As any of you reading this already know all to well, there has been a healthy amount of Rashad McCants‘s name attached to UNC basketball’s most recent headlines. This article isn’t the 10,000th look at what did or didn’t happen back then, however. Let’s play the game of “what if” and pretend that he (McCants) actually did not play on the team in 2005 and take a look at how that team could have done without him.
That season McCants had the following state line: 16.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 49% FGs, 72% FTs, 42% 3-pointers.
I was a junior in high school that year and watched every game that was on TV and knew that team inside and out. What I remember the most about McCants was that you could always count on him to come up with a basket when the team needed it. He, Sean May, and Felton were so good together by the end of the year I had no doubts they’d go all the way once the tournament started.
The 2005 UNC men’s basketball team finished 33-4 and won the national championship after defeating Illinois in the title game. But we’re playing the “what if” game today, so if McCants doesn’t play, to me that means Marvin Williams steps into the starting spot for McCants.
That is interesting to me, because I feel like Marvin Williams, with more playing time and more opportunity to score, would’ve been the best player on that team. Sounds insane considering the “big three” at the time, but Williams went from the 6th man to the No. 2 pick in the 2005 NBA draft for a reason. He’s had a solid NBA career (10 points and 5 rebounds per game for his career) but never turned into the superstar people predicted. I do think that if he plays a majority of his minutes with the other four starters and has opportunities to score, he can easily match, if not exceed what McCants did.
The biggest problem this present is your bench is now weaker. I don’t see much of a hitch in the starting five at all, but the bench production is going to suffer. Melvin Scott, Reyshawn Terry, and David Noel were all going to be needed more and would need to be productive for the team to succeed.
I still believe in my heart of hearts that the Heels could have brought home a championship in 2005 had McCants not been there. One thing I’ve always admired about Roy Williams is that he doesn’t build a team that is so reliant on one player playing well to be successful. This isn’t my attempt to downplay what McCants did at all because on the floor, he was one of the great ones at North Carolina.
I do think that the team would’ve struggled a little bit more with less depth and more playing time for a freshman, but they’re still more than talented enough to win it if the pieces are in the right place. I wouldn’t have felt as confident as I did going into the tournament with him, but had they made the run and won it anyway, it wouldn’t have been some divine miracle that the team pulled off.
What are your thoughts on looking at the potential of the 2005 team without Rashad McCants playing for it? Let me know in the comments section below.