A Holiday Wish List for the Houston Rockets

In keeping with the holiday spirit, I have compiled a wish list for the Houston Rockets. Some of these wishes are more easily granted than others; but isn’t that usually the case with wish lists?

  1. A textbook jump shot for Jeremy Lin
    • Per Hoopdata, Lin is still shooting atrociously on jump shots: 25% on shots from 10-15 feet, 28% on shots from 16-23 feet, and 30% on threes.
    • As I’ve harped on in the past, Lin’s release is fundamentally awkward (although that doesn’t necessarily preclude effectiveness: see Kevin Martin or Shawn Marion) and his inability to make opponents respect his jump shot cramps the Rockets’ otherwise admirable floor spacing.
  2. Better hands/finishing ability for Omer Asik
    • While he is an excellent screen-setter, Asik has pretty poor hands for a big man— he turns it over three times per game and shoots only 56% at the rim. According to 82games.com, 18% of his close-range shots that aren’t dunks are blocked.
    • In recent games, he seems more willing to just go up and dunk the ball. As Clyde so eagerly reminds him during nearly every broadcast, Asik does have the athleticism to attempt this more often. At worst, he should earn a trip to the line, where he’s shooting a career-best 58%.
  3. More playing time for Greg Smith
    • As I’ve outlined previously, Smith has been phenomenal offensively and deserves more playing time. It is understandably difficult to take Asik off the floor given his defense and rebounding, and playing Smith and Asik together would kill the Rockets’ spacing. Still, I’d like to see Smith given a bit more of a run.
  4. A built-in “heat check” for Carlos Delfino
    • Per Basketball Reference, Delfino is jacking up an unconscionable nine three’s per 36 minutes while shooting 34% from deep (below the league average of 36%).
    • Too often, Delfino takes the first three pointer that comes his way (open or not) to the detriment of the Rockets’ ability to run their offense and find a better shot.
  5. An All-Star berth for James Harden
    • Given Harden’s play, a spot on the All-Star team is virtually guaranteed. The more interesting question is whether Harden has a chance of being an All-Star starter.
    • Unfortunately, this probably won’t happen for two reasons:
      • The starters are determined by fan voting: Harden hasn’t yet achieved the super-star status and popularity of players like Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant.
      • Harden hasn’t earned it: Harden’s play this season has been phenomenal but it will be hard to justify putting him in over Kobe (3rd in the West in PER, leading the league in scoring, and having his most efficient offensive season in terms of TS% ever) or Chris Paul (2nd in the West in PER with a typically brilliant campaign).
    • If it were up to me, the Western Conference All-Star starting line-up would be: CP3, Kobe, Durant, Blake Griffin, and Tim Duncan. Harden is probably the next best guard, followed closely by Westbrook.
    • As an aside, I really hope Lin doesn’t end up as an All-Star starter (as of 12/27, Lin is only 46,000 votes behind Chris Paul and has nearly double the votes that Harden has). That would truly be a joke, and it would be that much easier to ridicule Lin, who’s already received his fair share of criticism this season (not least from these quarters). On the other hand, Lin starting for the West may finally convince the NBA to scrap fan voting altogether, which would probably be a positive development.
  6. A return to the retro jerseys: even if it’s only for a few games, I’d love to see Lin and Harden sporting the old red and gold.
  7. A new mascot
    • I know Clutch has his admirers but it truly baffles me why a team called the “Rockets” is represented by an overweight grey bear of indeterminate species. Clutch is neither directly related to our team name, nor is he likely to strike fear into the hearts of our opponents. I’m open to suggestions but if all else fails, we can always bring back Turbo.

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