How Will Dwight Howard Integrate with the Rockets?

The acquisition of Dwight Howard marks a turning point in the Rockets’ fortunes. At last, Houston has two bona fide stars, two potentially top-10 players that can form the foundation of a championship contender. This week and next, I’ll be looking at the impact of Howard’s acquisition on the Rockets as a team. This week, I examine Dwight’s potential contributions on offense; next week, I’ll do the same for defense.

In many ways, Dwight Howard is an ideal fit for Houston’s offense. The Rockets shouldn’t have to alter their offensive scheme much to accommodate Howard: Howard’s strengths as a pick and roll (henceforth PNR) roll-man play to the strengths of the Rockets’ offense, which emphasizes guard penetration (Harden/Lin) off of PNR plays and kick-outs to three-point shooters. Houston’s offense, already sixth-best in the league last season, should be even better with Dwight assuming a major role.

Last season, 42% of Houston’s possessions came on a combination of PNR plays and spot-up attempts (many of which were the result of PNR plays). On last season’s Lakers, Howard finished 11% of his possessions as the PNR roll-man and scored 1.29 points per possession (PPP) on such plays, good for 9th in the league. He also drew fouls on 23% of those possessions, an impressively high rate. Howard’s effectiveness as a PNR player seems to fit well with the Rockets’ emphasis on using this play as a way to generate penetration and efficient shots via three pointers, attempts at the rim, and free throws. Transition plays, which constituted 17% of the Rockets’ possessions, were another crucial component of Houston’s offense. Surprisingly, for such an athletic player, only 4% of Howard’s offense last season came on fast breaks while a whopping 45% of his offense came on post-up plays. This puzzling distribution of possessions can perhaps be explained by the fact that Howard played on a team whose starting back-court had a combined age of 73 years at the end of the season (although the fact that the Lakers tied for 4th in pace last season seems to belie this explanation). I expect a healthy proportion of Dwight’s post-up attempts to be redistributed towards PNR and transition opportunities in the Rockets’ offense next year.

Houston’s offense last season heavily emphasized the three-point shot. According to Hoopdata, Houston took 29 three’s per game, tied with the Knicks for the most attempts per game in the league. The Orlando teams that Dwight Howard played on were among the most prolific heavy-volume three-point shooting teams in the league. In the Stan Van Gundy years (’07-’08 until ’11-’12) in particular, the Magic were consistently near the top-five in both three-point attempts and three-point percentage. This was in no small part due to an offense designed around Dwight’s ability to draw help defense in the paint and create opportunities for the bevy of shooters (Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson) the Magic had at their disposal. In the ’09-’10 season, a year in which the Magic led the league in both three-point attempts and makes per game, Orlando made 39% of its threes with Dwight on the floor and only 34% with Dwight on the bench. This difference of only 5% represents the difference between the best three-point shooting team last season (Golden State at 40%) and the 20th best team (Chicago at 35%).

A graphical illustration helps emphasize the extent to which the Rockets can duplicate and even improve upon the three-point shooting success that Dwight’s Orlando teams enjoyed. Below are two shot charts courtesy of NBA.com. The top chart represents the shot distribution of the ’12-’13 Houston Rockets, and the bottom one is the shot distribution of the ’09-’10 Magic. Note the similarities in the distribution and even in the number of attempts from each shot-zone (the Magic did take more mid-range shots, though).

Shotchart_1374013645373                       Shotchart_1374016328861

Last season, Dwight Howard had a usage rate of 22%, and his average usage rate on the Magic was around 25%. Given that Howard typically uses somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of his team’s possessions when he’s on the floor, he will likely soak up the bulk of Asik’s offensive possessions. This is not to say that Asik won’t get 20 or maybe even 30 minutes of playing time per night, but that Dwight should largely replace Omer in many of the Rockets’ most oft-used lineups (the four most commonly used line-ups last season all featured Asik). Replacing Asik with Howard should pay immediate dividends for Houston’s offense: Howard is a much more threatening roll-man (and a much better finisher around the rim), and defenses geared towards preventing the pass to Dwight off the PNR will have to concede driving lanes to Harden and Lin. The table below shows the offensive production of Asik and Howard last season as well as Howard’s production during the ’10-’11 season, in which he came in second in MVP voting:

PlayerPoints/36FG% at RimFT%TS%PPP Roll ManPPP Post-Up
’12-’13 Asik12.269%56%56%1.020.63
’12-’13 Dwight17.170%49%57%1.290.74
’10-’11 Dwight21.975%60%62%N/AN/A

Even in his diminished state last season, Dwight is the far superior offensive player. If he regains his former offensive dominance, the Rockets will have the makings of an offense that can compete with any in the league.

One dimension that Dwight brings on offense that Asik lacks is a post game. Post-ups formed only 4% of Houston’s offense last season, and the Rockets scored only 0.73 PPP on such possessions, 26th in the league. As I mentioned above, Howard was heavily utilized by the Lakers in the post last season. Unfortunately, he put up a pedestrian 0.74 PPP on these possessions. Whether this underwhelming performance was the result of the shoulder and back injuries that plagued him all season is unclear. What is certain, however, is that on paper, Dwight is the sort of physical specimen that should be able to bully his way into productive outcomes (either via his own shot, a drawn foul, or a pass to an open teammate) in the post. Dwight has never had Pau Gasol or Yao Ming level footwork nor does he have the skill and touch that elite low-post big men possess. Nonetheless, adding a competent post-player will help spice up the offense and give the Rockets a second (or perhaps a third if you count Lin) player who can create his own offense. And with Hakeem Olajuwan potentially on board as an exclusive consultant and a coach who was a legendary big man in his own right, Dwight will have every opportunity to improve his low-post game.

