In his last four games, Houston Rockets forward Luis Scola is averaging 21.7ppg and 16rpg.
In the ten games since the trade of Carl Landry, Scola is averaging 17.5ppg and 11.3rpg.
Not including the night against Orlando when he only played 16 minutes, Scola is averaging 19.4ppg and 12.2rpg during that period.
The chart below compares Scola’s production over this time frame to his season and career averages. I have also included his per 36-minute averages as a frame of reference.
Luis Scola’s main fault is having the rotten luck of being born in the wrong decade of history. Were he 24, rather than 30, he could undoubtedly expect an offer this summer somewhere in the range of what Anderson Varejao took home.
But because his athletic prime was wasted toiling in an inferior league, held hostage by the presence of the greatest big man of our decade, I can’t see Scola being offered more than $6million annually.
The greater question concerns his status with the Houston Rockets. If such production is the norm, and at a still relatively cheap price, with the emergence of Jordan Hill, would the Rockets not best be served by simply bringing back Scola to anchor the position?
I’m not sure it’s that simple. It’s true that Scola is one of the best role players in the game; he will also remain one of the greatest bargains. At the same time, the team is still one impact player away from true contention. With the emergence of Aaron Brooks and acquisition of Kevin Martin, an upgrade at power forward makes the most sense.
Scola’s production is undeniable, but it comes through filling a role. There is a considerable difference between scoring 17ppg off hustle/open looks/single coverage postups and scoring at a similar rate against double teams. To take the quantum leap, this team needs a player who will produce through the latter means, opening up opportunities for other players, and helping them match up against elite competition when half-court sets stagnate in the playoffs. Yao Ming alone will not suffice.
By mere odds, its probable that the team strikes out in free agency this summer. In that event, retaining Scola would be a no-brainer decision. Still, exploring upgrade possibilities should be the preferred course of action.