Huq’s Pen: On Motiejunas

The report came out just earlier this week that the Rockets would be honoring Donatas Motiejunas’ request for a trade by attempting to explore options.  My hunch is that this was simply a leak to appease the 7-footer and his agent in sort of a “I swear, we’re trying to move you, but we just can’t find any takers!” kind of way.  With teams clutching to first round picks these days like rare antiques, the best the Rockets could possibly hope to get for Motiejunas would be a second round pick…and for a player of his abilities, age, and size, that’s just not even close to being worth it; while Motiejunas has struggled to get things together, you couldn’t hope to find a prospect anywhere near as intriguing in the second round.

This will no doubt come as an unpopular, minority opinion, and will certainly evoke a “do you bloggers just complain about everything?” response from some, but I’m not particularly pleased with how Kevin McHale has handled the Motiejunas situation.  I understand completely why things have been handled as they have, but I’m not happy.  Michael Pina wrote recently of the eye-opening effect Omri Casspi has had on the team’s offense/defense when on the floor and to wit, that impact cannot be understated.  Casspi has been a revelation.

But if I had my druthers, Motiejunas, rather than Casspi, would be seeing the lion’s share of the backup big man minutes, most especially now with both Omer Asik and Greg Smith out with “injuries.”  (In fact, due to the absence of the latter two, I really don’t see any excuse as to why Motiejunas has not been seeing time.)  But to Casspi, the lineup just does not make sense, from a macro perspective.  The Rockets have been hovering all season between the fifth and seventh seeds.  As I conceded, Casspi has been great, and removing him from the lineup would no doubt be a blow.  But the Rockets aren’t exactly fighting tooth and nail here for the 1 seed.  They are going to trudge along at their current rate all season and are just hoping to get healthy and build chemistry between the starters – dropping Casspi isn’t suddenly going to thrust them out of the playoff race or anything catastrophic.  The bigger effect of a Casspi/Motiejunas lineup swap is long-term.  Casspi might not even be around next season.  Motiejunas, on the other hand, is a skilled, young 7-footer under club control at near the minimum for the near future.  That’s a rare asset.  Why just let it rot?  Why not develop it?  A big part of why the Spurs have been successful is that they’ve sacrificed wins for the development of younger players, keeping the pipeline plush with talent over the past decade.  And again, a few losses here and there for the Rockets isn’t going to spell the end of the world.

Maybe I’m just blind, but I see serious potential from D-Mo.  Now keep in mind the obvious disclaimer: I’m just speaking from my own vantage point of what I see on the court.  I’m obviously not at practice like the coaches are.  I don’t know what ‘s going on behind closed doors.  But having said that, all accounts, even from McHale himself, are that Motiejunas is a tireless worker.  I can’t understand why he isn’t being given a consistent chance.  (Well, I can – Casspi is just much better.)  He is raw.  He looked disastrous at times in the preseason.  But I thought he really showed a lot against the Grizzlies, battling Z-Bo.  Was he Mutombo?  No.  But he played about as well defensively as you could expect from a backup big man (not named Omer Asik).  Why not give him more of a chance?

Here’s my thesis: Motiejunas has some seriously rare skills.  He’s a 7-footer who can run the floor, put the ball on the floor, has range, and postup moves.  At the current rate, you’re just going to end up trading him for a middling second round pick or releasing him when his contract expires.  That’s a serious loss of value and a missed opportunity to develop an asset that could really help your team long-term.  I’m conceding that Casspi is no doubt better and has a far bigger impact on the team.  But my assertion is that it doesn’t really matter.  The Rockets are just running through mud this season anyway.  Taking out Casspi for a long-term investment won’t spend the end of the world.  Maybe they’ll drop from 5th to the 6th seed.  Oh no!  What a disaster!

Some will say Motiejunas got his chance, last year, when starting, but I disagree.  That was his rookie year and Terrence Jones got a similar chance and regressed as well, at the end of the year.  I think Motiejunas needs another chance, this year, of extended time.  Just give him fifteen minutes a night, especially with Asik out, and see what he does.  It won’t be the end of the world, and if it works out, they’ll have a really nice prospect on their bench going forward.

View this discussion from the forum.

This entry was posted in columns and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
Login to leave a comment.
Total comments: 47
  • Sir Thursday says 8 months ago

    Well, I have to say I was wrong. Motiejunas has been playing better in his minutes recently. He's still a foul magnet and he still makes defensive lapses especially if you draw him away from the basket, but he's doing a better job of affecting the game to start to make up for those failings. Maybe there is a future for D-Mo here...

    ST

  • Buckko says 8 months ago Brewer has been playing better than Garcia recently.
  • Bigtkirk says 8 months ago

    There is a tendency to overthink a situation such as D-Mo's. I think Houston has a competent coaching staff. They see D-Mo's development daily and have no incentive to underplay him relative to his probable contributions. The facts are that Jones has developed faster and D-Mo was not been able to take advantage of Asik and Smith's injuries to merit consistent minutes backing up Howard and Jones. This does not mean that D-Mo cannot become a solid NBA player because players develop at different rates. But his slow development is not a reason to play him more at this point until he shows the staff that he deserves it.

    Having said that, I have no idea why the staff has been playing Brewer over the past several games, He plays at a level well-below a replacement level player.

  • Red94 says 8 months ago New post: Motiejunas, Part 3
    By: rahat huq

    I've been writing the last week on Donatas Motiejunas and my belief of his need for consistent playing time.  A reader, Johnny Rocket, makes a compelling counter-argument:

    Quote:

    I disagree with Rahat's premise that playing time is the same thing as player development.  The first thing that NBA players have to learn is that if you don't do things the right way, you don't play.  It is absolutely vital--especially on teams that have ambitions of becoming contenders--that the best players play without exception.  Jones didn't play last year because he wasn't as good as the other options (including Greg Smith). But that experience helped Jones, as he freely admits.

