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Tracy McGrady Signs with the Pistons: Where Does McGrady Fit in the Pistons Rotation?

ESPN is reporting that Tracy McGrady has signed a 1-year deal with the Detroit Pistons.  This has been brewing for a week or so, and shouldn’t come as any great surprise.  The question is, what do you do with Tracy McGrady if you have the Pistons roster?

McGrady generally plays shooting guard or small forward.

Who could play shooting guard for the Pistions?  Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey (if you’re not trying to play him at point).

Who could play small forward for the Pistons?  Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, Richard Hamilton, DaJuan Summers, or Charlie Villanueva in a pinch.

How McGrady gets minutes with the Pistons depends on two things: his health and the health of the rest of the team.  Remember, the Pistons had a lot of players go down last year.

Based on the initial reports from Chicago that McGrady’s shooting looked good, but his movement was a little stiff, and that the Bulls (who have lack a clear starter at shooting guard) and the Clippers both passed on him, it’s probably safe to assume that McGrady isn’t likely to be starting and scoring 20 point per game any time soon.

That said, it seems likely that McGrady would be competing with Richard Hamilton and Austin Daye and DaJuan Summers for minutes off the bench.

McGrady and Hamilton both had off-shooting years last season.  Hamilton only shot .409 from the field and .297 from beyond the arc.  Hamilton’s a career .343 3-point shooter, though his season averages vary widely.   And, like most of the Pistons last season, Hamilton missed a lot of games due to injury.

McGrady, recovering from injury, rather than suffering one, shot .387 from the field and .250 from beyond the arc.

Really, with both Hamilton and McGrady, you have a question of recovering from injury, although Hamilton slipped a bit more.  McGrady would have to very clearly be playing better to supplant a long-time Piston like Hamilton from the rotation.

On the small forward side, you have a bigger problem.  Do you really play a 31-year old, injury prone player trying to come back from a career-threatening (nearly career-ending) injury, when you have two young players at the position?  Not unless McGrady is clearly playing better and they’re teetering on the cusp of the play-offs.  It can’t even be a little better, it has to be drastic.  (Never mind both Daye shot better than McGrady from both the floor and beyond the arc, last season.  Summers only shot better from beyond the arc.)

We’re mostly likely looking at McGrady as the third shooting guard and/or third or fourth small forward.

Dumars has done two things by signing McGrady (again, assuming he’s healthy enough for 15 minutes per game).  At worst, he’s signed a twelfth man for veteran minimum who can step in at two positions in case the injury bug hits again, and if they’re lucky, he regains some form and plays well.  He’s also got himself someone to plug into the rotation if Hamilton (or possibly Prince) were traded.

Maybe McGrady surprises us, has something left in the tank, and steals minutes all over the place.  If not, this is all about a depth and positioning the roster for a theoretical trade and McGrady’s spending most of his time in a sitting position.

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