It's too soon for a report card, right? Injuries have prevented us from seeing the real Rockets so far, right? It's still early in the season, right?
Wrong. With 47 games down and 35 to go, the season is 58% gone. It's time to face the music and admit that the Rockets are a second tier team this year. Yes, they'll make the playoffs, but unless the injury bug finds another team to harass, it seems unlikely that they will get past the first round. The Rockets have simply not had their starting core together enough to have developed any semblance of continuity or teamwork. They have the horses to win, but that doesn't pay the rent if they're stuck in the stable.
So with sincere hope tempered by reality, here is my mid-season report card:
Rafer Alston (B-) Rafer doesn't turn the ball over much and he gets it to the right players pretty well, but his shooting has been mediocre at best. The Rockets need more from him than just stability.
Ron Artest (C+) He has missed 13 games due to injury and has been at half speed in most of the rest. Flashes of defensive greatness and gritty determination aside, Ron has simply not brought that much to the court this season. To his credit, he has kept his nose clean and not created any obvious disharmony.
Brent Barry (D) Barry is another one that has been unavailable for much of the season due to injury. But even in the games he's played, he has yet to make a difference. I know that every Barry is required to end their careers in Houston, but I just didn't think it would be this year.
Shane Battier (C+) Injured at the end of last year, Shane required much of the early season this year to heal. He is still not completely back to full strength, but you've got to appreciate his attitude and hustle. I still love the guy, but he may not be able to be the same hard-nosed defender this year as in the past.
Aaron Brooks (C) Aaron has made great strides toward becoming an NBA point guard, but has not shot well or stood out as a clutch player. His height and lack of experience make him a defensive liability.
Joey Dorsey (I) Joey has played only a few minutes in 3 games due to Plantar Fascaitis in his foot.
Chuck Hayes (C-) Hayes is a very good defender and rebounder for his size, but his complete lack of offensive skills makes it too easy for other teams to lay off of him on defense and double-team his teammates. A role player like Chuck is a luxury for a very deep team. With all the Rockets' injuries right now, they need more versatility from their backups.
Luther Head (D+) Head started the season well, filling in for the stars that were still on the hospital ship, but went into a shooting slump at only 38%. His Lenovo stat (+/-) is the lowest on the team at -49. That means that while Luther was in the game, the opposing team scored 49 more points than the Rockets. Not good.
Carl Landry (B-) He is shooting an excellent 56% from the field - and many of his shots are mid-range jumpers. Carl relies greatly on his athleticism, tending to make a sophomore's share of mistakes on both ends of the court.
Tracy McGrady (D) McGrady is just Tracy this year. T-Mac is missing in action. He missed much of the early season with a knee injury and has been in and out of the lineup since. His shooting percentage, points, rebounds, assists... well, everything is down this year. And we've seen no indication that it will improve.
Dikembe Mutombo (A+) Deke has played 4 minutes in one game and scored 4 points on 100% shooting. In other words, he's scoring a point a minute and he's been perfect. Pretty impressive, huh? Obviously, he is here for his presence in the locker room. Crack the whip, big guy!
Luis Scola (B+) Scola has been strong, consistent and reliable so far. Why Adelman only plays him 28 minutes per game, I don't know. Apparently coach knows his combinations better than I do. Scola is a very good player and fun to watch.
Von Wafer (B) Von has been a real find for the Rockets. He has shot well and provided some high flying energy for the home team, though he makes more than his share of mistakes on offense and defense. Even though he's in his fourth year in the league, Wafer is getting his first shot at playing significant minutes and his future looks bright.
Yao Ming (A) Yao has his weaknesses, but he is the reason the Rockets have a winning record to date. He has been a rock in the middle. His decision-making and defense have both matured to a point that if he is not the best center in the league, he is certainly among the top few.
Rick Adelman (B-) The Rockets are winning, in spite of the abundance of players missing in action. Even so, the harmony and joy of being part of the Houston Rockets seems to be in short supply in the locker room this year. Nevertheless, a coach is always judged by his record, so an above-average record deserves an above-average grade.
There it is. My take on the Rockets' performances to date. Disagree? Post your own. Next up: my prognosis for the rest of the season.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Welcome to my blog, dedicated to all aspects of the Houston Rockets. I have been a fan since the team moved here from San Diego in 1971. The site will include team history, a (personal) Rockets Hall of Fame and creative intercourse relating to the team news of the moment. Be patient with its growth and stop in often!
Posted by Rick Lewis at 10:21 PM