Monday, August 23, 2010

The Smallest Big Man in the NBA

"You ain't gotta be 7 feet to handle business, man. You just go out there and do your job"

The wise words of the Chuck Wagon as he answers the question so many Rockets fans with crazy eyes ask themselves, "Why does this guy start against the seven footers?"

Most accept the truth: Hayes did start at the big spot last year. Even so, I still come across ignorant criticisms of his game written all over forums by oblivious fan-writers. Obviously, I'm a big fan of Chuck. NOT this big of a fan, but I always pay close attention to what he does ON the court... and not on TMZ. I won't try to awe you with some kind of percentage I came up with while attempting calcululator acrobatics. It's really hard to prove how effective he is, but why should we have to? His positive impact is easily recognizable. Just note the effort and hard work #44 puts in before and during every game. If you're one of those fans still having trouble seeing Chuck's "intangible" skills, just remember: Chuck Hayes was the guy Van Gundy threw out there when no one could stop the Dirks and the KGs and all the other All-Star PFs in the league. Van Gundy's endorsement, not to mention Thibodeau's, should mean a whole lot. It seems people are forgetting, or never understood, how useful Chuck was in that defensive specialist role.

Chuck's starting minutes at the 5 prove he can bang with the best of the bigs, but I buy into the theory that he played the entire '09-'10 season out of position. He could always stop and control a Dwight Howard, a Bynum, or another young center easily. But, over the course of the season, his body could only take so much. I remember noticing Chuck decline last year, when he stopped stepping in to take charges, nursing that knee, half jogging and half limping down the court. I've come to the conclusion that Chuck's self-preservative decisions had a lot to do with the Rockets' incapability to make it to or really compete in the postseason. Why give up your body if you know we can't even make the eight seed?

However, I believe that, coming off the bench to fill the role of the back up PF, Chuck will exceed expectations. We lose nothing defensively; we actually upgrade. Offensively, he's like a coach out there: creating in the high post, setting wide picks for our guards, setting up shots and sneaking in points when no one cares to guard him. I can already see our second unit with Chuck handling the ball at the high post and finding Lowry, Bud, OR the newly acquired Courtney Lee on a back door cut. That should not be very hard to visualize.

On a side note, could you imagine if we were to release or trade him after the JVG era, as many people believed we should? My guess is that he would have followed Tom Thibodeau to Boston, and we would all have to bow down and kiss the rings. And since Morey has decided to keep him on for this next year, I have started to think about the past off-seasons. The off-seasons during which he helped Chase, Carl, Aaron and the other rookies at the Toyota center, remind me how devoted to winning this guy actually is.

Until recently, the Rockets might have figured Jordan Hill or Patrick Patterson would compete for minutes at the 4-5 positions. But Chuck Hayes has had such a terrific summer that it will once more be virtually impossible to keep him off the floor.

At the NBA's big man's camp, he has been leaner and stronger and faster and absolutely determined not to be overlooked. Around this time every year, we doodle with different playing rotations and almost always have someone playing for the Chuckwagon. Forget that. The Chuckster will be playing.

Richard Justice

If we're done making any more melo moves before the summer ends, this could be one possible line up for our bench: Lowry , Lee, Bud, Hayes and Miller.
Though this lineup will most likely be used sparingly, it would be one fast front courts, especially with Chuck and Brad providing the full court outlet passes. I would take that lineup over a whole bunch of the league's starting fives.

Replace the word "Trevor" with "Courtney" in this video about Outlet Passes. Good commentary.

I really appreciate the off-season work Daryl Morey has done. I really am ecstatic about our draft pick, Patty Patterson. From the interview on draft night, and from what I have been reading in other interviews, I get the impression that he is a very honest, respectable player, eager to learn under our system. I see Chuck becoming somewhat of a mentor to Patterson and Hill. Having two high-IQ players in Chuck and Brad should really help these young bigs develop.

Overall, it will be really nice to have Chuck back in a more fitting role: the backup 4. I think his familiarity with Yao and the rest of our veterans will be the key to his success and to the Rockets' success.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


So through this ridiculously tough season what have we learned?

-Tmac is still "Tracy McGrady"

-Aaron continues to improve as a dominant six foot and under scorer.

