The 99.9 Percent – Houston’s win in Sacto and Utah’s loss in Denver last night brought the Rockets’ playoff chances all the way up to 99.9 percent. The team needs three more wins to clinch, leading to this Schoolhouse Rock inspired tweet from the boss last night:
Rock on, Dork Elvis.
Trending – The Rockets are the trendiest team in basketball, folks. Grantland said it, so it must be true. Houston won the crown in a landslide over the Golden Sleeves Warriors and the Denver Javale McGees:
The Rockets, Warriors, and Nuggets are all ‘trendy’ in their own ways, but it’s clear that Houston has been the trendiest team since the beginning of the season. Signature signings, a major trade, and an overall rebranding that obliterated the NBA landscape: These are the things ‘trendiest’ is made of. In a world where ‘swag’ and ‘#YOLO’ are the fabric of NBA culture, the Rockets’ ascension to relevancy exemplifies a swag yoloness both on and off the court. You only live once, Houston.
As my coaches always told me, it’s not about whether you win or lose. It’s about how good you look in manga.
Artsy Fartsy – As Harden week rolls on over at Hickory-High.com, a gallery of Harden art (Art-en?) is on display. It’s all very cool stuff, especially if you’re into skull scepters and Aztec headdresses.
“If” – In a post entitled, “The Life and Death of Potential” over at Hardwood Paroxysm, Jordan White explores the frustration of watching high “upside” guys who never turns their flashes of brilliance into prolonged greatness. Considering that it’s very possible that Donatas Motiejunas, Thomas Robinson, Terrence Jones and Royce White all end up falling into that category, it’s timely:
Too high of a draft position can saddle a player with too-lofty expectations, especially in a weak draft. A player’s production in college may be less a sign of his potential in the NBA and more a signal of the plateau of his abilities. The Timberwolves waived Wesley Johnson just two years after selecting him fourth overall in the 2010 draft, his expected instant production never coming to pass.
Whatever the reason, the once-anointed franchise cornerstone becomes a pariah, his every appearance on the court a reminder of what isn’t. The tools were there, but the will, either of mind or body, wasn’t.
That’s not say there’s no middle ground between those who realized their potential and those who squandered it; there certainly is. In fact, it could be argued these sorts of players comprise the majority of the league, and Josh Smith is their Patron Saint.
This also hints at the dilemma in signing Josh Smith in the offseason. The Rockets have two players (Jones and Robinson), who with hard work over the summer and some game experience could match or surpass Smith’s level of production within one or two years. But as White points out, most of the guys in the league are in a similar situation, and never even reach Smith’s maddeningly incomplete level of play. If you lock Smith into a long-term contract, and one of his backups surpasses him, then you’re looking having to let one of those guys go in a manner similar to how OKC parted ways with Harden. However, Houston’s situation would be worse than OKC’s because unlike Ibaka, who is still getting young and improving, Smith’s career is likely to either plateau or decline in the next five years.
The best scenario (in my eyes) would be for Jones to explode as the power forward of the future between now and the playoffs, let the Rockets either go all-in for Dwight Howard or save their cap space for 2014 and make a run at LeBron.
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