I just heard that point guard Mike James is gone, traded straight up for Toronto’s Rafer Alston. My initial reaction was shock and disappointment.
I really liked the energy James brought to the game, his quickness getting past defenders, and his ability to light it up a la Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson, or even Bobby Jackson. Remember that playoff game against Dallas on May 5th (7-for-11, 22 points) when he was the only guard the Rockets had, other than T-Mac, who could give the Mavericks problems defensively during that series? I thought James would really be able to create some matchup problems in 2004-05.
Despite Alston’s controversial run-ins at Toronto (click here for a story that references it), his stats are impressive. Last season he was 11th in the league in assists (6.4), while James only had 3.6 assists per game. Here are some other 2004-05 statistical comparisons:
Minutes per game: Alston – 34, James – 25.1
Points: Alston – 14.2, James – 11.8 (give James 9 more minutes per game, and he would have matched or exceeded Alston’s PPG)
Steals: Alston – 1.48, James – .88
FG%: Alston – .414, James – .441
3-point %: Alston – .357, James – .386 (second on the Rockets bench last season).
In summary, the Rockets get more steals and assists (isn’t that what we got Derek Anderson for?), but they lose in scoring and shooting accuracy. The loss of James will make the already-struggling Rockets’ three-point shooting even more suspect (see story written below in “Are you ready for some basketball?”). Alston sounds like a Jeff Van Gundy type of player to me: low scoring (not always fun to watch), but a solid passer and defensive player. I liked the speed and flair that James brought to the game. I hope the Rockets know what they are doing. They usually do.
See what others are saying about the trade in the YaoMania! Fan Forum.
Read the Houston Chronicle article about the trade by clicking here.