Since the game has moved away from big men working the post, Alexander has yearned for a high-octane team that runs the floor with aggression and shoots the three with efficiency, and he feels he’s finally found the right pieces to turn his vision into reality. He said to Watkins:
“For the last 15-20 years, I’ve always wanted to run. I’ve been saying it for years. There are no great big men, so what do you do? You have no choice, right? Who are you throwing it to? How many guys in this league can you throw it into the post, who can score all the time? Are there three? I don’t know.”
The Rockets brought in sharpshooters Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon in the offseason to help improve the team shooting and they drafted Kyle Wiltjer and have Sam Dekker returning at full health to help fill the coffers with young shooting talent. So far, at this extremely early stage, it seems to be paying off.
For the first time in many years, former Rockets player and current announcer Matt Bullard, who last played in an NBA game in 2002, didn’t win the training camp three-point contest. Hey, progress is progress, and improved shooting and a renewed focus on defense are two of the main changes the team’s owner is looking for this year.
“I wanted to play a different style. I thought defensively we lacked a lot of focus, and I think we brought in a real good defensive guy (Jeff Bzdelik), and we brought in three strong players. One of our weaknesses last year was we couldn’t shoot the ball, and we brought two good shooters in, and we changed the team dramatically.”
Alexander also has total confidence in James Harden. And with the recent news that The Beard is officially the team’s new point guard, the owner’s vision for the Rockets is taking form. This will be an uptempo, bombs-away squad hitting the Toyota Center hardwood every night, and you can believe that Alexander has spoken to Harden about how he’d like to see the Rockets evolve. Alexander is closer to the Beard as a player than any other star he’s had.
“Dream (Hakeem Olajuwon) isn’t here a lot, but I’m very close to him -- we see each other, we like each other a lot. I’m closest to Clyde. Clyde comes to my house in the Hamptons and see him all the time with his wife. I know them socially. I love Dream, and I’m very close to [Tracy McGrady]. I’m closer, in a way, with James more than any other player, than when they were on the team... He was younger when I met him. When I met (Olajuwon, Drexler and McGrady), they were older. I got closer later on.”
With the revamped roster, the renewed focus on defense and James Harden taking on the full-time point guard duties, Alexander feels the Rockets just may surprise some people this season who are taking them lightly after a disappointing 2015-2016.
“In all walks of life, people don’t see the future -- only see the past most of the time. We’re the future. Once we start winning, then they’ll see it.”
You can check out the rest of the Les Alexander interview here, where he also dishes on player protests and the increasing salary cap.