There’s a ton of behind the scenes number crunching and player evaluation that makes the Houston Rockets a successful team. One of the big curiosities about Houston is how they can survive without a single shot-blocking threat on the court. A quick glance over at Hoopdata.com helps explain how they get it done.
The Rockets have five players that rank in the top 20 for charges taken per game. Five! Jared Jeffries and Kyle Lowry rank number one and two overall, while Luis Scola checks in at #11, Shane Battier is at #14, and post-defender extraordinaire Chuck Hayes is at #17.
Some people scoff at these numbers, but it’s easy to forget how valuable a charge taken can be. Blocked shots don’t always end up in a change of possession – charges always do. Blocked shots don’t get the other team in foul trouble – charges do. Yes, blocked shots may send a message where charges don’t, but taking a charge wages a different type of mental warfare. Ask opposing big men what it’s like to play against Chuck Hayes in the post. He’ll pull the chair, he’ll body up, and he’ll absorb contact and draw the offensive foul. He’s one of the best post defenders in the league despite averaging less blocked shots per game than Baron Davis.
With the exception of late arrival Steve Blake, the Clippers don’t have another player ranked in the top 65 in charges taken per game. Newcomer Drew Gooden and Baron Davis (surprised?) check in at #66 and #67 for the Clippers.
The Rockets are trendsetters for a lot of reasons, but the things that happen on the court with them are often overlooked. Without Marcus Camby protecting the rim, the returning Clippers would be wise to practice giving up the body more this offseason.