Houston Rockets: In Yao We Must Hope, Pray And Trust (Or Use As Drinking Game Material)
But that should be all right. With the current roster, we're young, we're quick, and we don't have a scorer (we'll discuss Kevin Martin later). But you heard the young and quick part, right?
The fate of the season hinges on -- just as it has since 2002, when he was drafted No. 1 overall -- Yao Ming and his balky feet.
We must pray that those size 18s can hold up following the major surgery on his left foot that kept him on the bench all last season. Praying for sports heroes has shown some success in the past, as renowned soccer players David Beckham and Wayne Rooney both bounced back quickly enough to help their respective team and country. But you don't care about soccer, do you? Alright. Then we'll get back to the negativity.
Sure, it would have been nice to see Yao kicking passes out from the post to Carmelo Anthony, who would have been much more of a sure-thing than Tracy "I'm Good With Excuses" McGrady ever was (See Sean Pendergast's blog item for more McGrady bashing). Alas, we didn't have the trading chips to really entice the Denver Nuggets to consider us.
And so it will be Yao and Martin (sounds like a comedy show). Two veterans who've both proven they can score in heaps, though mainly unreliable in the clutch. There's also the issue of whether Yao will even have the chance to play clutch minutes, seeing as how he's been tapped with the 25-minute max play rule. That should be fun to watch, right?
Maybe you and your friends can make a drinking game out of it: one sip for every time Yao comes out for no apparent reason to maintain minutes for late-game situations regardless of rhythm; a shot for every game blown because Yao can't be in at crunch time; smash yourself over the head with a whiskey bottle whenever Brad Miller has to fill crunch-time minutes; lime juice in the eye every time Martin takes a shot with the game on the line.
Hair Balls meant to be positive, we swear. We'll try again.
So, Yao is back. Shane Battier can still be a shutdown defender. Aaron Brooks is still fast and small enough to dribble through opponents legs. Luis Scola is back and superbly average, enough so to be the third highest paid player on the roster. Courtney Lee was the alternative pick-up to 'Melo, bringing his 12.5 points a game from the lowly Nets. Oh, and we're also fortunate to have Jared Jeffries and his bloated $6.8 million salary for a full season. He contributed a whopping 4.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 18 games.
Best of luck to Rick Adelman. I'm sure his raises a toast to GM Daryl Morey every night before dinner.
And then there's Kevin Martin. The Kevin Martin. The unproven rising star. The kid who averaged 20-plus points with the Sacramento Kings. In the NBA that's an impressive feat. But it was the Sacramento Kings. Someone on that team had to average 20-plus points. He just happened to be the one willing to shoot. Also, let us not forget that he, like Yao, has an affinity for pulling up lame. He's averaged just over 52 games the past three seasons. Hence, the lack of faith.
Screw it, positivity is just a hard thing to come by these days. After rooting for the Astros, Dynamo, Cougars and the quickly sinking Texans, having faith in our Houston sports teams has proven a difficult and taxing pursuit.
We're planning on drunken post-game shouting matches with the TV, burning eyeballs and the hope that Rice baseball will save us from our Houston sports doldrums.