Thoughts on Raptors – Rockets: Landry/Scola vs. Bosh Dissected

2009 December 13
tags:
by rahat huq

First, an administrative note: The new twitter account for the blog is red94_blog. Be sure to follow us as there will now be direct links provided for new posts.  Red94 has finally harnessed the full power of technology.

A few side notes before we get under way with our primary topic:

  • The ‘punch’ thrown by Trevor Ariza in the second half of this afternoon’s game was one of the stranger things I have seen in an NBA game in quite some time.  I can’t ever remember seeing an adult human being attempt to punch a person moving in the same direction as his punch.  I’m not here to offer a character judgment, but the entire sequence was just strange.
  • With 5:05 remaining in the 3rd, Bill Worrell remarked after a missed shot by Ariza, “Ariza is now 0-9.  I’ll bet he’s never had a game where he’s not a made a field goal!”  I’m sorry.  Let me start by apologizing to our readers for continuing to beat a dead horse.  I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it just does.  Trevor Ariza is a good player.  I like Trevor Ariza and I love the signing of Trevor Ariza.  But why anyone would express amazement over him having a poor game is really beyond me.  It literally baffles me.  He’s just not that good.  I like the guy, but please stop referring to him like he is some All-Star waiting to happen.  There is really no reason for anyone to give in to that much hyperbole over a poor performance from Trevor Ariza.
  • Carl Landry’s contact lens came out with 5 minutes remaining in the 4th.  We saw the staff readily provide solution to help him reinsert the lens.  So we know they keep contact solution behind the bench.  What happens if a player actually loses the contact?  Do they keep extra pairs for each player in the lockerroom?  One would hope so but I do doubt this is the case.

With those notes out of the way, let’s get to our main discussion.  Following up on my thoughts from the Sixers game, I decided to once again pay close attention to Carl Landry.  However, this time, I also took note of Luis Scola and Chris Bosh.

There were a couple of things I wanted to see.  First, how did our guys compare to Chris Bosh?  Could they guard him or score when he guarded them?  I think the first question is of relevance for various reasons.  Bosh is one of the best in the league so the matchup serves as a good measuring stick.  Also, he’s incredibly long and one of my primary contentions has been that our guys struggle against ‘longer’ power forwards.  Finally, it’s a good question due to some of the uncertainty surrounding Bosh.  I’ll have a post up soon detailing why (contrary to popular belief) we won’t have the ability to pursue Bosh in free agency, but there is always the longshot possibility of a trade before the deadline.  Would it be worthwhile for the Rockets to send, hypothetically speaking, both Scola and Landry (along with McGrady) to Toronto for Bosh if the Raptors were to quickly fall out of contention?  Again, the possibility of a trade is remote, but I wanted to assess his comparative value in relation to our existing power forward tandem.

Second, I again looked closely at Landry on every offensive possession in which he attempted to score.

So below, I have included every sequence in the game which featured one of the following: a Landry scoring attempt; an encounter between Scola and Bosh; an encounter between Landry and Bosh.

1st

  • 2:04 -Bosh hits turnaround over Sola with ease
  • 35 seconds – Bosh faces up Scola from the left block near the three point line and drains jumper

2nd

  • 5:46 – Landry posts up on the right block and turns and shoots after evading Bosh, scoring
  • 4:36 – Bosh hits unguarded jumper (Scola’s assignment.)
  • 4:24 – Landry posts up Bosh, double pumps to avoid Bosh’s length and hits
  • 3:27 – Landry faces up on Amir Johnson and misses short
  • 2:04 – Landry offensive board and putback

3rd

  • 9:00 – Scola tries to post up on Bosh but is unable to receive the ball due to his length
  • 5:50 – Landry and Scola unable to get offensive board with Bosh in the vicinity
  • 5:23 – Landry posts up Amir Johnson and is blocked by Bosh
  • 4:36 – Landry posts up Amir Johnson on left block and hits jump hook going to the middle with right hand
  • 4:14 – Bosh posts up on right block on Scola and misses
  • 3:52 – Scola posts up Bosh and tries to score 3 times and has no chance against Bosh’s length
  • 3:30 – Bosh fades away on Scola and hits
  • 3:06 – Scola catches on the pass from Brooks and scores
  • 2:12 – Bosh misses long range jumper
  • 1:47 – Landry posts up Amir Johnson and turns and drives getting fouled by Bosh
  • 1:31 – Bosh posts up on Scola getting fouled
  • 1:17 – Landry catches the pass and scores over both Bosh and Amir Johnson

