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On the SpotBy John Schuhmann
You could call them question marks. Or maybe X-factors. Call them whatever you want. These guys have something to prove this season. NBA.com gives you 10 players (in alphabetical order) who will be under the microscope in 2006-07. For various reasons, all eyes are on them.
Next up is Tracy McGrady.
Tracy McGrady, F-G, Rockets
Tracy McGrady has the talent to be one of the top five players in the league, but does he have the back? He played just 47 games last season, injuring his back on more than one occasion. Ask Larry Johnson or Larry Bird. Back problems can be debilitating and sometimes, they just never go away. But McGrady says he feels "extremely good," so we hope to see him back in 13-points-in-33-seconds form.
Yao Ming became showed tremendous improvement last season. He is now clearly the best center in the Western Conference. The Rockets brought in a quality veteran in Shane Battier over the summer. If they're healthy (and that has been an issue for Yao this preseason), they could (and should) be the most improved team in the league this season.
What the Papers Say
"He pulled up for a jumper as smooth as ever. He flashed that pump fake at the 3-point arc that sends him to the line. He drove the lane again and again.
"Before long, he was slinging no-look darts to a cutting Chuck Hayes at the rim, one with around-the-back sleight of hand that had the Toyota Center crowd gasping.
"With that, McGrady seemed to have regained at least a familiarity with this basketball thing and all of the love for it. He was so sensational, he nearly overshadowed the second-half collapse he and most of the Rockets veterans watched as the Memphis Grizzlies came from a 21-point hole to a 75-69 win Tuesday before 11,913 at the preseason opener."
"The big surprise and grand experiment as camp opened Tuesday? Giving McGrady, 6-8, more touches in the half-court as the point.
"It's risky and cannot become an every-possession thing. But the possibilities are endless, considering all the offseason moves the Rockets made. And McGrady has run the offense on numerous occasions in the past, particularly at the end of a quarter or in game-deciding moments."
What the Blogs Say
"However, it still all hinges on Tracy McGrady’s health. Houston fans who watched McGrady last season are still fearful that one errant landing or bump in the lane could throw out T-Mac’s back and, by extension, the Rockets season. Health is still the primary concern."
-- Clutch Fans via SLAM Online