The Biggest Underachiever In NBA History

That title should indisputably be awarded to one particular player

Entering the NBA after graduating from high school, McGrady eventually established himself as one of the top players in the league, credentialing in prestigious and remarkable individual achievements, as a seventh time All-Star and leading the league in scoring in 2003 and 2004.

McGrady leads all active players, and is fourth all time in post season points per game (28.5 ppg), despite being criticized for never leading his teams out of the first round of the playoffs.

Following four seasons with Orlando Magic, McGrady couldn't propel the franchise further than anticipated, while claiming, in order to achieve team success, rolling with decent players decisively navigates you towards a winning direction. Opportunity struck, on June 29, 2004, the former Magic player was dealt to Houston to line up alongside another All-Star, Yao Ming. Imminently, title aspirations grew leaps and bounds, expectations were incredibly high.

In the T-mac/Yao era, Rockets solidified their roster(s) by assembling respectable pieces (Battier, Scola, Alston, B.Wells, L.Head and J.Howard) throughout the years, around the core of their formidable duo.

Houston had amassed an average of 54 regular season wins, on road to their fourth playoff appearance. Three out of those four playoff appearances, McGrady and the Rockets tasted three straight first round defeats and the final remaining one, which they finally cracked the Eastern Conference Semi Finals with Yao leading the way, McGrady was sidelined with an injury before the 2008-09 regular season had concluded. Well Yao accomplished something beyond McGrady could ever muster at providing.


Tracy McGrady inexplicably failed to lead any of his teams past the first phase of the playoffs.

Aided by quality ingredients with an effective team chemistry bolstered some hope every year for T-Mac to launch his Rockets into deeper space. Relishing for the moment on leaping over the next hurdle never materialized, as the honeymoon with the Rockets ended via trade in 2010. Proving critics right all along that he indeed was suffering from the dreaded tin-man syndrome.

When pressure and poor shot selection being the 1 - 2 punch culprits mount, a monumental disparity inflicts on his team at the utmost critical stages of the game.

Take a look below at some of T-Mac's notable downfall moments


Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets - 2007 Playoffs

- Game 3 Utah 81 - Houston 67 / T-Mac - 24 p 9/23 in the entire game (3/12 shooting in the second half).

- Game 4 Utah 98 - Houston 85 / T-Mac - 18 p 6/18 in the entire game (0 points in the 4th quarter).

- Game 6 Utah 94 - Houston 82 / T-Mac - 26 p 8/23 in the entire game (1/5 shooting in the second half).

Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets - 2008 Playoffs

- Game 4 Utah 86 - Houston 82 / T-Mac - 23 p 9/25 in the entire game (made only one f/g on a lay-up in the 4th quarter).

- Game 6 Utah 113 - Houston 91 / T-Mac - 29 p 13/25 in the entire game (3/10 shooting in the second half).


Winning wise, there hasn't been a superstar who has underachieved more than Tracy McGrady; considering, the best opportunities he had with a stellar Rocket team at the peak of his career. He was set in a nice position to thrive and rightfully should have embarked on a more joyful journey, rather than the infamous path he plunged and settled into.

Sixteen years and never to advance beyond the first round of the Play-Offs. Implosion of this magnitude would be unacceptable, unprecedented, mind-boggling, criminal, outrageous, you name it. To put it all in perspective, it was a failure on an epic scale. Doubtfully we'll ever witness another tragedy subsiding below the catastrophic ruins once established by McGrady.









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Comments 17 comments

walkc 4 years ago from All Over

Shady McGrady lol


brandonvand profile image

brandonvand 4 years ago

danny ferry was a #2 overall pick. tracy mcgracy was a #9 overall pick. danny ferry scored 248 points in 67 playoff games of which 39 he was lucky enough to sit at the end of the spurs bench. tracy mcgrady has scored 1084 points in only 38 playoff games. there isn't a person on the planet who when those two were in the league together would take ferry over mcgrady. tracy mcgrady is not the biggest underachiever in nba history


Pkittock profile image

Pkittock 4 years ago from Minnesota

Another guy to look at is Vince Carter.. he had all the athleticism in the world to work with and didn't turn it into anything but a few highlight dunks every year. He made it farther than T-Mac into the playoffs, but you get the sense that he just rode his athleticism and never put in the work to make himself the all-time great that he could have been


starbosa profile image

starbosa 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

That must be a reason to why they're related, failing is in their blood.