4th

  • 8:34 – Bosh posts on right block on Scola and scores easily
  • 8:05 – Bosh posts on right block on Scola and hits turnaround
  • 7:33 – Landry catches on elbow drives left and fades away on Bargnani and hits
  • 7:19 – Bosh faces up Scola on right and misses jumpshot
  • 6:49 – Landry posts up Bargnani on right block, faces up and drives blows by and slams it
  • 5:47 – Landry grabs board and scores OVER Bosh’s outstretched arms
  • 5:09 – Landry grabs board with Bosh guarding him and gets fouled
  • 4:25 – Scola hits jumper off Brooks’ pass
  • Point guard Jarrett jack successfully fronts Landry on two consecutive possessions, denying him position and the ball.
  • 3:36 – Bosh faces up Scola and blows right by him and scores
  • 2:26 – Bosh drives and spins on Scola but misses

Luis Scola scored 21 points on 9-18 shooting from the floor to go along with 15 boards and a +/- of -12.  Carl Landry had 25 points on 10-13 shooting with 7 boards and a +/- of +3.  Chris Bosh had 27 points on 11-19 from the field with 6 rebounds and a +/- of +4.

My first thought was that Scola’s numbers would be incredibly deceptive for anyone who didn’t watch the game.  The sense I got in watching was that he was absolutely destroyed.  However, after re-thinking, this is a bit unfair.  He did his overall part to help his team, but was merely destroyed when matched up with Chris Bosh.  Against Bosh, Scola simply didn’t have a chance.  He was helpless both defensively and offensively.

With that said, it’s unfair to give Landry praise for not being destroyed defensively (as Scola was) when he didn’t even guard Bosh at all in the game.  We don’t know why.  Either Rick didn’t want to tire him out or he simply felt that Landry didn’t stand a chance.  Probably a combination of the two, but we aren’t privy to the reasoning.

I came away extremely impressed by Chris Bosh.  I haven’t watched him much, but he has as many tools as any power forward in basketball.  He scored with ease and basically seemed to do anything he wanted.  However, I can’t make any type of assessment on whether he is a guy you can build a team around because the game was never close.  I need to see if he can assert himself in tight, pressure situations.

Finally we come to Landry, the primary subject of this inquiry.  First of all, I was just flat out wrong in my season preview when I said that Landry had maxed out his capabilities offensively.  I don’t know whether he has actually ‘improved’ per se, but I did not expect this kind of production from him this season.

We saw only two instances of Landry shooting over Bosh from the post-up, so in that regard, this experiment once again didn’t yield the data for which we were looking.  However, this begs the question: why does it even matter?  Landry scored 25 points on 10-13 shooting against Bosh and the equally lengthy Amir Johnson.  My entire thesis was that Landry struggled against long defenders.  It seems I have lost sight of this.  It shouldn’t really matter how Carl is scoring against these players as long as he is proving to be capable of the feat.  Does it really matter that he can’t shoot over the top?

On the other hand, that Landry was so easily denied position and the ball by point guard Jarrett Jack is cause for concern.  If he is to be considered a bona fide go-to threat, that simply cannot happen.

You can’t reach a conclusion on the basis of just one game.  The sample size is simply too small.   With that said, this game seems to demonstrate that I am most likely wrong on my assertion about Landry.  If he could score so efficiently against Bosh and Amir Johnson, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t do the same against any other power forward in the league, regardless of the inability to ’shoot over the top.’

Thus, allow me to adjust my stance on Landry.  It seems I am probably wrong about his ability to score against longer defenders.  He can do it, most likely.  For this reason, there’s no basis for immediately ruling out All-Stardom in his future.  (I don’t think it will ever happen, but there’s no reason to rule it out.)

