1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

[ESPN] Hollinger Player Reports

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by durvasa, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    Messages:
    33,517
    Likes Received:
    9,318
    They're finally up again. I'll post the projected PER and player reports for all the Rockets here. Stay tuned ...

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/teams/hollinger?team=hou

    Yao Ming
    Last year: 22.6
    This year (projected): 24.6

    2007-08 season: If you look at the average career length for NBA players, it increases with height up to 6-11, drops slightly for 7-footers and decreases sharply at heights taller than that. The reason why isn't rocket science -- oversized centers have incredible difficulty staying healthy because of the pounding their legs and ankles take in an NBA season.

    Yao is the latest example, having played only 57, 48 and 55 games over the past three years, respectively. In his case, there's a second factor as well -- the grueling schedule the Chinese national team has built for him in the summer. Now that the Beijing Olympics are over, it's time for the 28-year-old Yao to put his foot down and say that's enough. Without rest in the summer, his lower extremities simply can't absorb the wear that his 7-6, 310-pound frame inflicts on them during the season.

    Even before the injury, Yao was having an off year by his standards, losing nearly six points off his 40-minute scoring rate while his TS% dropped as well. He seemed to have difficulty adjusting to Rick Adelman's offense early in the season, and when he finally started playing his best basketball, a stress fracture in his left foot cropped up and ended his season.

    One reason his numbers were down was because he was playing out high so much more often. Yao took 92 long 2-pointers last season, compared to just 26 a year earlier, and considering he made only 31.5 percent of them this probably wasn't a good thing. He actually shot better in the immediate basket area than the previous two seasons; he just had the ball there less often.

    Even with his "off" year Yao was still an impressive offensive force, finishing third among centers in usage rate, 12th in TS% and fifth in PER. But here's my favorite stat -- the 7-6 guy shot 85.0 percent from the line, the best mark among NBA centers and miles ahead of most of his teammates (Aaron Brooks, at 85.7 percent, was the only Rocket to beat him). He will almost certainly go down as the tallest player in history to regularly attempt his team's technical-foul free throws.

    Scouting report: Yao is an imposing force on the blocks thanks to an unstoppable right-handed jump hook that he can convert from several feet away from the basket. Because of his height the shot is virtually unblockable, and he also has a nice baseline counter move that he uses from the left block if people overplay the hook.

    Yao isn't just a big lug though -- he can shoot turnarounds to about 12 feet and is an outstanding foul shooter. He'd get to the line more often if officials didn't legalize anything short of murder by opposing defenders. But as with Shaquille O'Neal his sheer size makes him a difficult player to officiate and Lilliputian opponents tend to get the benefit of the doubt.

    Though Yao's size is a tremendous asset around the basket, he can be a defensive liability in pick-and-roll situations or when he's forced to cover big men who have perimeter skills. He isn't quick off the floor and is thus only an average rebounder and shot-blocker, but he runs the floor reasonably well and makes a consistent effort in the half court.

    2008-09 outlook: If his country isn't going to take care of Yao, then the Rockets need to redouble their efforts. With the talent on board there isn't any question about this team making the playoffs or earning a high seed, so the goal should be to preserve Yao so that he can play extended minutes when Houston needs him most -- in the playoffs.

    With that in mind, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Houston cut his minutes substantially this season. If that doesn't work, and if China insists on having him spend future summers competing in insignificant tournaments in far-flung places, then the Rockets may need to resort to more draconian measures -- like telling him not to bother showing up until Christmas, for instance.

    Hopefully it will never come to that. He's one of the most talented players of his generation, and when healthy he rivals Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan as the best center in the game. But the "when healthy" part is getting increasingly problematic.


    Most similar at age: Rik Smits

    Tracy McGrady
    Last year: 18.5
    This year (projected): 18.1

    2007-08 season: In past seasons, McGrady missed time with injuries but played like an All-Star when healthy; that wasn't the case this time. It was the first season in which his frailty seemed a part of his on-court persona, too -- most notably when he visibly ran out of gas in Game 2 of the Utah series. In addition to missing his usual 16 games with injuries, McGrady saw alarming drops in his scoring, assist rates and shooting percentages when he took the court.

    In a hilarious turn of events, he finished eighth in the MVP voting anyway. McGrady got two fourth-place votes and 13 fifth-place votes thanks to the sanity-altering effect of his team's 22-game winning streak late in the season.