The biggest potential individual beneficiary of Howard’s presence is Jeremy Lin. During the hey-day of Linsanity, Lin’s offensive success was predicated on his PNR chemistry with Tyson Chandler, another athletic big man whose offense largely consisted of lobs and forays towards the basket. Dwight should be able to replicate much of Chandler’s threat as a PNR roll-man, providing space for Lin to do what he does best: attack the basket. One major difference between Chandler and Howard, however, is that Chandler is a much better free throw shooter. Although their career marks from the foul line are not all that different (64% for Tyson and 58% for Dwight), Chandler has become a vastly improved free throw shooter (70% in the last four years), a development that has contributed to his offensive success as teams are less willing to foul him after he catches the ball in the paint. Alas, Howard’s free throw shooting has exhibited the opposite trend throughout his career. He must work on his free throw shooting if he wants to reach his offensive potential and not hurt his team in late-game situations.

 Dwight Free Throws

It will probably take some time for Howard to develop chemistry with his teammates on offense. Provided that he returns healthy, however, the Rockets should be immediately better on offense and Houston should transcend its performance from last season to become a top-3 offensive team in the NBA.

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Total comments: 73
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHNKs3YHOKI&feature=youtu.be&a

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    It's illegal to stand out of bounds on offense. New rule starting the upcoming season. ;)

    it will be interesting to see how many times that gets called this year :P

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago

    What I expect our offense to look like with Dwight...

    ifMtxeK2UwAeR.gif

    It's illegal to stand out of bounds on offense. New rule starting the upcoming season. ;)
  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    What I expect our offense to look like with Dwight...

    ifMtxeK2UwAeR.gif

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    Yep..that's exactly y I believe we will have a top 5 def this year..it sure felt that the def was designed to allow 3 point shots..I heard earlier in the year it was so we could get a head start on our fast break..which I'm hoping with a complete team we won't need to do anymore..I expect to see a well executed def set at all times on the floor..like you I'm not completely sold on Mchales coaching skills just yet..cause we simply havnt seen it yet..it really seemed watching the games the only person that tried on def was Asik..even parsons seemed to take a step back towards the end of the year..it's mostly the reason y I believe in the team so much..we added Dwight to the best off in the league last year and If we put even a small effort on team def more then last year we will be really hard to beat

    totally agree.

  • Rockets fan newton says 1 YEAR ago


    I think that if Jones is as good a defender as you guys think and with the addition of Howard, there's no longer any need to double on Parsons/Jones/Howard's guys which will allow Lin/Harden to stay closer to their own man which should limit the wide open shots they get(IMO, the biggest problem for poor defense was the massive amounts of help our guards gave. We doubled EVERYBODY in the post, whether they had a post game or not). If they're able to run them off the three point line and funnel them into the paint with Howard and our rotations come quickly we can be a top 5 defensive team. But usually that requires a good defensive system(which I didn't see last year, but I'm expecting this year) and trust in each other(which might take a while to build). That's why I'm glad we're keeping Asik. By keeping Asik and improving our 2nd unit, we should be able to hold our ground or even build on a lead with our starters out. I'm looking forward to next year.


    Yep..that's exactly y I believe we will have a top 5 def this year..it sure felt that the def was designed to allow 3 point shots..I heard earlier in the year it was so we could get a head start on our fast break..which I'm hoping with a complete team we won't need to do anymore..I expect to see a well executed def set at all times on the floor..like you I'm not completely sold on Mchales coaching skills just yet..cause we simply havnt seen it yet..it really seemed watching the games the only person that tried on def was Asik..even parsons seemed to take a step back towards the end of the year..it's mostly the reason y I believe in the team so much..we added Dwight to the best off in the league last year and If we put even a small effort on team def more then last year we will be really hard to beat
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Oh, and we should give credit to Sampson too--assistant coach and defensive co-ordinator.

    As for Jones defense, I think it's clear I think very highly of him, but rookies in general aren't very good at rotation defense and Jones is no exception. Hopefully has a sophomore leap.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago

    I think that if Jones is as good a defender as you guys think and with the addition of Howard, there's no longer any need to double on Parsons/Jones/Howard's guys which will allow Lin/Harden to stay closer to their own man which should limit the wide open shots they get(IMO, the biggest problem for poor defense was the massive amounts of help our guards gave. We doubled EVERYBODY in the post, whether they had a post game or not). If they're able to run them off the three point line and funnel them into the paint with Howard and our rotations come quickly we can be a top 5 defensive team. But usually that requires a good defensive system(which I didn't see last year, but I'm expecting this year) and trust in each other(which might take a while to build). That's why I'm glad we're keeping Asik. By keeping Asik and improving our 2nd unit, we should be able to hold our ground or even build on a lead with our starters out. I'm looking forward to next year.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Lol we don't have to give too much credit to McHale. All he did was switch Harden's defensive assignment with Lin's or Parsons's depending on the more favorable match-up.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago

    I don't know. But everybody says Harden was tired at the end of the season and with the eye test his defense didn't improve(IMO). Does that mean I have to give credit to Mchale? Now I'm in a bad mood.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    For whatever it's worth, Harden's DRAPM was -2.0 at the All-Star break and improved to -0.9 by the end of the season. Either his defense improved or McHale did a better job of hiding it.

