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Rockets Daily – Thursday, August, 5, 2010

Daily Factoid: To lend some credence to the claim that Tracy McGrady should have been the league’s most valuable player during the 2002-2003 season:  McGrady’s PER of 30.3  that season was only 1.59 shy of the all-time high of 31.89, which was recorded by Michael Jordan during the 1987-1988 season.

  • Eddy Rivera – ‘The Tracy McGrady Manifesto’: “McGrady should be remembered as a legend, yet he won’t be because many of the circumstances surrounding his success on the team level were out of his control. The harshest reality, when looking back at McGrady’s career, was that he was a product of his environment. Statistically, at his absolute peak in 2003, McGrady rivals anyone — even Jordan. Yet the perception will forever remain that McGrady was a loser with the Magic. That is what people will remember about McGrady in Orlando, and it shouldn’t be that way. McGrady was a gifted player and should be remembered for what he did do, rather than what he didn’t do.”
  • Charlie Rosen – ‘Q&A: Which is Kobe’s likely successor?’: “After only three NBA seasons, Durant is still learning the pro game. Although he’s far behind where Kobe is now, there’s every reason to believe that Durant will get stronger and wiser in seasons to come. For James to supplant Kobe, the Heat has to win a championship ASAP, while Durant “only” has to lead his team into the Finals. However, in order for LBJ to inherit Kobe’s majesty he’ll have to do something that he’s never done before — become a dominant, game-changing, game-winning force in the late rounds of the playoffs. He may or may not have the on-court mind-set and willfulness to do this. Meanwhile, the Thunder seem to be only one good big man away from pushing the Lakers even farther than they did last spring — and even perhaps dethroning the defending champs. Given that Durant and his young teammates — Russell WestbrookJeff Green and James Harden — also have more time to grow than do the Heat’s super luminaries, the long-range future might ultimately belong to them. However, given that the Heat will probably win a title before Oklahoma City does, LeBron will surely have to share the credit with at least Dwyane Wade and perhaps with Chris Bosh. And if LeBron has to share the spotlight, Durant unquestionably is and will continue to be The Man for the Thunder.”
  • Basketball Reference eulogizes Lorenzen Wright with a statistical recap of his career.
  • Kelly Dwyer – ‘Shaquille O’Neal a Celtic?’: “It’s just that all these raw stats tell you that the Cavs were so, so much better with O’Neal on the pine. That when things weren’t Shaq-centric, Cleveland tended to dominate. The easy answer to that? Don’t pass Shaq the ball. Don’t make him Shaq-centric. To these eyes, Cleveland didn’t. And yet, the team’s offense stunk with him out there… I’m not going to pretend to know something, some significant reason, as to why it didn’t flow. Kobe Bryant seemed perfectly adept at driving the lane with Shaq around, same with Dwyane Wade. Why couldn’t LeBron James? I’ve no idea, but it didn’t work. And when all else fails, I tend to send the stink-eye toward the big fella in his late 30s, and not the best player in the game.”
  • SLAM – ‘Where’s The Love?’: “Steve Francis was a great player and even better athlete. A few years later, do people remember that?…Both the Houston Rockets and his own ego play huge roles in him being inactive today. It began with Jeff Van Gundy replacing Rudy Tomjanovich as the Rockets’ head coach in ’03. Van Gundy quickly replaced Francis as the team’s offensive focus in favor of Yao Ming. Francis’ freestyling, run-and-gun game was of no interest to Van Gundy, and after a season of PG/coach head-butting, Steve-O was traded to Orlando. Though rough for him at first, Disney World became home to his second-best statistical season (21.3 points, 7 assists, 5.8 rebounds). In the middle of the ‘05-06 season, Steve was bounced to the Knicks, into the middle of the Larry Brown nightmare. In ’07, Francis found himself back on a Rick Adelman-navigated Rockets team. “They ain’t start me [and] that rubbed me the wrong way,” says Steve through a jaw full of shaving cream. ‘I’m playing behind a guy that wasn’t drafted—Skip To My Lou. You can’t put a three-time All-Star on your bench. So [I decided] if I’m getting x-amount of dollars, I’ma fall back and just get my money for my kids’…Steve was picked second overall in the ’99 Draft. Baron Davis, Lamar Odom, Rip Hamilton, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry all trailed him in the Lottery that summer. Ron Artest went 16th. All the aforementioned players remain heavy contributors to their respective clubs. The Jet, Matrix, LO and Ron-Ron all competed in the ’10 postseason, with the latter two looking like Finalists, if not champs.”
