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Friday, July 20, 2007

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



At Saturday, July 21, 2007 1:32:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

Hell no he cant be McAdoo or Aguirre. Francis is a disgrace to the game of basketball. Its a joke that the Rockets got him back. I dont know what they are doing. They make stupid decisions just like the Texans and Astros do. Steve is not going to change his game. Remember he built this arena.

At Saturday, July 21, 2007 4:32:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I tend to agree with you, as noted in my original post about the Francis signing. This post is more of an exercise in food for thought. It is theoretically possible that Francis will change his mindset but I am skeptical and, as I noted in the post, in any case he is certainly not as good of a player as Aguirre and McAdoo were.

However, other than the Francis signing--and he does come on the cheap, since Portland is paying him $30 million or so (Francis has to pay half of his Houston salary back to Portland but the bottom line for the Rockets is that they are getting Francis at below his probable market value)--the Rockets seem to be in pretty good shape. I like the Scola signing. If T-Mac and Yao stay healthy (always a big "if") this team could be pretty good.

At Sunday, July 22, 2007 2:04:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

True but as you know a zebra doesnt change his stripes. As Francis said on his Beyond the Glory, he built the Toyota Center. He is a turnover waiting to happen, he feels Houston is his city, and he loves to shoot the ball.

At Sunday, July 22, 2007 2:05:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

Why do you have to approve all the comments now? It didnt used to be that way with your blog, David.

At Sunday, July 22, 2007 2:17:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

The readership is larger now, which means that some people think that it is clever to post spam advertisements or just random comments that don't contribute anything positive to the site. The word verification deal weeds out some of the spam but not all of it and of course anyone can type in the word verification and then make a comment that really does not belong here. I welcome any and all comments that are pertinent in some way to a given post and/or to basketball in general and it continues to be my policy to publish and respond to all such comments.


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