  • miketheodio says 1 YEAR ago

    I think Harden just got really tired towards the end of the season so his PnR efficiency is not misleading unless you think he's going to be tired all of next season. Hopefully we manage his minutes a little better moving forward and he won't have to resort to looking for the calls, not that I agree he will stop getting them--whether or not he does is pure speculation.

    seems like him and kobe got the same message from the suits. "the offense isn't stacked, so go out there and only play offense". hopefully he dials it back a bit since he has help.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I think Harden just got really tired towards the end of the season so his PnR efficiency is not misleading unless you think he's going to be tired all of next season. Hopefully we manage his minutes a little better moving forward and he won't have to resort to looking for the calls, not that I agree he will stop getting them--whether or not he does is pure speculation.

  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago

    Harden's PnR numbers are a bit misleading because many times he went down there with the hope of getting fouled and as the end of the season got closer, refs stopped whistling. Harden needs to improve the focus, because he won't get called every time he waves his arms, and I think this season, refs are gonna pay even more attention to see if he is faking it. But then again, now that he has Howard to play the PnR, we'll see lots of pocket passes and lobs, reducing his own attempts and increasing his %

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago In regards to which method is better. It doesn't matter who takes the shot but rather how much the team benefits.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago I think total team points per possession would tell a more truthful story.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I think you're being misleading by comparing Harden's PnR efficiency to Dwight's Post-Up efficiency with FG% because that paints a picture that's very far from the truth.

    1. Harden shoots 3's which lowers his fg% but doesn't lower his efficiency. His 39.5% on 3's is equivalent to 59.2% on 2's.
    2. Harden gets alot more assists on his pick and rolls, and makes alot more free throws.

    All these factors can be summed up into one easy number: PPP (points per possession). Harden's PnR PPP = 1 (ranks 6th). Dwight's Post-Up: .74 (ranks 121st). There really is no comparison.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    With all of this discussion of pick & roll vs. post-up I thought it would help to bring some more perspective.

    Here are James Harden's offensive numbers from mysynergysports:


    ySU7bFf.jpg

    Notice his fg% on the pick n roll is 45.7%. Even after factoring in free throws his scoring % is 45.2%.

    Dwight's fg% in the post is 44.5%. After free throws it drops to 41%, but that's what you get with Dwight...the good news is he gets fouled a lot (18% of the time) so he will be keeping starting bigs on the bench with this attack...which helps the PnR.

    If we are going to tout the pick & roll as superior let's be reasonable about the actual comparisons. I recognize that the PnR has the added bonus of the Dwight option--which cannot be ignored--but that's 527 Harden PnR's where he scores at a 45% clip. I don't see how we can bash Howard's 44% post ups while lauding Harden's 45% PnR's. Once you factor in all the net benefits it's a no-brainer.

    That being said, I am not saying we shouldn't run lots of PnR's. LOTS OF THEM. I can only assume Howard will be getting plenty of offensive rebounds off those Harden misses on the PnR.

    The same can be said for Howard post-ups. I believe he will draw double teams which leaves plenty of room for whoever is playing alongside him in the front court to get some easy put-backs.

    It's not over-rating/under-rating anything. It's just basketball.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago We won't need two elite rebounder though. We were already an elite rebounding team despite having Delfino at the 4 a significant amount of the time. It's not like Dwight and Asik will combine for 26 boards if we play them together, there aren't that many rebounds to go around.
  • RollingWave says 1 YEAR ago

    Maybe, but 1 is that Jones and Dwight won't be on the court all the time, and 2 is that I would want to see at least 2 solid months of Jones playing like an NBA starter in the real season to really be convinced of anything, and 3 is that Jones may rebound well, but it's obvious that it won't be Asik well. . of course, the question as always, is relativity.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago I think Jones is perfect, he can rebound well enough and will defend guys like Barnes and Ibaka all the way out to the 3or better than Asik.
  • RollingWave says 1 YEAR ago Also 2016 , you need to be aware that San Antonio won game 1 and 3 playing Splitter for over 25 mins (and starting.) and in game 3 it was a very very decisive win.

    Splitter's exist from the lineup is due more to anything else, the fact that Tony Parker got hurt so they had to put in Ginobelli in the starting lineup. but neither Ginobelli or Paker are good 3 point shooter (Ginobelli is essentially the same as Lin after November, and Parker's much worse, he hits at a ok rate but very very rarely takes them.). so if they take out Green to put Ginobelli in, that's REALLY having no spacing, as they have 1.5 decent shooter between the 5 .

    In the end, the problem was that Splitter didn't hold up his end of the bargin, he was a below average rebounding C to begin with, and the Spurs were CRUSHED in game 4 on the board despite having Spliiter + Duncan. now, if he's not doing what he's suppose to be the main advantage or going big, then the whole point is moot. If you say he's actually still winning on the board but they're losing , then that's an argument, but that didn't happen did it?.

    Spacing comes in many shape and form, I'd agree that Asik + Howard could be a problem in enough situation to warrant not using them as a the defecto lineup, on the other hand they do present a very strong advantage that could prove useful in many other situation. In the playoffs, you need OPTIONS, DIFFERENT options . anyone watching could see that the Heat and Spurs were desperately juggling for any and all options all 7 games. and different options worked at different times.

