If you frequent this page, you don’t need to be convinced of Hakeem Olajuwon’s greatness. He was, without a doubt, the most versatile big man in basketball history. He was dominant defensively and had an arsenal of moves unthinkable for a man of his size. His production resulted in two titles for the city of Houston.

But I’m wondering how he’d be viewed in today’s game. This is not in reference solely to his legacy although I do believe he is one of the most underrated greats of all time. I’m thinking about just how much of a complete phenomenon Dream would be on social media – his game was almost made to be played back on loop on thousands of Twitter feeds across the country.

in musings

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Rockets offseason roundtable: Capela, Melo

I got back together with old friends Forrest Walker and Richard Li to talk Rockets offseason.

Forrest: This Capela contract is an absolute steal. Not only is it the lowball offer they pitched to him at the start of the summer, it also has zero options, team or player. It’s well below what he would get in any other offseason, and even includes bizarre incentives, making the deal in practice even smaller than the $18 million per year that contract appears to be. In fact, the bizarre nature of those incentives moves this contract from not just team-friendly to outright player-hostile. The idea of making Capela chase after defensive rebounds, free throw percentage and conference finals appearances is honestly a bit beyond the pale, and I understand why he balked at this otherwise tolerable contract.

Be that as it may, the team has locked him up for five years, and any hard feelings will likely fade quite rapidly, especially if they keep giving him those conference finals checks.
My question: Are Trevor Ariza and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute replaceable? Not just their production, but also their fit and chemistry. How much, if any, will Houston miss them?
Richard: Probably not. Part of me believes that the NBA, miraculously, still undervalues long wings who can defend multiple positions and shoot threes. You could make a legitimate case that, outside of your top-25 players, 3-and-D guys who know their role and play within it are the best value for money in the NBA. I mean you would definitely take Mbah a Moute for $5 million over someone like Reggie Jackson for $15 million, right? Every game in the conference finals, both of them, basically ended with alpha dogs and 3-and-D guys on the floor. Everyone else was relegated to the bench. They are the mold of the modern NBA. The best players are increasingly just bigger, better, longer versions of this mold (AD, Kawhi, KD), or a very select few who have some other worldly skillset that compensates for them not being made from the mold (Curry, Kyrie). [read more…]

in conversations

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Otis Thorpe has long been the subject of great intrigue amongst Rockets fans from the 90’s if for no greater reason than that he’s largely disappeared from the public eye. He was a pivotal piece of the first title team—and the lead up to it—was traded, and then sort of faded into oblivion during the remainder of his career.

I recently found myself horrified at my own thoughts upon questioning whether Thorpe would even make an NBA roster today. It may seem ludicrous given that Thorpe was a former All-Star and long one of the most dependable power forwards in the Western Conference, but it’s a serious question. Thorpe had no range to speak of, attempting 0.1 threes per game for his career. And while he was considered one of the best low post defenders in basketball, he was never a rim protector. In fact, Thorpe averaged only 0.4 blocks per game for his career with a high mark of 0.7 back in 1987.

While he averaged 14 points per game, most of that was of the garbage variety. I don’t seem to recall any postup abilities from my recollection of 1994. And despite being an imposing physical presence, Otis also didn’t live above the rim.

It all goes to show just how much the game has evolved. I don’t know that Clint Capela, who the Rockets just tied up for a king’s ransom, would have served as more useful to the ‘94 Rockets than Thorpe. Where Capela is one of the league’s best rim protectors and perimeter defenders, he struggles inside with physical opponents. Those Rockets had to go through the likes of Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and Charles Oakley.

in essays, uncategorized

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