26 December 2007

Houston overrated.... again

Ever since the Rockets acquired Tracy McGrady, the experts have picked them to be an elite team in the NBA. I never understand why, but it keeps happening.

Tracy McGrady has never won a playoff series. Neither has Yao Ming. As much as I like both of these players, neither one is quite "take his team to the next level" good. As the classic big-slow-post-player, Yao will not thrive in a league that is getting smaller and quicker.

McGrady can't seem to shake injury problems that have hounded him for years. He was hurt again on Sunday, and though he shouldn't miss any playing time, it still affects his play. On the season, he's averaging 22 points, five assists and four rebounds a game. Impressive, but not the numbers you want to see from "the guy" on your team. Yao is averaging a decent 21 points and 10 rebounds to go with two blocks a game, but again, those are not exactly elite stats.

Offensively, the Rockets struggle. Their two stars combine for only 43 points a game, and the average ppg for NBA teams is 98. That means to be average, you need guys like Shane Battier and Bonzi Wells to combine for over 55 points a game, and that's difficult when no one other than Yao and Tracy is scoring in double digits.

When Houston was under Jeff Van Gundy, they were known as a defensive-minded team. I guess that made sense; if you can't score with the Golden States or Phoenixes of the NBA, you might as well try to slow them down to your level of offensive play. That seems to be working for the Rockets, as they are fifth best in opponent's points per game, at 94.

But until the Rockets can really crack down on defense or pick it up on offense, they won't perform much better than they have been. Right now they are 13-15, which is good for fourth place in the Southwest Division.

So stop picking them to win it all in the preseason, NBA guys. Looking good on paper is not the same as backing it up on the court.

Just ask the Knicks.

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