Donovan Mitchell grew up idolizing Dwyane Wade and matching his own playing style with the Heat legend. Cutting T-Mac and benching AI was, thus, an easy choice.
NBA fans are commonly the youngest fanbase out of the 4 major American sports out there. Basketball is the most exciting of these sports for kids and also arguably the most accessible – though baseball has a decent shout.
Given that younger fans started watching the game later than older ones, they naturally have quite an explicit recency bias. They tend to overrate players from this generation and underrate players whom they didn’t watch.
Because of this, a lot of argumentation on the internet has become obsessed with all-time lists and comparisons. A popular trend that has cropped up recently is a ‘Start, Bench, Cut’ theme that has taken over NBA-related conversations.
“Start Dwyane Wade, cut Allen Iverson, bench Tracy McGrady”: Donovan Mitchell
The Jazz’s young superstar was on the Players’ Tribune’s signature basketball podcast last month. Donovan Mitchell had to make a tough choice when put on the spot by Q-Rich and Darius Miles on the Knuckleheads Podcast.
Miles asked the ‘Spida’ to Start, Bench and Cut/Trade 3 of the greatest shooting guards of all time. Dwyane Wade, Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady were 3 of the most iconic NBA players of the noughties. Mitchell’s answer was kinda predictable, but also seems fair:
“Gotta start D-Wade. I’d start Dwyane Wade. I’m gonna bench AI, I’mma trade T-Mac, and this kills me man. Because T-Mac is my guy with Adidas, and we went on a tour in China together. T-Mac is my dude. I dunno, I mean just those two out there.”
Mitchell’s assessment seems eminently fair on the surface. Prime Dwyane Wade was probably the league’s most athletic player not named LeBron James. He would dunk on guys for fun – his poster dunk on Anderson Varejao remains one of the nastiest ever.
The real choice would be between Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady. Perhaps Don went with AI because of his superior playmaking and speed – 2 factors that would make him better in the half-court set.
This isn’t a slight at Tracy McGrady at all – the brother was the second-best wing player in the league during the early noughties. But he didn’t ever put it together as an elite playmaker or as an elite defender as the other 2 guys did.