We’re only six games into the season, but I think you’d have to judge the Houston Rockets’ 4-2 opening a victory for the stats-oriented approach to basketball. Not only is Houston’s GM a stats guy, but with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady both injured we’re actually getting to put a somewhat outlandish hypothetical to the test. Guys like Dave Berri are always saying that guys who rebound well and score efficiently are valuable players even if relatively low shot volume keeps their total points modest. Critics tend to retort that low-volume, high-efficiency opportunities are being opened up by more prolific scorers and that if you had a whole team without a star shot-creator they’d suddenly be ineffective. Instead, put in a position where it makes sense for him to shoot a lot, Trevor Ariza is scoring twenty points per game, and guys like Carl Landry and Luis Scola are still getting their double digits.
The 2009-2010 Rockets aren’t going to be a great team, but I think there’s a good chance they’ll be a perfectly good team. And their good players are all pretty young. And they’ve got a chance to deal Tracy McGrady’s expiring deal if someone decides they need a midseason salary dump. And even if that doesn’t happen, then his contract will come off the books and soon Yao will be at the end of his deal. All in all it’s a reasonably bright future, especially when you consider that their GM has put up a very solid track record of good moves with modest resources over the past three years.