Rockets Get Big at SF Position
By: Dennis Silva
One of the positions that the Rockets upgraded this offseason was the small forward slot. Last year, the Rockets ran with a hobbled Glen Rice (for twenty games), Walt Williams and, at times, rookie Eddie Griffin. Rookies Terrence Morris and Oscar Torres also saw time at the 3 spot. With the uncertainty regarding Rice’s injury, Williams’ likely departure and Eddie playing out of position, the Rockets drafted 6’9” Bostjan Nachbar with their 15th pick in the NBA draft. So what are the Rockets facing at the small forward position this season? Versatility, young legs and veteran savvy is what is at the plate.
2001-02 Season Stats: 8.6 points/game, 2.4 rebounds/game, 1.4 assists/game
Height: 6’8” Weight: 220
Projected 2002-03 Season Stats: 11.5 points/game, 2.5 rebounds/game, 2 assists/game
Not much will be expected a lot of Rice this season, but one thing the Rockets will want is that he’s healthy. Rice is a veteran sharpshooter who is a proven three-point specialist and provides instant offense. Just him being on the floor will open up things for the Rockets’ offense. Rice will likely start out as the starter while Nachbar and Morris learn to adapt to the NBA game. All Rice needs to do is spot-up on the wings and hit threes off of penetration from Francis and Mobley and double-teams from Yao Ming. Rudy will also draw up a few plays for Rice to come off screens instead of just letting him score off of spot-up situations. Rice has two years left on his contract, and hopefully, he is looking to prove something this season after an injury-plagued campaign. He is the shooter that Rudy T adores at the small forward position, and you can believe that he will have his opportunity to burn opposing defenses.
Height: 6’9” Weight: 221
Projected 2002-03 Season Stats: 10.5 points/game, 4.6 rebounds/game, 2 assists/game
Nachbar is the future of the small forward position for the Rockets. Rudy T and his staff craves Nachbar’s athleticism, ability to shoot and his versatility. He is a perfect fit for the running system that Rudy T likes and Moochie will love to see Nachbar as a running mate. A lot of experts predicted Nachbar to be an top-10 draft selection, but fortunatel, he dropped into the Rockets’ laps. He will be given the chance to make an impact for the team, and if Rice fails to carry the bags at the position, Rudy will not hesitate to insert Nachbar into the lineup.
2001-02 Season Stats: 3.8 points/game, 3.8 rebounds/game, 0.9 assists/game
Height: 6’9” Weight: 221
Projected 2002-03 Season Stats: 4.5 points/game, 4.5 rebounds/game, 1.1 assists/game
Morris will again see little time on the floor, but whenever Rudy needs a defensive spark, Morris will likely be the man. He will likely play the role of the designated defensive specialist. He has long arms and is quick for a man his size. He is versatile on defense and can also run the floor and finish offensively. While his jump shot is nowhere to be found, it will be Morris’ defensive intensity that determines whether he is on the floor or on the bench.
OVERALL POSITION RATING (on a scale of 1-10): 7