On Camby, Martin, Lakers

  • Would the Blazers have taken Terrence Williams instead of Jonny Flynn in the Camby trade?  If not, then no Camby, and possibly no playoffs.  Something to consider for those who mocked Daryl Morey for cutting Jeremy Lin and balked at the notion that there might have been later use for Flynn’s contract.  Though I guess it is much more fun to jump to sensationalistic conclusions.
  • Kyle Lowry looked about as good as a guy whose been out a month can look, yesterday, in his return.  This is a huge sigh of relief for this team; they would not have stood a chance in the postseason without Lowry.
  • What to do with Kevin Martin at this point?  How do you even risk tinkering with this lineup?  In theory, he’d be perfect instant offense off the bench.  But let’s say he comes back towards the end of the season.  Can you afford to change things up that close to the playoffs?  We really underestimate it, but unless you’re the Spurs and have been together for a decade, it’s absolutely crucial to have everything in sync and in rhythm.  Guys can’t be confused over their roles.  Is there a chance Kevin Martin isn’t brought back?  I think if the shoulder doesn’t heal soon, that could possibly happen.  Kevin McHale doesn’t care about feelings.
  • Despite Friday’s win, the Lakers are still the one West team I fear most.  Too much potential to destroy the Rockets inside with Bynum.  And you know Kobe will be locked in.
  • Speaking of Friday’s win: after the Spurs, are the Rockets the most remarkable story in the NBA?  I don’t know if I’m just biased but this is unbelievable.  What other team in the NBA would be winning these games without its supposed two best players and not only staying afloat but climbing up the standings?
  • Re: Camby – The team just looks so different this year with him and Dalembert.  The viewer is almost afforded a certain psychological sense of relief.  Ever play pickup with a big man behind you?  Things just feel different.  I feel like you almost play harder, knowing big brother is behind you to watch your back.  In previous years, the Rockets played their hearts out, but you almost held your breath at the prospect of getting a rebound or a stop in the paint.  Now, you almost feel safe as if the team can withstand any onslaught.  Even with Yao–who was one of the best space protectors in the game–second chance rebounds were an adventure.  With Camby, that’s not an issue.  If only he were a few years younger, we’d have a long term solution.






About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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  • Alituro

    Nice post. Lowry looked good last night, like you said, played like a guy who’s been out a few weeks, with only one point in 18 minutes. He did drop 7 dimes in that period though. Breathed a sigh of relief watching him with the ball. Lowry’s control of the offense is much more methodical than Dragic’s. While Goran is much more wily and creative in transition, Kyle is much better than him running plays in the half court sets. It will be key once teams lock down their defenses for the playoffs. They are super dangerous in tandem. If forced to choose between the two, Lowry would be the safe bet, the guy you trust to run the offense effectively, but I want them BOTH on my team.
     
    Unlike you, I look froward to a possible first round with the Lakers. First of all, I despise them. Second, I don’t think they fear and respect the Rockets as much as they should, and I think we can catch them sleeping on the first game and steal the home court advantage. Third, as shown in the last two meetings, I think our tall, crafty veteran centers really bother Bynum. They won’t stop him, but like with Kobe, maybe we can hope to slow him down just enough, Camby’s certainly capable of it, so is Sammy on a good day. The only matchup that worries me is Gasol, we’ll see what happens there. Luckily Scola knows how to work around him, and as long as he can nearly match his production on offense, we may be able to offset Gasol. Sessions isn’t gonna have his way with Lowry like he was wont too with Dragic last time either.
     
    Once Martin is back (IF) I expect him to pick up some first half bench minutes and if his hand is hot, play some more. Then again, Bud’s been so on fire lately, maybe not. Like you said, why change anything up if it’s working so well?
     
    Now that we’ve got our 5 spot locked down with 7 footers, I feel our team is more complete than it has been since Yao/Mutumbo held down the spots. If Morey weren’t to make any changes this offseason, I’d be OK with it. I’d like to see this squad throughout an 82 game season, I think they can contend. I certainly wouldn’t dismantle it all for a big name. If we can improve while losing nothing more than Martin, Patterson and maybe a pick or two, then I’d be for it, but that’s about it.