    In the end, if your arguing that a more banged up and older AND less talented SAS team, who was 20 seconds away from winning the finals , is an argument that having 2 bigs who aren't very rangy together on the floor can't work, I am unconvinced.

    You can not just throw out everything that works against your argument and only take the parts that fits , I'd note that in the entire playoff, it was clear as day that the hardest guy for Lebron defensively was David West, that the Pacers, who werent' a good offensive team at all, were on the verge of beating the Heat simply by plowing right through them in the paint, and you can double / triple / quadriple team all you want but if your much smaller, the big centers can get what they want more often then not, and even if he miss, if his partner grabs most of the rebound, your still screwed.

    The biggest part of if Asik + Dwight can work is not in it's weakness, it's if their strength is worth MORE than that weakness
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago The Warriors lack of experience was the biggest reason they lost imo, but I still thought they put up a fight. Splitter and Duncan didn't work in the finals because Miami's rotations were so on point.
  • RollingWave says 1 YEAR ago

    There seems to be stray talk about integrating a midrange game into the Rockets offense. Bad idea. Numerous studies have shown that the midrange is the least effective option for offenses. If Harden or Lin or Parsons is open for an 18 foot jump shot why not have them take it? Because the % makes at 18 feet is minimally better than the 3 point shot, with only 2/3 of the reward.

    There also has been discussion about playing Asik and Howard together. Well what would McHale do when facing such a lineup? Last season he would play Parsons or Delfino at the PF spot. Good luck to any traditional PF chasing those two around the court. While having Howard and Asik on the court together might work well against lumbering front lines like the Griz, the elite teams will immediately take advantage of that lineup. The very most recent example of this occurred in the finals. The Spurs could not play Duncan and Splitter together.

    And finally to the PnR. This is the area that (hopefully) the Rockets will exploit at every oppertunity next season. Historically great PnR combos have been amoung the best duos in the NBA. Think Malone and Stockton. That will be where the grain is threshed next season. Harden and Howard. Nuff said.

    There are some other factors in there, such as that if you NEVER take 18 footers, that probably won't help your team either since other team's defense will be geared to the mind that they never need to guard anyone in that range. so guards will just full press everyone around the 3 line and if they get beat the bigs won't come out until the guys actually reach the paint.

    Yeah, taking long 2s in a vacuum is less ideal, but nothing is ever in a vacuum outside of free throws, if you can take a open long 2 versus a very contested 3? if you have a player that's just really good at that range? if the other team's simply daring to you take those? there are certainly still plenty of situation where you should take them I'd think, just that you try to cut down the unnecessary once as much as possible

    Lineup is about matchups these days, there's no "perfect" once, despite your argument 2016, the Spurs still had Duncan / Splitter out there a significant portion of the finals, they still pretty easily took out a GSW team that was running Barnes at the 4. and of course, the Grizzlies took out a Thunder team that had Ibaka pretty easily. while the Pacers destroyed multiple small ball team and was 1 play away from taking down the Heat.

    it's all relative here , I think I can see the offensive argument to a point, but the defensive one I feel is grossly overstated, if having 2 slower bigs is actually a negative on defense, the Grizzlies should have been the worst defense in the League instead of the best. and in case people haven't watched basketball in 8 years, Dwight Howard is faster than your average PF.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago Idk. He seems mistaken that he is a low post maestro. I do believe he will complain unless he gets 15-20 post ups per game.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Howard hates the PnR, I thought. He always complains unless he's emulating Shaq

    I think this is a misconception.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago Howard hates the PnR, I thought. He always complains unless he's emulating Shaq
  • NorEastern says 1 YEAR ago

    There seems to be stray talk about integrating a midrange game into the Rockets offense. Bad idea. Numerous studies have shown that the midrange is the least effective option for offenses. If Harden or Lin or Parsons is open for an 18 foot jump shot why not have them take it? Because the % makes at 18 feet is minimally better than the 3 point shot, with only 2/3 of the reward.

    There also has been discussion about playing Asik and Howard together. Well what would McHale do when facing such a lineup? Last season he would play Parsons or Delfino at the PF spot. Good luck to any traditional PF chasing those two around the court. While having Howard and Asik on the court together might work well against lumbering front lines like the Griz, the elite teams will immediately take advantage of that lineup. The very most recent example of this occurred in the finals. The Spurs could not play Duncan and Splitter together.

    And finally to the PnR. This is the area that (hopefully) the Rockets will exploit at every oppertunity next season. Historically great PnR combos have been amoung the best duos in the NBA. Think Malone and Stockton. That will be where the grain is threshed next season. Harden and Howard. Nuff said.

  • miketheodio says 1 YEAR ago

    Those things happen, not everything will be executed perfectly which is why I'm very happy with how the Rockets ran their offense last season and I don't want to see too many changes. It was so simple yet so effective because there was so much spacing. Take away that spacing and things get much, much, more complicated.

    There's a reason why out of the 50 teams that made the finals in the last 25 years, not a single one of them had a rangeless front court. Every single one of them had at least one big man who could space the floor to at least 15 feet. And I would argue that even 15 feet isn't enough since times has chanced, hence the fact Tiago Splitter wasn't effective and the Spurs had to turn to Diaw and Bonner alot more than they wanted to.

    what do you think about doing post ups when there is a lull in the offense?

  • miketheodio says 1 YEAR ago

    Agreed. I think we'll get to see them featured more in blowouts.

    i think jones is going to start.