-Kyle Lowry might be our team MVP. Probably wont have enough stats to back that up, but there is no stat line for energy and chemistry.

-Jermaine Taylor started out selfish but with some d league time he seems to be improving.

-Chase Bud is stroking it hard... What?

- Trevor is gonna have to impress me more offensively off the dribble, but seeing his length on the court and the thought of him with Yao next year seems pretty dynamic.

- Shane finally lost whatever the hell was growing above his lip. He was starting to look like a Nascar driver.

- Carl!! lets get that guy back.

- Scola is now known as the Argentinian Ice Cream Man.

- Chuck is passing the ball great this season, his shots look better and his drives to the basket are becoming nifty against slow defenders.

- Brian Cook was invited to that Tiger Woods Apology... Thats about all the news youll get on him. oh ye and hes gone!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"The Cooler"

Basically, it's about damn time. Chuck Hayes gets minutes and everyone can see how great he is. I don't know how many posts I've written about Chuck, but I'm going to revisit a few just to save time. (beware! quotes from old posts below)

(1) "For me sitting out, it was good and bad because I had a chance to develop and watch the NBA game," he said. "I had a chance to watch the defensive schemes and everything and watch Chuck Hayes, as great of a defender as he is on our team -- I had a chance to watch him all year and look at tape this summer to work on my defense." -Joey Dorsey

(2) “It hurt so bad once we lost Game 7,” recalls Dorsey. “We went into the locker room and everybody came together and I was the only one in the locker room that cried. I told coach, ‘I want to come back next year and be a defensive stopper. I want to work on defense in the perimeter and the low-post with Chuck Hayes; he’s one of the great low-post defenders on the team. It just hurt so bad that we didn’t have that size to dominate the glass against the Lakers...

...I look at [Luis] Scola,” Dorsey says, “Because he’s one of the best low-post players I’ve ever seen; his footwork and everything. I’m waiting for him to get back from Argentina so I can start working out with him. And getting with Chuck Hayes. Chuck is one of the best low-post defenders and when (opponents) go on the pick-and-roll, Chuck is like a guard when he’s out there defending, so I just need to learn from Chuck and learn from Yao and Scola – who better to learn from than from those three?”

(3) ...#44 Chuck Hayes in '07-'08:
Defensive Rating
1. Kevin Garnett-BOS 93.8
2. Tim Duncan-SAS 96.6
3. Chuck Hayes-HOU 96.7

and Chuck in '06-'07:

Offensive Rebounds

14. Amare Stoudemire-PHO 222
15. Erick(a) Dampier-DAL 217
16. Tim Duncan-SAS 213
17. Chuck Hayes-HOU 204

Defensive Rating

1. Tim Duncan-SAS 94.5
2. Ben Wallace-CHI 94.8
3. Marcus Camby-DEN 97.2
4. Yao Ming-HOU 97.7
5. Manu Ginobili-SAS 97.9
6. Chuck Hayes-HOU 98.0

(4) from & clutchfans:

By the time Chuck Hayes was given one of the NBA’s toughest assignments, matched up with Boston’s Kevin Garnett on Wednesday, the job had become even tougher. Garnett was already on a roll before Hayes got in the game. Hayes, however, slowed Garnett long enough for the Rockets to turn things around in a performance they later called a key to the win.
He came in in the second quarter, and he just battled Garnett when he really had it going,” Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. “I can’t give Chuck enough credit. He hasn’t been playing, and he took on the challenge. He kind of set the tone in that first half for us.
Though Hayes has often been used as a defensive specialist against the top-scoring power forwards, Garnett is a particularly tough matchup because the shots Hayes usually forces opposing big men to take — jumpers often a step or two deeper than usual — are the shots Garnett covets.
“He does such a good job of not bringing (the ball) low so I can’t swipe it down,” Hayes said. “He has a high release and a fade to his shot. My best position is if he is going to fade and shoot that shot, try to get him as far away from the basket as I can and try to do what Shane ( Battier) does so well and get a good contest of his shot.
“I did my best. He started off the game tremendously hot. He had them on fire. He was in rhythm. When I got in there and got on him in the second quarter, they tried to get him going again. I did everything in my power to try not to let that happen again.”

