Pounding the Middle: How the Rockets Can Win in Houston

Jon doeCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2007

IconThe ability to work the "inside-outside" game is pivotal for any NBA contender.

If you can't do it, you're doomed to postseason failure.

In 1994, Hakeem Olajuwon led the Houston Rockets to their first world championship in 27 years by working the inside-outside game. Along the way, Olajuwon was named league MVP, NBA Finals MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year.

Today, Chairman Yao has the potential to accomplish the same thing—but the team has to understand that he's the focal point, and that everything has to go through the middle.

During the offseason, the Rockets made some key changes to help them keep up in the highly competitive Southwest Division—including bringing Olajuwon in to work with Yao.

If Houston is to succeed, though, Rick Adelman has to emphasize fundamentals, and help his team understand that self-motivation and professional work ethic will pay dividends in the postseason.

Tracy McGrady, for one, needs to create plays on the perimeter. T-Mac is without question a talented ballplayer, but he's yet to show leadership, durability, or composure.

McGrady will need plenty of support from the rest of the Rockets—including prodigal son Steve Francis, who still has a lot to contribute if Adelman can create the right situation.

The coaching staff on the whole needs to make player-development a priority. Only then can Houston's talented young cast become a force to be reckoned with.