Both underachieved tremendously, but T-Mac is the bigger underachiever. Playing alongside another All Star with a fine supporting cast throughout his time with Houston, would get the nod over Vince, who never played with another All Star in his prime with the Raptors, and got out of the first round.


starbosa profile image

starbosa 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

To Brandonvand comment - You're looking at it from the order of the draft, based on individual achievements out of college. I'm categorizing the NBA superstars impacting the NBA in terms of winning.


Pkittock profile image

Pkittock 4 years ago from Minnesota

to add on, this article isn't about the biggest draft busts of all time, it's about stars and players who produced big numbers that still failed to produce wins when it counted. Because Ferry was never a superstar, he wouldn't be particularly relevant to this hub.


starbosa profile image

starbosa 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

That's exactly right Pkittock.


EJ Lambert profile image

EJ Lambert 3 years ago from Chicago, IL

You can't forget about Charles Barkley. A Hall of Fame talent, he played with some really good rosters from Philadelphia to Phoenix and even teamed with Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston. How he didn't get at least one title is inexplicable.


starbosa profile image

starbosa 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

Add Your Comment..


starbosa profile image

starbosa 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

Barkley never won a championship title, but comparing the one time NBA finalist and numerous times featured at the deep end of the Play-Off wars to a player never leading any of his teams beyond the 1st round of the Play-Offs in his entire career is hysterically laughable.


EJ Lambert profile image

EJ Lambert 3 years ago from Chicago, IL

And to say a seven-time All-Star was never clutch for his team is also hysterically laughable. I remember that epic game against San Antonio when he scored 13 points in 33 seconds to pull off an unbelievable comeback. Winning in the playoffs isn't just about playing your best, it's about getting lucky. He had his team in position to oust the PIstons in 2003 but they fell apart. In 2004 Orlando inexplicably traded him at the same time they drafted Dwight Howard. He also averaged 30 ppg in the first round against Dallas in 2005 but just came out too slow in Game 7 and by the time he recovered it was too late. In '05 the Rockets were a combined 4-31 when he failed to start or started and failed to finish a game.

McGrady will have that shadow over him forever, but to say he was completely useless to his team is just wrong.


starbosa profile image

starbosa 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

I never said he's completely useless to his team, he can't be if he was a seventh-time All-Star, so that's so embarrassing on your part. Did you read the article thoughroughly ?

Then again, in T-Mac's case, offense production plays a big role in the outcome of the game. Numbers can be misleading if you only follow results from the box scores; in fact, It's been documented, T-Mac had quit, choked, and disappeared countless times at the expense of his team, even when ending the night with 30 points.

We know records speak for themselves, the fact that he never led his team beyond the 1st round of the Play-Offs in his entire career certainly justifies him as the biggest underachiever in the NBA history. There's absolutely no luck involved in that. Case closed.

Now you'll have an excruciating pain in our head for days


EJ Lambert profile image

EJ Lambert 3 years ago from Chicago, IL

The issue with T-Mac is that because he was able to score so many points and make plays, people assumed he would make a great team leader. It's the same problem happening with Carmelo Anthony. Great scorers don't always make great leaders. The mistake of the Rockets was assuming they should drive the team through Mac. By the time they realized it should've been Yao, it was too late. The injuries had piled up and he wasn't the same player. The failure is on the Rockets ever bit as much as Mac.


starbosa profile image

starbosa 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

McGrady and Anthony are almost the same player, just one is more athletic than the other.

That's how it is in the NBA, Good scorers are pushed to become leaders.


EJ Lambert profile image

EJ Lambert 3 years ago from Chicago, IL

It's a bad decision that really should be blamed on Jordan. He was a great scorer who forced himself to become a great leader because it was the only way he was getting past the Detroit Pistons. Every team since then has pegged their best offensive threat as the one everybody should listen to.


steve 2 years ago

Still no ring for T-Mac. Should have stayed one more year!


starbosa profile image

starbosa 2 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

How about few more years, he's not that old!

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