A reader, Zero, has been watching Rockets prospect Donatas Motiejunas from up close:

The first thing that you notice is the guy’s energy. D-Mo rarely stays still. Despite his size, he’s dynamic, quick on his feet and he loves to run the floor (he had a sweet runaway dunk during the game I saw). On the offensive end he’s got some really smooth post moves, and oftentimes manages to shake off the defender and go for an easy layup – I can really picture him becoming a great post player once coach McHale starts to work with him on these skills. (I know that’s overreacting, but I swear some of his moves in the paint reminded me of the Dream). In addition to attacking the basket, he can shoot it from distance and seems quite confident from the foul line (I didn’t see him take many free throws, but he did make all of them).

But despite being the primary option (he easily led the team in scoring that night), he also made some nice dishes to open teammates and you always have to appreciate a big man with decent court vision, so that’s definitely a plus.

Click for the full write-up.

in from the editor

There are few basketball visuals I find more fascinating than the specter of a swingman defending a small point guard.  Scottie Pippen’s full-court pressure of Pacers guard Mark Jackson in 1997 immediately comes to mind.  Lebron James on Derrick Rose last season is the most recent example.

The implications are obvious.  We are telling you that, despite your size, you are the key to your entire team’s success, therefore, we have decided to assign this much larger man to defend you.  You, at maybe 6 feet, will now have to operate against a man close to a half foot taller than you, who is longer, stronger, and probably just as quick.  The swingman-point guard situational switch is the only matchup in basketball which sees such a striking size disparity.  The swingman has conserved his energy with the intent of killing you.  With your physical tools rendered useless, you must now use your mind.

Last night’s affair against LA saw one of these matchups when defensive specialist Courtney Lee switched onto point guard Chris Paul to close out regulation (and overtime.)  I immediately pushed forward to the edge of my seat.

[read more…]

in essays
{ 0 comments }

Links, videos, and notes from 03/04/12

I talked Rockets on ESPN 97.5’s Game Day yesterday morning.  If you missed it, you can access the podcast here.

Here is my writeup for ESPNLosAngeles on Blake Griffin’s subpar performance last night.

Now, to the actual game:

[read more…]

in multimedia

Notes From Sloan: The Power of Learning

It’s been an unseasonably warm winter in Boston, Massachusetts. Compared to last year, the sight of snow has gone from seeing sand at the beach to a legitimate event, and record temperature highs have turned would-be storms into the bittersweet downpours that everyone prefers when weighed against sluggishly falling out of bed an hour early to shovel out their cars. Locals have taken to the season with two different mindsets and a collective holding of their breath. One side sees it as the dodging of a bullet. Both January and February did their job and were spotless of snow; with the bulk of winter finished, maybe someone, somewhere is taking it easy on us. This is the optimistic crowd. The other side patiently waits for the other shoe to drop. It isn’t a matter of “if” the weather will turn for the worse but “when”. These are the realists.

Last Thursday night, on the eve of the 6th annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, snow finally began to fall throughout the city and its neighboring suburbs.  [read more…]

in essays
{ 0 comments }

Pre-game notes: Clippers @ Rockets

I have about fifteen minutes before tipoff so I thought I’d write something to kill the time.  Tipoff is at 6pm but I got here at 4pm hoping to get in some questions with Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan.  As I made my way to the visitors’ lockerroom, I was told that none of those players speak pre-game.  Wish I had stayed home and had dinner.  I’ll try to get those guys again after the final buzzer, but it’s never the same.  Certain questions aren’t really appropriate right after 48 minutes of battle.

I was live-tweeting the Kevin McHale presser just now, so I hope you caught that – there was some gold.  He talked about Chris Paul, how the point guard is almost daydreaming on the court with his brilliance.  He talked about the mind and the body, the fun in realization of that point when one consistently begins drawing double-teams.  As we scattered, Clutchfans founder Dave Hardisty, in the spirit of this weekend’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, inquired of McHale’s thoughts on analytics.  McHale was surprisingly candid, and quite frankly, his answers left me dumbfounded.  You have to watch @clutchfans’ video because I can’t remember the exact quotes, but McHale said, regarding the conclusions analytics draws, such as the importance of rebounding/inside scoring, “I could have told you that.”  It really makes one wonder.  Is K-Mac using the data that’s being passed down?  Most speculated that he was hired due to his receptivity to the numbers.  (In fact, in my interview with Daryl Morey prior to the season, the general manager talked about that very open-mindedness from McHale.)  But this interview would lead one to believe the stuff is going straight to the wastebin.  If that’s the case, it would be quite the waste of resources – the Rockets have invested quite a bit of money into the program.

in game coverage