The Rockets’ defense by the numbers: more questions than answers

Only two teams, the Spurs and Heat, scored more points per possession than the Rockets did last season. In contrast, nearly two thirds of the league gave up fewer points per possession, and of those teams only one, the Knicks, made the playoffs (the rest combined to win a woeful 35% of their games).

So defense is important (clearly, this is news to no one). But what will be different this up-coming season for the Rockets? Can we expect an improved defense? And what about the offense?

Superficially, it seems like the biggest difference between the Rockets we saw last season and the team we might see this December, barring any major (paging Dr. Howard) roster moves, will probably hinge on the disparity between Rick Adelman’s and Kevin McHale’s coaching styles.

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Recovering From Failure, Starring Terrence Williams

At one point he was the most athletic player in college basketball. A man among boys, able to dip his toe in whatever waters his team found to be most shallow, and single-handedly fill them up. This was his physical reach; this was his gift. When Terrence Williams was at Louisville, nobody could guard him, and he could guard everyone—his athleticism, more so than his mindset, made him the nation’s most versatile player. Not the most talented (although he was close), but the most well rounded.

He never excelled in any one area because he didn’t have to. He wasn’t the best rebounder with the nicest box out technique, nor could he fill it up in a variety of ways with the game’s smoothest jump shot. He never played the game like he had eyes in the back of his head or was seen as the most technically sound perimeter defender (although Jonny Flynn once said playing Williams defensive led Cardinals in college was like “being chased by eight pit bulls, and you just got to keep running for your life.” Read More »

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TrueHoop TV: Rookie Rankings

After a brief hiatus, TrueHoop TV is back.  This time, we evaluated ESPN’s player rankings.  (I make my appearance at 3:17.)

Enjoy.

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Is Luis Scola Expendable?

This story is about doors creaking shut and windows shooting open. It’s about the ever revolving door that is professional sports, and the inevitable knockout blow father time delivers to athletes, you, and me. It’s about space for improvement, a willingness to seek every square inch of that space out and claim it as your own, and reluctant denial in accepting when all that space has already been discovered. For some it’s like an elastic band stretching to the point of a split second tear. For others, it’s a drop of water slowly making its way through a dry paper towel. Once the band breaks or the towel is wet, there’s no going back. The only option is getting another one.

“We think he is a very talented power forward, scorer. He’s tough inside and can score close to the basket and can take you outside,” said Rockets director of global scouting Arturas Karnisovas. “He’s just tough—a tough player that can also defend.”

That quote was delivered by Rockets director of global scouting, Arturas Karnisovas. Who do you think it’s describing? Several players come to mind, but none more so than one in particular. These three sentences are peppered with words Luis Scola embodies: Talented, scorer, tough, tough, and tough. Karnisovas is probably just offering some kind, casual reassurance about Houston’s most valuable player. A tad unnecessary, as we’re hearing a scouting report in its most obvious form, but still, Scola’s the subject, right? Wrong.

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There Are No Secrets

Pick-up game stories are like war stories for cowards or, more accurately, like reenactment war stories. Yeah, the trembling of hands that just hit game-winners or the shaking of fists that just let one fly over outstretched fingers feel like the stuff of legends, the kind of tales with which you could regale your friends over beers while they hang on your words like so many fans waiting to see the fate of a buzzer-beater. But they’re not; no, those stories tend to be boring, self-aggrandizing collections of bull**** best suited for some poor girlfriend, patiently waiting to tell you about something more interesting (because anything is). And with all of that said, I have a pick-up game story to tell, sort of. Read More »

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