  • C.A. Clark – ‘Player Report Card: Lamar Odom’: “Lamar has to be given credit for contributions that never make it onto the stat sheet.  In many ways, LO is every bit the intangible force that Derek Fisher is.  It doesn’t manifest itself in the same way (i.e. always succeeding in big moments), but so much of Lamar’s contribution to this team can not be seen in the box score.  For one, LO is probably the best defensive big man we’ve got, certainly the most adept at playing the pick and roll… But perhaps even more important (and certainly less tangible), Lamar Odom is the soul of this team.  It’s odd to say, considering the Lakers have a starting 5 which consists of: the greatest player in the game today, possibly the best big man in the game today, a former all-star/defensive player of the year, a rising star big man, and a future head coach.  Despite all that talent/experience/ability, it is Lamar that makes this team tick.  He’s the glue.  More than any other player on the roster, he has willingly sacrificed his own individual accolades and glory for the sake of the team. On a team with so much talent/personality/ego (back to back champs have plenty of ego), there’s a damn good reason why Lamar is at the center of every team circle, dancing, shouting, leading the team in their pre-game rituals.  His overall performance on the court wasn’t quite up to snuff this year, but his value to the team can not be overstated.”
  • ESPN – ‘Ben Wallace re-signs with Pistons’: “The Detroit Pistons have re-signed center Ben Wallace to a two-year contract worth $1.9 million per season.”
  • Henry Abbott of ESPN on the inspiring leadership of Magic Johnson.
  • A video of Shaq hitting the dance floor with Justin Bieber.
  • Henry Abbott – ‘Shaquille O’Neal vs. Darko Milicic’: “Here’s the deal: The Celtics have reportedly come to an agreement with Shaquille O’Neal, which is generally being seen as a good, or at least potentially good, thing. Meanwhile, just about everybody agrees that about the dumbest move of the offseason was the Timberwolves’ four-year, $20 million contract for Darko Milicic. Here’s my bet, or prediction: Milicic will help his team more than O’Neal will this upcoming season… My reasons: The Celtics have succeeded on the basis of team defense. It’s five guys on a string. O’Neal does not move on a string. He doesn’t even follow team instructions on defense. ‘Shaq is famous,’ says Scouts Inc.’s David Thorpe, ‘for doing his own thing on defense. When he’s supposed to show on the pick-and-roll he does not show. That doesn’t mean he isn’t going to change. But I think that’s going to be a problem. Even if the Celtics just want him to score a few buckets, doesn’t that take away from what the team’s identity is?’… O’Neal will be 39 years old before the playoffs. Milicic is 25. This is the part of the bet where I feel like I’m cheating. It’s the only part… Big men get touches all the time in Minnesota because Kurt Rambis’ offense runs through them. That means Milicic will be in the mix play after play. It’s unclear what role O’Neal will play in a Boston offense that needs to find meaningful opportunities for Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.”
  • Woody Paige – ‘Numerous reasons for firings by Nuggets’: “Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman got fired because coach George Karl got cancer; Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen got hurt; Adrian Dantley got elevated to head coach and couldn’t handle it and J.R. Smith got daft again in the postseason, among other reasons. The Nuggets got flogged unmercifully in the first round of the playoffs by Utah; lost out in free agency and are now trapped in salary cap bleakness, uncertain if they can sign Carmelo Anthony. Stan Kroenke got mad; and Josh Kroenke got more NBA experience. Got it? Because of circumstances within and beyond their control, the Nuggets’ vice presidents of basketball operations and player personnel became the incredible shrinking Wark and ‘Man. Last year both received votes for NBA executive of the year (Warkentien won the honor with nine). Tuesday, neither was given a vote of confidence by Kroenke the Elder, the owner, or Kroenke the Younger, the club’s vice president of player development. It could be worse. The Miami Heat — in the aftermath of signing the famed basketball version of the Kingston Trio — sold all of its season tickets for next season, then announced Tuesday the entire season-ticket sales staff (30 employees) had been dismissed. The league, like life, is unfair.”
  • NBA Fanhouse – ‘Team USA Replaces Brook Lopez With JaVale McGee’: “Team USA has lost New Jersey’s Brook Lopez, the sixth significant post player to have departed in the past three weeks. Lopez dropped off the team due to his bout with mono and was replaced Wednesday by Washington center JaVale McGee as Team USA prepares for the World Championship, Aug. 28-Sept. 12 in Turkey.”
  • NBA Playbook on the strategy of setting and using picks.
  • SB Nation – ‘Who will be the ‘center’ of attention in Miami this season?’: “One thing that has been on my mind lately is Joel Anthony starting at center.  To me, it seems like the obvious decision to start him over Zydrunas Ilgauskas.  Miami’s starting lineup is not going to lack anything on offense with all their new acquisitions, so having the defensive minded Anthony out there will provide a nice balance. Those of you who have been following the Heat closely for the last couple years have probably said on more then one occasion that if Joel Anthony got a chance to start, or play 25+ minutes a game, he could possibly lead the league in blocked shots. While that seems like a very lofty goal, especially with Dwight Howard out there playing 35 minutes a game and averaging just under 3 blocks, the numbers say otherwise. Joel should be right up there with the league leaders in blocks, while probably still averaging 5-10 minutes less then the people around him on the stat sheet.  Anthony has averaged 1.4 blocks while playing just 16 minutes a game in each of the past two seasons.  Double that and he’s averaging more blocks then Dwight (and anyone else in the league) in 2 less minutes a game.”

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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