    With all the injuries to all the big men, D-Mo has had plenty of time to establish himself as a viable option. He's failed to do so, so why reward that failure with more playing time? It would be devastating for morale, as the players would see it as a white flag of surrender.

  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago

    I disagree with Rahat's premise that playing time is the same thing as player development. The first thing that NBA players have to learn is that if you don't do things the right way, you don't play. It is absolutely vital--especially on teams that have ambitions of becoming contenders--that the best players play without exception. Jones didn't play last year because he wasn't as good as the other options (including Greg Smith). But that experience helped Jones, as he freely admits.

    With all the injuries to all the big men, D-Mo has had plenty of time to establish himself as a viable option. He's failed to do so, so why reward that failure with more playing time? It would be devastating for morale, as the players would see it as a white flag of surrender.

    I completely agree with your counter that game experience does not necessarily equal player development. It's a very debatable point but since everyone discussing this topic for the most part watches games the assumption seems that that is where players develop and to me that is a naive fans perspective.

    Worst case scenario this situation is what rockets best fan and timetodie are saying, that Motiejunas just isn't a rotation player in the NBA. I believe it's overly optimistic to believe by giving him starter's minutes now he can develop. I think what Rahat and johnnygold are saying is let's drive him around the block and see where he is at but I just don't believe that to be fair to him or the team. This would be a different topic but the rotation players are working on multiple problems and throwing the kid in would be like setting him up for failure. I don't believe he can swim by himself which is understandable but the rotation players cannot carry him right now either. These guys are not X's and O's. In addition Motiejunas is just not ready, throwing him out there now is serving him to the wolves on a silver platter. Considering his cost he is worth developing and waiting till next year to assess. The injuries have put the roster in rough situations but I admire McHale for staying the course. This is the only core in the West that is brand new, all the others have had time to gel. I advocate patience with the team and patience with Donatus Motiejunas as he travels down his own road.
  • Jatman20 says 8 months ago Missed opportunity...all the GM's were in Reno this past week watching a D-league tournament. DMo could have showcased his great skills with the RGV Vipers. Shabazz Mohammad played well.....as did others.
  • NorEastern says 8 months ago

    I think DMo will never play PF in this league. The time for slow PFs have passed. If Dirk were just now starting his career he would become a center.

    D-Mo is actually really really fast. Possibly faster than Jones. And Dirk? My god have you seen the footage of him as a 19 year old torching the entire US college draft class all by himself? 5 v. 1 and it was not even close. Dirk won.

  • Jatman20 says 8 months ago I agree....DMo played at 7'0" 225 lbs last season and looked bad at times vs PF's. Before the Euro-Tournament he was reported to be 248 lbs. If he doesn't push guys off the blocks....I don't need him out there. You can't let guys camp down low on you like that. The hopes that DMo will shoot 40% from 3 like Bargnani when he came into the league are a pipe dream. DMo has been a 29% three guy since he got here.

    Cleveland Plains Dealer that reported Rockets interested in Bynum.....I would try it. Bynum has two rings and understands basic defensive rotations while not letting guys set up camp on the box. D12 could be aggressive for the 1st three quarters and not worry about fouling out. Bynum should know that he is only good for about 20 mins......can post back to defender (sorry D12; love your game but you tend to dip your should too much). Plus Bynum is shooting 76% from the FT line.....DMo 57% from FT line. Again......the Rockets would have a quick out of Bynums contract if he was a detriment to the team (last stop.....last hope for Bynum). Olajuwon has been away all season; but plans to be in Houston (Feb) for the rest of the season. Gives the Rockets another dimension at the end of games that so many here are clamouring for. Bynum that is......not olajuwon (playing).
  • timetodienow1234567 says 8 months ago I think DMo will never play PF in this league. The time for slow PFs have passed. If Dirk were just now starting his career he would become a center.
  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    I disagree with Rahat's premise that playing time is the same thing as player development. The first thing that NBA players have to learn is that if you don't do things the right way, you don't play. It is absolutely vital--especially on teams that have ambitions of becoming contenders--that the best players play without exception. Jones didn't play last year because he wasn't as good as the other options (including Greg Smith). But that experience helped Jones, as he freely admits.

    With all the injuries to all the big men, D-Mo has had plenty of time to establish himself as a viable option. He's failed to do so, so why reward that failure with more playing time? It would be devastating for morale, as the players would see it as a white flag of surrender.

    I see your point, but disagree with your last statement. It could only potentially be bad for morale if the coaches kept it a secret. Doesn't it make more sense that they would all sit down and explain that they're going to play D-Mo more to try and get him some more experience and up to speed so that he can contribute come playoff time or if we keep having little injuries?

  • thenit says 8 months ago Difference is that if you are not brought up in North America there is an adjustment period from coming into the nba from Europe. Especially when DMo has barely seen any consistent minutes to even get his feet wet. I'm in the camp that believe we don't have a chance to win it this year. We can beat any team in a given game but in a 7game series I just don't think we can do it this year. We will be a 5to7 seed. I rather lose 2-3game if even that would occur and let DMo play in rotation of 15min a game. Because next year when we should have a better shot at it we won't have that luxury. So that means we will lose him to nothing and never realize if we have a stud or dud.
  • Johnny Rocket says 8 months ago

    I disagree with Rahat's premise that playing time is the same thing as player development. The first thing that NBA players have to learn is that if you don't do things the right way, you don't play. It is absolutely vital--especially on teams that have ambitions of becoming contenders--that the best players play without exception. Jones didn't play last year because he wasn't as good as the other options (including Greg Smith). But that experience helped Jones, as he freely admits.

    With all the injuries to all the big men, D-Mo has had plenty of time to establish himself as a viable option. He's failed to do so, so why reward that failure with more playing time? It would be devastating for morale, as the players would see it as a white flag of surrender.

