout all of the conspiracy theories about Prince being some sort of puppet master all you want, but moving Daye out of the starting PF spot made sense, although I disagree that Maxiell should’ve been the player picked to start.

  • Nov 30, 20102:31 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    @pcb: if you think his best position is at the 2 (and i don’t necessarily disagree), that’s surely a concession that his worst position is the 4. i’ll never understand the point of having “versatile” players who can play multiple positions and locking them into their weakest position. positional versatility is meaningless if there’s only room for a player at his worst positions (stuckey, daye, jerebko). you’re better off having a GOOD power forward than a small forward who can technically slide over playing the position full time and struggling. neither jerebko nor daye is a power forward of the future for this team, and we all know what stuckey is.
     
    the truth is that the pistons, despite joe dumars’s jabbering, are not a versatile team. versatile teams can throw different looks at teams. they have different KINDS of players. there’s no point in having a roster where everyone can play the 2 or the 3 if there’s no room for them to play there. the pistons can only go big on the perimeter, and with all the guards in their rotation who aren’t going anywhere and need minutes, we’ve blocked a lot of our own versatility.
     
    as for the heat, i was saying the same thing. i don’t know why anyone assumed they’d hit the ground running, but i was saying from the get-go that there would at least be a likely adjustment period since both of these guys were used to having the ball in their hands at all times. i also said they might need a few more MLE additions to be able to hang with teams like boston and LA. smart money says they eventually make it work, though they’ll probably have a similar problem to the one detroit is enjoying right now and for the near future, where the whole is less than the sum of its parts. only they could trade lebron for a king’s ransom. imagine that: the guy pisses off the world and goes to miami to play with his friends, and pat riley goes and trades him to some rubbish team that had to gut itself to get him. would that be poetic justice or what?? if miami can’t get all that excited about the heat and needs to “fan up,” maybe trading lebron is the shrewdest move.
     
    as for the pistons, there’s a difference between the redundancy of wade/james and hamilton/gordon. specifically, it’s hard to have two guys on the same team who basically need the ball in their hands at all times. it’s easier to have two similar players who don’t tend to dominate the ball. now, only an idiot would think rip and gordon would be a good fit to play together (though they can both hit outside shots and come off screens to catch-and-shoot), but it’s a very different situation.

  • Nov 30, 20102:34 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    and for the record, i don’t think kuester “caved to prince’s demands” on the daye situation, but i think it’s a fair assessment that prince thought daye starting at PF was a bad choice. then again, who wouldn’t think it was a bad choice? pcb? that’s probably it for the planet. even kuester couldn’t have really thought it would work out. or maybe he could have. he’s a dud. so many duds on this team, so little time.

  • Nov 30, 20102:39 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    oh sorry, and finally: i’ve been saying that roles are important for a while now, and the pistons are a great example of that. it’s no coincidence that our best players happen to have the most defined roles. ben wallace defending and rebounding, t-mac making plays, charlie v hitting outside shots and occasionally putting it on the floor. everyone else is just trying to do a little of everything, and none of them are good enough for that formula to work. at least with wade and lebron, you have two guys who are good enough to make it work (though i doubt they’ll ever thrive like they probably originally expected).
     
    and there’s nothing wrong with having a player or two who does it all. tayshaun’s a good example, as he can do a little of absolutely everything. but it’s just too sloppy of a system to have everyone doing that. the Goin’ to Work pistons had such nice roles, too. it’s a wonder joe got so far from that.

  • Nov 30, 20103:16 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    maybe i’m defining roles differently, because obviously the player’s abilities define his role. your not going to ask jonas jerebko to be PG or anything. i mean more so with minute allocation. who is our best PG? SG? PF? Who are our best players at each position? i’m talking a tier system where you need clear cut #1 options at positions. we have a very deep team full of equally talented guys from the 1-12 spots practically. whoever said that was supposed to be a good problem to have is out of their minds.
     
    it leaves way to much room for second guessing. why did rip play in the 4th and not gordon? why didn’t Monroe play? why did Mcgrady play more than CV? why this why that the why’s never stop because you can second guess every single substitution because nobody is better than anybody else. you could have stuckey, gordon, mcgrady, cv, and wallace on the court in the 4th, and if they lose it will be well why wasn’t tay out there? why wasn’t rip out there? it doesn’t matter who is out there because there is always someone else that could be out there. you need player tiers. some guys that are clear cut above the rest to get a rotation under control.
     
    As far as the Prince thing PCB brought up it’s an interesting take with absolutely no evidence, but something to think about. Prince had made some post-game comments about the Pistons getting killed on the glass and about it being a team effort, and he did talk about Daye prior to the season saying how difficult it was going to be for him. Maybe he did convince Q to get Daye out of there. I don’t think players are that stupid, and I’m actually quite surprised by that to be honest. Players seem to get what wins games, but for some reason none of that matters when they are on the court. Mcgrady talking about the Miami dynamic. Prince talking about the Pistons rebounding. Rip staring at box scores endlessly after games. These guys get it, they just can’t seem to do anything about it.

  • Nov 30, 20105:24 pm
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    @Odeh
    You bring up a great point in…Do you trade Wade and build around Lebron?
    It would be very interesting to see what Miami would do if they don’t at least make the conference finals. There roster to me is built to win and win now and nothing less than a championship is acceptable. I could only just imagine how much cavs fans are loving how much of a flop the heat have turned out to be. As far as trading Wade who is supposed to be there favorite son who brought them there only championship i think that would be a very cold move. By memory all of the big 3 have a clause in the last year of there contracts. Who would you expect to land for Wade? I think Rondo and Ray Allen would fit perfectly on that team. Dwayne Wade/Mike Miller for Rajon Rondo/Ray Allen. Funny thing is i can see Boston turning the deal down.

