There’s no denying that Tracy McGrady is one of the most potent offensive gunners in NBA history. The man has two scoring titles on his resume and countless impressive scoring performances to show for. However, according to former teammate Shane Battier, T-Mac wasn’t just a prolific scorer. He also had an underappreciated quality that Battier believes McGrady did better than LeBron James.
Battier and McGrady wore the Houston Rockets jersey in the mid-2000s. Just like the rest of us, Battier initially saw McGrady as an elite scorer. But once they became teammates, Battier also discovered that McGrady was a supreme playmaker and passer as well.
“T-Mac was an absolute handful, so aggressive. He was a monster, especially early in his career before his injuries. When I got to Houston, what struck me about T-Mac was that he’s probably the best passer I ever played with. He was a great pitcher in high school, he saw everything. Everything,” Battier said, per Forgotten Seasons.
Stats back up Battier’s claims. In the 2006-07 NBA season, Battier’s first year in Houston, McGrady averaged 6.5 assists per game. Battier’s conclusion that McGrady is the best passer he’s played with is pretty strong, considering that he was once teammates with LeBron James on the Miami Heat. It's unlikely Battier forgot about James when he uttered those statements because he won two rings with him. Besides, you just don’t forget about your LeBron experience.
A shooter’s wants and needs
Nevertheless, Battier went on to beef up his argument by spilling the specifics. As a designated shooter, Battier had particular needs. And McGrady ticked all those needs and wants through his passing precision.
“As a shooter, you just want the ball in the pocket. Hit me in my chest and I’m gonna give you an assist and T-Mac put that on the money every single time. Super underrated and a willing passer, for as great of a scorer he was, he was just an absolute handful as a basketball player,” Battier said.
While Battier’s praise reminds of McGrady’s greatness, it is also a sad what-if story. After the 06-07 season, McGrady’s numbers started dwindling as injuries began to pile up. In the middle of the 2009-10 season, the Rockets shipped McGrady to New York. In other words, the Battier-McGrady team-up was already sinking before it even sailed. Whatever the case may be, Battier has fond memories of his stint with McGrady — who, for him, wasn’t just a prolific scorer but an incredible passer as well.