For someone standing 6-foot-9,
About a third of the way into this season, though, Landry has played himself onto the short list of contenders for the Sixth Man Award. In a breakout third season, Landry is averaging 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in 26.3 minutes while ranking sixth in the league in shooting at 57.5 percent.
"My role hasn't changed," Landry said. "It's to go out there and play with energy off the bench. But I think the confidence the coach and the front office have put in me has changed a bit.
"I never had plays called for me in years past. I was always the guy to get the rebound or make the extra pass. Now, without
Truth be told, the Rockets have believed in the former Purdue standout since acquiring him from the Seattle SuperSonics in a draft-night trade in 2007.
"He was coming off of a [knee] surgery in his last year [of college] and he was still productive," Houston general manager
That upside was apparent almost from the moment he arrived in the NBA, although conventional statistics were slow to illustrate Landry's value.
"Carl's ability to generate a lot of points in few possessions [is overlooked]," said Morey, who cites Landry's exceptional career 64.1 true shooting percentage (a measure that takes into account two- and three-point field goals as well as free throws) as evidence of his previously under-the-radar worth. Landry has been quietly efficient since entering the league, averaging 17.8 points and 8.8 boards per 36 minutes in his career, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
With the extended absences of Yao (out for the season after foot surgery) and McGrady (back in limited minutes after microfracture surgery), the Rockets have had little choice but to use Landry more. He has helped fuel a surprising 17-11 start by complementing a front court that makes up for its lack of physical dominance with craftiness and hustle.
Landry also showed his grit by returning a mere one game after an elbow from
"Without Yao, guys like
"This summer, I worked on my basketball IQ," Landry said. "Growing up as a kid, I didn't understand why the old guys would always beat up on the young guys. Even though we were quicker and had more talent, they knew how to play the game. That's what I'm trying to do.
"So I just watched a lot of film and asked questions to player-personnel people and the coaches. I'm trying to get better at getting in the lane in the right position to help at the right time and getting back out, finding my man and getting back into rebound position."
To that end, the Rockets had Landry watch a lot film of Hayes, who has impressed the likes of
"We also talked a lot about how to prepare early, how to be a help defender and the technique of guarding the post," Morey said. "On offense, we worked on his explosiveness in his first move."
Considering how effective that first move has been this season, Landry isn't likely to be overlooked anymore.
• "Can you fix somebody's heart? That's a personal thing.''
• "I think it's bull, personally. When you lose and play like we do, you can't say that someone else is the problem. I don't feel like we're good enough to point fingers.''
• "If a contract doesn't get done, it kind of makes me sad that I probably will have to be a businessman. Being a businessman means I'm a free agent, and I'm going to coach a good team to probably a lot of success. I prefer not to be a businessman. I'm not a very good businessman."
• "I'm @ the raptors/nets gm & I'm telling u RITE NOW that I CAN PLAY 4 THE NETS!!!"
• "I don't give a bleep about money. ... I'd just like to have the ball in my hands and have an offense run through me. I'm not just a defensive player."
• "We can provide financial relief, we can provide players who can help you win now, we can provide players who can help you for the future -- so we're sort of like Target right now in that we can provide everything under one roof."
• "If they're unhappy with Dwyane, we could probably find a spot for him."
You can learn a lot about a team that takes a 16-point lead into halftime yet loses by four to the Knicks, like the Clippers did recently in New York. Here are three reasons these Clippers may be one of the most puzzling teams in the league.