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Can The Rockets Be A Top Five Defensive Team In 2010-11?

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Rockets.com RPD Expert and part-time beat writer Jason Friedman - okay, that's obviously a joke - sat down with Rockets F/C Chuck Hayes on Tuesday for a quick chat. Among a slew of nice answers from Hayes, this statement stood out the most:

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[Hayes]: I think we can be a top-5 defensive team easily.

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JCF: What makes you say that?

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CH: It's all about the guys we have here and how hard we play. We've got guys who can defend and with Yao down there, he's kind of like a safety net. Sometimes we use him as a crutch and we obviously can't do that and I'm surely early on we'll have nights when we're good and others when we won't be. But I think we can put it together. Brad Miller is an unselfish player. Patrick Patterson is a real humble and willing-to-listen rookie - he doesn't have an ego. Then you throw in Yao who is probably the most unselfish superstar out there. I think the pieces are all there. We don't have any egos in this locker room. Nobody thinks they're better than anyone else. And that's a big key to playing good team defense.

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If you noticed, Hayes did not mention a single perimeter player in describing why the team could improve defensively this season. And while he may be slightly biased as a post defender, he brings up a good point: the perimeter players can only do so much.

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It's up to the interior defenders to support the perimeter defenders, because without the "safety net" that Hayes refers to, they're often hung out to dry in isolation. That's where this misconception that Shane Battier has "lost a step" is somewhat mistaken. While Battier is getting older and subsequently slower, last season was rather unfair to him as a defender, because he had no help. 

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/end rant.

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