    C'mon people, let's try to do some critical thinking before filling out those ballots. The win streak was great, but McGrady actually had his worst stretch of the season then, shooting only 40.9 percent in March and a ghastly 23.4 percent on 3s. As mentioned above, he also missed a big chunk of time and didn't play terribly well the rest of the year. But in basketball's weird credit-the-team's-most-prominent-player-with-everything media culture he somehow became an MVP candidate anyway.

    For the year he ranked third among shooting guards in usage rate, but only 56th --seventh from the bottom -- in TS%. McGrady's career-low 68.4 percent mark from the line was the fourth-worst at his position and an embarrassment for a player who shoots so well from midrange. He also slumped to 29.2 percent on 3-pointers, and considering he took nearly five a game, this was a huge problem.

    McGrady once again shot well on long 2s, hitting 42.9 percent even though most of them were off the dribble with a man in his face, and drew a fairly high rate of free throws on his forays inside the arc. When he penetrated he was a good distributor too, ranking third among shooting guards in pure point rating.

    Taken together, all that suggests he might want to forget about 3-pointers for a while and concentrate on beating opponents from midrange or with his considerable (and vastly underappreciated) passing skills. McGrady hasn't shot above 34 percent on 3-pointers since his 2002-03 season in Orlando, and he's investing far too many possessions in a shot that he makes so inconsistently.

    Scouting report: McGrady rarely guards the opponent's best perimeter player and tends to ration his efforts at that end, but when energized he can be a very strong defensive player. Because of his length he can get a finger on shots that few wing players come close to -- he got a piece of Travis Outlaw's jumper in one game, for instance, and that's a shot nobody blocks. He also rebounds well.

    Offensively, McGrady could use some more help from the other four guys. His usage rate was insanely high for such a low-percentage scorer, and that was partly because so few of his teammates could create a shot -- especially after Yao Ming went out. Teams were running double-teams at him even when he was 20 feet from the hoop, and too often he'd find a wide-open teammate who couldn't convert.

    McGrady is an incredibly dangerous midrange shooter because he elevates so well on his J. At 6-8, he just rises above his defender and gets a clean look even if he has no separation. Additionally, he's a fantastic passer and rarely turns the ball over, so he can find the open man against double-teams. Rick Adelman had him doing a lot more free-throw area isolations in which he could rise up for a jumper or see the double coming and pass, and that seemed to be a sweet spot for him.

    McGrady has dealt with back problems his entire time in Houston, and those knock him out of the lineup for 10-15 games every season. Besides the injuries, McGrady's free-throw shooting is a less-discussed but grating weakness. It probably doesn't help that he stands well beyond the free-throw line for his attempts because it seems difficult to ensure he's shooting from the same distance every time. Players who toe up to the line know they're shooting exactly 15 feet, but how can McGrady develop a consistent stroke if he's not always in the same spot?

    2008-09 outlook: The additions of Brent Barry and Ron Artest and the return of Yao Ming should combine to heavily alter how McGrady needs to play this season. Look for his usage rate to go down and his percentages to go up because he'll have fewer situations in which he needs to force a jumper late in the clock and more in which he's shooting an open kick-out from somebody else.

    Nonetheless, the Rockets have to be concerned with the decline in McGrady's output last season. He's still as dangerous a scorer as there is in the game when he gets rolling, but given how badly he slumped last year, his history of back problems and the fact he turns 30 in May, one has to wonder if he'll ever be an All-Star caliber player for a full season again.


    Most similar at age: Vince Carter

    Rafer Alston
    Last year: 13.3
    This year (projected): 11.7

    2007-08 season: It was quite a turnaround year for Alston, who began the season at the bottom of the point guard depth chart and finished it as a glue guy for a 55-win team. Although much of his value stemmed from being the only true point guard on the roster, Alston picked up his numbers slightly from a year earlier and was noticeably better at the defensive end.

    Offensively, Alston remained inconsistent. He ranked only 38th in pure point rating, and while he was adequate from long range (35.1 percent), he was horrid inside the line. Alston made only 42.9 percent of his 2-pointers and had an awfully low rate of free throws.

    Alston was a poor finisher at the basket (46.5 percent), but he's particularly awful on midrange jumpers. He made only 34.0 percent of his long 2s last season; over the past three years he's taken more than 400 shots from that distance and made only 32.5 percent, making him the worst midrange jump shooter this side of Josh Smith.

    Scouting report: Alston seemed to come into his own as a defender last season, using his quickness to stay in front of fast guards like Allen Iverson and Tony Parker, but at 6-2 he has the size to hang with bigger guards as well. He was better on the ball than in help situations -- in fact he drew just three offensive fouls all year -- but he was among the better defenders at his position overall.