  • Nov 30, 20107:03 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    @nuetes: “equally talented” sounds like they’re talented. i prefer “equally mediocre.” that said… i’ve been saying the particular distribution of talent is a veritable nightmare for years. it’s keith langlois who’s been calling it a good problem. in fact, he’d tell you every problem this team has is a good one. because lord knows nobody could say with a straight face that anything else about the team is good. i’ve long maintained that until we can turn some of this mediocre talent into players who fill our many holes, none of our problems are good. and our record has been supporting that theory quite nicely lately.
     
    in short, i fully agree about a hierarchy and defined roles being extremely important. the only players on the team who are probably distinctly better than the other guys at their position are tayshaun and body. i think the case could easily be made that villa is the best PF. and body is obviously a very limited player, and villa’s got his obvious flaws too, so yeah we’re a joke. i do think that certain combinations work better than others. i think rip pairs nicely with bynum, t-mac and tayshaun. i think gordon and stuckey should be playing together a bunch. i don’t think stuckey-gordon-tayshaun is a bad perimeter, nor is bynum-hamilton-mcgrady. but bynum and gordon are so small it’s a matchup problem every night, and stuckey and rip combine to form my personal nightmare. so, uh, in the absence of actual talent, it would be smart to at least use the best combinations.
     
    @gmehl: i don’t know what you’re talking about with that championship-or-bust miami talk. maybe they’re nuts enough to think they’re the best team ever, but that’s just not a reasonable take. i said long ago that they’d need time. but if they stay together and continue to add pieces (the right pieces, like a strong point guard and center), they should be a great team in two seasons and for a long time to come. but these things take time. chemistry is important, especially for guys who are used to dominating the ball at all times. and they need better supporting players. also, it sounds like you didn’t know this, but the heat have a very poor fanbase who has better things to do than support them. they’re just a sh*tty basketball town i guess. so everyone who cares is probably pissed, but that’s not very many people. but seriously, patience is a virtue. i don’t know how people who fancy themselves basketball “experts” thought they’d run away with the east and win ten championships off the bat. also, they’re not trading wade ever. smart money says he will retire a heater. lebron is 50x more expendable for every reason imaginable besides the not-so-big talent gap and their respective ages. but you can bet pat riley isn’t going to pick lebron over wade. ever. never in a million years. heck, wade has been the franchise since he got there, he brought them a championship, he brought them lebron and bosh; he couldn’t possibly have done more for the team. you don’t trade that guy. get real. every miami fan in the world would join al-qaeda. or something.

  • Nov 30, 20107:09 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    also, forgot to add. i think it was insanely stupid for miami to unload all their draft picks from here until oblivion. i mean, maybe they did think they were going to be picking in the late-20s for eternity, but how stupid can you be? at minimum, i would have held on tight to this year’s first rounder, just in case it took some time to jell. and probably next year’s too. if they were smart, kept a few upcoming picks, and used their exceptions wisely, they’d probably be picking in the late 20s for the foreseeable future. but they give up what could be valuable picks, and for what? the right to lebron and bosh for another year? if things were going swimmingly, those guys would have stayed anyways. i don’t get it.

  • Nov 30, 20109:55 pm
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    @Laser
    I was just querying that if the Heat don’t win it all and more importantly still don’t jell like everybody has expected then ‘when’ and ‘if’ it was to be a choice of who to trade then who would it be? Personally i think they will win championships and eventually jell as a team. You are very quick to jump on peoples comments without noting what point they are getting at. Odeh brought up the topic and clearly stressed it was hypothetically speaking. Of coarse the Heat will not break up the big 3 after missing the conference finals but what happens if they just plain don’t 3-peat eventually like the Lakers have done. With the amount of money they have put into 3 guys and the crappy draft picks they will be getting they will have to rely on adding veterans looking to win championships. Finally i will stress that i do think they will get there with time but if your telling me that LeBron signed with the Heat thinking he would have to wait 2-3 years for a ring then i think he should of stayed with the cavs and just got Bosh to join him.
     
    On a side note just imagine if LeBron had signed with Knicks and they had started just as bad. The New York media would of been vying for his blood which leads me to believe was the main reason he didn’t go there.

  • Dec 1, 20101:09 am
    by Laser

    Reply

    1) if lebron joined the heat thinking he would win a championship right away, he’s a bigger idiot than i thought. hell, maybe he is. but how stupid can you be? the lakers are STACKED, boston is deep as HELL. i’ve been saying since the jump that there might be a significant period of time before wade and lebron jelled together AND that it’s probably going to take a few quality MLE additions before they could be true contenders.
     
    2) speaking of which, i felt that way because i never thought aging ring-chasers would be enough of a support system to win a championship, but they could get some serious firepower with a few MLE contracts. two players on full MLE deals, depending on whom of course, might put them over the top… if and when they learn to play together. big “if.”
     
    3) i knew what everyone was getting at, and i don’t think i jumped on anyone unfairly. but i can’t imagine a realistic scenario where the heat trades wade ever, assuming his desire is to retire a heater. the guy brought excitement to the heat, brought them a championship, consistently carried a weak supporting cast to the playoffs, and delivered them lebron and bosh. they owe him for life. he’s a lifer. lebron may come and go; wade’s the franchise. i’d be astonished if they didn’t extend him the common courtesy to allow him to ride out his career there if he so desired. and imagine the return they’d get for lebron; much much more than for wade.
     
    4) i think there were a few reasons he went to the heat when he had his choice of anywhere. i think he wanted to play with his friends, with real stars, for a good organization. new york didn’t offer hardly any of that. and lebron’s so big, putting on a knicks jersey wouldn’t have a seismic effect on his profile. the guy was a household name playing in cleveland.

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