  • NorEastern says 8 months ago

    D-Mo is under a very cheap contract for the next 135 or so games. I would be very very surprised if Morey traded him. Hibbert took several seasons to develop. For $1.4M a year, a trivial amount of money for Les, and a roster spot D-Mo is well worth holding on to. And if he is going against Howard every practice he will learn quickly. Per stats.nba.com D-Mo's net rating is a -7.7. Not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination. This is a classic low risk/high reward situation.

  • Richards says 8 months ago

    D-Mo should be given more playing time.

    But with coaches and system we have, it ain't going to happen.McHale value defense more than offense.

    TJ was playing well on both ends so no need to start D-Mo.
    But I was surprised why coaches didn't use D-Mo more at backup PF and shifting Capassi at 3.

  • Jatman20 says 8 months ago Maybe someone noted this already....per NBA.com - advanvanced stats: DMo has a DefRtg of 119 and OffRtg of 95 on the road. Like Royce White we (Rockets) can't just play DMo at home. I'm not sure DMo wants it bad enough (Euro-Finesse background....may take another year or two).

    Rumor popped up last night that states both Houston and the Pacers are showing interest in Bynum. Every team would insist on a quick out in the contract if Bynum acts up. I'm ok with cashing in some assets for pennies on the dollar to improve depth. In most years I wouldn't suggest it;
    but this year is kinda different. If we end up 7-8 seed by losing too many games; we may want to think about tanking for Julius Randle....HaHa.

    I think we can catch up to the 4th seed, maybe even up to the Spurs and be a top 3 seed. I'm a believer once San Antonio hits 50 games; they hit a wall--because of age (Duncan is 37 and turns 38 in April & Ginobli about 35-36). Spurs know it too.....reports everywhere state the Spurs will be active by the trading deadline.
  • rockets best fan says 8 months ago

    I have read the post above and considering the D-Mo situation. I am of the opinion D-Mo will not be a good NBA player. sure I see flashes, but I also see good flashes in Javal McGee. when D-Mo went to play for his national team this past summer I expected him to get the bilk of time playing for his national team yet he was pretty much relegated to the bench. I really didn't think about it to much at the time, however the fact that he wasn't able to get off the bench against what I consider ainferiortalented league wasdisappointing. players who can't even make it in theNBA were playing in front of him................why? some want to blame McHale for not playing him. the problem with this argument is......while D-Mo has had great flashes most of his play has been negative. I remember telling you guys how I was upset with McHale for not playing T-Jones earlier last year, but now I realize forcing him to earn his time lit a fire in his belly that channeled his focus. those of you calling for McHale to play him would have him receive minutes without having earned them? his coach overseas when presented with the same option as McHale responded the same as McHale........he left him on the bench. could it be that his coach overseas saw the same thing McHale has...........that D-Mo doesn't do enough good things to warrant being on the floor yet. IMO all players have flaws. the question of should he play or not is answered by does he do enough good to outweigh his negative impact. in the case for D-Mo the answer is NO. at this point in his career D-Mo can't guard a telephone pole :lol:he gets used like a role of toilet paper in a public restroom :lol:and his offensive impact has not been able to outweigh that fact. I believe D-Mo will never be a good defensive player. his value is in ability to develop offensively enough to outweigh his defensive liabilities. he is not at the point of that happening. will playing time fix that problem? Yes it could help, but how long? some big men don't develop until they mature mentally becoming more focused on what it takes to survive in the league. some never develop aka Thibeet. we are trying to develop a championship culture. D-Mo has had a year and a half todevelop enough offensive punch to outweigh the defensive gut shot we take with him on the floor. he has not been able to do it. I am tired of looking at 5 dollar moves and 2 cents finishes. the goal is to put the ball in the bucket. not how pretty the move is, not how good the form on his shot looks, not how good he moves for a big man, put the ball in the bucket........at the end of the day it's the only thing that matters. D-Mo is flashy, but has no substance. he may still develop, but we no longer have unlimited time to give him. I know some of you feel you can already see our future relegating us to varying playoff seeds and already trying to build for next season. I'm not of that line of thinking. I want to win NOW. sure there is a point you should look to the future, but we haven't reached it yet. we are in the NOW. we still have a chance to do great things in the NOW. D-Mo can't help us with that mission right now so why should we give him minutes he hasn't earned which may damage the now hoping for a better future?

  • bboley24 says 8 months ago

    Motie>Brewer... all day errrrday.

  • Rahat Huq says 8 months ago

    ^I agree. I don't think he'll ever get it and I think this will end very poorly. Just hoping not.

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    Our next 5 opponents are Boston, New Orleans, OKC, Milwaukee, and Portland. I wouldn't mind seeing D-Mo slide into the starting PF spot for these 5 games. He will be better protected on both ends of the floor. Meanwhile, he gets matched up against Sullinger, Anthony Davis, Ibaka, Henson/Ilyasova, and then Aldridge. Ideally, we go 5-0 through this stretch, but it is more likely to be 3-2. That's not terrible if it gives D-Mo some needed playing time and gives us a better evaluation of where he is at.

    As for Jones, he can help lead the 2nd unit for a few games. He has shown some ability to score on his own and is playing with much less hesitation than earlier in the year. I can imagine he, Lin (staying in to capt. the 2nd unit) and Greg Smith could wreak some havoc on offense and hopefully hold down the fort on defense. I know this idea will be unpopular, but it's only 5 games and the odds are we come out with the same record we would have either way.

    While I am leaning towards the D-Mo may never get it side of the fence I still agree that giving him ample chances to prove me wrong is a good idea.

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    I think demo is 3-22 from the 3 this year if I'm correct. He really likes that 3 in the so few mins he gets.

  • Red94 says 8 months ago New post: Huq's Pen: On Motiejunas, Part 2
    By: rahat huq

    I wrote back on the 10th that Motiejunas needed to be given more playing time.  Most of you, including some of my staff, disagreed with that sentiment.  (Though interestingly, the responses from Twitter were in vehement agreement.)  I still feel strongly about that stance, so I'll address some of the replies.