    Offensively, he's become a halfway-decent 3-point shooter when he has his feet set and can catch-and-shoot, but he's a very poor shooter off the dribble and doesn't have the explosion to finish drives around the basket. Alston is an exceptional dribbler and has no problem handling pressure, but he doesn't have a great burst of speed to get into the paint.

    2008-09 outlook: (missing)

    Most similar at age: Derek Fisher


    Ron Artest
    Last year: 18.9
    This year (projected): 17.8

    2007-08 season: As usual, Ron-Ron made it interesting, but sidestep all the amusing anecdotes and you'll see he had his best offensive season. Artest averaged a career-high 20.5 points, posted career bests in shooting (45.3 percent) and 3-point percentage (38.0 percent) and also set a new best with a 18.89 PER.

    One key was that he showed a little restraint on the 3-pointers. Artest was winging them from all over when he first came to Sacramento, but last year the 3s comprised less than a quarter of his shot attempts. That's a more-reasonable proportion for a guy who doesn't have a pure stroke and really needs his feet set on the catch to shoot accurately from long distance.

    While he still forced the action at times and didn't make much of the passing skills he'd shown in previous seasons -- he was actually below the league average for small forwards in pure point rating -- Artest led all small forwards in steals per minute and ranked seventh in PER.

    Scouting report: When his head is on straight, Artest is one of the best two-way forwards in basketball. Though he's as strong as any player in the league and brutalizes smaller wings on post-ups, he also can handle the ball and beat bigger players off the dribble, making him a very difficult matchup. He was at his best in Sacramento when he could play as a power forward and abuse bigger defenders, and it appears Houston will use him that way too -- only much more frequently.

    Of course, his head isn't always on straight. In addition to the occasional craziness that gets him in the papers, Artest will also force crazy shots and take silly fouls more regularly. And his off-court circus can be a major distraction if a team allows it to be, as the Pacers found out.

    That said, almost nobody plays harder once the ball goes up. Artest can be a major defensive force when he's focused because of his strength, quickness and amazing hands, which allow him to get a high rate of steals even while playing relatively straight-up defense. He struggles to chase cutters through screens, but he's impossible to score against on the blocks and is very good on the ball in one-on-one situations.

    For such a tough player, it's odd that durability is an issue. While suspensions have been the cause of much of his missed time, Artest has never played more than 76 games in a pro season and missed 25 games a year ago.

    2008-09 outlook: In the offseason Artest was traded to Houston, where he'll be the starting power forward and an immediate matchup dilemma for every other team in the Western Conference. This is probably as good a fit as he can find. The Rockets won't mind him hogging the ball a little bit because they need somebody to take the load off T-Mac, and the team's tough defensive focus might re-energize him at that end of the floor. Look for his scoring numbers to decline a bit from a year ago, especially after accounting for Houston's much slower pace, and look for fewer stunts as well -- given that he's in a contract year he'll probably be on his best behavior.

    Most similar at age: Eddie Jones

    Luis Scola
    Last year: 16.2
    This year (projected): 15.4

    2007-08 season: Scola needed half a season to get his bearings, but once he did, the Argentine forward put together an outstanding second half. From the All-Star break onward he averaged 13.6 points, 8.4 boards and shot 51.5 percent from the floor, and his breakout was a major reason Houston emerged from its first-half stupor to win 22 consecutive games.

    Scola's refinement as a scorer was well-known by international basketball aficionados, but one area where he surprised was on the offensive glass. He ranked 11th among power forwards in offensive rebound rate, earning himself multiple putbacks and a high rate of free throws despite being a below-the-rim player.

    Scouting report: Scola struggled on defense early in the year but got more comfortable as the year went on and was very good at drawing offensive fouls -- he earned 42 calls last year, tied for the eighth-most in basketball. He doesn't elevate well and had trouble with opposing forwards shooting over him in the post, and his inability to block shots was an issue at times against dribble drives. He's tough and does a decent job against screen-and-rolls, but he had a high foul rate as a rookie.

    Offensively, he seemed terrified of illegal screen calls in the early going and developed a habit of slipping the screen rather than setting it hard. He can hit a high-arcing set shot from the free-throw area but is more comfortable posting up or scoring around the basket. Although he can't elevate, he's an effective finisher down low, but he has a high dribble and frequently gets stripped on the way up.
    2008-09 outlook: The arrival of Ron Artest affects Scola more than any other Rocket, as it likely pushes him into a bench role as the backup power forward. He may still see more minutes than the 24.7 he averaged last year and is likely to play them much more effectively if you go by his second-half stats from last season, but he'll be seeing a lot less crunch-time action than he did a year ago.

