On the Houston Rockets’ pace

  Pace Rank
10/25 – 10/29 99.69 19
10/30 – 11/5 99.98 16
11/6 – 11/12 98.57 15
11/13 – 11/19 99.85 15
11/20 – 11/26 99.17 15
11/27 – 12/3 99.94 9
12/4 – 12/10 101.34 7
12/11 – 12/17 103.97 2
12/18 – 12/24 98.29 16
12/25 – 12/31 106.64 1
1/1 – 1/7 98.27 14
1/8 – 1/14 103.09 7
1/15 – 1/21 104.16 2
1/22 – 1/28 107.06 1
1/29 – 2/4 101.74 11
2/5 – 2/11 105.87 2
2/12 – 2/18 94.10 27
2/19 – 2/25 108.95 2
2/26 – 3/4 101.13 7
3/5 – 3/11 101.52 4
3/12 – 3/18 104.54 5
3/19 – 3/25 107.78 2

At the time of writing, the Houston Rockets are playing at the fourth fastest pace in the NBA at 102.07.  That wasn’t always the case.  I remembered diving into the numbers early on and finding that the team was middle of the pack – at the beginning of the season, while the Rockets were playing well, they weren’t exactly Seven Seconds or Less.  I’ve compiled the team’s week by week pace in the chart above.  Note that the corresponding pace and rankings are not cumulative.  That is to say, the pace and rank for each week is just for the two to four games played that week.  Such an approach gives us a clearer understanding of impacting variables than what would have been provided by the cumulative scores.  And of course, as a whole, despite starting the season where they did, the Rockets are now at fourth.

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in essays

Hakeem vs. Harden

I’ve had seven hours to reflect on this blasphemy, and I’m realizing I don’t regret making this statement.  Yes, I’m well aware of the challenges in making cross-positional, cross-generational comparisons.  (Sheesh, some of you have to take all of the fun out of life).  And yes, I’m aware of Hakeem’s postseason brilliance.  (As one reader noted, I’m not sure what relevance those circumstances have to my claim – we’re arguing abilities not historical body of work.)  But what James Harden is doing right now, in carrying an all-time offense, is at the very least on par with anything Olajuwon produced on that end.

Where Olajuwon, of course, set himself apart was the defensive end.  In fact, Olajuwon’s age 27 season (where Harden currently is), in 1989-1990, was the most prolific of his career on the boards and at the rim as he averaged a whopping 14 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game.  Imagine what those numbers would look like at the pace of today’s game.  In Olajuwon’s MVP season, 1993-1994, he averaged 27.3 points (the second highest mark of his career), 11.9 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game.  Harden is averaging 29.4 points, 11.2 assists, and 8.1 rebounds.  The Rockets will probably finish close to the 58-24 mark they posted in 1993-1994.  I’m not going to break down the advanced metrics because its almost 9:00 P.M. and I don’t have the mental energy for that, and more importantly, those sorts of factors hold no weight in hypothetical banter of this sort.  For now, it will take a good argument to convince me against my claim.

in musings

On James Harden’s durability

It’s easy to get caught up in James Harden’s day to day brilliance.  But one thing that does not garner enough attention is his remarkable durability.  As they say, ‘availability is among the best of talents.’  (Wait, has anyone ever said that?)  This season, Harden has appeared in 70 of Houston’s 70 games, averaging 36.5 minutes per contest.  In fact, in the last three years, Harden has only missed one game.  He played in 81 games in 2014-2015, and 82 games in 2015-2016.  In Harden’s first year with the team, he missed five games, and then nine in his second year.  During the win-streak tribute, I was reminded of the tragic nature of Tracy McGrady’s stint with the team.  By age 27, T-Mac’s skills were already eroding and his fall from superstar status had already begun.  Meanwhile, James Harden appears to be improving with age.  So far, we have been fortunate this time around. 

in musings

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