This was originally posted by HoopsAve in another forum. It was a good read, I thought people should see it here:
Yao Ming - The Real Deal!?!
By: Mike Downs
Having just had the chance to see Yao play on tape of an overseas game in the Chinese Basketball Association, I plan on dissecting his game throughout this next column while also offering some predictions and advice to those team(s) and fans of those teams, with a chance at him.
I will begin by putting down what I feel are some of his basic strengths and weaknesses. Judging from the video I saw.
Quick, nimble feet which makes him very good at running at opponents for weak side shot blocks, contesting of outside shots and also makes for a sight to be seen that a 7-5 player can be so nimble on his feet on the perimeter.
Passing - From what I gathered Yao was a very sound passer. Not Arvydas Sabonis type passer but very solid. Could hit cutters well and decent at finding the open man.
Hands - Yao has a very soft touch around the rim at most everything he does. The way he handles the ball with his hands on rebounds, passes...etc are with a certain soft grace that isn't seem in most players.
Variety Offensively - He can torch you with his jumper out to NBA three point range if you don't stay with him and if you come to close, he will put the ball on the floor and take it to the rim with a whirling divery move. He also has a nice turn around jumper on the baseline which is straight money although his best asset offensively in the NBA will probably come from offensive rebounds and put backs. For a very young, underdeveloped 7'5 player, that is very much a variety of offensive capabilities.
Shot Blocking - Despite the fact that his arms aren't as big as one would expect to see on a 7'5 person and the myth that he can't block shots due to his short arms, the guy simply can. No other way of putting it. He can block shots in a variety of ways, at that. Yao can come from the rim to the free throw line out of nowhere and send a shot into the second row of seats but he also has the quick feet (see above) to come over to contest weak side shots as well. He may not be as intimidating as Dikembe Mutombo but he will block his far share of shots in the NBA. Possibly around 2-3 a game in his first season.
Upside - Yao has immense talent. That we know. You got to think he has abundance of upside as well considering Chinese coaching is horrible and Yao is a very young 21 years old. Major upside to improve.
Body/Frame - right now he would be pushed around a bit against the NBA's beefiest. In China he doesn't have to worry about being pushed around a whole lot because noone is that much bigger or stronger than him. That will change soon. Although worth mentioning is his legs are very muscular and solid looking.
Tenacity/Will - From what I seen Yao has really relied on his talent a lot in his life so he obviously is a little under develop when it comes to this area. He didn't seem to have that extra something type drive in him that makes all time greats which is why I could see him being a very good player but never amazingly great type of player. Certainly he could gain tenacity about him in the NBA after going against stronger, faster players who are out to give him a hard time.
Rebounding - While he is good at and content with boxing players out, he doesn't seem to have the certain want for rebounds that makes a good rebounder but if a ball falls near him he will scoop it up. This is certainly an area he could work on.
Again, those are just a basic run down of his strengths and weaknesses. I would like to be more in depth about them but I cannot put too much into a single game. We all know player have good & bad games.
Yao to Houston seems like the ultimate fit. Almost like the NBA planned it. Nah...
The truth of the manner is Yao's skills would come in as a huge lift for the team. That's not an opinion, that is the truth as I see it.
For example, Watching Yao box out and grab rebounds quickly off the glass then kick it out to the wing was reminiscent of Bill Walton's infamous passes to start fast breaks. I thought he was that good and consistent at getting the ball the wing off of rebounds to start the break. Houston is a team that likes to run so imagine them having someone actually able to do the things needed to get fast breaks going off of misses. That alone would help out the Houston offense greatly. And that is where Yao will have his greatest impact, on tangible type things such as getting breaks started, cleaning up the paint, keeping slashers away from the rim. All things that could be the difference in Houston being a #8 seed for the rest of Steve Francis' career or really making an impact on the Western Conference down the line.
The need for a player who can score, rebound and defend the paint in Houston is huge. Considering those are the key ingredients to getting anywhere in the Western Conference. I can't see a scenario where Houston would be ignorant enough to pass up the chance at a dominating 7'5 force. Which is virtually unimaginable, short of them being offered a star player (Odom isn’t considered a star!) ala Elton Brand to the Clippers last year.
I could see Yao having an immediate impact on a lot of Houston's frontcourt problems such as rebounding which includes boxing out, tips, garbage points, shot blocking which also will help get fast breaks going and he might even have a small impact offensively inside garnering lots of offensive put backs and such.
Now - I want to pose a simple question on Yao for folks to consider. Now, take this as simple as possible and think it through.
How often do 7'5 Center's with Talent come around? Think about it. The god honest truth is NEVER. Yao is simply a one of a kind player. Whether or not he makes it in the NBA remains to be seen but he does have the necessary talent to do so and make a splash while doing so.
Bottom line is this, If Houston passes on him, they will have made a huge mistake. Hopefully they can work things out with the Chinese and get Yao over here full time to ball.