2010-2011 NBA Predictions: What Will Yao Ming Provide for the Houston Rockets?
Welcome back Yao, welcome back.
Yes Yao Ming, who is coming off foot surgery which caused him to miss all of last season. Yao is one of the most dominant, if not the most dominant big men in the game. He can get you with his jump hook, his soft shooting touch or just dunk over you because he is 7'6" tall. So now that he is healthy, what can we expect from Yao Ming?
Alright so Yao has been the most productive center for the past couple of years at putting the ball in the bucket. He does it with his soft shooting touch, his amazing height and his bevy of post moves. Oh, did I mention he shoots 83 percent from the free-throw line? Yeah you can't hack-a-Yao. But he's coming off of major foot surgery, is he still going to have his moxie?
Watching Yao in the preseason you can tell, he's still got it. Yeah, the only reason his stats go down is because his minutes go down. He's limited to 24 minutes per game, and will not play one game in back-to-back games. I don't really expect the injury to bother him to much. So on putting the ball in the basket, I expect Yao to average about 14-15 points per game with him shooting 50 percent from the field.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Yao is a great defensive center mainly because of his height. It's nearly impossible to shoot over Yao, not even Dwight Howard can do it (but it's not like Howard is an offensive mastermind). But none the less, Yao holds Howard to under 45 percent shooting when they play. So can we expect the same things from Yao this season defensively?
I'd say so, I don't think he got any smaller because of this surgery. So I'd expect about a block per game and doing a pretty good job of not letting the other team score. He'll also stop easy layups that the Rockets allowed last season because their center was 6-foot-6 Chuck Hayes.
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You can't really stop a man of Yao's size from getting a rebound or seven per game. He is averaging nine rebounds per game through his career. If Chuck Hayes can get five rebounds per game getting 25 minutes per game, Yao can get seven.
I think Yao gets seven boards in his 24 minutes on the court, don't think the injury really affects him. Truthfully, he can stand under the basket not moving and get four because he's so tall.
"Dimes" and Playmaking
Yao is a great passer, he's also a very smart player. When he gets the ball he knows what to do with it. But what he also adds to the Rockets game is the inside-outside aspect of it. Here it is, give it to Yao in the post, Yao gets double-teamed, kick it out to three-point specialist Kevin Martin, K-Mart pops the wide open shot = currency.
Yao is going to get about three assists I think. He's averaging one or two per game throughout his career. But this inside-outside game will change it all, this is the best three-point shooting team the Rockets have had in a while and Yao's assist tally will benefit.
The Final Analysis
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Alright so Yao I think should average around 14-15 points, six to seven boards, two to three dimes and one block. Not too shabby I'd say for only playing 24 minutes. Frankly that's not to shabby for 30 minutes. The great wall is back baby! For all those fantasy owners check out that article to figure out his fantasy value.
If Yao Ming is healthy all season, even if he is only playing 24 minutes. Watch out NBA, this team is for real. Keep in mind the 24 minutes is only for right now, and would definitely change in the playoffs. Yao will increase the Rockets offensive and defensive productivity. Yeah they could be a special group, in my opinion once again they are being underrated. Probably the deepest team in the NBA and one of the best starting rotations in the NBA. The only road bump is a go to scoring option, but if Yao is the Yao of old he could be that guy.
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