The defensive juggernaut

Who was the best key defender in Rocket’s history?

In Rocket's history there have been three key defenders. Shane Battier, Trevor Ariza, and PJ Tucker have been dominant on the defensive side for the Rockets. But the main question is who was the best?

Shane Battier played in Houston for four seasons and was a great necessity to the team. Battier played extremely hard against different opponents like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James. Battier would guard any team's toughest opponent. The biggest trick Battier would use was put his hand in the defender's face. Battier would use his hands to disrupt the shot from going off. He made NBA All-Defensive Second Team two times with the Rockets. He would never let off the gas when it came to guarding an offensive opponent. Battier was also helpful on the offensive side as well by making clutch three-point shots. His numbers never blossomed offensively, but he made shots when they counted.


Shane Battier's defense on Kobe Bryant (2009 playoffs) youtu.be


In all honesty, Battier's career was wasted in Houston. He did play is role to perfection but the team itself would fall short because of injuries. Battier was traded back to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2010 then won two NBA Championships with the Miami Heat.

Trevor Ariza was brought to Houston in 2009-10 because of the success he had with the Los Angeles Lakers. Even though Ariza stayed in Houston for a year, he was traded to the New Orleans Hornets. Daryl Morey decided to bring Ariza back after the Rockets lost Chandler Parsons to free agency in 2014. Ariza was able to use his length and athleticism to guard opponents. He also had great lateral quickness to stay in front of people. His best attribute was to fight and chase opponents around screens. Ariza would guard anybody who would cause a threat to the Rocket's defense.


Trevor Ariza Defense On Russell Westbrook , March 23, 2017 youtu.be


Ariza was a better scorer than Battier because of his shooting and ability to finish on fastbreaks. He had a quick trigger when it came to taking shots. Ariza was faulted for the 22 missed threes against the Golden State Warriors in game seven though. Houston decided to let him walk into free agency because of the money he requested.

PJ Tucker is a big body that Houston got in free agency when he left Toronto. Even though Tucker is 6'6 ft, he is very strong and has great feet. Do not let Tucker size fool you from defending players who are bigger, smaller, and taller than him. Tucker can stick with any opponent in the league. He has great hands that allows him to be disruptive in the passing lanes. Players also have tough time getting their shot off because he defends the shot well.


P.J Tucker Lockdown Defense on Kawhi Leonard Rockets @ Clippers 12/19/19 youtu.be


Tucker has become real good corner three-point shooter for the Rockets. He is shooting 49% from the left corner this season. Tucker is not much of scorer but has his moments. His moments really come in the playoffs. He shot 45% percent in the playoffs last year

Tucker and Battier are both tangible because they are great with their hands.

Each player was valuable but who is the most important defensively? Let the tapes tell the story.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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