  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago

    I agree with you. But part of finding the right rotation is so your main players won't get to the playoffs burned like Harden last year. During the regular season, we'll be forced to somehow get those two to play together effectively at some point, even though that won't happen much during playoff time. You have to keep Asik happy and integrated for two reasons: 1) having two 7 footers who excel at defense to anchor your team at all times is a luxury any other team has right now and 2) it's 90% sure Asik will get traded at some point and we need to keep his value as high as possible in the mean time.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Those things happen, not everything will be executed perfectly which is why I'm very happy with how the Rockets ran their offense last season and I don't want to see too many changes. It was so simple yet so effective because there was so much spacing. Take away that spacing and things get much, much, more complicated.

    There's a reason why out of the 50 teams that made the finals in the last 25 years, not a single one of them had a rangeless front court. Every single one of them had at least one big man who could space the floor to at least 15 feet. And I would argue that even 15 feet isn't enough since times has chanced, hence the fact Tiago Splitter wasn't effective and the Spurs had to turn to Diaw and Bonner alot more than they wanted to.

  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago

    Thanks for the video, 2016, but I was just about to say what JG said: not exactly great executions by Orlando. It lacked ball movement (there were occasions when an extra pass could have done great things for Orlando) and the personnel wasn't the same as ours (there was noone remotely as skilled as Harden in that squad, old Vince doesn't count).

    So, you can play excellent team defense, but when the offense isn't good, that defense can look perfect. It depends on both sides. And not every team has elite defense, but on paper, we do have an elite offense. On paper, time will tell.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    Your point is well taken, but in watching that video I saw as much bad offense as I saw good defense. The lobs to Dwight were off. That was Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter's bad knees trying to drive past the defense. The corner three guy just missed his shot. Dwight taking 8' hook shots in traffic is not ideal either.

    Boston gets some credit for playing tough D, but let's not forget the other half of the equation here. Slow penetration, forced passes and bad shots.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    In the case I pointed out, there would be 3 players to guard Howard and Harden, leaving Asik open, and given Asik's offensive limitations, it's not necessarily an easy basket. Although I'd take my chances any day, lol. Either way, we are in a good place right now.

    You're underestimating how quickly elite defenses rotate, or show and return, especially in the playoffs. Today alot of teams are copying Thibbs style of defense which he made famous in Boston--it's a perpetual motion defense which is like zone defense better. This will give you an idea of what I mean:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJhPLQ0pj_k

  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago

    The reason Dwight didn't want to play PnR back in LA is because most of the times, Kobe was the ball handler and we all know that most nights, he is nothing close to a willing passer.

  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago

    Why be unpredictable when you can be unstoppable? With 4 3pt shooters and Dwight rolling to the basket I see only one of three scenarios:

    Dwight dunks it.

    Somebody gets an open 3.

    Harden scores.

    Besides, unpredictability goes away in the playoffs because teams will thoroughly study game tape and know what to look for. I'd rather be perpetually unstoppable than temporarily unpredictable.

    In the case I pointed out, there would be 3 players to guard Howard and Harden, leaving Asik open, and given Asik's offensive limitations, it's not necessarily an easy basket. Although I'd take my chances any day, lol. Either way, we are in a good place right now.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I came across a really cool article written by Carl Fudge of MBA at Sloan MIT (not sure if I can post the link in this forum because it's a link to a rival forum, but I'll post some snippits of what I found relevant to this thread)

    Houston’s Pick-and-Roll

    The Rockets went to the pick-and-roll nearly 1 out of every 4 times they were in a half court offense last season. Just how good was the Rockets’ pick-and-roll? The short answer is it was very good. In fact, the Rockets were the 3rd best team in the league, generating 0.92 points every time they ran it (only the Knicks and Heat were better).

    The long answer requires thinking of the play in terms of two outcomes: the ball handler coming off the pick and taking the shot himself, or the ball handler passing to the rolling screener and letting him finish the play instead. If the ball handler took the shot, the Rockets were the best team in the NBA, but on the roll part of the play they ranked only 10th.

    Harden’s Bread And Butter

    By far the biggest driver of pick-and-roll success for the Rockets was star shooting guardJames Harden. In fact, out of the 1,700 or so times the Rockets ran the play last year, Harden ended up deciding the outcome over 500 times. He averaged exactly one point per possession in these situations, the 5th best mark in the entire NBA, justifying his reputation as one of the very best pick-and-roll players in the league (even putting him aboveChris Paul, who was #6).

    Omer Asikwas limited. While he could certainly set a mean screen, he was not as comfortable with the ball and ranked as only the 55th best pick-and-roll finisher, putting him among some of the worst front court starters in the NBA.

    While Asik was not horrible and did get better over time – he still shot close to 60% – he lacks the footwork, hands and overall coordination to perform at an elite level in this part of the game. There is much to love about his skillset, but catching the ball on the run while avoiding the charge or travel and then finishing at the hoop is not a particular strength of his.

    Enter Dwight Howard

    With a unique combination of power, coordination and timing, Howard has consistently ranked among the best players in the league at finishing the pick-and-roll. In his “down year” last season, Howard was the 9th best roll man in the NBA, but in 2011-12 he was 2nd best and in 2010-11 he was #1. Last year Dwight averaged 1.29 points per pick-and-roll (30% better than Asik) on 79.6% FG%. To put this in perspective, this is significantly higher than the points per possession he scored on the post-ups he is said to favor (0.74) and even more points than he scored in transition (1.22).