    First, let me reiterate my thesis.  There are only three reasons why the status quo should ensue (ie: Motiejunas should not get burn.)

    1. If you think that playing him would have a disastrous effect on the team.  I've conceded already that Casspi is the far better fit and the numbers back that up.  (Ironically, this post comes after one of Casspi's best games of the year.)  But what I'm talking about here is if you think playing Motiejunas would see Asik-Howard levels of detriment, to the point where the team loses multiple games because of his court time.

    2. If you think, or think the coaches have concluded, that Motiejunas just straight up sucks and will never get it.  Justin Wehr has presented this case nicely, though I do not agree.  While I don't agree, it's a valid line of argumentation.  More on this later.

    3. If you think "every game matters."  This is probably the weakest point of my own argument as the Chris Paul injury changes everything.  I don't think the Rockets are one of the four best teams in the conference.  But with Paul out for an extended period, the Rockets have an outside chance at the 4-seed.

    To some of the responses:

    John Eby and Stephen feel that Motiejunas is too weak defensively to warrant time.  In repsonse, I would point to reason #1.  I think the team would suffer, but in my opinion, the outcome wouldn't be disastrous.

    Justin Wehr, as I cited earlier, is of the opinion that D-Mo just isn't worth the time.  If that truly is the case, then that's obviously a reason to sit him.  I obviously don't think that's the case, given his tantalizing skillset, but moreover, I just don't think we can reach that conclusion so quickly.  I point to Luis Scola's rookie season as evidence.  Remember how horrible Scola looked the first half of the year?  D-Mo hasn't even seen as many minutes yet as Scola had up to that point.  The adjustment to the NBA game from the international courts is one that only takes place through consistent playing time.

    A new reader, detheredge, a reader, Jatman20, and Robert Dover present the argument that the team is no longer in a developmental phase and in contention for one of the top seeds.  Dover also, in attacking my argument, cites my feature from ESPN some months back in which I myself said, in essence, that only basketball/wins mattered.  It's a compelling argument by Dover and co., but I'd say two things:

    1. As I've already said, I don't think this team is a top four seed.  They've been trudging along and lost to a Hawks team missing Al Horford.

    2. My premise in the ESPN piece was geared more towards eschewing "asset arbitrage", not player development.  To put it simply, I don't think the focus anymore is on cap space or trades.  But I do think long term player development is still an important and viable goal, most especially with respect to a player as promising as Motiejunas.

    I just feel that when you have a prospect as talented as Motiejunas, especially when you don't expect to have high picks for the near future, you have to make some investments towards realizing his development.  He could, in theory, be an almost ideal fit for this offense with his ability to not only spread the floor but actually post up.  He's been terrible, yes, but that's a really, really rare skillset the man possesses.  You just have to see that through and let him sink or swim.

    Perhaps more importantly, you have him potentially under cheap club control for another three years after this one, but with the team option decision coming in 2015-2016.  Let's say he sits all of this year, as he has.  That means his "growing pains year" becomes next year, after which you have to make your decision.  You only then have him on the cheap for another year.  I'd prefer to get the growing pains out as early as possible while someone is on their rookie scale.

  • Steven says 8 months ago

    DMo is not worth a first rounder. A rebuilding team would have a lottery pick with more potential than DMo, and a contending team needs a contributor not a project. Anyone who believes he's worth a first round pick right now is delusional. I still believe in him but as long as Mchale is the coach he won't get much burn.

    Terrance Willams was worth a first.
  • Rahat Huq says 8 months ago

    Rahat, weren't you on TrueHoop last month writing that the Rockets needed a change in attitude now? Where it's less important to gather assets and more important to build chemistry? You're talking about trying to get extra value from D-Mo by playing him more, but it seems to me that that is exactly the wrong thing to do if you're trying to build a cohesive team.

    LOL. I was actually thinking about this while writing that post. I think I've just become jaded in the sense that I feel for this year this is just a 5-7 seed. When I wrote the TrueHoop piece, I was hoping for more for this team. Right now, my only goal for this team is to get healthy, develop chemistry. Might as well develop Motiejunas too.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 8 months ago DMo is not worth a first rounder. A rebuilding team would have a lottery pick with more potential than DMo, and a contending team needs a contributor not a project. Anyone who believes he's worth a first round pick right now is delusional. I still believe in him but as long as Mchale is the coach he won't get much burn.
  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    I truly don't know where to begin after reading these comments. I'm dumbfounded by 99% of the non sense redrick portrayed. ( outstanding job on the blog entry RAHAT)

    (I'll get to the point, since most of you make no sense)
    Wake up call #1
    Houston is over rated. ( we are the Golden Nuggets of Texas)
    #2
    team is rebuilding.. (for the last 12 years)
    #3
    No one knows about Donatas Motiejunas capabilities because we haven't seen him play since last season. (playing the last 30 secs of the half do not attribute to players potential)
    #4
    If you think raptors will get better as season progresses, YOU PROBABLY SAID THE SAME THING FOR THE LAST 12 YEARS. You all know our max potential, and the fact that people think Caspi is the best we could do showcasing our progress this year is amazing. (the fact that his name is even mentioned is stupid) Now we have a young prospect who may potentially be molded into a lucrative trade prospect DONATAS MOTIEJUNAS, is neglected of 15 mins of playing time even when we are beating up on a team by 15 points!!! LAME SAUCE.
    #5
    NBA DRAFT????????????
    DMO is worth max 2nd round draft pick???????
    For all you geniuses, i would like to introduce you to a place called NBA D LEAGUE... that is a league specially made for second round picks....
    (ALSO CHECK D MO'S STATS WHEN HE WAS SENT DOWN THERE, TELL ME WHERE HE BELONGS)

    thanks guys

    Welcome to Red94, LAME SAUCE. Thanks for the thoughtful post. Your uninhibited writing style is worthy of your moniker; although I found a few of your points somewhat convoluted. A few thoughts...

