Counterpoint: Could Steve Francis be the Rockets' Bob McAdoo or Mark Aguirre?In the interest of fairness, I have sought out the views of someone who I greatly respect to offer another perspective on the Rockets' signing of Steve Francis. Well, actually, I'm just going to argue with myself. Don't try this at home, kids--this could be fun, it could even be educational or it could just fall flat on its face.
My first reaction to Francis becoming the newest Rocket is that the last thing that Houston needs is an overdribbling point guard, particularly when new Coach Rick Adelman favors an offense that is predicated on ball and player movement. However, what if Francis truly wants to turn over a new leaf? There is no question that he is very talented--any 6-3 guard who can dunk over centers and has, in various seasons, posted averages of 21.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg and 7.0 apg is obviously capable of being a significant contributor if his mind is right.
Mark Aguirre and Bob McAdoo are two examples of guys who were at various times criticized by the media and/or fans but who accepted lesser roles on new teams and helped those teams to win multiple titles. This is not an easy thing to do. When I asked Bob McAdoo how he made the adjustment from being a starter to being a sixth man, he pointedly told me that he never adjusted to it: he simply "dealt with it." If Francis can similarly "deal with" a reduction in playing time and shot attempts then he could do a lot to change the way that his career will ultimately be perceived, particularly if the Rockets win a championship. Only Francis knows if he is willing and able to make this radical adjustment in his mindset.
As I debate back and forth with myself, I must point out that there is a problem with comparing Aguirre/McAdoo to Francis: prior to winning championships as a sixth man, McAdoo won an MVP, led a team past the first round of the playoffs as "the guy" and performed at such a high level that it is a travesty that he did not make the cut for the NBA's 50 Greatest Players List; similarly, Aguirre was "the guy" on a team that made it to the Western Conference Finals, he averaged at least 24.4 ppg in five different seasons and, if he is not clearly one of the 50 Greatest Players (he didn't make the list either) then he certainly belongs in the top 75. Point blank, Aguirre and McAdoo were much better players than Francis ever will be. That means that they represented a bigger threat to the opposition than Francis does and they were smart enough to understand that it best suited their new teams for them to accept a lesser role. Does Francis have enough self-awareness and enough understanding of his new team to come to a similar conclusion? It is possible, but I am still very skeptical.
posted by David Friedman @ 3:44 AM