But while he could conceivably become a star some day, I still don’t see him ever becoming a legit go-to option on a quality team.  First, the sequences against Jarrett Jack were telling.  In addition, the majority of his baskets came on offensive boards or catches inside.  While it’s been established that Carl can produce in the clutch (one of the best in the league), I don’t think he has the moves necessary to score as the focal point of an offense.  The driving spin move is lethal, but it’s tough to pull off in traffic.

Still, it was extremely encouraging to see that Landry can be productive against longer defenders.

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  • pentajigga
    Considering that Dwight Howard has NO MOVES at all, I continue to shy away from any theory that considers moves as a primary criteria for assessing scoring potential. I don't necessarily see all-star potential in Landry, but his progress leaves the possibility. He gets better every year, he is incredibly efficient, he can score on anyone, he plays against starting line-ups in the 4th quarter and remains as efficient.

    As far as getting denied by Jack. Sports are games of adjustments, and this is the first time a team has attempted to front Landry with a smaller guard. First, Jarrett Jack is an extremely strong guard, and one of the few who can do this. Second, allow Adelman and Landry the opportunity to adjust; if this becomes a strategy employed by other teams, lets see how they combat it. Just because it worked the first few times it was tried doesn't mean much.

    Anyway, great job getting your post up quick after the game; used to love Rockets Buzz, but the lag was tough on my Rox fix!
  • Clint
    Pentajigga, I wouldn't say that Dwight Howard lacks moves. He has the short jump-hook in the lane, ala Shaq, and he has made considerable progress in improving his footwork. I've seen him effectively utilize the drop-step, which not everyone can do, and I've also seen him make spin moves, similar to Carl Landry, allowing him to get around defenders and within feet of the basket, where he can use his power and size to finish with ease(or draw a foul). Even if what you said about Howard having no moves happened to be true, it would remain that he is a huge exception.
  • Thiefery
    I actually believe that Bosh will come to Houston in the pff season if Daryl makes a push for him. However I wouldn't like to trade both scola and Landry to get him early this season. But if one of them has to go i'm leaning towards Landry to ge the boot. I stil think that Scola's toughness is needed on this team.
  • rahat_huq

    pentajigga: Considering that Dwight Howard has NO MOVES at all, I continue to shy away from any theory that considers moves as a primary criteria for assessing scoring potential. I don’t necessarily see all-star potential in Landry, but his progress leaves the possibility.He gets better every year, he is incredibly efficient, he can score on anyone, he plays against starting line-ups in the 4th quarter and remains as efficient.As far as getting denied by Jack.Sports are games of adjustments, and this is the first time a team has attempted to front Landry with a smaller guard. First, Jarrett Jack is an extremely strong guard, and one of the few who can do this. Second, allow Adelman and Landry the opportunity to adjust; if this becomes a strategy employed by other teams, lets see how they combat it.Just because it worked the first few times it was tried doesn’t mean much.Anyway, great job getting your post up quick after the game; used to love Rockets Buzz, but the lag was tough on my Rox fix!  


    Thanks for reading. IMHO, it's not so much about not having moves as it is about the predictive value of the manner in which Landry is scoring. Can a guy be considered a go-to option if the majority of his points come off the ball (ie: off the catch, reb)?
  • pentajigga
    Clint: Point taken, Dwight has developed some moves in the past year and a quarter. He didn't have them for awhile, and they still are not so polished.

    Rahat: He already is the go-to option for the Rox in the 4th quarter. From the Chron: "Landry is second in the NBA, behind James, at drawing fouls in the fourth quarter. He is third, behind James and Wade, in free throws attempted, and second, behind Zach Randolph, at grabbing offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter."

    I guess my main thought on the topic is that he is a unique player who has shown constant improvement and a nose for scoring that is rare. And he is freakishly efficient. I can't predict if he'll become a "star" or a primary scorer, but I think he's making as good progress in that direction as anyone can hope.
  • durvasa
    Landry has been great this year, and I think other teams are starting to realize what a force he's been. So the next challenge will be how he adapts to teams that gameplan better against him. I think there's sort of a two-step process to making it as a real star. First, you need to play like a star when other teams don't realize how good you are. Then, when they catch on and play you tougher, can you adjust and continue to produce? That's what I'm looking for as this season progresses.
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