For his latest PER Diem column at ESPN Insider, John Hollinger listed his "All-2012 Team" to take a look at players who've performed better than expected this season, and who thus might break out next year. The Houston Rockets' Chase Budinger makes an appearance on the list. The Rockets have gone on a 7-1 tear in their last eight games thanks in no small part to the second-year forward. Writes Hollinger:â†µ
Dropping 17.3 points per game in the stretch while playing as something of a Kevin Martin clone -- combining 3-pointers with a high free throw rate, much like his hyper-efficient teammate -- Budinger has moved his small forward-of-the-future status into the present.
Trading Shane Battier to the Memphis Grizzlies gave Budinger the opportunity to play more often, and he's rewarded Houston with solid play as it creeps back into the playoff picture.â†µâ†µ
Hollinger's point about Budinger's balanced offense is well-taken, as the University of Arizona product has taken 252 field goals and 107 free throws since the calendar changed to 2011. Battier gave the Rockets a ton of defense from the small-forward spot, but Budinger's emergence as an offensive force there has made the Rockets tough to guard. He and Martin form an efficient offensive duo at the wings and, with Courtney Lee adding great perimeter D and the occasional three-pointer off the bench, the Rockets are in great shape for the future.