"This is no hating," McGrady said on ESPN's "The Jump." "This is identifying the talent in this league. It's top-heavy. I'm not saying we don't have any superstars, I'm saying it's not that many that we have. Look at the Eastern Conference ... it's LeBron, it's D-Wade, and that's it."
While fans of teams like the Toronto Raptors (Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan), Indiana Pacers (Paul George), Detroit Pistons (Andre Drummond), and James' Cleveland Cavaliers (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love) might disagree, McGrady's prognosis might ring true for those with a strict definition of "superstar."
"There's a lot of bad teams in our league right now," he added, "and I think the game is watered down."
McGrady's position echoes comments made by Charles Barkley, who said earlier Wednesday that the quality of play in the NBA is "the worst I've ever seen it." Barkley, who last played in 2000, also frequently predicted Curry's Golden State Warriors wouldn't win the NBA title last season because they're a "jump-shooting team."
It's worth pointing out, however, that McGrady, 36, is 16 years younger than Barkley, and played in an era highlighted by players like himself, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Vince Carter. Insofar as his "watered down league" remarks go, in the period widely accepted to be McGrady's prime, from 2001-08, seven sub-.500 teams made the playoffs, albeit all in the Eastern Conference.
McGrady's partner on the episode of "The Jump," Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, offered more measured analysis on the differences between new and old, pointing out how the 1994 elimination of handchecking has been a major cause for change in the league.
"I'm not saying it's watered down, I'm saying it's easier to play in today's game," the 36-year-old 16-season NBA veteran said. "I've played in different eras and watched the NBA ever since I was a kid, and for me it was more grown men - you know, Michael Jordan won a championship at 35 ... (and) it was much more physical."
Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.