Monday, May 07, 2007

Now we've beaten the Jazz

Shit wait, no we didn't.

But let it not be said that this was a fluke or something, the Jazz thoroughly outplayed the Rockets on every level. They were the better team by far from Game Three on, and won four of those five games, deservingly. They also probably should have won Game Five.

So, how do the Rockets fix the problems with this team? The obituaries came out on Sunday, and they seem to have a few things in common.

Steve Kerr's column on the issue is pretty well-written, although I'm pretty sick of Simmons and Kerr going to the well with the "watered down" league bullshit. The reason there was no legitimate MVP candidate this year is that none of the best players had outstanding seasons. The reason the Rockets won 52 games is that they had two of the best players in basketball and they used these to beat up on weaker teams. While the Rockets finished with a better record than the Jazz, they were only 28-24 against Western Conference opposition, equivalent to the lower seeds in the West. The Jazz were 32-20, a full four games better.

Kerr's piece is also filled with annoying stuff about "pit bulls" like Shane Battier. Shane Battier is a good basketball player, thats why he's a rarity on the Rockets. They don't need pit bulls to win, they need players that can shoot. I definitely agree that the Rockets need players that can break a zone down and penetrate. But Baron Davis is a dominant player in the league right now? I love the Warriors, but Davis had 6 amazing games against a team with poor perimeter defenseman, he didn't morph into Magic Johnson overnight.

Richard Justice made a neat portrait piece, offering up the correct problem but forgetting the solution. Here are some solutions.

The Van Gundy scenario: I'd get rid of him. I don't think that he's a bad coach, but he hasn't gotten us over the hump. Frankly, he plays boring basketball too, which is one of my biggest peeves in the game for a team so good. When you are a good team, would you want more possessions or less possessions? More possessions mean less of a chance of a fluke loss on spectacular shooting. The Rockets, despite the Yao Ming concerns about stamina, would be much better off playing at least an average pace, if not higher.

The supporting cast: The Rockets have little to offer but the mid-level exception again this year. This time, their entire focus should be on the backcourt. Namely, a combo guard or a point guard who can penetrate and score. The only free agents the Rockets lose of any merit are Chuck Hayes, who we can match and probably will on. And Dikembe, who I feel will probably hang it up.

Some players who I think would be good fits:
1) Earl Boykins, Milwaukee. He has a player option that I doubt he'll take. I'm not sure if he's worth the whole mid-level exception, but he can create his own shot, and he's got amazing speed, which is an asset whether the Rockets are up-tempo or Van Gundy-ized. Also, pictures of Yao Ming and Earl Boykins together would be amazing.

2) Matt Carroll, Charlotte. Less optimistic on this one, because I believe the Bobcats can match and would probably be obligated to, but Carroll would bring shooting, he can create his own shot, and he probably wouldn't be extraordinarily expensive.

3) James Posey, Miami. I don't really believe he's a good shooter. I just love James Posey. Plus he'd give us a third real perimeter defender.

When Fran Blinebury isn't busy tearing T-Mac a new T-Hole for no real reason, he suggested Grant Hill. Thats the kind of stability I want on the team: a guy who can't stay healthy. We already have Bob Sura.

I'll look into the draft next time I come back to this franchise. Which will probably not be for awhile.

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