  • Lyfestyle

    Do we know for sure that Martin’s still actually injured?  To miss 13+ games to a ‘sore shoulder’ seems suspect. 

  • Stephen

    Chicago Bulls w/out Rose,Deng,etc.
     
    The catch w/Martin as an instant offense guy is…he isn’t. He’s a very good scorer in a structured offense,but he can’t come off the bench and get his own shot. 
    If he is part of a second unit that runs and then in the half-court set tons of screens for him to run off of,theoretically he’d be extremely effective. I just wonder whether his shoulder pain when he rubs defenders off screens will be acceptable enough that he will make the hard cuts needed. Prior to sitting out it wasn’t and he stopped moving as a consequence.

  • Stephen

     @Lyfestyle 
    Shoulders are really tricky.
    You can think it’s healed and one good bump effs it up again.
    Brandon Wright-he who ate up Rockets for Dallas this yr-took almost 4 yrs to get over a shoulder injury he had as a rookie.

  • Lyfestyle

    I would’ve traded Martin at the deadline for a 3rd round pick.
     
    “But there isn’t a 3rd rou… Oh, I see what you did there.”

  • Alituro

    Agreed, Martin doesn’t create his own shots. But then again, neither does Lee. Martin’s got the quickest trigger in the league, IMO, and doesn’t need much space to get a good shot off, but that space needs to be made off of a screen, he doesn’t create it himself. The only thing he has been good at creating for himself was contact on each and every shot he couldn’t get his space for. Unfortunately, the refs haven’t been calling fouls on initiated contact this season. He went from nearly leading the league in both FT and 3pt attempts. To not even showing on the radar in FT attempts this season. This has everything to do with his effectiveness, or this season’s lack thereof, on our team. If he’s not getting to the line, and lawd knows he don’t play defense, then he’s of little value to us except on the trading block.

  • Voecklen

     @Alituro I agree about the Lakers.  Beating them would be so sweet.  One of the problems is that you know Kobe is going to get every call.  He’d shoot like a million free throws.  If I knew the game would be called fairly, I’d love to play them.  I think  Kobe is on the decline and Parsons has too much length for Kobe at this stage in his career.  
     
    I think this team can beat either LA team or Memphis.  Actually, I think I’d prefer Memphis.  They won’t get a lot of calls so it would come down to actual play.  I could live with that.

  • Voecklen

    For remarkable stories, you can’t dismiss Phoenix.  Nash at 38 leading that no-talent team into playoff contention is rather amazing as well.  But this is definitely a feel good story.  A lot of people who pull for the underdog will be cheering for the Rockets.

  • Lyfestyle

    The Lakers would have the 3 best players on the court in that series.  There’s an old Van Gundy quote about overwhelming with talent.  I fear that’d be our downfall in a Lakers series.

  • Frogs07

     @Lyfestyle I agree with you 100%. The problem is the Rockets lack a single dynamic offensive weapon. The Lakers have 1 (Kobe) and then 2 other above average scorers (Gasol and Bynum). Yes, Camby and Dalembert will help neutralize on defense, but they aren’t capable of contributing more than 9-10 points a piece. Therefore, even a limited Lakers frontcourt could still produce points via Kobe and Sessions. That’s a best case scenario.
     
    Simply put, every contending franchise fulfills two requirements: 1.) Strong frontcourt and 2.) Offensive superstar.
     
    The Spurs are the only exception (in the second category), but have mastered the team approach in offense after spending almost a decade playing together.
     
    I’m not convinved that Lee and Budinger can chip in the necessary shots night in, night out in a long, drawn out playoff series to keep the offense afloat. Therefore, I certainly admire this team’s level of effort. But I just don’t see this current roster capable of moving deep into the playoff season.  

  • Voecklen

    They wouldn’t have this past week.

  • Lyfestyle

    I wouldn’t be so sure.  The Rockets are playing as well as they physically can while the Lakers are far, far from that level. 
     
