It feels so long ago since the Houston Rockets were eliminated from the postseason at the hands of Golden State, that I can’t even remember if I wrote anything looking back on the season.  Possibly I didn’t.  We also had a lot to discuss with the D’Antoni hiring and the rumors surrounding that process.  But here we are in the middle of June, in the days leading up to the NBA draft, but having no first round draft pick.  That’s the most depressing outcome possible after coming off a disappointing season.

The thing I just can’t get over is how quickly everything changed from just last season.  I maybe started thinking about this deeply after all of the commemorations recently of Houston’s title teams.  I don’t know that I was emotionally present during the ’94 title run, but in 1995, I watched all 82 games + the postseason, even if needing to finish certain Pacific coast fourth quarters from my headphones, under the safety of my covers.  The most striking thing, looking back, is that I took winning for granted.  I was overjoyed, but I didn’t grasp even a fraction of the magnitude of the circumstances.  Even in the ensuing years, culminating in 1997, when the team made deep playoff runs, I still assumed relevance was a right.

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This news doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, and one can’t blame Harden at all for this decision.  I wouldn’t go either if I were in his shoes.  But its still disappointing given the impact Team USA had on Harden’s ensuing season two summers ago.  I’ll admit it was a wishful fantasy of mine that Harden, after spending another summer in the presence of positive influences and in a leadership role, would come back next October with the same focus and mindset with which he approached the 2014-2015 campaign.  Instead, we’re left hoping that last year’s fall from grace will be enough motivation.






in musings

I finally got around to hearing Woj’s podcast interview with Daryl Morey, and a few things stood out:

  • Morey said that people misinterpreted his statement that whatever coach they hired, they needed to improve their defense saying people took that to mean they would hire a defensive-leaning coach.  Here was his actual statement: “I think its somebody who embodies what we need.  We need to get our defense stronger.”  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
  • Morey mentioned repeatedly that the team had won the third most games of any team in the league in the last ten years.  This was news to me.  But it begs an interesting question: is “consistently good” without extreme success really enviable?  I think most fans would prefer a string of lottery seasons followed by consecutive deep playoff runs.
  • To that end, Morey stated, when asked about Les Alexander’s involvement during the hiring process of Mike D’Antoni, that it was the right thing for the owner to be involved and that the owner is the one person who has the same incentive as the fans, in contrast with the motivations of the general manager and coach.  I’m not sure I agree at all with that statement.  An owner could have a very short term outlook on his investment, eschewing long term growth in favor of immediate relevance and revenue.  In fact, later in the interview, when asked of the team’s course over the past ten years during his tenure, Morey implicitly confirmed the well-known fact that it was Alexander who has not allowed the team to properly rebuild, by reiterating his opinion regarding the difficulty and low odds associated with retooling on the fly, even saying “…you could argue we’re feeling the effects of that.”  As someone who will always play the odds, there’s really no doubt left from Morey’s multiple statements over the years regarding the percentages that if it were up to Morey himself, he would have enacted a complete tear down at some point rather than pursuing the course he’s been required to take.  So no, I, as someone who wants to see this team harvest and cultivate young talent, do not have the same incentives as the owner.  And while I, and my readership, as die-hards, may not be entirely representative of the entire Houston sports market, the rest of the people out there don’t care about this team during down times in the first place.






in musings

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 15: K.J. McDaniels #32 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against the Utah Jazz on April 15, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

One of my biggest disappointments last season was J.B. Bickerstaff’s refusal to give guard/forward K.J. McDaniels a legitimate opportunity to crack the Houston Rockets’ rotation.  While McDaniels certainly has his flaws (just 28% shooting on 3’s), I noted several times during the year when his defensive activities–particularly when guarding opposing point guards–altered the complexity of the game.  It’s not a conclusive sample size, but McDaniels did have the highest net rating on the team at +18.9.

Watching the Oklahoma City Thunder push Golden State to the brink, I began wondering why Houston couldn’t use McDaniels in a similar manner as the Thunder did with Andre Roberson.  Thus, I went back and watched all of Roberson’s made field goals from the Thunder’s May 24th victory–their last of that series–where Roberson went 7/12 from the field in scoring 17 points.

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A note on the 2014-2015 MVP race

This wouldn’t necessitate its own post if Twitter wasn’t so miserly with its character restriction, but I just had to get this off my chest.  In light of how widely Houston Rockets fans were mocked and Houston Rockets bloggers were derided as homers last season for arguing that James Harden deserved the MVP, I think its very amusing to see how well the Warriors have done this postseason in spite of some less than stellar performances from Stephen Curry.  I wonder how Houston would’ve looked that year with a player next to Harden capable of pulling off the performance that Klay Thompson did in Game 6 in saving the Warriors’ season.






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