First, on the rebounding issue:
We are terribly small up front, with a dude a foot shorter than yao and an unproven, temporarily (maybe permanently) soft aussie who is not known for banging in the post (which is why i suggested he go to the d-league for a little while earlier), but we have a relatively huge mid-court (SF/SG combos) with a couple guys who can jump out of the gym.
4 wings at 6’ 8" (battier, mcgrady, ariza, budinger [don’t give me ‘well mcgrady’s not here BS because he’ll be here soon enough, and budinger will make the team, i don’t doubt that]) who are pretty solid athletes, who can post up (mcgrady can, battier can, and ariza is showing signs of willingness to do it [he did it a couple times in the SA game]) and have had pretty decent rebounding numbers. That makes a difference. Dave, your counter is going to be that the 7-footers will box out, but when you don’t have to worry about their back-court moving in for the ball (most back-courts with big, big men go to sleep on getting the ball), you have a mob of players running at the rim looking for that rebound. On top of that, big wings are typically more agile, thus giving them an advantage at cutting under in order to get the ball. To pad my argument, we also have a solid rebounder in Scola, and once again, if Andersen can toughen up, he could be good for 5-7 rebounds a game off the bench or in the starting line-up. Sure, those rebounding numbers (from the wings) will have to go up sans a freak of nature at center, but the fact of the matter is that they will.
Oh, also, if we can get Andersen to develop a solid pick-and-pop game (which is what he’s been mostly showcasing during the preseason), that draws big men away from the basket (if that shot becomes consistent). Another way out / another way for our big wings to get to the basket before slower, post players. Sure, Sheed Okur and Gasol trump that style of play, but it at least opens up the area around the basket for fast cutters, and Andersen is said to be a great passer. . .
Where points are going to come from, who we are gonna need to count on
Once McGrady suits up, he will be able to once again become the point forward that would’ve made this team so great this year if yao were here (with ariza instead of artest) – a guy who can score when you need him to, but is, by far, the best distributor on this team. The problem is that he’s not here, however, if you remember how the Rockets played with McGrady sans Yao (the streak to the playoffs), you will remember that we were an almost unstoppable team on 2 conditions – first, that Mac had his legs under him, and second, that our PG’s were making their shots. That’s where the beauty comes in: when McGrady is being the play-maker he is so good at being, that creates shots for everyone else on the team because otherwise, he’s gonna be making the shots (if all the reports from Chicago are true). The truly great part is we have guys on this team who are going to knock down those shots – Brooks is a fantastic shooter, Ariza is a fantastic shooter, Battier is a solid shooter, and Scola has 10x the game now than he did during the streak. Like it or not, he will be running the show, and Adelman’s offense will run really smoothly through McGrady as the facilitator. We will be a better team than we were during the streak because we’ve gotten better at virtually every position since 2008 (Landry and Hayes have also improved on the offensive end). Points are not going to be an issue, so long as McGrady can run the show for at least one more season.
In short, the points are gonna come from everyone – instead of relying on one or two guys to toss the ball to with 30 secs on the clock and being down by 2, we will have a lot of guys who we can pass it to, and just hope that McGrady is the passer. Your counter might be, “Well, what do we do when McGrady isn’t 100% in a game,” etc, but it’s not like Brooks and Lowry are incapable of passing and moving the ball, it’s just that McGrady is the best on the team at it.
On the season predictions
Posts like ‘we can win 55 games’ are futile and vacuous (not trying to be rude) – we can also win 82 games, but we have to take probability and match-ups into comparison. To address some specific posts:
-Without McGrady, Scola is not going to be this 20/10 player everyone dreams of because the defense will just key in on him. He is not flying under the radar anymore, he got his primetime showcases in the playoffs after Yao went down, and teams will adjust.
-Boston did force us to play halfcourt, but they also had Sweetney in the game quite a while, and some players arguably worse than him. You cannot use preseason games to gauge our ability to win, only to gauge the quality of players in relation to who they’re guarding / being guarded by.
-Dorsey is more than a bit rough, and he might get 15 rebounds collectively in 30 games, if that. You’re dreaming if you think he can pick up 15 rebounds before fouling out if he was allowed to start.
-Battier will not have as many open 3’s without Yao (although McGrady could change that), will probably not average 13 with both Mac AND Ariza in the mix (if he doesn’t get traded, look for maybe 9 points / game from Battman), and I’m interested in seeing how well he holds up as he gets older.
55 wins is a little over the top, Most guesses are either something ridiculous like 55, or something equally ridiculous like 35 – I’m telling you, look for 46-48, depending on how soon McGrady comes back (the later he returns, the lower the number).
Look for this team to probably fall to 8-12th in the league defensively, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the offensive output ends up top 10 (if McGrady comes back strong, he is my control on this experiment).
On the Players in Pre-Season
Dorsey, Taylor and Andersen should go to the d-league for a non-descript amount of time. i don’t know if andersen can go to the d-league, but i think 2 months of extra practice time will help him get used to the toughness and athleticism of the NBA game. he could come back and be a solid role player, and eventually fill the role of legit backup center without being named Mutombo.
Dorsey is really, really raw still, and despite his summer league rebounding clinic, he doesn’t seem like he can really deal with bench front court players, let alone the likes of starters. Sure, it was the 2nd preseason game, but if he’s been in the gym as much as sources like the chronicle claim he has been, then things are looking grim in the short term.
Taylor could be good, but takes too many shots and falls asleep on defense, a lot like Wafer did (but Taylor is a more egregious offender, and has lacked the shooting touch that the Baron had). Once again, 2 months or so in the d-league could really help round out his game.
On Budinger – i think he stands the best chance of making the team - he had a bad shooting night against Boston, but did not take a lot of dumb shots, which tends to be a normal rookie mistake (decision-making). Does anyone else think he sort of plays like Rip Hamilton? He is really great coming off a curl screen, and is constantly moving, which wears out defenders and creates opportunities for himself to shoot. I’m really excited to see what he’ll become, and we have the coaching staff to turn him into a great player.
Pops is also pretty raw, but looks like he might make the team right off the bat - he has a game very similar to Carl Landry [rookie year], which is serviceable and useful.
I can’t remember who’s the point and who’s the 2 (temple and conroy), but it looks like whoever the 2 is will get that backup guard spot. Or neither. Adelman has already said that he likes playing the 2 PG system with Lowry and Brooks together (of course, depending on the size situation regarding the opposing defense), so we may not need to have all these players join the team at once.
Landry is looking great, and Scola [in 2 games] hasn’t seemed much different from the player he was last year, which is kind of a bummer. but it is preseason, so can’t write off improvement from him yet. Also, as I illustrated above, he could become a monster player once McGrady returns (Scola is about as good as David West, who is only useful when you have Chris Paul complementing his game).
Lowry and Brooks are both looking great. Lowry is thinner, as aggressive as ever on offense, and seems to have a better shooting touch. Hayes is being a lot more active on the offensive end, which we’ll need in order to help Scola from being doubled on every post play (prior to the return of T-Mac).
Ariza is looking good, he had a bad shooting night last night, but everyone sort of did (I think we shot 38 percent or so). The biggest issue now is staying in front of your man – sure, Battier and McGrady will help on that front, but Ariza is gambling a lot on steals, and all of the young players let guys blow past them quite a bit. The lateral quickness of this team, as of now, isn’t there, and hopefully ricky caught this.