As the middle of the season comes to a close, teams will be working harder than ever trying to get to the playoffs.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets have been neck and neck for the eighth spot. Both teams are dangerous with their speed and ability to create mismatches. However, both teams are missing a quality five.
Oklahoma City's Nenad Krstic has struggled all year outside of his consistent mid-range jumper. He is rarely aggressive on the boards and has had only two double doubles all season.
However, Krstic has had his game where he is simply off. When he's not on offensively he's basically just a body on the court. That is when the Thunder have to turn to rookie Serge Ibaka for a defensive presence and give up on some offensive production.
Everyone knows the sad situation about Yao Ming being lost for the season plus potentially longer.
Their current big man Chuck Hayes is severely undersized for a five and has been struggling with knee injuries the majority of the season. Because of that, he's only played limited minutes.
Luis Scola has basically been their big man this season and even he has been inconsistent.
However, the Rockets have relied on basically a "Run and Gun" type offense by taking advantage of their speed when they have the ball in transition. Because of that, opponents have had to give up a player or two on the boards to have them in better position in transition situations.
The Thunder have relied on their defense to produce their offensive production. They have caused many one shot and done situations defensively against opponents all season. Plus, like Houston, they have taken advantage of their speed many times during transition.
However, both teams have struggled in the half court against teams that can match their speed or dominant force down low.
This is where both teams need to try and get a big man that can help set up their quick team mates for open shots or a lane to drive through and bring another element to their squads.
Oklahoma City, however, might be a little more desperate for a solid center on account they don't rely on their transition offense nearly as much as Houston.
Amar'e Stoudemire could be a solid fit for both teams as he can play as a hybrid in between a four or five on the court. Plus, he has quick enough feet to keep up with both team's speed.
The Suns have recently showed signs that they might be willing to let him go. Oklahoma City and Houston could both be solid fits for him and could push them into a solid seed in the playoffs.
But both teams haven't really expressed any interests in going after anybody, yet. I guess we'll see on Feburary 18th.