(5) "You can’t say enough about the second group. Aaron gave us a huge lift and Brent (Barry) and Chuck Hayes was terrific defensively in the second half. Just showed we can be pretty good if we just stay with it. We’ve got a lot of guys that can help.”

"Ron was terrific the whole game," said Adelman. "Took some big shots, defended well. It was a great team win... And all along I was hoping to play Chuck. I didn’t even worry about Chuck getting three fouls in the first half. I had to put him in. He’s got to do the best job, he’s got to stay solid. He does so many things for us when he’s on the court.

(6) "Everyone wants Kevin Garnett—he's got the perfect height, body, mentality—but most times, you're going to have to do with less," Morey says. "Behind Yao and Tracy, we've been willing to give up an inch of height, let's say, for more skill, a person who plays harder and creates for others, who defends and rebounds well." Morey's "basketball players" don't pop off a stat sheet, but they give coach Rick Adelman interchangeable and versatile parts that are capable of creating offensive and defensive advantages. "Chuck can guard anyone from 1 to 5; Shane can play 2, 3 or 4; Luis Scola can play 3, 4 or 5; and Brent Barry can go 1, 2 or 3," Morey says. "We're limited only by our strategic insight."

Discussion with the "experts" at The Dream Shake

grungedave said...

Name me one "skill" Chuck possesses that would be NBA-quality? He can't dribble. He can't shoot. He can't pass. He can't jump. He's not tall. He's not quick. ... basically he's smart and he hustles, but that's not exactly a basketball skill.

... of course, that's why I love the guy (but I like winning more, so I won't shed a tear when Chuck is traded soon, like Novak).

chris said...

You -will- cry when Scola is our big trying to protect the low post.

I guess Dorsey is supposed to fill that role, but he's only a rookie.

Even if he has comparable defense, it will be hard to see him getting key minutes.

Smarts probably would be the basis for most skills, and I didn't really want to discredit that.

Still, I think Chuck does have a high skill level. People, maybe even me, would have to describe them as 'intangible' skills, just because I'm not knowledgeable enough to pinpoint the defensive body positioning that he uses.

He shuts down (or at least can handle guarding) opponents ranging from Ron Artest to Lebron to Boozer.

He strips balls better than any non-All-star PF in the league.

He knows where to be all the time (smarts, yes) but he's not just a coach with all the answers.

You have to actually combine your intelligence with athleticism (not limited to how high you jump) to play in the league.

I just hate when people sell Chuck short. He does so much to help the team.

I guess we're talking semantics here when you say 'skill,' but I don't limit skills to dribbling and shooting.

He is quick and he can pass. And as I said before, jumping is not the only important athletic part of basketball.

UofTOrange said...

Chuck doesn't any NBA level skills, he has a TON of almost NBA defensive skills and those together add up to him being a viable NBA backup PF. I really like the guy, but intangibles aren't skills, they are intangibles. Either way, I love Chuck, I also don't think he has a place on the Rockets anymore.

Chuck highlight from Lakers series:

Travel then an airball

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Morey's Foreward

"Jeff Van Gundy, our former coach, is my favorite broadcaster on TV and consistently gets kudos for the fantastic job he does. One key to his success is that every time you tune in and listen to him you learn something you did not know before. This book is like that... Basically, if you consider yourself a basketball fan and you are not reading this book, then you aught to turn in your serious fan credentials." -Morey

PDF of Morey's Foreward for Basketball Prospectus

PDF of Rockets essay from BP

Hayes and Alston "get it"

"Rafer is a guy who just gets it," Frank told the Newark Star-Ledger.

The Baseline

"Chuck Hayes gets it."

Jonathon Feigen - Houston Chronicle

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Some Sherman Alexie

Not sure about the legality of posting this much word-for-word, but he can write me a letter if he wants.

