Here's a tip for Houston's upcoming opponents: Take the double team out of your defensive game plan. Nearly two thirds of the ballots from this week's poll—which queried a coach or executive from each team about the player they most feared as a passer when he draws two defenders in the low post—came back with a Rocket on them. Said Sacramento vice president Geoff Petrie, "When you get down to it, Houston has three of the best in Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and Clyde Drexler."
Olajuwon was deemed most effective, with 11 votes, followed by Barkley, with seven. Drexler got one. Portland center Arvydas Sabonis, the only other multiple vote getter, was the pick on five ballots. "Most guys, when it comes in, it doesn't come back out, does it?" says Jazz vice president Scott Layden. "But Sabonis passes like a guard. And then he's got those little trick passes, behind-the-backs and flips." Chris Webber and Karl Malone also received one vote each.
The Rockets, though, had the clear edge at dishing off under pressure. According to the pollees, Barkley relies on his experience to make sound snap decisions, while the 7-foot Olajuwon's athleticism enables him to be the best at negating a double team. And, says one coach, "he has the rings to prove it."