2010-2011 Houston Rockets Report Card
Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog post for today, also known as "Day Four of the Jim Rome Smack-Off Recap Hostage Crisis." That's right, based on feedback on my Twitter feed and the monster hits that our rogue "Smack-Off On A Mobile" have been getting, I know you people want this. But I'm holding it hostage...until I can find two hours where I'd rather listen to the Smack-Off than do whatever it is I'm doing.
Photo by Groovehouse Sad Rocket fan
Admit it, the suspense of "When will he write it?" is killing you, isn't it? Well....is it? It isn't? Oh. Damn. (It'll get done. Someday.)
In the meantime, Rockets season is now over, and for a second straight year there will be no playoff basketball at the Toyota Center.
The Rockets wrapped up a season that started with cautious expectations, nearly cratered in January, and finished with a 17-8 run that gives Rockets fans some modicum of optimism heading into the offseason (assuming there will be basketball next year).
It's not all that hard to figure out -- if you grade player-by-player the group the Rockets ran out there for a large majority of the last third of the season, most of the guys they trotted out achieved a grade of B or better compared to expectations. To that point, these are my completely subjective marks for each player by year end:
Kyle Lowry: A The closest thing the Rockets have to an All-Star. And yes, I feel completely vindicated when I wrote a thousand or so words defending his signing over the summer. (Now if there were some way to vindicate my calling the Houston Cougars the "Lock of the Century" when they played UCLA last year. Dammit.)
Chuck Hayes: A-When expectations at the beginning of the year include "can't make a lay-up" and now you CAN make a lay-up...well, you gotta love the Chuck Wagon. It does bother me that his feet remain stationary when he shoots free throws no, though. More than it should bother me, at least.
Kevin Martin: B I hate to get into the whole "23 points a game is 23 points a game" because there's a big part of me that thinks if Kevin Martin is your leading scorer, your ceiling is 43-39, but he was solid to spectacular during the final 25 games.
Luis Scola: B- $9 million per year for 18 points and 9 rebounds is actually pretty good value, but defensive liabilities and flopping drop him a small peg. (Sidebar: Apparently the re-make of the movie Arthur is bombing in theaters. Russell Brand, the star of the movie, has some Scola-like features -- long, dark, greasy hair; long face; kind of skinny. I contend that the movie would have done twice the business with Scola as the leading man in place of Brand. I know I would go see it.)
Chase Budinger (Pre-All Star Break): D- I went to the Philadelphia game right before the All-Star Break and Chase Budinger looked like he had one foot out the door to the D-League. He was held scoreless in a game where he could barely defend. He was, in a word, horrible. And then....
Chase Budinger (Post-All Star Break): B+ With his minutes going from around 18 a game to starter's minutes (nearly 32 a game), Chase saw his shooting improve in every category (field goal, three pointers, free throws) and, more importantly, he was much more assertive and confident. Just a completely different guy. It was almost like they actually acquired another player when the Rockets made the Battier trade to open up minutes for Chase. Also, the power of Chase being a quasi-ginger cannot be underestimated.