Thursday, October 4, 2007

Who Ya Got? Steve Francis vs. Mike James

Before you start laughing, know that this is only a comparison in the sense of the Rockets' starting point guard position, not who's better overall.

The team's guards have already talked about the glut at the position, with the starting spot widely seen as Francis' to lose. Of course, I second that opinion.

But I'm trying to be fair here. Francis has the most ballyhooed history in Houston, being a three-time All-Star and easily the most exciting player in franchise history. James, however, has the most recent history with the team, starting for the Rockets 2005 playoff team.

If we're going by overall talent, as you all know, Francis takes that by a landslide. But, in an offense predicated on half-court movement, superior talent isn't as important as in most systems. Let's compare the two

Mike James -- A 6'2, strong-built combo guard...undrafted out of Duquesne University.

Strengths: Played six seasons in the league and has averaged 11 ppg and 4 apg....He averaged 12.4 points and 2.9 assists in 27 games with the Rockets in 2004-05...Career 38% 3-point shooter...15.5 PER...43% shooter from the field...tough player, which is needed on a Rockets team that has been perceived as too nice over the past few years...solid perimeter defender...he's been shipped around the league a lot, so he's humble...gets along well with his teammates, good chemistry guy...played for a championship Detroit team in '04.

Weaknesses: Nowhere close to being a pass-first point guard or even a facillitator of the offense...struggles handling the ball against intense pressure at times...tends to get out of the offense much to take low-percentage shots...struggled playing with Kevin Garnett last season, which is unjustifiable...there has to be a reason why he's played for 8 teams in 6 seasons.

Steve Francis -- 6'3, 200 pound bundle of amazing athleticism, even after a couple knee injuries. Drafted 2nd overall by the Grizzlies out of Maryland in '99, traded to Rockets in August '99.

Strengths: More of a scoring point guard than combo guard or undersized 2...only played off the ball in Orlando and New York, two teams who, to put it nicely, weren't good at all (sorry, Don) of the most athletic point guards ever...single-handedly saved my freshman year in high school, which coincided with his rookie year in Houston (okay, I could have left that out)...always been a good mid-range shooter...has averaged 18.4 points and 6.4 assists in 8 seasons...averaged 19.4 points and 6.3 assists in five seasons in Houston...helped continue the trend among great guards wearing the #3 (which was started by Allen Iverson and, to a lesser extent, Stephon Marbury)...averaged only 16.6 points and 6.2 assists in his only season playing for Jeff Van Gundy, then followed that up with 21.3 points and 7 assists in his first season in underrated passer in his first stint in Houston, should be a great distributor with all the new talent this year...very strong, won't be overmatched physically by big guards like Deron Williams like Rafer Alston last season...good defender...always hit big shots in the clutch...can post smaller guards...older, so he's more of a leader than when he was younger...great player, cheap contract...3-time All-Star, one-time starter...Houston legend...has lost a little bit of a step, but still gets to the rim whenever he wants.

Weaknesses: Has always been known as kinda moody and selfish...pissed off Rockets fans with his selfish acts his last season in Houston...had a big tendency to play out of control...never a great 3-point shooter, career 34% shooter...only played in 68 games combined the last two seasons in New York due to knee injuries...averaged a career-low 10.8 ppg in '07...has only played in one playoff series (2004 with the Rockets, losing in five games to the Lakers)...didn't gel well with Yao Ming in their two years playing with each other...needs to be more of a complete point guard than big-time scorer, which is a concern as to whether he can do that right away...also a concern about whether he will be able to deal with the multiple point guards on the roster...had a tendency to over-dribble and go one-on-one, though that was pretty much the offense during the Rudy Tomjanovich Era post-Hakeem...doesn't play that well off the ball, which he might have to do sometimes with all the guards on the roster...has never played with a big-time scorer the likes of Tracy McGrady, better yet two big scorers...I wonder how he'll handle going from franchise player 3 years ago to 3rd or 4th option in '07.

With all this said, the obvious choice is Stevie at the point on October 30 in L.A. He's the better player and the better point guard. But, watch out, Steve, Aaron Brooks is still the future.


Don said...

Good post, Trey.

And I know it's a trick question, but I have to go with what my mind tells me - Mike James.


Seriously, give me Franchise.

Trey Jones said...

Mike James just had a heart attack.