It’s time to talk about Bruno. And also the playoffs.
Bruno Fernando came to the Rockets seemingly as a throw-in piece in the trade that sent Daniel Theis back to Boston, and Dennis Schroder to Houston. Not much was expected of the 6’9” Angolan forward out of Maryland. For most of Bruno’s time in Houston, we could expect the expected, as not much happened. Bruno was glued to the end of the bench.
Then he was put into some basketball games, and things did happen. Forceful things. Things that power forwards do, like blocking shots, smashing dunks, and setting wipe out picks. His is not a pretty game, but that’s not a problem, as the Rockets have plenty of graceful gazelles to lope around the court and leap into the air for astonishing dunks.
What the Rockets lacked was a big guy capable, willing and confident enough to play with real force, one acquainted with cliches like “getting his uniform dirty” or having some “sand in his pants” and “willing to mix it up”. Daniel Theis was a perfectly decent player, who was both a terrible fit on the Rockets, and also unable to enforce anything defensively.
Bruno at this point is far from a defensive savant, and he’ll never be an offensive juggernaut, but what he can do well, the Rockets need. What’s intriguing about Bruno Fernando is that his rate stats are superb.
Per 36 minutes, as a Rocket, Bruno averaged:
26.4pts, 15.3rbs, 1.1ast, .4stl, 3blk and 70TS% (and an astonishing 6.9 personal fouls – a slight issue if he’s ever to achieve those stats).
It’s unclear if Bruno Fernando will ever be more than an energy big off the bench, but it seems clear that he CAN do that, and the Rockets currently NEED that, so perhaps with a bit more polish, we can talk more about Bruno next season?
Some Playoff Thoughts:
76ers vs Raptors – This one is looking bad for the NBA Commentariat. The 76ers appear more talented than the Raptors, and the Raptors seem gimicky. If teams lock in on them defensively, rather than the reverse, and don’t turn the ball over, Toronto doesn’t seem to have many ideas on offense. So this devastating collection of 6’8” athletes, with no clear elite individual offensive skills (aside from Van Vleet), is currently having a bit of trouble when asked to score the ball against a very thin, but talented, 76ers team? Weird.
James Harden currently can’t beat anyone off the dribble, and can’t get any lift on his shot, not that he ever got much. It’s painful to watch him attack the lane, if you spent years thinking that every one of those attacks was going to somehow turn into a lefty layup smashed in at an acute angle with extreme force. Maybe Chris Paul can send him his summer rehab and weight loss program?
Warriors vs Nuggets – Do we have to gush over a Warriors team yet again facing an opponent missing two of its three best players?
Jazz vs Mavericks – Well, well. If Utah can’t beat Dallas without Luka, what is this team? It seems over for this iteration of the Jazz, if not in this series, then in the next one.
Grizzlies vs Timberwolves – I’m very interested in this series. It seems like a measure of pure talent stacks up in favor of Minnesota, and I’m not sure if Jah is really more talented than Edwards.
Celtics vs Nets – Love Boston throwing themselves a parade for beating a 7th seed at home on a last second shot. I thought they were unstoppable badasses? Now they’re plucky underdogs? Based on the absence of a guy who is, checks career stats, always hurt?