Yao Ming looked rusty — which makes sense after 15 months away from the game at this level. He rushed shots and missed things that by Thanksgiving will fall. Luis Scola scored 18 but took 18 shots to do it, including going 2-for-7 on midrange jumpers he can hit. He didn’t look like the player from the World Championships, he seemed bothered by the long arms of the Lakers front line (even without Andrew Bynum they can do that to people).
It’s going to be like that for a while — the Rockets may have two of the better international big men in the game, but it is the guards — Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin — that will carry this team for a while. Maybe a long while.
“It’s going to be Aaron and Kevin,” Rockets coach Rick Adelman said after the game Tuesday night. “With those two guys on the floor we did some really good things.”
Brooks and Martin combined for 50 points and hit 7 of 12 from three. Brooks, as he often does against Derek Fisher, seemed to find his way into the paint at will (Steve Blake did slightly better on Brooks, which is the main reason he was in at the end of the game, and it paid off on the last play for L.A.)
When things went wrong for Houston on the Lakers 21-4 run in the third, it came back to the guards as well — the Lakers were bombing threes and the Rockets did not answer.
“Our offense got a little bit stagnant, a little bit on my part,” Brooks said. “We need to run a little offensive sets, a little more pick-and-roll.”
The Lakers are a tough way to open the season, but they are also the measuring stick. There were moments where you saw flashes of this team being able to count more on Yao and the guards being able to have more space because of him. But just flashes. It will take time.
Until then, the Rockets are all about the guards.
Which position – point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward or center – produced the best highlights last season?
Watch this video to find out and be glad the positional revolution didn’t reduce it fewer highlights.
Could you find your way out of LeBron James‘ head?
Now, you can find out.
An Ohio farm has created three corn mazes – one featuring LeBron’s head, one that says Believeland and one with a Larry O’Brien Trophy – to commemorate the Cavaliers 2016 NBA title:
Kevin Ollie made himself one of the NBA’s hottest coaching prospects by leading UConn to the 2014 NCAA title.
He has since resisted NBA overtures, including from the Lakers in 2014 and Thunder last year.
But his peers don’t expect Ollie’s hesitance to last.
Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander of CBSSPorts.com asked more than 110 college coaches, “Which active college coach is best suited and most likely to next jump to the NBA?” The results:
Coach, college Percentage
Kevin Ollie, UConn 20 percent
Bill Self, Kansas 17 percent
John Calipari, Kentucky 16 percent
Jay Wright, Villanova 16 percent
Shaka Smart, Texas 9 percent
Tony Bennett, Virginia 8 percent
Note: Other coaches who received at least three or more votes: Sean Miller (Arizona), Larry Krystkowiak (Utah) and Avery Johnson (Alabama).
Keep in mind 80% of responds didn’t answer Ollie. But he’s still makes sense atop the leaderboard.
Ollie isn’t the typical college-to-NBA coach, and Brad Stevens and Billy Donovan – and maybe eventually Fred Hoiberg – are changing that perception, anyway. Not is Ollie showing his basketball acumen at Connecticut, his 13-year NBA career suggests he can translate his style to the next level.
Of course, Calipari always comes up on these lists. He coaches more future NBA stars than anyone, and he loves the attention that comes with the perception NBA teams are chasing him. But he has the best job in college basketball at Kentucky, so luring him will be difficult.
Self and Wright, the other coaches who got at least 10% of the vote, come up from time to time in NBA rumors. But it never seems to be anything that goes anywhere.
Frank Kaminsky ranked 119th of 165 big men in ESPN’s real plus-minus last season.
The eye test matched.
Kaminsky isn’t strong enough to defend inside, and he’s not mobile enough to defend the perimeter.
The assessment might sound harsh, but coming off his rookie season, Kaminsky put it just as bluntly.
Kaminsky, via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:
“I’ve got to be a better overall defender. I was overwhelmed at times,” Kaminsky said. “My preparation, obviously, needs to get better. I so want to be a more consistent player. I’d have a good game and then disappear in the next.”
Kaminsky competes defensively, and Hornets coach Steve Clifford can work with that. Despite his shortcomings, Charlotte still allowed fewer points per possession with Kaminsky on the floor than off. That had plenty to do with whom Kaminsky shared the floor, but it’s evidence his defense is already at least tolerable.
As Kaminsky acclimates to the NBA, his defense could improve. He’ll never be a great leaper, and his length is pedestrian for his position. But he moves alright and plays hard. Add better defensive recognition, and he could be fine.