    I'm not sure who redrick is, and not being able to find any post resembling that I too am dumbfounded by its message.

    I agree that we can be guilty of over-valuing our team. It is born out of love--not ignorance. We all know that this team has major flaws and needs a lot of things to get better--the most important of these being time. Of course, time is also the thing we fear as it routinely strips athletes of their gifts, abilities and potential without reservation.

    I would alter your 2nd point about Houston re-building to simply building. We've got most of the necessary components with which to build a winning team. Now, it is the time to put them together in the best possible way and see what we've got. Perhaps, as things take shape it will become apparent that we need to acquire an extra piece or two. On the other hand, we may already have said piece and just need to refine it a bit in order for it to work better for us.

    Which brings me to D-Mo. You said, "No one knows about Donatas Motiejunas capabilities because we haven't seen him play since last season". Which I agree with largely. I mean, we know what the scouting report says and we know that we have seen huge pendulum swings from play to play with one that makes you say, "Ooooooh!", followed by another that sounds more like, "Ugghhh". There seem to be more "ughs" then "oohs" by my count. There seems to be a discrepancy though as, after pointing out that no one knows about D-Mo, you proceed to speak from a perceived knowledge of said unknown.

    I'm not really sure what all you were going for at the end there, but it seems you prefer playing D-Mo over Casspi. This is totally understandable and is in line with many of the opinions in this discussion. I'm pretty sure Dwight Howard would be the consensus pick to showcase our progress from last year over Casspi. I'm pretty sure his name only came up because it is likely his minutes that would take a hit from playing D-Mo (as evidenced in this last Hawks game).

    I appreciate the compliment--I too think we have a lot of very smart people here that provide a wide spectrum of perspectives and observations. I took your advice and checked D-Mo's D-League stats from last year. In 4 games, he posted a nice average of nearly 24 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists. Kevin Love approves. :) Here is the LINK if anyone cares to check it out.

    The problem is, when you look closer you notice that he was only 2-10 from 3 pt. range in those last three games and, while I haven't seen the games, I did watch the highlights which showed exactly what I expected. A few nice moves from D-Mo paired with quite a few highlights from the opposition scoring on, over, and around D-Mo. The Rockets want a "3 & D" forward and, despite his name, D-Mo provides neither at a reliable clip.

    For a 7 footer with speed and agility his defense simply disappoints. Which brings us back to the original theme of the discussion. Would playing D-Mo at the NBA level allow that understanding and ability to grow to the point that he can become a solid member of the rotation? It's a good question and one that I am beginning to believe is a sad, but true, "no". This is why his value is not as high as his offensive skill set makes us want to believe. GM's know why he isn't seeing the floor--they have scouts too. He is a project and a gamble.

    I wouldn't mind seeing D-Mo get more run. I like watching him play. However, I understand why he doesn't. I don't think Houston should trade him. I think they should forbid him from shooting jumpers until he can prove his worth on the other end of the floor.

    Thanks again for the post. I hope it made sense as you mentioned earlier you were having trouble understanding some of the other ones. Take it easy and we'll see you around the forums! :)

  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago

    Long time lurker, first time with a serious post, so please be gentle!

    I don't agree with Rahat's premise that the Rox are a 5 - 7 seed and that is all we should aspire to this season.

    Morey has pulled two star players out of a hat over the past year and he has a cost controlled 7 footer and another 7 footer who's one of the best defensive players in the league available as trade bait. I can't imagine that Morey isn't searching for that 3rd star player every minute of every day right up to the trade deadline. Can a group of Asik, Monte & Lin / Beverly bring back a star PG? How about Asik, Monte & Jones for a star PF? I wouldn't bet against Morey pulling a Harden type deal off and thereby catapulting this team into the first tier in the west.

    The Rox have already beaten the Spurs twice and the Blazers once this year and except for 7 or 8 inexplicable losses to relative bottom feeders, they'd be right in the mix for a top seed. We are only 5 games out in the loss column - while that's a big hill to climb, it's not an impossible one. If the team can beat the teams they are supposed to beat during the balance of the season and continue to play competitive ball against the top tier teams, there's no reason why the squad as currently constructed can't move up and grab home field in round one.

    The argument of developing Monte over playing Casspi is a developmental strategy. If we really think the Rox are a contender, then honing the squad that will be asked to win in the playoffs is more valuable than developing a player that might be a part of the rotation in the future. We've been stuck in the developmental mindset for so long, that I think we've forgotten as fans what is means to be a contender. It takes time for a rotation to get truly comfortable with their teammates and their roles so that they can perform at peak efficiency. This is even more critical for a young squad like the Rockets. I doubt McHale sees this season as a developmental year. I think he's trying to get the Rockets playing their best with their best players on the floor so that they have a real shot at winning in the playoffs. The point about the Spurs developing players while they won is a good one - but they never seemed to be sacrificing wins to do it. I think McHale will play Monte if he earns that time by performing - but playing him despite poor performance in order to advance his development sends exactly the wrong message to guys like Howard and Harden, who I presume want to win now and aren't interested in whether or not the Rox are maximizing the future value of a player that's currently sitting on the bench 9 / 10ths of the time.

    I could be totally off base, but I trust that Morey has a plan for getting us from a #6 seed to a #1-2 seed. And I don't think he's going to be willing to wait a year or two to put that plan in action. Howard's arrival put this team in "win now" mode and for better or worse, the expectations around this team demand that they do everything possible to win.


    Good post dethereridge, welcome to Red94.
  • LAME SAUCE says 8 months ago

    And if you don't know which "golden" nuggets i'm rfering to it's denver.

