The Give and Go
By Charlie Zegers and Chris Liss
RotoWire Staff Writers
Subject: Give and Go
Date: March 17, 2008 1:58 PM PDT
For about the 10th week running, the best story in the NBA is the Rockets. Their showdown with the Lakers lost a bit of its luster when Pau Gasol went down with a bum ankle -- but then, I don't expect Houston to have any sympathy for any team dealing with injuries.
The Rockets now own the top record in the West and the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. When do we start considering them a legit contender?
Also -- need you to weigh in on Rafer Alston. Jeff Van Gundy called him the key to Houston's winning streak and, behind Chris Paul, the best point guard in the Association right now. And to think... a couple of months ago, the Rockets brought about a dozen points to training camp in the hopes that someone else would win the job. Nice comeback for Skip to My Lou... but is he REALLY that good?
Of course, I'd be remiss if we didn't talk college hoops a little this week. This is about the time of year that you start paying attention to the guys who play 20 minute halves and don't have to deal with illegal defense calls, right?
Who do you like in March Madness? Which players will you be following -- that you like as next year's rookie stars? If you win the lottery, are you taking Michael Beasley? Or Derrick Rose? Or someone else?
And where do you stand on Tyler Hansbrough? I keep hearing/reading that he's the next college superstar that won't amount to anything at the next level. To me, he seems like David Lee with better moves around the basket. I'm not saying he's a lottery pick, but I'd be glad to have him on my team. What's your take?
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: March 17, 2008 3:54 PM PDT
I watched the Lakers-Rockets, and the Gasol injury really hurt LA because the Rockets were able to go small and thwart the Lakers' stifling defense against Tracy McGrady in the fourth quarter. Basically, they played Alston, Bobby Jackson, Tracy McGrady and Shane Battier the whole quarter, and Jackson and Alston were able to knock down threes. If Gasol's on the floor, I don't think Houston gets away with that defensively, and the Lakers might have pulled it out. Still, the streak is amazing, obviously as only one other team in history has accomplished it. Of course, there's no way it'll hold up through the week - their schedule is : Bos, @NO, @GS, @PHO. If it does, I will guarantee that they win the NBA title. Not really going out on a limb because it's less than 1 in 16 that it happens.
In fact, I think they'll be lucky to go 2-2, and I still don't see the Rockets as a strong contender to win it all. Alston has been very good of late, and I expect him to continue to do his job knocking down open shots, taking care of the ball and making good decisions. But who besides McGrady can create his own shot? And while Luis Scola is a terrific high-energy scrapper, he's not a reliable go-to scorer in the low post. This is a terrific high-energy team with outside shooters and excellent perimeter and low-post defense. (Mutombo is still an above average defensive center, and Chuck Hayes does an excellent job as well. And Battier's is good as it gets on the elite scorers in the league). But where's the offense going to come from in the fourth quarter against San Antonio, Dallas, the Lakers with Gasol, even Utah, New Orleans and Phoenix? They can't count on outside shooting to carry the day, and unless Tracy McGrady can put them on his back for a month and a half, I don't see it happening. And don't get me wrong, McGrady's been great, but given his mileage and injury history, I just don't think he has the energy to sustain that kind of performance for that long against that level of competition.
But the Giants won the Super Bowl, and the Rockets have won 22 in a row, so anything's possible.
And I don't think Alston's at the Paul, Nash, Williams, Baron Davis level because he can't create his own shot. (Neither can Jason Kidd, but Kidd is the second-best passer and best rebounding guard in the league).
Hansbrough does resemble a David Lee - a high-energy guy with a great motor, but maybe he's more of a Carlos Boozer - 6-9, 245 with the ability to score from in close? I don't know much about college hoop, though. Michael Beasley seems to be the no-brainer No. 1 pick from what I've heard. Would you take him ahead of Greg Oden assuming Oden were 100 percent healthy?
Finally, I'll give you my worthless March Madness picks: Clemson's going to pull of a couple big upsets. Could have a rematch with Carolina in the Final Four. Of course, now that I said it, there's no way it'll come true.
Subject: Give and Go
Date: March 17, 2008 5:37 PM PDT
Boozer might be a good comparison... I have to look. I think Hansbrough is listed as bigger than that... but if I was a Division I baller, I'd probably be "listed" as 6-7.
I don't think Hansbrough is as quick as Boozer... lack of quickness seems to be the biggest knock on his game. But he's always in the right place, he plays with tremendous energy, and he can hit a ten-footer. He can play for my team any day.
I also like the Boozer comparison because it avoids the dreaded "always compare a white guy to another white guy" cliche... which I knew I was doing when I brought up David Lee. Give me another high-motor banger with decent moves around the basket. Anderson Varejao? Carl Landry? Maybe even David West?
Would I take Beasley over Oden? Of course not... always take the big man. Beasley vs. Durant is probably a much more apt comparison -- and Beasley's numbers on the season compare very favorably with Durant's freshman year in the same conference.
The dreaded "character issues" -- Beasley had some trouble while in high school but has been a model citizen at K-State -- would probably make him the third overall pick if he was in the same draft with Oden and Durant.
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: March 17, 2008 8:34 PM PT
Funny, I was going to mention the "white guy" thing. And don't forget Boozer was a second rounder - not much hops, and not considered overly quick coming out of the draft. Hansbrough gets to loose rebounds pretty quickly, too. A lot of quickness is reacting quickly as much as moving quickly, and he's got that.
I actually can't wait to see Oden match up in the NBA - remember, he's far bigger already by about 35 pounds than Hakeem, David Robinson or Patrick Ewing ever were - Portland is going to be another very tough Western Conference team. We could see a nice rivalry between the league's next two great centers, Andrew Bynum and Oden.
Interesting how the 2007 draft was supposed to be such a superstar one, but no one's really having that great a rookie year.
Article first appeared on 3/18/08