Rockets will need youngsters to regain winning sheen
Posted: Wednesday August 16, 2006 12:06PM; Updated: Wednesday August 16, 2006 12:51PM
Battling injuries for most of last season, Tracy McGrady suffered through his least-productive campaign since his days with the Raptors.
John W. McDonough/SI
ClutchFans.net is the undisputed granddaddy of NBA fan sites. Launched in August 1996 by David "Clutch" Hardisty, the page stands alone in the annals of online hoops fandom due to the sheer volume of its Houston Rockets coverage. Fan-penned columns, game recaps, scouting reports and statistical breakdowns cover the site, in addition to a lottery-pick generator that has been (ahem) "appropriated" by bigger, corporate-run sites. Adding to the frenzy is a message board that boasts 19,000 registered posters and offers the most intelligent NBA fan back-and-forth you'll find on the Web.
With the Rockets looking to rejoin the ranks of the NBA's elite in 2006-07 after coming off an injury-plagued 34-win campaign last season, we asked Clutch six crucial questions about the team he has covered for more than a decade.
SI.com: Can Tracy McGrady play shooting guard? In coach Jeff Van Gundy's offensive and defensive schemes, will it even matter?
Hardisty: Shooting guard is probably the biggest hole for the Rockets right now, so it would be nice if Tracy could fill that position. In the end, however, I don't think it is really going to matter. Shane Battier will pick up the toughest defensive assignments as he and McGrady will man the 2-3-4 -- at times with a shooting guard like Kirk Snyder or Luther Head on the floor, and at other times with a power forward like Juwan Howard or Chuck Hayes.
SI.com: Did Juwan Howard retire last summer?
Hardisty:Juwan is a good scorer who can stretch the interior defense by knocking down the mid-range jumper, but the problem is he doesn't provide too much else at this stage. His rebounding and defense are really sub-par and he reminds you of a Shareef Abdur-Rahim in that, for whatever reason, he's not a guy who impacts winning. He could be a very good player for the Rockets off the bench, but unfortunately they don't yet have a surefire power forward better than Howard -- though Battier will see time there. And look out for Hayes.