By Brian Spencer
Last week each of the NBA Writers of the Roundtable named their pick(s) for this season’s early fantasy surprises, with Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol taking the honors for most mentions. As hosts of this edition, ETB posed the following question to our esteemed colleagues:
Upon their return to the hardwood, who will have the most positive impact for fantasy teams this season: Allen Iverson or Tracy McGrady?
Joining Me at the Fantasy Hoops Roundtable:
Neither player carries much interest for us, and as it stands right now, neither seems capable of sustaining whatever impact they have in the first few weeks of their return. Iverson clearly has more potential to contribute since he’ll step right into the starting lineup on Monday; meanwhile, McGrady’s role with the Rockets remains in limbo, and there’s still no definitive timetable for his return. He seems just as likely to be traded at the deadline (expiring contract) as he does to suit up again for Houston.
At their best, both of these former All-Stars are multi-category fantasy contributors: Iverson can boost your PTS, FTM, ASTS, and STLS, while McGrady can basically do it all. The keyword in both cases is “can”, since neither has exactly been at the top of their game for some time now. And while some experts are drooling over Iverson’s return to Philly (Rotoworld, for example, today said that AI “absolutely should not be left on any fantasy waiver wires right now”), it’s important to have some perspective on what your team’s strengths are and which categories you’re trying to win on a week-to-week basis.
Iverson is probably going to score points in bunches, at least until Lou Williams is back, but in all likelihood he’s also going to kill your FG%, FT%, and TOs (and on a related note, he could very well hurt Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, and Elton Brand’s numbers). McGrady suffers from similar ineffiency, so before you go gaga over either player, take a step back and consider the positives and negatives.
Tommy Beer, HoopsWorld
If I had complete freedom of choice, I personally prefer to avoid both players. Both Iverson and McGrady have huge questions marks and red flags attached to their names, and I’d easily let someone else deal with the headaches.
But if I had to choose between the two, I’d go with McGrady. I am definitely not a big T-Mac fan, but it sounds like McGrady is slowly but surely working his way back into playing shape. And once he is back on the floor and ready to roll, no one has ever doubted his ability to put up points. And the Rockets need all the scoring they can get with Yao out. And if Houston chooses to trade him, even better. As long as he gets playing time, he’ll be out to prove that he is worthy of a decent contract next summer. That is the best motivator.
My problem with Iverson is I question whether or not he will ever suit up again. If AI isn’t offered a contract by Philadelphia, then it really may be curtains on Iverson’s legendary career. Consider the unique circumstances: Lou Williams is now sidelined up to two months with a fractured jaw. As a result, Philly is forced into starting 19-year-old Jrue Holiday, a rookie who played mostly shooting guard as a freshman at UCLA last year.
And besides filling the obvious desire for an established scoring PG on the floor, Iverson would also contribute immensely to the Sixers other glaring need: a box office draw. The Sixers are desperate on multiple fronts – they need a veteran PG and they need to sell tickets. If Philly doesn’t want him now, who will sign him? And when? Lastly, AI hasn’t even played that well when he has been on the court. He averaged 17.5 points per game in 2008-2009 and just 12.3 PPG in limited action with the Grizz last month. I’ll pass…
The McGrady vs. Iverson debate continues after the break…
Ryan Lester, Lester’s Legends
To be honest, neither option attracts me as they both come with so much baggage. Allen Iverson is having a hell of a time accepting that his best days have passed him by. He can still score, but he’s a shell of his former self. His assists and steals have also went down the past few years.
Tracy McGrady can still produce if his knee will allow him to. With Yao Ming out for the year, McGrady will take it upon himself to carry the load. Unfortunately, that may not be the best thing for the Rockets now. Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola, Trevor Ariza, and Carl Landry have established themselves as good young stars. If McGrady comes in shooting 15+ shots per game, he would disrupt their flow.
I reluctantly take McGrady in this debate. He should score at a similar clip as Iverson, but will likely have more assists and rebounds. He does shoot poorly from the floor, so you’ll have to be able to be able to absorb that.
Alex Woods, BleacherCreatureRotoTalk
AI WILL put up some numbers in Philadelphia. A healthy AI would be expected to play everyday, and with the injury to Lou Williams he would get a ton of minutes. Just how he would gel with his new teammates remains to be seen, but we would expect the Al we all know to reappear in the City of Brotherly Love–that being the tough little dude that throws up tons of shots and now in his more mature state also dishes the rock. You could argue that he could step in and be the team’s number one scoring option from the start.
McGrady is suffering from a bum knee and a bum back; his return could be weeks away. If and when T-Mac returns we do not see him doing much of anything. In fact, last year a less-than-100% McGrady attempted to make a comeback in what turned out to be a nightmare situation for fantasy basketball owners. It was decided that he would not play back-to-back games and would be routinely rested, thus making him unusable in head-to-head leagues. Moreover, at least from what we saw last year, McGrady’s knee and back injuries had sapped him of all his explosiveness. While he did have his spurts, the Rockets now have a number of scorers, including the athletic Trevor Ariza. We don’t see much coming from McGrady this year and see him as having significantly less upside than Iverson.
So, to answer the question – Iverson will have a bigger fantasy basketball impact this season. Given the injury to Lou Williams and the Sixers offensive issues AI should put up decent numbers. As for McGrady, BleacherCreatureRotoTalk seriously doubts his comeback ability. It appears the injuries have taken there toll on the once elite T-Mac.
Overall, they’re both old and over the hill, but still probably have a bit left in their respective tanks to chip in some decent numbers.
A big factor to consider in answering the question is addressing where they will be playing. Based on that, I will have to make certain assumptions. For now, let’s assume that Tracy will start his fantasy season for his owners in the Houston Rockets, a team that appears to not want nor need his contributions. Iverson, on the other hand, looks like he’ll be signed by a team that desperately needs a PG/SG to start for them. At this point, that team looks like the Philadelphia 76ers. They Sixers appear to need a PG, on the surface, but in the end Andre Iguodala, Will Green, and Jrue Holiday can all keep the ship afloat while waiting on Louis Williams to return from injury.
I project less conflict with A.I. sliding into a starter’s job in Philly than T-Mac playing alongside Trevor Ariza. I will have to give this one to Iverson temporarily, at least until T-Mac’s contract is offloaded to another team… but then again that would be another story altogether.
T-Mac really wants to play basketball, but there are fears that he will come back too soon and re-injure his body. Allen Iverson just really wants to start, and is not coming back from any serious injuries. McGrady’s spirit may be willing, but his flesh is historically weak. Iverson came off a lesser injury, but it’s his team spirit (or lack thereof) that should be in question. Tracy and his battle-weary body, for all its worth, will be able to give your fantasy team more AST, 3PTM, and STL. Iverson will end up giving you more PTS, FT%, and *GP* (games played).
Basketball is a team sport and Tracy McGrady is and has always been the better “team player”: that is what will be the deal breaker for Iverson and his bloated ego. Thinking more about the TEAM and less about whether or not you will frickin’ start or not is what will end up defining who can keep more minutes on the floor. So, I would have to say Tracy McGrady will have the more positive fantasy impact because there is no “I”(verson) in “team.”