    Other than the rare occasions when Dwight got a wide open dunk, the pick-and-roll was his highest percentage scoring opportunity. If he doesn’t realize this now, I’m sure GMDaryl Moreyand his team of number crunchers will have hammered it home soon.

    Howard is so dangerous off the pick-and-roll because of his explosiveness and ability to score in so many different ways, as our highlight reel here shows:http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TudjAGeG9Ug

    The early results are already good. Jeremy Linspoke with Jason Friedman of Rockets.comabout Howard after playing with him at an unofficial Rocket mini-camp in Los Angeles this week.

    “He’s just an athletic freak,” said Lin. “Certain sets with him rolling down the paint toward the basket and using his athleticism, it’s going to be really good for us. I think we can be really creative with the ways that we use him. He’s just an animal when it comes to everything near the rim – he’s thrown down numerous alley-oops already from James. He forces defenders to take an extra step or two to make sure he doesn’t get the ball just because he’s so explosive and so strong, and that gives us so much room to work. He’s either getting a dunk or someone else is left wide-open.”

    While this all sounds fantastic in theory, Dwight’s willingness to run the pick-and-roll was called into question last week bySteve Nash, who claimed in an ESPN radio interview that it “didn’t seem like (Dwight) really wanted to do a pick-and-roll offense” while with the Lakers. Fortunately, Dwight seemed to dispel that notion in hisinterview with Stephen A. Smith, commenting, “The way [James Harden> plays throughout that pick-and-roll – who’s going to stop that pick-and-roll?”

    Good question, because while the Rockets were a dangerous pick-and-roll team with Harden and Asik, they could be downright lethal with Harden and Howard. With elite performers now on both sides of the play, I fully expect Houston to become the leading pick-and-roll team in the entire NBA next year.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    Agreed. I think we'll get to see them featured more in blowouts.

  • miketheodio says 1 YEAR ago

    i like jones' defense and knack for rebounding. i think id take a guy making hustle plays over a post player. i think that is optimal on the starting 5 considering the amount of people who need the ball in their hands.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    To bring this back to reality I have to say I thoroughly look forward to McHale calling for Dwight to post up and watching the Rockets out muscle and breakdown some defenses inside out. Of course other nights the transition game or pick and roll games might be featured.

    Exactly.

    im still not sold on DMO over jones. the only thing he has over tjones is post moves.

    Agreed. I believe Jones will be the starter because his weakside defense should be superior. Still, If D-Mo can get going in the post it changes everything...imagine if he starts getting double-teamed (a big if, but possible) and can then dish to an open Dwight or 3 pt. shooter. It's very intriguing...

  • miketheodio says 1 YEAR ago

    im still not sold on DMO over jones. the only thing he has over tjones is post moves.

  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    To bring this back to reality I have to say I thoroughly look forward to McHale calling for Dwight to post up and watching the Rockets out muscle and breakdown some defenses inside out. Of course other nights the transition game or pick and roll games might be featured.

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago Howard and Asik should never be on the court together. The team will be a minus cause the team won't be able to score, no matter how good the defense.
  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    Begs the question of why you asked in the first place, no?

    Let's get back to the point here....Dwight freakin Howard is our center. There are so many plays to run. Everyone will be trying to throw alley-oops for Dwight. We all know that most of the time we will have a stretch four on the floor. I don't think anyone is implying that Dwight/Omer will be our best line-up--I do think that they will sport an excellent scoring margin overall (again, barring some hot shooting from outside) as the defense and rebounding should be optimal.

    The real question is how well D-Mo and Dwight play off each other as I think this could be an excellent combo. D-Mo has decent handles and can make some nice passes. He can be a nightmare match-up for opposing teams as he can simply move outside if they try to defend him with a Big or go inside if they try to put speed on him.

    I think we have a pretty solid idea of what T-Jones is gong to bring to the table. That's perfectly fine. D-Mo still has a higher ceiling I feel given his size and post game PLUS he's going to get some time with Hakeem as well...mmmm, dream shake.....

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Thanks--I've used the internets before. :)

    Since this seems to be more important to you and you are better at finding them than me can you find those videos and past them for us all?

    I think we both know that neither of us can find an example of the play that works in your head ;)

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago What is the Internet?
  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    Thanks--I've used the internets before. :)

    Since this seems to be more important to you and you are better at finding them than me can you find those videos and past them for us all?

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Was just a tip on how to better your searches for the right video. Just trying to help.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    Nice video...not running the same play at all...not sure how relevant. Further, the personnel is different...which matters.

    I'm not guaranteeing it will work--how could I? In similar fashion, you cannot guarantee it won't.

    I believe that our players could execute these kinds of sets--even against good defenses.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Tip: If you type PnR instead of pick and roll, you will find more NBA examples that have been used by the likes of Zach Lowe and other writers who used video examples for their articles.

    For example, when I typed in PnR defense I found plenty of examples like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmNWUebCFnk

    The reason I want you to find an example is this: Plays that work in theory might not always work against elite NBA defenses, especially if the play involves crowded spaces where certain defenders can quickly show and return or rotate.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    They're original ideas? Interesting.

    They are original in that they came from my own mind--not meaning to imply no one has ever thought of them before--that goes against Platonic ideals.

