Rockets Daily: Friday, September 17th, 2010

  • The Internet does not believe in Yao Ming. After this week’s announcement by the Rockets that Yao would only see the court at a maximum of 24 minutes per game, most media reactions have centered around the idea of Yao’s impending demise, an already popular notion earlier this year when Yao talked about retirement. Whether it’s jokes about how many minutes the All-Star team’s coach decides to play him or disapproval voiced by fantasy owners, Yao feels doubt slowly seeping into the rampant excitement for next season, certainly a familiar feeling. This move is not without very recent precedent, though. As Heart of a Champion‘s Thomas says, Boston and San Antonio took similar approaches last year that ended far better than either team (or at least their fanbases) could have expected. Simply, the Houston Rockets believes it will make the playoffs, making Yao Ming’s presence during the season less significant and during the postseason all-important. This team, as presently constructed, will not have much success without the large one in the postseason, and if the Rockets isn’t doing everything it can to make sure he comes into the playoffs healthy, what exactly is it doing?
  • Patrick Patterson is and will be tough. He has been for a very long time. How long? Ever since he first saw the extended music video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, according to his interview with Jason Friedman: “The first horror movie I saw wasn’t even a horror movie – it was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. My father was outside and I was in the basement where it was dark. I had this video cassette of Michael Jackson’s Greatest Hits, and I was watching all of them when the next thing you know Thriller comes on, and when the people rose from the grave, I ended up jumping behind the couch and hiding behind it because it was so scary. But then I kept watching it until I finally toughened up, and ever since then I’ve loved horror movies.”
  • Tom Haberstroh’s back on his grind over at Hardwood Paroxysm, where he has further delved into the offensive production and shot selection for different positions. As it uses a pretty extended Justin Bieber analogy, it is naturally a great read, but perhaps the most interesting information was the at-rim shot selection for centers. The huge variety of average shot-selections for centers seems comical; some shoot the ball right next to the rim 90% of the time, while other pivots only make their buckets near the rim about 10% of the time (this is where we all knowingly look at Channing Frye in unison). This leads Haberstorh to come to the conclusion that the center is simply the tallest player on the court at any given time, as shot selection seems to have almost nothing to do with the position’s designation. Rockets fans will get to see exactly how different centers can be this year because when Yao, whose range knows no bounds but whose skill set (great footwork, wide variety of shots near the rim, being obscenely tall) leaves him near the basket, leaves the court, no one will know exactly what the Rockets offense will look like. The Rockets will likely run a simplified version version of the Princeton Offense while Brad Miller takes the floor, and that scheme, much as it did in Adelman’s previous stops, will force the center to take long, outside shots, usually threes (Miller likely won’t object). Otherwise, Luis Scola and Jordan Hill, two men whose offensive games literally could not be more different, will likely eat up the rest of this team’s minutes inside, further redefining what all of us think of as an NBA center. I have not completely bought into this summer’s “positional revolution” nonsense, but the center position has changed drastically in recent years, particularly when regarding non-superstar pivots. I’m hopeful this all does lead to more flexibility and new roles for players to fill, as I feel whatever it is Mehmet Okur does should have a label, as the man certainly does not play center.
  • In Lexington, the mentorship of one recent Kentucky alum by another legendary Wildcat seems wonderfully serendipitous. For Rockets fans, we know the deal: if there’s a new (particularly young) big man in town, put him on the block against Chuck Hayes and watch the newcomer learn. Hayes has been using his frame and speed to give Patterson hell in practice, teaching the rookie exactly how far brute strength and athleticism not tempered with a solid understanding of the game will get him in the NBA. Patterson tells about the surprise one feels when first entering the post against Chuck Hayes: “You may look at him and think, this guy’s short, I can go over him or around him because he doesn’t look that fast or that quick, but when you step on the court and actually go up against him, you find out quick that your assumptions are wrong because Chuck has got some fast feet on him. You may be able to go over him but you aren’t going to get that close to the basket because he’s going to push you all the way out.”
  • In a recent blog, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reveals that along with brilliant player analysis, unparalleled concurrent understanding of both basketball and the statistics it produces and a sublime resume, Daryl Morey has jokes: “Better was when Morey went comedic. ‘You should see (Martin’s) offseason regimen,’ Morey said. ‘He spends his whole offseason in Tampa. You know the only reason to be in Tampa is to work out.’ Rockets media relations director and Tampa native Nelson Luis responded with, ‘The guy is from Cleveland (actually a small town outside Medina) and he’s dissing Tampa?’ When Patterson took the stage to a fine ovation, Morey said, ‘Patrick is used to this since he already played for a professional team.’ Good stuff.”
  • Kevin Martin, barring any major trades, will likely be one of this team’s best players and most important veteran leaders; however, don’t expect him to be putting his best Kevin Garnett face on and causing sophomore players to cry (although I think Budinger could take it). Martin, in another Jason Friedman Q & A, tells exactly what it and Houston fans can expect from him as one of the men in charge: “I’ve always been a lead by example guy, even in Sacramento. After Ron Artest, Mike Bibby and Brad left the Kings, people looked for me to be the rah-rah guy in practice. But I’m the guy who’s more comfortable leading by example and talking to somebody on the side and helping them out. And here we have Shane, Yao and Brad – guys who are more knowledgeable about the game than me. So here I can be true to myself and simply lead by my example.”

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Rockets Daily: Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Yao Ming, ever the voluble foreign star intent on impressing us all with his English wit (we are impressed), has...