Tracy McGrady has a lot to say about today’s game. The former Rockets All-Star believes the game is easier now due to certain rules - most notably the hand-checking rule. “There's a lot in favor for the offensive player,” said Tracy McGrady during an interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN.
McGrady may have a point. With all the talent the NBA has seen, there have rarely been the performances that James Harden and Russell Westbrook are putting out, and they’re doing it at the same time. What is it about today’s NBA that players are constantly breaking records?
The most common theory is that players today care more about stats than in any other era. Paul Pierce debunks this theory, claiming that Wilt Chamberlain owns every statistical record and he played in a different era. Both Harden and Westbrook are chasing Chamberlain’s records this season.
McGrady took it a step further, “I believe, in today’s game, Kobe could score 100.” McGrady’s comments are obviously contentious - considering no one has scored 100 since Wilt. “I think he could,” continued McGrady. Pierce chimed in on the situation, “Maybe he could. But now, [I believe] nobody [will score 100].”
It would be hard to defend Bryant in today’s NBA according to McGrady. “If you can’t touch [Harden], he’s taking all these threes - you can’t come in his face. How are you going to stop him?”, said McGrady. There may be truth to this - Harden draws more fouls than any other player in the NBA. With players reluctant to make content, Harden is free to do what he pleases - picking apart offenses and having his way with the rim. Kobe could do the same - and better.
While defending his own era, McGrady doesn’t believe that “[Westbrook and Harden] could do this in the era we played in”. It may be a bit of a stretch. It hasn’t been a decade since McGrady or Kobe retired. The claim that the league has changed enough in less than a decade, enough for Kobe to be able to score 100 or decline Westbrook triple-double season, may be a bit of an over exaggeration.