FanPost

How about LaMarcus on Yao?

Just a weird idea I had when I read the preview for the series on Ball Don't Lie courtesy of our favorite blogger Ben and "Bring Back Novak" from The Dream Shake, instead of comparing players strictly by position. He writes:

Yao Ming struggles with one brand of center: a small, agile post player with a low center of gravity and quick feet. Luckily, Portland suits up two giant slow people in Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla. While Oden and the Pryz may be solid low-post defenders and great shot-blockers, they play the kind of old-school, post-on-post defense that Yao thrives against. No post player in the NBA has a better post move arsenal than the Ming Dynasty, and his will be on full display for the duration of the series.

Does that sound like a role LaMarcus could fill for several possessions, to change things up and give Yao different looks? Or is that too simplified and would screw up everything else when LMA has to play around the rim against driving players and Joel is matched up against a power forward further away from the rim (yet one who doesn't score nearly that much)? Or even worse once Adelman reacts and puts in Artest as a power forward, when we would either have to go small with LMA and Outlaw or more likely have to switch back to a traditional lineup.

Scola's nominal backups are not exactly outside shooting specialists drawing players out of the paint, so Greg should be able to adequately play against them.

As posted earlier, LaMarcus owned Scola in the seven games they played so far against each other. About all numbers for LMA are higher than his career averages while Scola is slightly below his. 21.3 ppg (5 above his career) against 10.7 ppg. But of course the Rockets can throw multiple good defensive power forwards at LaMarcus, while we can only hope he is effective since his backups can't be relied up to do much damage.

Yet Yao is the one with the monster season (since finally he is pretty healthy again like in his first three seasons) who needs to be stopped while Roy needs to find a way to battle Artest and Battier. He and Dwight Howard are the only players this year with more than 1500 points, 700 rebounds, 400 free throw attempts and 150 blocks. This has been achieved less than a hundred times in NBA history (some players multiple seasons). And Joel is not exactly the most effective Yao stopper. In 16 games against each other in their careers, Yao is one point above his career average in ppg shooting 2% better than usual. Only his rebounding is worse by about one board. (Updated note: Although this year Yao seems to struggle a bit more against the Blazers, see Hawkblogger's posts).

How the Blazers can contain him without sending him to the line all the time where he shoots above 85% (Nowitzki territory) is the big riddle Nate has to solve.

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