    Most similar at age: Darius Songaila


    Shane Battier
    Last year: 11.7
    This year (projected): 11.2

    2007-08 season: Since coming to Houston, Battier has settled in as a niche player, defending vigorously and shooting the 3 when left open, but rarely seeking to take his game beyond those limits. He ranked just 59th out of the league's 63 small forwards in usage rate, but when he shot, it was usually a 3 -- he took nearly five a game and made 37.7 percent. His 3-point frequency was the third-highest among small forwards and, not surprisingly, his free-throw rate was on the low side, but overall he finished with a strong TS%.

    Battier also took good care of the ball, ranking 14th among small forwards in pure point rating, but his lack of rebounding was a surprise. Although he is big for a small forward at 6-9 and occasionally moved to the frontcourt when Houston went small, he was only 46th in rebound rate and just 53rd on the defensive glass.

    Of course, Battier's greatest asset is his defense; he again routinely shut down opposing wings and finally got All-Defense recognition (but only second-team) for his efforts. Though his on-court versus off-court differentials weren't as a big as in some other reasons, he was the best defender on the league's second-best defensive team and led the club in minutes by a wide margin. Battier also drew 39 offensive fouls, ranking 11th in the league, and he ranked seventh among small forwards in blocks per minute.

    Scouting report: Battier uses his length as a weapon on defense, playing an extra step off his man and forcing opponents to shoot jumpers over him. He's not lightning-quick, but he doggedly pursues opponents through screens and is very smart about pushing opponents toward his help and keeping them away from the basket -- if you watch enough Houston games, it's amazing how many times you'll see Battier's man forced to pull up from 17 feet.

    At the same time that he's shutting down the opponents' top scorer, he also manages to be a good help defender who takes charges and blocks shots from the weak side. He sometimes struggles against thicker, post-up wings, but he has a 7-6 guy behind him for those situations.

    Battier has also developed a neat trick in which he extends his hand almost straight out into the shooter's eyes rather than reaching up for the ball; his technique is hugely distracting to offensive players and creates some horrific bricks that you wouldn't normally see from NBA stars. Don't be surprised if you see a lot more guys doing this in coming years.

    Offensively, Battier loves to spot up for 3s in the corners and has hit 42.9 percent on corner threes since coming to Houston; he's not nearly as accurate from the wings (37.2 percent) or straight on (34.4 percent). Battier is a poor dribbler so opponents try to run him off the 3-pointer and force him to create a shot off the bounce; additionally, he has a low release point on his jumper so it's tough for him to get it off in traffic. Though he's big for a wing player, he rarely posts up. He's also not a leaper and is a poor finisher around the basket and in the open court.

    2008-09 outlook: The arrival of Ron Artest may change the game slightly for Battier because Battier might be matched up against power forwards more often on defense and will effectively be playing that position at the offensive end. However, this shift could also loosen things up for him because opposing big men will be reluctant to chase him out to the corner to contest his 3-pointers. Offensively, he may end up taking fewer shots than ever, but he should get high-percentage 3-point looks and amass another strong TS%.


    Most similar at age: Eric Piatkowski
     
    #1 durvasa, Oct 8, 2008
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2008
  2. declan32001

    declan32001 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2002
    Messages:
    2,455
    Likes Received:
    17
    Thanks durvasa, some very interesting info there.
     
  3. redao

    redao Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Messages:
    3,819
    Likes Received:
    58
    does not make sense.

    Rafer is underrated too much. His PER will only increase playing with three stars.
     
  4. XBLRocketman111

    XBLRocketman111 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,243
    Likes Received:
    29

    Oh yeah hollinger thinks artest is starting at power forward? he also say battier will have to guard more power forwards? and scola will take the biggest hit on his PT. What is this guy talking about?
     
  5. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    Messages:
    33,517
    Likes Received:
    9,318
    Carl Landry
    Last year: 21.6
    This year (projected): 20.2

    2007-08 season: I get asked a lot of questions about PER, and last year most of them involved Landry. He had the highest PER among rookies and for much of the end of last season was ahead of players like Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. Which of course, led to emails and messages saying, "I can't believe you think Carl Landry is better than Tim Duncan."

    Of course he isn't better. The disconnect here is that PER can only measure how somebody played, not how somebody is. If that's too abstract, an example from another sport might help. Let's say you had a baseball player, a utility infielder, who hit .375 in 150 at-bats. Would you conclude he was having a fantastic year? Of course you would. But would you conclude he was a better hitter than Ichiro because he had a higher batting average? Of course not.