Excerpt from Sherman Alexie's Whatever Happened to Frank Snake Church in his collection of short stories Ten Little Indians:

Seven days a week, Frank drove the city and searched for games. He traveled from the manicured intramural courts at the University of Washington to the broken-asphalt courts of the Central District; from the violent and verbose games in Green Lake Park to the genial and clumsy games at the YMCA; from the gladiator battles under the I-5 freeway to the hyperorganized leagues at Sound Mind & Body Gym. He played against black men who believed it was their tribal right to dominate the court. He played against black, brown, and white men who didn't care about any color other than the green-money bets placed on every point and game. He played against Basketball Democrats who came to the court alone and ran with anybody, and Basketball Republicans who traveled in groups of five and ran only with one another. He played against women who endured endless variations of the same dumb joke: Hey, girl, you can play, but it's shirts and skins, and you're running skins. He played against former football players who still wanted to play football, and former wrestlers who wanted only to wrestle. He played against undisciplined young men who couldn't run a basic pick-and-roll, and against elderly men who never missed their two-handed set shots. He played against sociopathic ball hogs, wild gun runners, rebound hounds, and assist-happy magicians. He played games to seven, nine, eleven, and twenty-one points. He played one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, four-on-four, five-on-five, and mob rules, improvisational, every-baller-for-himself, anarchist, free-for-all, death-cage matches. He played against cheaters who constantly changed the score, and honest freaks who called fouls on themselves. He played against Basketball Presbyterians who refused to fast-break, and Basketball Pagans who refused to slow down. He played against the vain Allen-Iverson-wanna-be punks who dribbled between their legs, around their backs and missed 99 percent of the ridiculous, driving, triple-pump, reverse scoop shots they hoisted up but talked endless and pornographic trash whenever they happened to make even one shot. He played against the vain Larry-Bird-wanna-be court lawyers who argued every foul call and planted themselves at three-point lines and constantly called for the ball because they were open, damn it, more open than any outsider shooter in the history of the damn game, so pass the freaking rock!
Frank played so well that he earned ( and re-earned) a playground reputation and was known by a variety of nicknames: Shooter, Old Man, Chief, and Three. Frank's favorite nickname was Oh Shit, given to him in July by a teenage Chicano kid in MLK, Jr. Park.
"Every time the old Indio shoots and makes one of those crazy thirty-footers," the Chican kid had said, "his man be yelling, 'Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!"

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Randolph to Grizz Explained

Enlightening explanation as to why the Grizz have been in almost every deal possible this past season/off-season.

There Is No Window

in reply to this from Rockets Buzz

No, we are not lottery bound. And no, we are not title contenders. We will lose more games this year than last year, and we will struggle to maintain relevancy throughout the season. Anyone whose fanaticism depends on foretelling the demise of powerhouses like L.A. and S.A. as our Rockets assume their place at the head of the league, should get out while they still can. This season is for the true fans: the ones who watched Rafer and Luther and Juwan and Mutombo when Yao and T-Mac couldn't play.

But all is not lost. There is still hope. What is the one thing the Rockets have never had in the Yao era - youth. The reasoning was somewhat sound - Yao needs veterans who can run half-court sets and get him the ball - but this philosophy merely led us to where we stand today. Now, we move forward. We are not in a rebuilding mode. Shit, we've been quietly rebuilding since Aaron and Carl showed so much promise in their rookie seasons, ever since T-Mac tried to put the team on his brittle back and failed.

We've thrown countless fringe veterans onto the floor around Yao and T-Mac, just hoping they would be enough to hold it all together: Kirk Snyder, Juwan Howard, Keith Bogans, David Wesley, Jon Barry, Ron Artest (I loved Artest and maybe I still will. In losing him we may have lost our on-court incendiary, but at this point our burgeoning team needs fewer and fewer combustible elements in this, its most formative season.) What we've been reluctant to do or incapable of doing is betting on development. We've never had time to waste waiting on the young guys to figure it out. We were always worried about Yao and Tmac and their "window of opportunity." You could say the window has shut, but I choose to say that there is no window. Not in the defeatist sense - like Yao or T-Mac couldn't win. Rather in the "think outside the box - there is no box" mentality.

"Where's the Cat? Where's the cradle?"
-Kurt Vonnegut

The Celtics may have pulled off a complete roster revamping in one fell swoop, but we're in no position to hope for miracles. Our hopes should rest in development and unity.

Fresh From DM's Twitter

Congratulations to Jermaine on joining the Rockets for many years. JT is doing well at Grgurich camp this week along with Joey and Chuck.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


thanks to some dude on clutchfans for linking to this article on myfoxhouston

While Wafer will meet with the Clippers Tuesday, he is still hopeful he might be able to return to the Rockets.

"This is where I want to be," Wafer said. "They gave me my first opportunity. I want to be here."