Should the Rockets be looking to trade?

A reader writes:

I like this roster.  I like this team.  I would prefer we keep it as is unless some team puts a stud PG/PF on a fire sale and gives them away for, essentially, nothing.  There has been lots of concern over our depth (somewhat unwarranted)–what would we have left if we trade it for an upgrade to a starter?  Capela and NJ?  Yikes!

I think if a trade happens this season it will be minor and will likely be to reinforce the bench.

Of course, one never wants to rush to trade, just to trade.  And it is still very early.  But at least initially, I would have to strongly, strongly disagree for two primary reasons:

  1. The league is more wide open this season than I can remember in some time, and we don’t know when such a window will again present itself.  Injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will bury the Thunder to a bottom seed.  The Pacers don’t figure to be a factor.  Derrick Rose is still rounding into form, and it will take the Cavs some time to gel.  At least one of these situations will not be the case next season.  Now one could easily argue that there are unique circumstances every year.  Sure.  But I don’t quite remember a time when so many heavyweights were crippled.  And Houston always has matched up well with the Spurs.
  2. The Pelicans pick: You have to trade it this season.  I don’t think bringing in a rookie next season onto a team with title aspirations represents very good return.  You could point to Big Papa as a counter-argument, but I’d mention that he’s a seasoned veteran from his play overseas.

You never want to tinker with a winning formula.  But I also would not want to enter the postseason feeling like I did not load up on all the ammunition I could get my hands on.






in musings
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Rockets Heat Basketball

The beginning of the season is a little awkward for dataheads. On one hand, data exists in very small quantities and every bone in my body knows I should not analyze it just one week into the season. On the other hand, I’m bored and want to post something. I’m going to compromise and write about what I’m going to analyze once enough data is available. My number one focus this year, at least right now, is the Houston Rockets’ bench usage.

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in essays
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On the Rockets’ pace

A reader writes:

One of things that made a big difference for the Rockets is slowing down the pace.  According to Basketball Reference, we are 22nd in pace.   That means we are staying home for defensive rebounds and focusing more energy on the defensive end.  This might be one of the impacts of having Ariza instead of Parsons.  Parsons generated a lot of his offense in the open-court, while Ariza is comfortable sharp-shooting from the half court offense. The fact that we are slowing down also means we are better able to incorporate Howard into the offense.

This was something I hadn’t considered.  The Rockets, of course, are still running, but this time around, it’s more purposeful running.  Last year, and the season before, running was seemingly Houston’s raison d’etre.  It was almost as if they’d inbound the ball and say, “you scored?  Okay, well, so what?  We’ll just rush it up and get those two points back.”  Now, they are running when there are steals or outlet opportunities, not just simply off of made baskets.

It’s been absolutely fascinating to see how much of a transformation one lineup substitution has made upon the entire dynamics of this team.






in musings
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i
  • Blasphemy, I know.  It’s only been five games, and neither Dwight Howard or James Harden are on the same stratosphere as Hakeem Olajuwon.  But as I had been noting back to preseason, there’s a very different feel to this team right now, distinct from what we had become accustomed to in the past few years.  Through the duration of the Yao Ming era, overlapped primarily by Jeff Van Gundy’s tenure as head coach, the team was characterized by hard-nosed defense, regularly ranking amongst the best in the league in various defensive categories.  Even after Van Gundy was succeeded by the offensive-minded Rick Adelman, this ethos remained intact (though it has been posited that much of this could be attributed to the players held over into the succeeding reign, evidenced by the drastic dropoff upon the departure of certain incumbent players).  In recent years, the focus shifted back to offense, with the team’s best player one of the league’s most dangerous in that area.  This year, they’ve reclaimed the defense, while retaining the superstar power they didn’t have during the Kyle Lowry/Shane Battier/Chuck Hayes days of the franchise’s history.  Simply put, it’s a 1995esque blend of individual greatness mixed in with workmanlike grit at the other end.  And this team looks the same as those ones did too, featuring less pick and rolls than they did the previous season, opting to spread the floor with Harden ISO’s and Howard postups, and dotting the perimeter with dangerous shooting.  On defense, they are suffocating opponents at critical points.

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in game coverage
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I told myself I’d hold off for at least 10 games before digging into these numbers, but I just couldn’t resist.  Sometimes the geek in me can be overwhelming.

Off the bat, Trevor Ariza is leading the entire league in ‘catch and shoot’ total points, at 45.  Dirk is second at 36 points.  Ariza is shooting 60% on those catch and shoots, and 60% on catch and shoot 3’s.  Four games in, you could say Ariza has fit in pretty well into this Houston offense.

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in musings
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