    That's kind of what happened with Landry. He didn't play a lot minutes (709), but saw just enough to clear the threshold for the PER leaderboard. And in those minutes, he played fantastic, amazingly well, which is what PER caught on to.

    But let's not get ahead of ourselves. He was a second-round draft pick who didn't exactly blow up in his four years at Purdue, so his season was almost certainly an outlier.
    And what an outlier it was. Landry lead the league in shooting percentage on inside shots at 64.6 percent, and converted an even higher rate (69.6 percent) in the immediate basket area. Not only that but he had the lowest turnover ratio of any power forward, so he was insanely efficient with the possessions he used. Throw in the fact that he was second at his position in offensive rebound rate, and it's easy to see why his PER was so high.

    But let's not take that any further just yet. We can say that for 709 minutes Landry played great, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's a great player.

    Scouting report: Landry's stellar stats obscure the real reason the Rockets liked him so much -- he's a tough-as-nails interior defender. He moves his feet on defense and is capable of picking up guards on switches, and he has the size to guard power forwards on the block and help out on the glass. Though he's a bit short for center, he can fill in there as well.

    Offensively, he's mostly a below-the-rim finisher, but was very effective converting around the basket last season. He doesn't have a perimeter game and isn't a low-post scorer, and one has to expect some regression to the mean in his shooting percentage.

    2008-09 outlook: Landry signed a three-year, $9 million offer sheet with the Bobcats that Houston quickly matched. The Rockets had been pushing for him to have his knee examined before signing, apparently worried about a knee injury late last season that shelved him and limited his production in the playoffs.

    Early reports indicate the knee might not be a big problem, but Landry's numbers are highly likely to fall short of last year's regardless. It's not like he can play any more efficiently than he did a year ago; in fact his shooting percentage is almost certain to drop.

    Nonetheless, he'll gives the Rockets a tough-defending backup at both frontcourt spots who can provide some offense -- a very pleasing outcome from a second-round pick and one that more than justifies the contract.

    Most similar at age: Michael Ansley


    Brent Barry
    Last year: 16.7
    This year (projected): 14.3

    2007-08 season: Barry got off to a great start before a midseason calf
    injury stopped his season in its tracks -- he played only eight games
    after Christmas. In spite of that and a brief interlude when he was
    traded to Seattle, waived and then was without a team for a month
    before rejoining San Antonio, Barry still had a strong season
    shooting. He ranked third in the NBA in TS% and narrowly missed out on
    defending his title from the year before. He posted a sizzling 42.9
    percent mark on 3s and an even more impressive 60.4 percent on 2s. He
    came back in time to put up similar numbers in the postseason.

    Relative to the league, Barry's TS% was the third-best during the past two decades (see Andrew Bynum comment), but that's nothing new -- he owns three of the top six marks, and between he and his brother Jon the name "Barry" comes up six times in the top 15.

    The 3-pointer was a huge part of Barry's arsenal; only Cleveland's Damon Jones took a higher percentage of shots from downtown (see chart). Conversely, Barry only took 20 free throws all season and many of those were technicals.

    The part of Barry's game that everyone forgets about is his ballhandling. Barry ranked eighth among shooting guards in assist ratio and seventh in pure point rating, and he even saw some duty at point guard when Tony Parker was injured.

    Scouting report: Barry would merit longer stretches on the court if not for his defensive shortcomings. While he's a smart team defender in terms of pushing opponents toward his help, his limitations in one-on-one situations and his inability to make plays from the weak side stamp him as a major liability at that end. Post-up guards are especially problematic for him because he lacks the muscle to push them away from the block.

    Offensively, his outside shot is among the best in history. Barry essentially shoots a set shot, but he gets rid of it quickly and is deadly accurate. If a shot isn't there he'll find the open man, and he rarely turns the ball over. At 6-7 he can also get out on the break and finish once in a while, although his dunk contest days are well behind him.

    2008-09 outlook: Barry signed a two-year, $4 million deal with Houston using the Rockets' biannual exception. His long-range shooting figures to burn defenses that throw extra bodies at Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Although his defense is slipping and his TS% may regress toward the mean a bit, Barry is a good fit for the Rockets because they needed a backcourt player who can reliably knock down shots. Look for Barry to do that for about 15 minutes a night in the regular season behind McGrady, and it's possible Barry could take on a larger role in the playoffs.


