Remember those years when Dream was in his prime.. for so many
years he was THE option on the team, the unstoppable one for
whom the other coach had to try to figure out how to control..
He was a totally dominant player for many years.. then, just when
he had aged to the point of a fine wine, and had not much longer
to go, we FINALLY got over the hump, basically because he was
just playing the best he had ever played..
Remember the biggest gripe, the biggest complaint through all those
years? The number one 'wish list' item in every Rocket fan's letters
A point guard who could play.
For so long we felt the pain of being SO close to the top of the mountain..
for so long we felt the heartache of having the single most unstoppable
player in the league, and suffering because having just that one
player was not quite enough..
We all saw that the true antidote for this pain was a premier PG to
go along with the dominant man in the middle.. a guy who could
both pop it from within the confines of the 'inside-out' game, and
elevate the play of his teammates, so that JUST stopping Hakeem
would not be enough to assure a victory over the Rockets..
So now I am looking at this team of today.. I see a young center
who could very well become just as dominant and revolutionary to
the position as Olajuwon was.. and then I realize that this current
team has far more talent across the board than the Olajuwon teams
ever had.. no, Yao is not as good as Hakeem was (yet), but at the
other positions, especially at the point, this team is more PHYSICALLY
talented.. mentally, obviously, is another story..
So, as much as we all feel an instinctive need to dive deep into
doom and gloom regarding our relative weaknesses at the 3 or the
4 spots, I am beginning to think things may not be so bleak..
Remember, during the successful Hakeem years, we did not sneak
up on anyone with our game plan.. everyone knew exactly what
we were going to do.. it was not a matter of knowing what was
coming, it was a matter of not being able to stop it. As long as this
team plays the same kind of inside-out scheme as was so successful
before, there is no reason to assume it won't work just as well as before.
What I am wondering about, and am curious as to others' thoughts,
is this: Will JVG be able to re-create a similar center-oriented scheme,
and, more importantly, will the current roster of players (not counting
whatever pine-riding scrubs are signed to fill out the remaining
holes on the squad) be capable of playing that way?
To me, Francis has always shown that he is willing to work hard and
try to do the right thing. I honestly think his deficiencies in the past
were due more to a certain coaching style than any unconquerable
limitations on his part.
Yao, we all know he will constantly improve (which is downright scary).
I think Rice will be far more successful this year than most people believe,
and between him and Pike, we will be able to squeeze a lot of teams in the
vise grip of Yao and the 3pt arc..
EG has stated that he wants to lead the league in blocked shots..
as young as he is, and as highly touted as he was, I think optimism
is the best advice with him.. if he comes anywhere close to his defensive
potential, then his offense (or lack thereof) will not be a concern..
And even with Mobley.. I think his last two years should be thrown
out, because of the schizophrenic nature of what he was asked to
do from one year to the next..
I guess the real question is this: based on what we know of JVG,
what we know about our current players, and what we know about
how to win championships featuring a dominant man in the middle,
can this team get itself on the right path this year, begin to
actualize its potential, and show us (and themselves) that they can
become contenders? Or will it all fall apart, and disintegrate
into a mess of selfish play and no chemistry?
I personally am choosing optimism. I don't believe our problems can
be fixed simply by adding pieces.. We have the talent.. we need the
IQ's to improve.
I will say this though - if this team does not show marked improvement
THIS year, then I don't think it ever will. And therefore, the team
would need to be totally dismantled and rebuilt, with Yao being the
There are some really smart, knowledgeable people on this board.
Their opinions and words on subjects like this are far more interesting
to me than worrying about uniform colors, power dancers, and
ridiculous trade ideas.. just hoping, here, in the middle of the dog
days of summer and NO FREAKING BASKETBALL, that I can get my
serious hoops fix by hearing the serious thoughts of the many
people here who have shown they deserve our respect.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled life.