Yao's play down low is too important to pull him away from the basket on a frequent basis, even in Adelman's motion offense.
Long-range shooter Luther Head scored 60.9% of his points last season on three-pointers, the highest percentage among players with at least 500 points. Teammate Shane Battier ranked third at 56.8%.
Record: 52-30 (4th in West) Points scored: 97.0 (17th in NBA) Points allowed: 92.1 (3rd) Coach: Rick Adelman (first season with Rockets)
At long last, from Argentina, comes a power forward who complements Yao
As a graduate of MIT's Sloan School of Management, new Rockets general
manager Daryl Morey can compute the intrinsic value of an equity derivative and
find synergies in a horizontal merger of equals. But this query, posed after a
recent practice, stumped the 33-year-old brainiac: Which current or former NBA
player does his new power forward, Luis Scola, play like? "That's a good
question," said Morey. Perplexed, he turned to his team of scouts, who all shook
their heads. Finally he said, "Maybe Vlade Divac with a better jumper? Scola's
pretty unique. That's why we can't come up with an answer."
Morey and new coach Rick Adelman hope opponents also have trouble finding an
answer for Scola, the 6' 9", 245-pound Argentine import who for years has been
regarded as one of the best -- if not the best -- players not in the NBA. A tough and
active low-post scorer with plus passing skills, the 27-year-old Scola played
nine of the last 10 years in Spain, earning league MVP honors with Tau Cerámica
in 2004-05 and '06-07.
Scola -- whom Morey acquired in July for next to nothing from the Spurs, who had
drafted him in '02 but didn't need another power forward -- fills the biggest void
for the Rockets, who for years have needed an active big man to play opposite
the heavy-legged Yao Ming in the power-forward-loaded Western Conference.
Offensively Scola has the tools to contribute in Adelman's motion offense; he
scored 43 points in two games against the U.S. in this summer's FIBA Americas
tournament and was named the event's MVP. The question is whether Scola can
guard the likes of Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Boozer et al., on a nightly
"There's going to be an adjustment period, no question about it," Scola says.
"But I also think that if you work hard enough, you can get anything you
want." -- Gene Menez