The NBA season starts tonight… and Chuck is going to be replacing the 7’6″ Yao Ming as starting center for the Houston Rockets.
Despite his height disadvantage, Hayes is key to the Rockets defense. Hence, Jason Friedman dubbing him the Stealth MVP of the Rockets this season
Thus, we return to the tale of Hayes, a player who cannot be properly defined by the numbers which inhabit a traditional box score. His career averages of 3.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game don’t exactly leap off the page. Dig deeper, however, and you begin to see why the Rockets hold him in such high regard. A small snapshot such as Hayes’ team-leading plus/minus during Houston’s second-round series against the Lakers offers a glimpse into his value. But the big picture view is just as impressive: last year Hayes saved the Rockets approximately 6 points per game with his defense relative to that of an average player at his position. For reference, that number was good enough to place him in the top-10 of all players, regardless of position, in the NBA.
But toss aside those numbers for a moment and simply watch the 6-6, 238 pound Hayes play. See how he’s so rarely caught out of position. Watch the deft quickness of his feet and the way he uses his strength and low center of gravity to turn the tables on bigger opponents so that suddenly, against all odds, their advantage has somehow become his. Marvel at his uncanny ability to defend the pick-and-roll to near perfection. This, then, is no player who’s simply benefitting and being propped up by a bunch of statistical tricks. Hayes is a player providing your eyes with ample proof of his legitimacy nearly every second he spends on the floor; especially at the defensive end.
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