The Rockets travel to Utah, where both teams will play the second game of a back-to-back.
The Winless Jazz
One of the most interesting stories at the trading deadline last year was the Jazz keeping their soon-to-be free agents Al Jefferson (who signed with the the Bobcats) and Paul Millsap (who signed with the Hawks). What were the Jazz thinking when they let two of their biggest scorers and their inside presence go for nothing, not even draft picks?
These non-moves showed the Jazz are looking to the future. It’s a year of rebuilding, getting their younger and cheaper players some experience and signed for the long term. The youth looks promising, but not for this year. The only vets on the team now are Richard Jefferson, 33, who is signed for $11M+ this year, John Lucas III and Jamaal Tinsley.
The over under in Vegas is for the Jazz winning 25 games this year, and I predict they will win more than that. As this team will continue to fall down the West this year, the Rockets will ascend. The Jazz look to remain competitive at home and not so much on the road.
This has to be the most tightly reffed game I’ve ever seen. At times it felt like you couldn’t go more than a couple of possessions without hearing yet another tweet, so it was no surprise that both teams looked out of sync for significant portions of the game. There was foul trouble all over the place, there were two separate bouts of Hack-a-Howard, and even some late game intentional fouls, the upshot of which was that the Rockets went to the line 51 times over the course of the game. Combine that with 25 free throws for the Mavericks and 38 turnovers between the two teams and you have a recipe for a REALLY ugly game of basketball. But even in a game like this someone still gets to win, and in the end the Rockets emerged victorious.
As you know, the NBA is now tracking player movements using cameras installed in every arena. A breathtaking amount of the data is being made accessible via NBA.com.
NOTE: Small sample size alert. If you’re reading this, you are smart enough to know it will take at least a few weeks before anything meaningful can be gleaned. But the results thus far are interesting nonetheless.
For instance, 21 of Dwight Howard’s 26 rebounds the other night were uncontested compared to only 5/14 for Omer Asik. Even more interestingly, the Bobcats shot 18% at the rim against Asik. They shot 54% at the rim against Dwight. This leads to extremely interesting questions. Do opposing bigs just not even bother to attempt the rebound if Dwight is in the vicinity? Setting Dwight aside, I suspect that as time passes, Asik will be found to be even more valuable than even I had previously thought.
Also noteworthy was the fact that Jeremy Lin after one game is third in the league on points per 48 minutes off of drives. Just one game, sure. But I expect him to remain near the top of the league in this category.
The tool even tracks things such as ‘points per half court touch.’ This unprecedented availability of data will lead to infinitely more questions about the game. And one thing is for sure – it will make our understanding of basketball infinitely broader and take analysis to greater heights.
This is it. As I tweeted minutes ago, the ‘water cooler’ has been destroyed. The casual fan hasn’t even heard of TS%…much less ‘points per halfcourt touches.’ The divide between conventional wisdom and stat geekery is now irreversibly severed.