    Most similar at age: Chris Mullin


    Aaron Brooks
    Last year: 13.1
    This year (projected): 13.7

    2007-08 season: The speedster is one of the league's tiniest players at 6-0, 160 pounds, but he plays more as a scorer than as a pure point guard. Brooks averaged 17.3 points per 40 minutes but was only 55th out of 71 point guards in assist ratio; his pure point rating wasn't much better at 54th.

    He was a fairly efficient scorer, though, and he could get quite a bit better. Brooks shot himself in the foot by taking nearly half his shots from beyond the 3-point line, where he made just 33.0 percent. But a lot of rookies struggle on 3s while adjusting to the new distance, and some of them improve rapidly in future seasons; he's a good foul shooter and shot well on 3s in college, so there's hope here. And inside the line he was quite good: Brooks shot 49.1 percent on 2-pointers with a high rate of free throws.

    Scouting report: Brooks' quickness makes him a good foil at the defensive end for small, quick guards like Allen Iverson and Tony Parker, and Brooks can pressure the ball. Otherwise, his size becomes a liability because bigger guards can shoot right over him.

    Offensively, he's reminiscent of Earl Boykins or Nate Robinson in that he's a tiny guard who plays very aggressively on offense. Brooks was turnover-prone as a rookie, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing in terms of his future progress -- high-turnover rookies tend to improve more in subsequent seasons. He also seems like he'll be a decent spot-up shooting threat in time. Inside the arc, he's notable for an affinity for going glass.

    2008-09 outlook: With Bobby Jackson gone, Brooks should establish himself as the primary backup behind Rafer Alston, and might carve out some extended minutes for himself if he can improve the 3-point shooting. While certain defensive matchups will always be problematic for him, he seems like a classic second-unit energizer who can provide instant offense.


    Most similar at age: Salim Stoudamire



    Joey Dorsery
    Last year: N/A
    This year (projected): N/A

    2008-09 outlook: Dorsey had poor offensive numbers at Memphis, is a horrendous foul shooter and turns 25 in December, so we're not talking about star potential here. But the Rockets' second-round draft pick was one of the best defenders in college basketball, and the hope is that he can provide Houston with another quality frontcourt defender to bring off the bench behind Yao Ming and Luis Scola. He's undersized for a 5 and his total lack of offensive skills makes him unsuited for the 4, but because of his defense he'll likely snag a niche, playing short spurts off the bench.

    Chuck Hayes
    Last year: 11.3
    This year (projected): 12.3

    2007-08 season: Once Yao Ming went out, the Rockets might have been the only team in NBA history in which the wings were taller than the frontcourt. Tracy McGrady is 6-8 and Shane Battier 6-9; they were often paired with the 6-6 Hayes, 6-7 Carl Landry or 6-6 Mike Harris.

    Despite his short stature, Hayes often played center and again made a strong impact at the defensive end. Offensively, however, he seemed to have a rough adjustment to Rick Adelman's system. Because he had to come to the high post more to receive the ball and then direct it to a teammate, Hayes's assist ratio nearly tripled -- one of the most jarring one-year jumps you'll ever see -- and ranked third among power forwards.

    However, the rest of his numbers took a beating. His turnover ratio went way north, mostly due to missed connections on passes, and was the third-worst among power forwards. His usage rate declined to dead last at his position -- catching high does nothing for Hayes, who didn't take a single outside shot all season -- and his shooting percentage also went down.

    One major wound was self-inflicted -- Hayes seemed terrified of getting fouled and earned only 24 free throws all season. He had the third-worst free-throw rate among power forwards even though he took 90 percent of his shots in the immediate basket area. Obviously, that's a problem, and it's a major reason his numbers fell.

    Scouting report: Hayes might be short, but he's a quality post defender who uses his lack of height as a weapon, wedging under taller players to drive them out away from the basket and force them into difficult shots. He's also a strong pick-and-roll defender and an excellent rebounder, although his boards dipped last season. Once again he had a massive on-court differential at the defensive end: Houston gave up 7.2 points per 48 minutes fewer with him on the court.

    Offensively, at 6-6 without great hops, he has trouble finishing inside, and his range doesn't extend beyond your monitor. Additionally, he may have the ugliest free-throw release in basketball. He has developed a hitch at the top of his shot and will occasionally shuffle his feet at the same time, almost as though he's worried the shot will get blocked. This is why I suspect he doesn't want to get fouled -- it's torture for him up there. He's not just missing long and short, either -- one foul shot he took missed about a foot to the right and just grazed the bottom of the board.