    There were times in the first half of our game that the Lakers totally outclassed us.  They didn’t maintain that intensity, Bynum was ejected and the Rockets eeked out a win.  You can’t bank on a team’s lack of intensity in the playoffs.
     
    I know David Thorpe’s convinced you it’s all about coaching and organizations, but talent matters in the NBA.  A lot.  The Rockets will be looking up to every other playoff team in that department. 

  • Frogs07

     @Alituro Rockets will not match up well with the Lakers in a long, sloberknocker playoff series, especially if Bynum finishes all the games. Sure, Camby and Dalembert will neutralize some offensive production between Bynum and Gasol, but Houston’s frontcourt struggles to match points on the other end of the floor. That puts more pressure on Lee, Dragic, and Budinger to score night in/out. The trio have been on a tear as of late, but if you look at the stat sheets from this season, you see that Lee and Budinger have been wildly inconsistent all season long.
     
    Also, aside from containing LA’s low post, the Rockets would then have to throw remaining defensive resources at limiting Kobe/Sessions offensive production. Sessions is benefitting greatly from the Lakers offensive scheme. And a healthy Kobe plays on another level in the playoffs.
     
    Bottom line, I love seeing this Rockets team grind it out this season. The blue collar basketball is truly inspiring. But I think the fans, McHale, and DM can all agree that a more consistent source of offense is necessary to move deep into the playoffs or even matchup well against the current Lakers’ squad.

  • Alituro

     @Lyfestyle Then how the hell did we take them 6 more games after Yao went down in 2009 series? Fluke? Our starting lineup was Brooks, Artest, Battier, Scola and Hayes? WAAAAAY less talent than we have today. You can make excuses, saying Bynum was ineffectual, or they’re better today than that year, or whatever, regardless we took the team that went on to be champs to seven games with basically a roster of scrubs. We are much improved over that roster this year. I still like our chances against them 1st round versus going against Thunder, Clippers or Spurs.
     
    We could go on all day about this team has this player and that player and they’re more talented, and so-and-so is gonna eat that guy up… Most of which I understand and agree with. We will be the underdogs in just about any playoff series, I understand that too, and understand why. All I’m saying is I hate the Lakers. My prediction, if we face them and I hope we do, is that they’ll underestimate us once again and drop game 1 to us. Then spend the rest of the series playing catch-up. Unlike 2009, we are no longer physically outmatched by them. It will come down to the team that plays with the most heart.
     
    I just don’t have the disdain for the other teams like I do LA. Since we most likely won’t see the second round regardless of who we face, I want LA in the first so I can get the most possible out of this season before it’s over. That’s just me.
    Nothing is written in stone, and I believe in my team.

  • Alituro

     @Lyfestyle Also, I think Brown is a terrible coach, the Lakers should be sitting pretty at the #1 seed with the roster they have. He seems to make terrible decisions at pivotal moments of games. He did the same thing in Cleveland too. I’m not sure what he learned from Pops, but it wasn’t persistence.  That missing element that Pops has and Brown doesn’t is why SA is at #1 now and on an 11 game streak..

  • Lyfestyle

    If the Lakers stamped out this hard-working Rockets team’s season, would that not be worse for you than a lesser-hated team doing so?
     
    As far as the talent argument goes, have you ever played a pick-up game with someone of limited physical ability who annoys everyone else by playing over-the-top defense and hustling 100% of the time?  You know that other guy’s not a better player than you, but you just don’t care enough to hustle that much.  His team might even win a game just on the strength of his non-stop effort.
     
    To me, the Rockets are that annoying hustler.  But come the playoffs, when other teams – talented teams – shift into the gear that the Rockets are currently playing in, my fear is that we’ll be outmatched.  Beware fool’s good, Rockets fans. 

  • Alituro

     @Lyfestyle  No on the first question. I want to see a statement series that says either the Rockets have arrived, or there’s more work to do. The former option of that statement being less significant going against a lesser-hated team and the latter being more severe if we fall.
     
