The Rockets Daily – February 26, 2014

Royal Beatdown - ESPN Stats and Info provided some fun facts about James Harden’s performance last night.

When the smoke had cleared after the first 12 minutes, Harden had single-handedly outscored the Kings 22-17.

He also had seven field goals to the Kings’ four and had either scored or assisted on 11 of the Rockets’ 14 baskets.

For those few fans that still believe the Rockets would be better off with a two-way shooting guard as opposed to Harden’s one-sided approach, he reminded them just how good he can be.  Not to mention he had three steals last night and is averaging 2.1 a game for the month of February.

Another tidbit from the Stats and Info guys, and passed along by reader Majik19:

The Rockets are leading the league in both 3-point attempts and free throw attempts per game.  How odd is that combination?  The 1983-84 Utah Jazz are the only team to finish a season leading in both categories.

The Rockets finished 4th in free throw attempts last year and no team that Dwight Howard has played for since becoming an All-Star has ever finished outside the top-10 in attempts, so this is no surprise.  And after covering the Grantland piece yesterday about Morey’s D-League mad experiment with the 3-point shot, I wouldn’t expect that one to go away anytime either.   Read More »

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Houston Rockets 129, Sacramento Kings 103: Good teams don’t win close games. They avoid them.

Have the Houston Rockets really progressed this far?

It’s not like the Sacramento Kings have changed that much.  They’re the same team that humiliated the Rockets twice earlier this season.  Sacramento is a young, athletic team, full of players who could be better than they are if they could just calm down, and led by one of the few centers in Demarcus Cousins who can challenge Dwight for the title of best center.  They did trade Marcus Thornton to the Nets at the trade deadline, but surely that’s not the difference between Sacramento’s earlier wins and this trouncing by the Rockets tonight?

But no, it’s not that the Kings have somehow gotten much worse.  It is that the Houston Rockets have really developed so much over this season to become a consistent team that can hang with anyone on any given night and beat the teams that they are supposed to beat.  As they sit in the 3rd seed once again, waiting for one of the biggest games of the season tomorrow against the Clippers, tonight’s win should give them plenty of confidence.

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The Rockets Daily – February 25, 2014

Staying Put - The Rockets were all over the internet yesterday so there is quite a lot to get to.  We start with Marc Stein’s weekly power rankings, where the Rockets remained at number four.

The rising Rockets have quietly posted the NBA’s best record since Jan. 1 (17-5). In even quieter fashion, Houston has nudged its way into the top 10 in defensive efficiency while Dwight Howard became the first player ever to play in three straight All-Star Games with three different teams.

Sounds like someone reads Red94 and saw the stat we posted last Friday that reader Sir Thursday provided.  The Rockets have been in the top-ten defensively (according to Hollinger’s metric) all season, so I’m not sure which stat Stein is using for that declaration.

One-Man Press - Zach Lowe wrapped up the final questions from the trade deadline on Grantland.  He finished the piece as he always does with his “10 things to like/not like” bit, and Patrick Beverley was a big ole like.  Read More »

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The Big Book on Offensive and Defensive Ratings


Click for a full-sized, interactive version

It’s not a mystery that I’ve been crusading to find a better measure for individual performance. But no matter what I seem to do, I run up against annoying obstacles. Chief among these annoyances is that individual performance is inextricably tied up in team performance. For example, I could suck on defense but if my center blocks the shot of the guy that zips by me then my defensive statistics look pretty good. Also annoying is that individual performance is biased towards certain positions. Any reliable measures have to at least take these two factors into consideration.

Up until now, I’ve been lazily trying to account for these biases by subtracting out averages one at a time. But I finally decided to roll up my sleeves and really get to work on it. Roughly four days of number crunching later, I’ve produced results that I’m quite proud of and, more importantly, confident in. Using five years of data encompassing over 2,500 players (sucks to your sample size), I was able to statistically control for the effect of team performance, position bias, and opponent performance on individual player ratings, leaving (hopefully) just the players’ individual performances. The link above provides a chart and two tables that shows all of the findings.

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The Rockets Daily – February 24, 2014

The Fly – This piece by the guys at Hardwood Paroxysm is a few days old, but I had to pass it on, especially after last night.

After spending some time in Ukraine, Greece, Russia and the D-League, Patrick Beverley, a young guard from Chicago, Illinois, found a home in Houston and quickly made a name for himself by being a defensive pest. He can do other things, of course. His offensive rebounding rate happens to be higher than those of Draymond Green, Chris Bosh and David West. If you pay too much attention to any of the Rockets’ Big Three, he’ll make you pay by stepping outside and knocking down some threes. But it really is his ball-hawking defense that has propelled him into the starting lineup for this season’s Houston Rockets – a team with championship aspirations.

The rest article is about Beverley’s well-known defensive acumen (and even includes a highlight of some of his finer work from the Warriors game).  But as I was reading it last night while watching the Suns game, I couldn’t help but think about his path to Houston.  We all know about Beverley’s long trip to the NBA, but for those of you who aren’t familiar with some of the difficulties a black man can face in parts of Europe, you may not understand just how tough and resilient Patrick Beverley truly is.  Read More »

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