    2008-09 outlook: Hayes is too reliable a defensive player not to have some kind of role, but with Houston playing smaller this year and several bigs of similar quality angling for minutes, he's unlikely to see the 20 minutes a game that he played last season. Keep an eye on his free throws, too. Other players (Kenny Thomas, Ken Norman, Antoine Walker) have had major setbacks when they became deathly afraid of the foul line, and while Hayes isn't on the court for his offense, his reluctance to get freebies could limit his usefulness.


    Most similar at age: Don Reid


    Luther Head
    Last year: 13.7
    This year (projected): 13.3

    2007-08 season: Head had an off year shooting from the perimeter, and with the Rockets having more options than in years past it cost him a big chunk of playing time. A 44.1 percent 3-point shooter in 2006-07, he slipped to 35.1 percent last season; the truth of his real ability is probably right in between those figures, but the other reality for Head is that he needs to shoot the lights out to compensate for his poor defense on the wings.

    Head partly offset the 3-point shooting slump by making more inside shots. He hit 50.4 percent of his 2-pointers after making only 43.1 percent a year earlier, but he did so with a low rate of free throws.
    One positive was that he handled the ball a bit better. Head is the size of a point guard but has played the wing his whole career because he's a terrible decision-maker with the ball, particularly in transition. Last year his assist ratio improved and his turnover ratio went way down, making it seem more plausible that he could steal additional minutes at the point.

    Scouting report: Head has a big windup on his shot, with a hop-step and a high-arcing, sideways-spinning release that somehow finds the net more often than not. He especially likes to shoot the 3 on pull-ups in transition, perhaps because he's virtually guaranteed to make the wrong decision if he tries to complete an odd-man break. Head has decent quickness and can get to the basket, but doesn't see the floor well if his path is closed off.

    Defensively, he might as well put a bright neon sign on his uniform that says "post me." As soon as he checks into the game, opposing shooting guards take Head down to the blocks, where his lack of size and strength makes him a mismatch against nearly any decent 2. The Rockets, in turn, try their best to hide him with matchups or play him at the point so he'll be less exposed.

    2008-09 outlook: The addition of Brent Barry doesn't bode well for Head's long-term future in Houston, as the newcomer figures to step past him in the rotation; with D.J. Strawberry and possibly Steve Francis also competing for minutes behind Tracy McGrady, playing time could become very scarce for Head. It's not hard to imagine him being traded.

    That's unfortunate timing for Head, as he's in a contract year and will be a restricted free agent after the season. His 3-point percentage should recover some from last season, but if he doesn't either defend better or show more skill at the point, it may not pay off much.


    Most similar at age: Smush Parker

    Steve Francis
    Last year: N/A
    This year (projected): N/A

    2007-08 season: Francis signed a two-year deal to return to Houston but only played 10 games before he needed surgery for a torn quadriceps muscle and missed the rest of the season. He played poorly in his limited run, and it's an open question whether he'll get back on the court.

    Scouting report: Francis isn't nearly as explosive as he was in his prime and the hope is that the surgery can fix that. It won't fix his line-drive jumper, his tendency to dominate the ball and his head-scratching decisions, however, so it remains to be seen how productive he can be if he's able to play.

    2008-09 outlook: Francis picked up his option for $3 million for this year, but you don't get the impression that he's in the Rockets' plans. There's a distinct possibility we've seen the last of him on the basketball court. If he recovers from the knee and quad problems that have plagued him the past three years, he can still be a productive reserve, but he's a long shot to crack Houston's guard rotation.

    Mike Harris
    Last year: N/A
    This year (projected): N/A

    2007-08 season: Facing multiple frontcourt injuries, the Rockets pulled Harris out from under a rock in March and plugged him into the rotation, and he played far better than anyone expected. In 159 minutes of play, Harris shot 50.0 percent from the floor and averaged better than a rebound every three minutes; his rebound rate in particular was absolutely staggering for a 6-6 power forward. His numbers from the D-League in 2006-07 were strong as well and indicated this production probably wasn't a fluke, although his rebound rate wasn't quite as overwhelming at the lower level.

    Harris had his share of weakness, too -- he drew very few fouls, shot 2-for-16 outside the immediate basket area and had three assists on the season -- but considering their options at the time, the Rockets had to be ecstatic with how he performed.

    Scouting report: An undersized forward who gets by with energy and athleticism, Harris has a wide frame at 6-6, 240 and quick hops off the floor -- qualities that help him to be a superior rebounder despite giving up inches. He has very limited shooting range and no post game, however, and it can be tough for him to finish around the basket given his height.