  • LAME SAUCE says 8 months ago

    I truly don't know where to begin after reading these comments. I'm dumbfounded by 99% of the non sense redrick portrayed. ( outstanding job on the blog entry RAHAT)

    (I'll get to the point, since most of you make no sense)
    Wake up call #1
    Houston is over rated. ( we are the Golden Nuggets of Texas)
    #2
    team is rebuilding.. (for the last 12 years)
    #3
    No one knows about Donatas Motiejunas capabilities because we haven't seen him play since last season. (playing the last 30 secs of the half do not attribute to players potential)
    #4
    If you think raptors will get better as season progresses, YOU PROBABLY SAID THE SAME THING FOR THE LAST 12 YEARS. You all know our max potential, and the fact that people think Caspi is the best we could do showcasing our progress this year is amazing. (the fact that his name is even mentioned is stupid) Now we have a young prospect who may potentially be molded into a lucrative trade prospect DONATAS MOTIEJUNAS, is neglected of 15 mins of playing time even when we are beating up on a team by 15 points!!! LAME SAUCE.
    #5
    NBA DRAFT????????????
    DMO is worth max 2nd round draft pick???????
    For all you geniuses, i would like to introduce you to a place called NBA D LEAGUE... that is a league specially made for second round picks....
    (ALSO CHECK D MO'S STATS WHEN HE WAS SENT DOWN THERE, TELL ME WHERE HE BELONGS)

    thanks guys

  • Sir Thursday says 8 months ago

    Well, Rahat got his wish tonight with Motiejunas getting some minutes. He wasn't awful, but I can't say he was anything better than mediocre. Noticed him junking up a couple of offensive possessions while standing in the wrong place - but then, the whole team was doing that tonight.

    ST

  • thenit says 8 months ago

    I concur. But I don't think the Rockets (with Dwight's window shrinking) can afford to give him that opportunity.


    I agree too. I think he can be a good rotations player. A seven footer with decent range and the moves he has in the post should be able to develop a defence, but only if he gets game time. I think at best we will be a 5 seed. The top teams are too good to drop that many games for us to catch up. We will have to go .800 to catch those team unless they fall apart. I don't think we can win this year but we might as well develop DMo over casspi. I just don't see us retaining casspi next year anyways. At least we can have a large consistent sample of DMo and we can make a sounder decision . Because next year we should be contenders at least better than this year, which basically will force our hand in development of young players and just play the best players at the moment.
  • Jeby says 8 months ago

    My argument though is that the only way he ever will get it on D is by being out there.

    I concur. But I don't think the Rockets (with Dwight's window shrinking) can afford to give him that opportunity.
  • Sir Thursday says 8 months ago

    Rahat, weren't you on TrueHoop last month writing that the Rockets needed a change in attitude now? Where it's less important to gather assets and more important to build chemistry? You're talking about trying to get extra value from D-Mo by playing him more, but it seems to me that that is exactly the wrong thing to do if you're trying to build a cohesive team.

    This team is not Miami and this is not the Eastern Conference - you can't coast to an easy playoff berth in the West. And even if you could, the Rockets shouldn't be. This team is capable of getting home court in the playoffs this year, not just bumming around in the 5th or 6th seed. That was their stated goal at the start of the season and it is not worth jeopardising their pursuit of that goal (not to mention potentially alienating one of the better finds of the year in Casspi) to force feed minutes to D-Mo.

    When I see the Rockets on the floor these days, I see a work in progress, not a finished article. There are still many wrinkles that need sorting out, and the whole team needs minutes on the floor to sort them out. The players who are actually in the rotation right now are a higher priority to get right than a second year player who actively hurts the team when he's on the court.

    I guess I just don't see the potential that you do. Or at least, I see where you are coming from, but to me the defensive deficiencies he has shown are beyond the level where you can let him play through his mistakes. Whenever I see him on the court, it feels like there is a breakdown on every defensive possession. For every game like he had against Memphis, there are several like he had the following night in New Orleans. No coach in the league can justify keeping a player out there when that's happening.

    ST

  • bboley24 says 8 months ago

    I cannot agree more! Get him out there and play... we don't have much to lose plus a big man is what we need. Ditch Smith and let DMO have a run at it.

  • Jatman20 says 8 months ago
    Here is the link.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/statistics/team/_/stat/team-comparison-per-game/split/41
  • Jatman20 says 8 months ago Normally the Rockets would show patience, but the Rockets are in year one of a 3-4 year window to win as many championships as they can. The Heat are the model with the "The Big Three", all at about 19 million a year after 3 years together. Every play is urgent with every game vital. Just ask the Pacers if game 7 (last season) not on your court doesn't matter. This is why Harden has taken charge after a team poor Dec.
    Sign In or Register


