Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Now that Von Wafer has signed a two-year deal with Olympiakos of Greece, the Houston Rockets have lost 4 critical pieces to last years team. Remember last year's team may have been the toughest test for the champion LA Lakers.
The Rockets got better by dealing the time bomb Ron Artest for Trevor Ariza. Some would argue the Rockets got a steal. Artest is a far cry from the player he once was, and so many ways, he's still the player he once was. Artest's defense is overrated. He's not the defender he once was. And when Artest had an off night, which was more often than not, he still kept taking bad shots.
With Ariza, Houston gets a much younger, athletic player than Artest. And if last year's playoffs were any indication, Ariza is ready to bust out. He is a terrific defender, especially in crunch time, and a solid three point shooter.
But the Rockets lost both centers in the playoffs last year. Dikembe Mutumbo was already on his way to retirement. But he put in some solid minutes down low off the bench.
And of course Yao Ming. Houston's All Star won't be doing the Shang-Hia Shake this year. As the center piece of the team, it's pretty much impossible to replace a player like Ming.
Houston even lost out on Orlando center Marcin Gortat.
But just recently, the Rockets signed David Andersen. Andersen has been considered the best center in Europe. It's kind of a crapshoot, but hey, at least Houston has a center. Andersen's scouting report is that he's smart, mobile and a very good passer. He can knock down a jump shot, including from downtown. His last 7 teams in Europe have won championships.
With Andersen coming over from across the pond, Wafer is headed to Europe. Wafer played some crucial minutes off the bench averaging 9.7 points a game. He could erupt for 20+ on any given night. Wafer even hit some huge shots, including a game winner at Boston.
As of now, Houston's starting 5 looks like this:
That's a scrappy, solid defensive team, but no true scorer. If you can throw Tracy McGrady into that mix, well, that's not a bad team. Then you're looking at Battier, Kyle Lowry, Chuck Hayes and Carl Landry coming off the bench.
T-Mac is the wild card. Houston really needs McGrady back and healthy at that 2 guard. If that happens, the Rockets are still a playoff team.