Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady are arguably two of the biggest NBA stars that squandered the most. The similarities don’t stop there either. Both have played on the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic. T-Mac and Carter are also second cousins. Both play the same position, kind of that hybrid, wing, shooting guard combo, small forward spot on the court that has became prevalent in today’s game. High flyers, that at their peak were amongst the most athletically gifted the NBA has ever came across. So what went wrong? Both are fringe Hall of Fame players, yet were left to think, “What could have been?”
So who was better? Carter has the nod in the scoring department, but Mcgrady has the slight edge in rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Besides both players having strikingly similar parallels, their stats are almost identical. Let us not forget that both players have had their fair share of criticisms throughout the years as well. This has helped make them so polarizing in a way. The fact that they were so superiorly gifted, makes it all the more astonishing they never were able to win a NBA Finals, or get to one for that matter.
Let’s start with Vince “Air Canada” Carter.
Vinsanity, as he was dubbed, entered the league by being promptly traded for teammate Antawn Jamison. In his first year he quickly caught the attention of just about every NBA fan. With his explosive highlights reel dunks, he led the Raptors to relevancy. After being named Rookie of the Year and having high expectations, Carter would lead the Raptors to the playoffs the following year. Also, he displayed in many people’s minds the best dunk contest ever in the 2000. Although his cousin, Tracy McGrady, would be a key component he played second fiddle to Vince during their run in Canada.
Known for his amazing leaping ability, Carter would go off on a scoring binge averaging at least 20 points per game the next 10 years. Carter was also the main reason the Toronto Raptors would set league attendance records in 2000, 2001, and 2002 and the value of the Raptors franchise doubled during Carter’s tenure.
Unlike Vince Carter, T-Mac would struggle in his first few years as a pro. McGrady unlike Vince however, jumped to the league from high school. This would be apparent early on, as McGrady’s learning curve was a little longer than fellow cousin Vince Carter. Never the less, T-Mac would make his splash in a huge way, but on a different team. After being Carter’s running mate and often overshadowed, McGrady would bolt for the sun in Florida joining Grant Hill to form what was supposed to be an electric duo. This never materialized but McGrady did, and did in a huge way. He would do this in the form of being the NBA’s leading scorer in 2003 and 2004. T-Mac would go on an 8-year run of averaging at least 20 points per game. In fact in 2002-2003 he would average 32 points per game. Something Vince Carter never accomplished.
Tracy McGrady would take an 8th seeded overachieving Magic squad to the playoffs. While taking a 3-1 series lead against the heavily favored Detroit Pistons, McGrady open his mouth and said, “It feels go to finally be in position to advance to the second round.” Well the Pistons would win the next three games and eliminate the Magic after this statement. This wouldn’t stop the star from being star-crossed as he again would be up 2-0 with the Rockets in the playoffs against the Mavericks just to lose that series in seven as well.
While Vince had more consecutive 20 point per game seasons, I give the notch to Tracy McGrady. This is tough to gauge as their stats are so similar it’s not even funny. Carter averaged more than 25 points per game three times during his career, whereas Tracy McGrady has a five-year run of scoring more than 25 per game all consecutive, thus showing more dominance in my opinion. Let us not forget that T-Mac also had a 32 points per game season mixed in, where Carter never topped 27 points per contest.
Winner: Tracy McGrady
During their peaks there is no question Tracy McGrady was a better rebounder than Vinsanity. Seven-times T-Mac averaged at least 6 boards per season, while twice notching 7; nearly had 8 boards a game in 2001-02. As for Carter, he averaged 6 boards a game just twice during his career. This is a no brainer here.
As for block shots, Tracy McGrady has Vince beat currently by almost 150 rejections over the duration of their careers. This while Carter also has played 40 more games than T-Mac to date. The edge here goes to Tracy McGrady again.
Winner: Tracy McGrady
So who was the better assist man? Well this is easier than one would think despite the similarity in the numbers. Again seven-times T-Mac would average at last 5 dimes per game, while dropping 6.5 a game in 2006-07. Carter would only reach 5 helpers a game one time during his career.
As for Steals, this was one of the toughest categories to figure out. On one hand Carter has averaged more season of double-digit steals per game, but McGrady has the slight lead in steals overall, and has played fewer games. At gun point I’d have to take Carter here, just because I have so many memories of his highlight dunks with the Raptors coming off steals.
Despite all the categories that I have Tracy McGrady picked in, I still think Vince Carter should have been the better player. Something happened to Vinsanity during his tenure in the NBA that really caused us to miss out on possibly a once in a generation type player. Some say it was jumpers knee that may have played a part, others say he was thin skinned. I don’t know but he ultimately hurt his case by him quitting in Toronto, and never taking good teams to the finals. Remember he had Kidd in his prime paired with Jefferson, and also Dwight Howard in Orlando on a Magic team primed to win a championship.
Tracy McGrady, on the other hand for the most part, made the most with the least amount of talent on his teams. Both equally talented in many areas, T-Mac was the better clutch player. However, that’s no excuse for not being able to get those Rocket teams with Yao Ming out of the first round during the peak of his prime.
I’m about as irresolute as one can be in terms of picking the better player. The stats don’t lie though and Tracy McGrady had better stats while still getting his teams in the playoffs with inferior talent.
Winner: Tracy McGrady
-Senior Editor: Jason Whitney
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