    NBA Team-by-Team Comparison Per Game Statistics - 2013-14

    Statistics: Team Comparison | Offense | Defense | Differential | Rebounds | Miscellaneous
    Season:
    Splits:
    League:
    Team-by-Team Comparison Per GameTeam-by-Team Comparison
    Points Per Game Leaders
    POINTS FG PCT 3PT PCT REBOUND PCT TURNOVERS
    RK TEAM OWN OPP DIFF OWN OPP OWN OPP FT% OFF DEF TOT OWN OPP
    1 Portland 112.5 102.9 +9.6 .457 .456 .380 .352 .844 .158 .571 .328 13.1 11.6
    2 Atlanta 109.1 100.4 +8.7 .471 .455 .396 .346 .781 .109 .545 .279 14.6 14.7
    3 Oklahoma City 107.5 98.3 +9.2 .487 .421 .375 .341 .819 .135 .611 .349 14.4 14.0
    4 San Antonio 106.6 96.7 +9.9 .482 .444 .402 .368 .787 .126 .570 .304 13.9 14.3
    5 Minnesota 106.3 102.7 +3.6 .428 .473 .346 .357 .782 .147 .527 .287 12.8 16.7
    Phoenix 106.3 100.3 +6.0 .456 .445 .379 .336 .744 .130 .515 .286 15.7 15.0
    7 Sacramento 104.4 105.0 -0.6 .460 .473 .360 .391 .779 .151 .600 .331 15.4 14.6
    8 Miami 104.0 98.0 +6.0 .511 .459 .353 .371 .733 .087 .546 .276 14.3 16.9
    9 New Orleans 103.9 102.9 +1.0 .449 .463 .375 .351 .763 .155 .531 .303 12.3 14.5
    10 Golden State 103.6 98.4 +5.2 .454 .429 .358 .344 .738 .149 .587 .328 16.8 14.6
    POINTS FG PCT 3PT PCT REBOUND PCT TURNOVERS
    RK TEAM OWN OPP DIFF OWN OPP OWN OPP FT% OFF DEF TOT OWN OPP
    11 Dallas 102.8 101.7 +1.1 .472 .461 .372 .359 .793 .092 .494 .246 12.6 16.3
    12 LA Clippers 102.0 99.7 +2.3 .445 .444 .319 .330 .739 .112 .543 .289 13.0 15.2
    Philadelphia 102.0 111.1 -9.1 .435 .461 .327 .373 .749 .114 .498 .260 17.5 16.1
    14 Toronto 101.6 96.9 +4.7 .447 .449 .356 .364 .794 .126 .554 .294 13.9 15.7
    15 Detroit 101.5 102.4 -0.9 .447 .466 .350 .370 .663 .184 .580 .338 15.7 15.5
    16 Houston 101.4 102.4 -1.0 .458 .438 .299 .354 .683 .147 .537 .317 13.7 13.2
    17 Cleveland 100.8 100.5 +0.3 .435 .447 .367 .353 .753 .130 .555 .293 13.3 14.2
    18 Washington 100.4 99.4 +1.0 .454 .462 .400 .357 .745 .113 .511 .260 15.0 15.1
    Indiana 100.4 88.6 +11.8 .470 .411 .358 .326 .807 .103 .569 .299 13.9 14.4
    20 Boston 98.4 98.6 -0.2 .462 .451 .372 .337 .773 .090 .488 .246 13.8 13.9
    POINTS FG PCT 3PT PCT REBOUND PCT TURNOVERS
    RK TEAM OWN OPP DIFF OWN OPP OWN OPP FT% OFF DEF TOT OWN OPP
    21 Brooklyn 98.1 101.0 -2.9 .458 .455 .385 .390 .762 .096 .522 .262 13.9 14.0
    22 LA Lakers 97.0 104.6 -7.6 .433 .452 .318 .339 .756 .105 .504 .265 15.4 12.8
    New York 97.0 98.2 -1.2 .441 .462 .388 .365 .767 .113 .554 .275 11.7 15.0
    24 Charlotte 96.9 95.8 +1.1 .435 .436 .349 .375 .760 .102 .593 .293 11.3 13.8
    25 Milwaukee 96.5 100.6 -4.1 .427 .449 .307 .363 .771 .140 .525 .295 13.6 14.4
    26 Memphis 95.9 97.4 -1.5 .442 .462 .368 .360 .727 .165 .560 .314 11.8 13.4
    27 Denver 95.2 101.4 -6.2 .429 .440 .316 .337 .751 .150 .533 .308 14.3 13.4
    Utah 95.2 100.7 -5.5 .437 .467 .391 .356 .823 .130 .553 .298 12.9 12.8
    29 Orlando 94.2 100.5 -6.3 .429 .447 .326 .364 .752 .105 .572 .290 12.7 13.6
    30 Chicago 90.2 92.0 -1.8 .415 .428 .322 .370 .759 .142 .567 .320 15.9 13.9

    What came first the chicken or the egg? Did Harden hog the ball and that effect the 3 point shooting on the team or did people struggle and Harden is now taking over? Knowing the importance of every game. Harden's usage for the year is down from last year (maybe higher recently). Note FT% as well. If you look up Parsons, Garcia, Casspi FT% his year....not good. AB and Harden are the only ones over 80%.

    *Side notes......Nov: Rockets were the bomb!! Number 1.... And note that Houston has had two stints of four games in five nights (2nd game of season began one stint & the other right after x-mas). The Thunder have their 1st and only stretch of four games in five nights later this month.
    I only scanned over their schedule; The Rockets can make some ground with other teams going thru injuries. Clippers and Thunder. JJ comes back tonight; but you know they are disparate if they work out Hedo.

    Sorry I did a cut and paste because I couldn't link it. It's best to go to ESPN site to view the stats better. ESPN.go
  • timetodienow1234567 says 8 months ago I'm appalled by you guys.

    1st) if DMo can't even get PT with the Rockets how is he worth a first?

    2nd) I think the sweetener you talked about would only work for teams like Miami or SAS who won't be in the lottery regardless.

    Lol. This discussion is funny. I think he could be a good player but an established team would not want him since he's a project and a rebuilding team won't give up a first to get him. Like it or not, he's worth a 2nd round pick right now at best.
  • detheredge says 8 months ago

    Long time lurker, first time with a serious post, so please be gentle!

    I don't agree with Rahat's premise that the Rox are a 5 - 7 seed and that is all we should aspire to this season.

    Morey has pulled two star players out of a hat over the past year and he has a cost controlled 7 footer and another 7 footer who's one of the best defensive players in the league available as trade bait. I can't imagine that Morey isn't searching for that 3rd star player every minute of every day right up to the trade deadline. Can a group of Asik, Monte & Lin / Beverly bring back a star PG? How about Asik, Monte & Jones for a star PF? I wouldn't bet against Morey pulling a Harden type deal off and thereby catapulting this team into the first tier in the west.

    The Rox have already beaten the Spurs twice and the Blazers once this year and except for 7 or 8 inexplicable losses to relative bottom feeders, they'd be right in the mix for a top seed. We are only 5 games out in the loss column - while that's a big hill to climb, it's not an impossible one. If the team can beat the teams they are supposed to beat during the balance of the season and continue to play competitive ball against the top tier teams, there's no reason why the squad as currently constructed can't move up and grab home field in round one.