    It's cool--I don't mind if you think it can't work due to insufficient video evidence. I disagree. We've got talent across the floor...we should be able to run all kinds of plays successfully as we all know talent ultimately trumps everything else in basketball.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    Here is a video showing options from an older Howard/Asik set I presented a couple months ago. This is one where Asik and Howard both set up in the high post. Howard is the 4 for this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvv4QruyEjA

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    They're original ideas? Interesting.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    When working from original ideas it is more difficult rather than basing things off of what already exists.

    Here is a quick video of another variation off of the same set.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzlzAE1WsKY

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I can find video examples for plays, why can't you? Just wondering..

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    Ummm, ok...that's sound logic...if there isn't video it must not work? Wow.

    Here are some drawings--I hope they suffice.

    Okay, this is the set up and the play starts once Dwight gets the ball in the post. If the defense switches and decides to front Dwight that would change the play, but that can be adapted to easily enough.

    T1M34Mc.jpg

    Next, the Asik screen.

    pKynejx.jpg

    This play requires Dwight to recognize where the help came from and get the shot up quickly so that the rotation defense won't get there...not that it matters much as that will pit a 7 footer against a pg or sg for the rebound--assuming Dwight doesn't make it. Asik can dunk ball if he is able or he can pass out to open 3 pt. shooter. This all fits within Morey's offensive belief system.

    zeyaWon.jpg

    Now, if the help comes from the perimeter we run this action. Dwight can kick it out to Parsons who, at 6' 10", can shoot over the recovering defender, or swing it around the arc. Lin can drive, shoot, or pass....and then Harden can do the same with the added bonus of the back screen Asik has just set on the defender's blind side.

    Another option...

    o6gMUqd.jpg

    As soon as Parsons' man goes for the help defense, Parsons cuts right behind, and past, him towards the basket. Howard simply has to deliver a little drop off pass (a la Duncan and Ginobili in SA) and Parsons can finish strong at the rim. If Howard can't get him the ball, he runs cross court to the opposite baseline three spot. He will either be wide open, or his defender must leave Dwight and chase him. The options and variables are endless.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I don't want to be Captain Obvious, but there is no video of Dwight and Omer playing together--which is what I am talking about. What I am talking about is only for Dwight and Omer....I probably would not use the same set, or plan of attack with other people.

    Just run the play in your head...move the pieces with your mind...it's like youtube, but without the ads.

    Get creative. Find a video of 2 big men--any big men(preferably big men who can't shoot but whatever you can find is better than nothing)--running the play you just ran in your head. If you can't do that, then maybe the play in your head doesn't work as well in reality as it works in your head.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    I don't want to be Captain Obvious, but there is no video of Dwight and Omer playing together--which is what I am talking about. What I am talking about is only for Dwight and Omer....I probably would not use the same set, or plan of attack with other people.

    Just run the play in your head...move the pieces with your mind...it's like youtube, but without the ads.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago Did you guys watch the finals? I think SA will beat us badly if we play Asik/Dwight together.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    It would be cool if you could find videos to further illustrate all these things you make sound so easy. For example:

    once this action begins Asik can float up towards the top of the key on the weakside and set up a screen should one of the perimeter players find an opening and can then drive around Asik where the post defense is still not set due to Dwight. Asik can roll, Dwight is still on the block--there is plenty to like about this.

    It sounds fine and dandy, but if you had a video that would be very helpful.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    I agree that certain centers have the strength and savvy to guard Dwight solo in the post. For them, I would recommend another course of action. Some say "dictate the terms to the other team--make them react to you..." and all that macho stuff.

    That just sounds stubborn to me. Sometimes an opponent's strength negates one of yours and adaptation is necessary--why else construct a roster with variable parts....why even bother with coaches with this attitude? Just pick whatever play you want to run, find players that can do it, sit back and watch.

    I would love to see the Rockets set up a "mid-range" game that essentially involves dribble penetration off a screen that draws the post defender off their man--once he steps out the dribbler pulls up and intentionally lobs a floater towards the rim, but intentionally off to whichever side Asik/Howard are on. The rotation defense will be unable to box out/defend Asik/Howard from getting the pass and dunking it. Heck, it should even help Asik's fumbly fingers as the lob passes will be soft enough for him to hang onto.

    If the post defender refuses to come off their man then it's a free pass to the rim....again--not an all-the-time-offense, but having that in the bag of tricks will be useful.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago

    I don't think Dwight could be successful posting up against Marc Gasol. But, against most others, he would command a double team with the amount of good centers dwindling since Shaq.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    When discussing offense and, subsequently, the personnel running it it is not sufficient to point out that certain player combos are not effective. Of course they are not. This is not a news flash. You don't run a pick n roll with Kendrick Perkins and Hasheem Thabeet. Similarly you do not put Nate Robinson in the post and ask him to score.

    To presume that Houston can run an "unstoppable" pick n roll and should eschew other modes of offense is great on paper. It's not going to happen--nor should it.

    So, when discussing Dwight and Omer sharing the floor one must presume that highly intelligent and experienced coaches would devise a useful and effective attack that masks their weaknesses and maximizes their strengths--it's what they are paid to do.

    There are multiple ways to skin that cat. Easiest is simply feed Dwight in the post (unpopular to some, but that will pass after seeing it's full effect). Presuming he is fully healthy, he commands a double team and we're right back to Orlando's offense with a twist.

    By putting three point shooters outside, the help defense cannot afford to sag off and help on Dwight. Most likely the help comes from Asik's man. As soon as this happens Dwight should go ahead and shoot...a miss will be easily corralled by an un-boxed out Asik who should follow the double and use himself to shield the defenders from the rebound--essentially boxing them out. Don't forget--the more time we spend around the post the more fouls the opposing bigs are going to accrue.

