Crafted Sports Report: Going Yao Crazy

By Chris Craft
Updated: May 31, 2006

ATLANTA, GEORGIA—-Chris Craft is officially going Yao crazy. I’m jumping on the bandwagon right now because of some the footage I’ve seen on this phenom. Yao possesses good movement without the ball in the post, good hands, passing skills, a strong defensive presence, and those intangibles that equal to star power. Being a native Houstonian, I honestly believe that Yao is the missing link in the chain for the rebuilding Rockets team. Once Steve Francis plays a few games with Yao and realizes how much assistance he’ll provide both offensively and defensively, he will become a believer.

Let’s look at some statistics. In the 2001-2002 regular season of the China Basketball League, Yao posted career high numbers in scoring at 32.4 points per game while averaging 72% from the field and 76% from the charity stripe. Some might argue that this is against subpar competition; but when my big man at 7’5″ shoots 76% from the free throw line, that’s for sure uncontested points that most big men can’t consistently provide. If Yao can master the art of getting to the line, it’s simply all over. Imagine if Shaquille O’neal could shoot 80% from the free throw line, which Yao did in his 2000-2001 season. The numbers speak for themselves and so does the video footage (reference A fraction of these numbers combined with the Rockets’ guard play and an upcoming Eddie Griffin at the forward position will be something exciting.

Francis and Mobley are in cahoots to push for the trading of the number one pick in order to pick up Lamar Odom from the Clippers. Cuttino mentioned on The Best Damn Sports Show Period that he would like to see Odom bring up the ball while he and Francis hit the wings of the court, which would create a “new and improved” triple-threat scoring situation for the Rockets. This is all fine and dandy, but let’s think about the future success of the team. You get a player that’s proven in Odom, but he might demand more shots in an offense that already has two guys that like to equally “light it up.” Let’s learn from the mistakes of that overloaded Portland Trailblazers team of late; and let’s also remember that we’re in the Western conference, where having a big man is key. Yao might not be the instant solution to Houston’s problems; but in the long run, Yao’s upside will come arollin’ and will carry Houston to the promise land.

I’m not expecting and I don’t want Yao to try to do too much at first. If Yao contributes 10 to 15 points a game, 10+ rebounds, and an unavoidable inside presence, this will be enough to get the Rockets into the playoffs this upcoming year. The image of an 18-year old Mr. Ming sinking a jumper over the 7 foot Kevin Garnett in the last Olympic games is a premonition of what’s to come from Yao. There’s a ton of non-believers including Shaq and Stevie Franchise, but let’s give the guy a chance to prove himself. Yao is obviously a humbled person, being that he’s basically going 3 million dollars in the negative to play in the NBA� what character. Shaq claims how he’s so “worker class,” but he has no clue about the conditions that Yao’s family lives in along with the conditions that Yao has to deal with in order to play in the China Basketball League. I would like to see our current NBA superstars deal with a government similar to the Chinese government, they would all be depressed. All the doubters that are comparing Yao to Shawn Bradley, Manute Bol, George Muresan, and all these other lames have another thing coming. Once Yao adjusts to the more physical play of the NBA, the tricks of successfully defending players of “comparable” size and stature, and the different aspects of American culture, the Rockets will not regret their move to pick up Yao at the number one spot.