    The argument of developing Monte over playing Casspi is a developmental strategy. If we really think the Rox are a contender, then honing the squad that will be asked to win in the playoffs is more valuable than developing a player that might be a part of the rotation in the future. We've been stuck in the developmental mindset for so long, that I think we've forgotten as fans what is means to be a contender. It takes time for a rotation to get truly comfortable with their teammates and their roles so that they can perform at peak efficiency. This is even more critical for a young squad like the Rockets. I doubt McHale sees this season as a developmental year. I think he's trying to get the Rockets playing their best with their best players on the floor so that they have a real shot at winning in the playoffs. The point about the Spurs developing players while they won is a good one - but they never seemed to be sacrificing wins to do it. I think McHale will play Monte if he earns that time by performing - but playing him despite poor performance in order to advance his development sends exactly the wrong message to guys like Howard and Harden, who I presume want to win now and aren't interested in whether or not the Rox are maximizing the future value of a player that's currently sitting on the bench 9 / 10ths of the time.

    I could be totally off base, but I trust that Morey has a plan for getting us from a #6 seed to a #1-2 seed. And I don't think he's going to be willing to wait a year or two to put that plan in action. Howard's arrival put this team in "win now" mode and for better or worse, the expectations around this team demand that they do everything possible to win.

  • blakecouey says 8 months ago

    My thoughts of DMo seem to coincide with many of yours. He's got a reason to be upset, to a point, about his playing time, but his deficiencies are too great in the areas that we just can't overcome at the moment. Maybe that changes when we're healthy, but we don't have that luxury yet.

    I do believe he winds up traded, most likely as part of a package because I don't see him fetching a first rounder on his own(he could easily sweeten an Asik deal from protected to unprotected??).

  • NorEastern says 8 months ago

    Some point that come immediately to mind:

    I completely agree that Morey is trying to mollify D-Mo with "trade talk". His size and skill set should demand a mid to late lotto pick in 2014.

    Immediately after this news broke D-Mo got 10:23 in the LAL game. I believe that D-Mo's demands will force the Rockets to give him more PT, even though it is not currently in the best interests of the team to do so.

    D-Mo has a very rare potential in the NBA. He could actually become the extremely rare center with an advanced post up game. I think that is pretty obvious. Morey will of course see this. D-Mo is not going anywhere.

  • j_wehr says 8 months ago

    There are very few players who started their NBA career as poorly as D Mo and ended up having a productive career (as evidenced here: http://www.red94.net/stats-say-young-rockets-likely-successful-nba-career/13313/), so I'm of the harsh opinion that the Rockets should trade D Mo before teams realize that he's unlikely to develop into anything more than an intriguing bundle of skills.

  • RudyT1995 says 8 months ago

    This could be a sign that the management and coaching staff are not doing a good job of communicating player development goals with certain players. Royce White, Asik, and now DMo - maybe there's a real disconnect between what management/coaches expected from these guys and what they expected from the organization and the differences weren't communicated effectively. I feel like it's been like that since McHale arrived. The Lowry and Dragic situations weren't handled that well either. It seemed like there were big differences of expectation in those situations as well.

  • Buckko says 8 months ago We have proven we need all our PGs because injuries are so common at the position due to being the smallest and most fragile guy on the court. I have been stunned how people forget about asik. The couple games he did play involved him single handely shut down Randolph and aldrige. The first blazers game we killed them by 15. 2nd game without asik we lost by 7. He is a defense miracle worker and any trade involving asik outside a superstar would hurt us. Greg smith is just a big body efficient and rebounding bruiser, IMO our future nick collision. Dmo is in no mans land with his skill sets not needed on this team and his flaws sevely hurting us. I wouldn't mind a Dmo and a 2nd to the Knicks for shumptert. Thoughts?
  • Cooper says 8 months ago Unless they can get a protected first or a solid rotation wing player/prospect. Dmo is worth hanging onto. I think they will make some sort of move around the deadline. Whether it be Dmo asik smith or one if the Pgs.
  • Rahat Huq says 8 months ago

    My argument though is that the only way he ever will get it on D is by being out there.

  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago I agree Stephen, it just hasn't been in the cards. It's only his second year, Motiejunas I think will probably get it in year 3. I would tell the big man to be patient, he's still young.
  • Jeby says 8 months ago

    I agree with Stephen that the issues are primarily defensive. Also, D-Mo hasn't been shooting well from three...his opponents are basically daring him to shoot it now, and he still can't hit.
    As great as D-Mo's offensive skill set is, it's not something the team really needs to win right now. The Rockets have so many ways to score, and score efficiently, that all they really need from their 7-footers is defense and rebounding. I would argue that Motiejunas is so deficient on that end that it more than negates his offense. His lack of length and lack of awareness are a huge huge green light to other teams to attack the rim, and he rewards the other team's aggressiveness with lots of fouls.
    D-Mo is the perfect player for a tanking team--super fun to watch, but not ready to contribute to winning. I'm surprised Sam Hinkie hasn't traded for him yet.

  • Stephen says 8 months ago

    The issues w/D-Mo seem to be on the defensive end.
    Since Casspi is the back-up 4,putting D-Mo out there w/Casspi offers zero lane protection and very,very little defensive rebounding.
    Combine that w/Brooks having to play the back-up PG w/Beverly out and the lane is wide open.
    Quite frankly the bench has been a disaster this season,and the roster imbalance w/4 PGs has had a marked effect.
    It's quite possible Smith's injury woes have had a drastic impact on D-Mo.
    A healthy Smith would have seen D-Mo teaming either w/Jones or Smith,someone who could offer some lane protection and rebounding,off-setting D-Mo's weaknesses and letting D-Mo play his natural PF spot.