SI Vault
Chris Mannix
October 26, 2009
NBA CUSTOM dictates that a team's marquee player be the last one called onto the court during pregame introductions. It's an honor bestowed on All-Stars, on scoring leaders—and almost never on defensive-minded small forwards who average single digits. Yet there was Shane Battier, trotting out as the final starter announced in the Rockets' preseason opener. "I have to talk to [team executives] about that," says Battier with a laugh. "I haven't been the last guy introduced in nine years."
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October 26, 2009

12 Houston Rockets

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Percentage of a possible 410 games that either Tracy McGrady or Yao Ming has missed since becoming teammates in 2004--05. McGrady has missed 113, Yao 93; they were out 16 times together.


They go into the season without [an injured] Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, who is out for the year, and Ron Artest, who left for the Lakers. But I don't see them dropping all the way to the top of the lottery. They've got a good coach in Rick Adelman, and they run a good system, plus they're not devoid of talent—though they'll have to be really committed defensively to make up for the offensive weakness.... No question Luis Scola is their best and most important player while Yao and Tracy are out. You can tell how much he enjoys the game because he plays with a smile on his face.... Kyle Lowry is not big, but he can defend the ball against a bigger guard like Deron Williams without it being a complete mismatch, and offensively he doesn't force a lot of plays the way Aaron Brooks does.... David Andersen is a skilled big guy who has proved himself at the highest level in Europe. The offense is a good fit for him.... They were smart to give [forward] Chase Budinger a two-year deal as a second-round pick. I think more highly of him after watching him in summer league. He has a good feel, he can put people on their heels by driving, and he shoots it well enough.

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