Thursday , Dec , 13 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

The Houston Rockets May be Soft, but Schizophrenia is the Team’s Problem

When I read Oly’s blog, I wasn’t so sure he was right that Yao was “becoming a superstar” for calling out his teammates as soft. When the gentle giant finally speaks, everyone should listen. It’s more accurate to say he’s maturing into a leadership role. Does that make him a superstar? I tend not to think so, but it is an interesting development. To be sure, the media has picked up on Yao’s comments.

Even when they win, the local Houston media groans that the Rockets only decided to get tough for one night. Credit Bonzi Wells, though, for refusing to back down from Rasheed Wallace. Even after the win, grinding out a win and watching Wells bump his chest into Wallace’s groin, Yao complains that the good defense was Detroit fouling him. I’m the first to say that the refs are inconsistent and the oversight system is flawed, but, Yao, you just won!

According to this piece, Coach Adelman was glad that Yao called out his teammates. Wait, isn’t that the coach’s job? This reporter claims the Rockets’ leader was Van Gundy and the Rockets may have been “tougher” last year. 

In an earlier post, I argued that the “up-tempo” style heralded as Adelman’s great addition to the team was fools’ gold. The best player on the team is an enormous center with above-average passing ability (mainly due to his height) who is athletic enough to score and rebound well. What he needs is someone to give him the ball when he’s in good low-post position. Is that Tracy McGrady? Not if this guy is right and T-Mac has a tendency to fake injuries.

Why shouldn’t the ball go through Yao’s hands every single time he’s on offense? The Rockets should take their time to get the ball up the court, let Yao settle in, pass it to him and force teams to react. He’s a monstrosity on the other end, too, because he is athletic enough to utilize his enormous frame to defend the lane. This was a huge part of the recipe when the Rockets beat the Suns a few weeks ago. Post-up offense versus up-tempo is a debate that will need to end soon.

Who is the leader? By default, it’s looking like Yao. It’s also a role he does not seem to be comfortable with. Perhaps, though, this is the beginning of Chairman Yao’s reign over the Rockets. It might be a good thing. It’s not McGrady and it does not seem to be Adelman.

McGrady means well, but perhaps it is time for him to take second chair to Yao. Right now, the focus is divided. The season will not improve until the Rocket team makes up its mind.

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