Houston Rockets retro: Otis Thorpe in today’s NBA

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.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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