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dirt_dobber
10-22-2005, 07:17 AM
Oct. 21, 2005, 11:29PM
By JONATHAN FEIGEN
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
MEMPHIS, TENN. - Still experimenting with rotations and combinations, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy thought he would give a new point guard a try tonight.

Big guy, goes about 6-8, 225. Considered Magic Johnson his inspiration. Known to score a bit, too.

Tracy McGrady, twice the NBA's scoring champion and five times an All-Star, might not have jitters tonight when he starts at the point against the Memphis Grizzlies. But Van Gundy, undecided about his rotation at point guard after Rafer Alston, will put the ball in McGrady's hands to see how things mix in his latest preseason chemistry experiment.

"We have to find out when Rafer's not on the floor if we can play without a true point," Van Gundy said. "Do we want to, and can we function effectively if McGrady's our primary ball-handler?

"We're trying to get our best players on the court."

Van Gundy has no doubts about McGrady. He has called McGrady one of the best point guards in the NBA, no small praise considering McGrady has worked almost exclusively at small forward since being acquired by the Rockets.

Even when the Rockets introduced him early last season with: "And at guard ... " McGrady ran plays at small forward, with Jim Jackson trying to turn himself back into a guard. But despite the addition to the Rockets' backcourt last season, McGrady increasingly initiated the offense.


The triggerman
Coincidentally, the Rockets got their first look at how skilled a playmaker McGrady can be in Memphis, when he had 30 points and nine assists in the third game of last season. By the playoffs, he was so much the triggerman of the Rockets' offense, that even while averaging 30.7 points per game against the Dallas Mavericks, he averaged 6.7 assists.

McGrady was able to do that at forward, where he will play the bulk of his minutes. Tonight's experiment was inspired by other factors.

Last season's starting point guard, Bob Sura is out, and there is depth at shooting guard with last season's trades for Jon Barry and David Wesley and this season's additions of Derek Anderson and Luther Head.

With McGrady initiating so much of the offense anyway, particularly when Alston has been out, Van Gundy will put catch-and-shoot talents around McGrady tonight to see how well the Rockets' offense clicks.

"Right now, behind Rafer, he'll probably be our second primary ball-handler," Van Gundy said of McGrady. "We'll just have to wait and see how it all works out. I don't know if it's something we can use steadily or not. We'll find out.

"We're trying to figure out a rotation that will allow us to play our best. That's one thing we'd like to find out."

The Rockets unsuccessfully tried McGrady at the point in the preseason last year but did not have the shooters or quick defenders to surround him that they have now.

Tonight's experiment is risk-free. McGrady will be able to get by without a few extra preseason minutes at small forward, and even if things don't work with him running the point, he doesn't need the extra position to contribute. He also has no complaints with moonlighting.

"It doesn't matter to me, whatever it takes to win," McGrady said. "Whatever it takes to win, that's what I want to do. If I have to run point some, and it kind of works in our favor anyway, because I kind of did it last year just running the pick-and-rolls to death, and we were very effective at it, or if I'm off the ball, I think it's going to be the best situation for the team.

"Whatever coach decides is going to work."

In some ways, even tonight McGrady will be more of a playmaker than point guard because the Rockets won't ask him to chase Damon Stoudamire and Bobby Jackson on the defensive end of the court.

To make it work with McGrady running the point, the Rockets will have to use shooting guards on opposing points, as they did last season with Wesley.


Defending the blurs
That is not to say McGrady would concede that he could not defend the league's blurs if the need arose.

"Only in key situations will I probably defend a guy like (Allen) Iverson, try to make it tough on him, make him drive as opposed to taking the open jumper," McGrady said. "Thats a tough job, though. I mean 82 games, 38, 40 minutes a game, running point, thats tough. It really is.

"To run point for a whole season, that's a tough job. But if coach is ready to try that out, I'm ready to take on that challenge."

Even in 10, 15 minutes a night, Van Gundy decided it was worth taking a look, figuring that if the parts fit around McGrady, the same answer might solve another Rockets question.



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dirt_dobber
10-22-2005, 07:22 AM
this was my beef with the Rockets being ranked above the Mavs in many
preseason polls. Their point guard situation is a real question mark.

I can't wait for the season to start and for the rocket's to come back
to the AAC where they got their a$$es handed to them.

.

Thespiralgoeson
10-24-2005, 04:24 AM
This article is f*cking pointless... I don't get it... JVG plays McGrady at point, and that's some kind of news? T-Mac was their best playmaker, maybe still is, and played heavy minutes at point last season... Or am I the only one that remembers McGrady carrying the ball up the court and watching him and Yao kill us with the pick and roll?