    Dwight can also pass out if help comes from the wing and we still have three shooters out there to shoot, or swing the ball around the arc to the open guy....once this action begins Asik can float up towards the top of the key on the weakside and set up a screen should one of the perimeter players find an opening and can then drive around Asik where the post defense is still not set due to Dwight. Asik can roll, Dwight is still on the block--there is plenty to like about this.

    Saying they cannot play together because you can't space the floor properly for the standard pick n roll is no more than saying the round peg does not fit the square hole.

    Dwight is uber-athletic and can throw down anything close to the rim. Asik sets monster screens and boxes out like a human wall. These assets can be utilized and should be utilized. I don't think we will, nor should, run this offense all the time--or even a lot of the time--but I tire of the nay-saying. It's entirely feasible and I look forward to the first time a team goes small against us and McHale punishes them with size and brute force down low. Unless the opponent can start raining threes it will get ugly fast.

    Bottom line is Howard does nothing but open up opportunities for everyone--coaches and players.

  • RollingWave says 1 YEAR ago

    Also, consider this.

    Last year, the Laker's didn't have many good 3 point shooter, Nash was good obviously (and Blake was too when Nash wasn't on the floor.), but outside of him, the only guy who was above average and had considerable playing time was Jamison. MWP was below average, Kobe even worse. and Pau / Hill simply never took any 3s.

    But the Lakers were still 9th in offense, despite major injury time to Nash / Pau and Dwight playing at 60-70%.

  • RollingWave says 1 YEAR ago

    If Asik and Dwight are on the court at the same time for limited minutes, the Rockets could use the 2010 Lakers Offense: let your star shooting guard chuck shots with impunity and have your two 7-footers clean up the misses. It would lead to Dwight winning a championship and asking for a trade all at the same time.

    I think that's been the Laker offense since 1996 regardless of having how many 7 footers ;)

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    ^^^^ That's Bynum, not Howard, but the point is still the same: bad spacing equals not taking advantage of the play.

    The only way PnR could be effective while both of them are on the court is if they set a double screen at the top and depending of the direction of the ball handler, one of them cuts hard to the basket. In that case, I'd like it to be Asik, because both the ball handler and Howard would demand all the attention, leaving Omer a nice free path to the basket. Of course, variety is the only way to keep one from being predictable.

    Why be unpredictable when you can be unstoppable? With 4 3pt shooters and Dwight rolling to the basket I see only one of three scenarios:

    Dwight dunks it.

    Somebody gets an open 3.

    Harden scores.

    Besides, unpredictability goes away in the playoffs because teams will thoroughly study game tape and know what to look for. I'd rather be perpetually unstoppable than temporarily unpredictable.

  • Jeby says 1 YEAR ago

    If Asik and Dwight are on the court at the same time for limited minutes, the Rockets could use the 2010 Lakers Offense: let your star shooting guard chuck shots with impunity and have your two 7-footers clean up the misses. It would lead to Dwight winning a championship and asking for a trade all at the same time.

  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago

    ^^^^ That's Bynum, not Howard, but the point is still the same: bad spacing equals not taking advantage of the play.

    The only way PnR could be effective while both of them are on the court is if they set a double screen at the top and depending of the direction of the ball handler, one of them cuts hard to the basket. In that case, I'd like it to be Asik, because both the ball handler and Howard would demand all the attention, leaving Omer a nice free path to the basket. Of course, variety is the only way to keep one from being predictable.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Fun fact: In 2009 ORL made 39% of 3s with Dwight on court, 35.7% without.

    Dwight was used in alot of PnR's in Orlando so he can definitely do it, it's just a matter of making sure the floor is spaced out enough for him to do it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3vQyxcGARg

    In 2010 and 2011, Dwight ranked top 2 inRAPM(a less flawed version of +/-)

    The floor spacing in L.A. wasn't very good which is why alot of his pick and rolls ended up looking like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blyDtghs34E

    A failed pick and roll due to the lack of spacing, notice how no one is guarding Pau Gasol while Dwight rolls to the basket? It wouldn't be much different if Asik was in Pau's shoes--food for thought for advocates of a Dwight-Asik front-court tandem.

  • Jeby says 1 YEAR ago

    Probably. It all depends on what the defense is more willing to concede. Also worth noting that some of the players with the strength to guard Dwight in the post (Perkins, Hibbert) lack the speed to guard PNR's.
    Also notable that Dwight wasn't just competing with PNR's for post touches in L.A.--Kobe, Pau and Dwight all had to share post possessions. Howard will be much more happy to slam lobs from Harden than clean up Kobe's midrange fadeaway trash.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago More PnRs than post ups though.
  • Jeby says 1 YEAR ago

    (Posted this in another thread, but far more relevant here)
    The question of whether Dwight will get his touches in the post or in the PnR isn't exactly an either/or proposition from a coaching standpoint, if the Rockets take a page from the Spurs.

    In the Finals, the Heat would front Duncan aggressively to avoid letting him get the ball in the post. Duncan would then counter by coming out to set a pick for the ball-handler. Even when the Heat defended the play perfectly, the resulting PnR would occasionally have Duncan getting the ball back--on the block, matched up against the help defender.

    Howard doesn't have to choose between PnR and post-ups. He and Lin/Harden can force the defense to choose which way to die.