    I fail to see the “limited physical ability” aspect of our team in your metaphor. I see a group, in our team, a rotation of about 9 guys that physically match up with anybody in the league at their respective positions. One may be short on actual documented talent compared to his counterpart on the opposition, but basically physically equal. We’re still dealing with mere humans (except maybe Kobe). On the Rockets, I see 9 players that in each hold an equal amount of respect for the other 8 and their abilities. Everyone in our rotation gets involved, and it creates camaraderie, trust and loyalty. I don’t see that aspect of the Lakers. I see 3 players that their whole game is geared to getting the ball too, and from those three players, I don’t see reciprocal respect for their teammates. Compared to the other playoff teams, in the Lakers I see the biggest gulf in respect, talent and involvement between the top 3 and the rest of the rotation, I think the Rockets can exploit that favorably. It’s the age old debate of Detroit ’04 model versus the 3-star model for success. Personally I prefer the former there, but understand that it is definitely not the normal path to success, and is much much harder to achieve. I’m not even claiming that we’re at the level of that Detroit team, but a first round against our polar opposites (Lakers) will be the best barometer. IMO
     
    Again, I understand we are the underdogs. That is why I want to hit the playoffs hard and fast, take on a giant and put him on his heels, knock him down before he knows what hit him. If we happen to face that giant in the second round it will be harder to catch him unawares because our potential would have been realized at the point that we unexpectantly advance.
     
    There is no “fool’s gold” for Rockets fans, we will be in the postseason, and with the trials and tribulations we’ve faced over the past couple seasons, that will be success enough…  for now.

  • Lyfestyle

     @Alituro I think there absolutely is fool’s good for Rockets’ fans, which happens with every fanbase over-valuing their own team’s components.  If the Rockets get destroyed by the Lakers (as I think will happen), then I want the people talking about us being near-contenders now (as I’ve seen on these boards in recent days) to come back with hat-in-hand and say we have to make significant moves.

  • Alituro

     @Lyfestyle Destroyed as in 5 games max in the series? Then yes, I’d be back hat in hand. Frankly I just don’t see us going down that easy. I see us getting beat by the Lakers, but in 6 games minimum, not destroyed, in which case when it’s over I’d become an advocate for minor tweaks. The point is probably moot though, because I sense a shift in the standings coming as they are today. Both teams will probably drop a notch or two. We’ve got a tough schedule and Kobe is nursing his shoulder and has a tough schedule, meanwhile the Grizz have it pretty easy and should move up a notch or two and the Clips aren’t going to move much with their schedule.

  • Lyfestyle

    Well, I’d make it as easy as, “Is the winner of the series ever in doubt?”  If not, the Lakers pretty much owned us.  If we’re down 3 games to 1, then win a relatively-meaningless game 5 followed by getting snuffed out in that 6th game, that doesn’t mean we’re “close” to them as a team. 
     
    To your point above: A team often is indeed better than the sum of its parts, but the 2004 Piston model tends to be an outlier.  As Henry Abbott pointed out: “To contend for a title, you need a true MVP-caliber player. Unlike some assumptions that have echoed through gymnasiums for eternity, this one jibes with the evidence. Since 1986, every title but one (Go 2004 Pistons!) has gone to a team with one or more of these 11 players: Bird, Magic, Jordan, Hakeem, Duncan, Shaq, Garnett, Wade, Kobe or Dirk.”
     
    We don’t have a potentially MVP-caliber guy.  Rahat predicted our current spot before the season started.  I think he and I both agree that you can’t get to championship contender-level with incremental changes. 

  • Alituro

     @Lyfestyle All is quite well understood.. Not even pretending to believe we’re actual contenders at this point (if that’s contradictory to a previous post, i hereby rescind). There’s almost always a huge upset in the NBA postseason, like the Warriors over Dallas in recent years, I just hope this year it’s my beloved Rockets slaying the Lakers! Long shot or not, just a die-hard fan speaking that got excited when I noticed we could be paired with them. Such a series is one I thirst and crave no matter how disappointing it may be to me in the end. I wanna go down in flames, and somehow the rest of the playoff field won’t offer me quite the satisfaction. 

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