    Although Harris gives up inches at the defensive end, he partly makes up for it by being a tough, physical battler. He's not a shot-blocker, though, and mostly plays below the rim.

    2008-09 outlook: Harris signed with Houston for the minimum and figures to once again be called upon when the Rockets find themselves a body short in the frontcourt. While he won't be a regular rotation player and is battling two others (Joey Dorsey and Chuck Hayes) in the Rockets' undersized power forward contingent for scraps of playing time, he'll get into the mix periodically. When he does, it's likely he'll contribute.
     
    #5 durvasa, Oct 8, 2008
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2008
  6. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    Messages:
    33,517
    Likes Received:
    9,318
    And I would not pay much attention to the PER projections, or even the "Most similar player" stuff. That's all based on computer projections, and there's a rather significant margin for error there. Not to mention that PER simply isn't a great measure of performance for a number of our defensive-oriented players.

    I do think he does a very good job breaking down each player's season, and assessing their strengths/weaknesses.
     
  7. redao

    redao Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Messages:
    3,819
    Likes Received:
    58

    another fantastic thing about Landry is: no team want to sign him MLE.

    I think Landry's PER >20 last season, no?
     
  8. Hayesfan

    Hayesfan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Messages:
    10,900
    Likes Received:
    359
    It says right there that it was at 18.5 :)
     
  9. redao

    redao Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Messages:
    3,819
    Likes Received:
    58
    18.5? it is TMAC's low. I checked again, it was 21.6.
     
  10. thacabbage

    thacabbage Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    6,993
    Likes Received:
    141
    "tough-as-nails interior defender"...?

    "below-the-rim finisher"...?

    are we talking about chuck hayes or carl landry?
     
  11. Hayesfan

    Hayesfan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Messages:
    10,900
    Likes Received:
    359

    Where are you getting 21.6?
     
  12. HowsMyDriving

    HowsMyDriving Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2007
    Messages:
    1,375
    Likes Received:
    102
    did hollinger just say Landry was a "below the rim finisher"???

    i mean . . . what on earth was he looking at?
     
  13. HowsMyDriving

    HowsMyDriving Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2007
    Messages:
    1,375
    Likes Received:
    102
    i think you're right - i think he confused hayes and landry in that piece of the article.

    i was having a wtf moment myself - hollinger is usually more insightful than that.
     
  14. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    Messages:
    33,517
    Likes Received:
    9,318
    Yeah ... not sure about that. Though I wouldn't see Landry is the same high-wire act that a Stromile Swift would be. He gets impressive elevations for his height and wing span, but more than anything he's just very strong in the air and he knows how to maneuver himself to get open around the basket.
     
  15. bewy

    bewy Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    588
    Likes Received:
    13
    This is PER not ppg.
     
  16. mlwoo

    mlwoo Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2007
    Messages:
    3,797
    Likes Received:
    109
    The Carl Landry stats a re wrong here. He had a PER of over 21 last year and projected just below that this year. Look at ESPN.com.
     
  17. redao

    redao Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Messages:
    3,819
    Likes Received:
    58
    [​IMG]
     
  18. plutoblue11

    plutoblue11 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Messages:
    10,135
    Likes Received:
    668
    2008-09 outlook: If his country isn't going to take care of Yao, then the Rockets need to redouble their efforts. With the talent on board there isn't any question about this team making the playoffs or earning a high seed, so the goal should be to preserve Yao so that he can play extended minutes

    I'm still trying to figure out the comparsions with Rik Smits, after 6 years.

    Somebody help me please.
     
  19. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    Messages:
    33,517
    Likes Received:
    9,318
    That's my fault. I copied the numbers wrong into my post. Click the link in the original post, and you'll see everything.

    The only reason I wanted to copy all the reports into this thread is because I'm not sure how long they will be freely available. In the past, it became ESPN Insider material .
     
  20. jasonemilio

    jasonemilio Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    4,404
    Likes Received:
    48
    Carl Landry- "below the rim finisher?"

    :confused:
     

Share This Page

  • About ClutchFans

    Since 1996, ClutchFans has been loud and proud covering the Houston Rockets, helping set an industry standard for team fan sites. The forums have been a home for Houston sports fans as well as basketball fanatics around the globe.

  • Support ClutchFans!

    If you find that ClutchFans is a valuable resource for you, please consider becoming a Supporting Member. Supporting Members can upload photos and attachments directly to their posts, customize their user title and more. Gold Supporters see zero ads!


    Upgrade Now