On McHale, Nene

  • I’m ready for the regular season to be over.  Let’s get on to the real games now that the ‘3’ seed is essentially in the books.
  • Kevin McHale is always entertaining when covering Rockets games because of his unbelievable candor.  One can tell he’s still salty about the way things ended with the Rockets, and its hard to blame him – it wasn’t his fault the team got off to the start they did last year.  He was way in over his head to begin with.  On Tuesday, in studio during the Rockets-Warriors game, during a timeout, NBA TV cut to a replay of James Harden proceeding into his patented crossover set-up dribble, preparing to challenge Draymond Green in isolation.  Harden gets by Green, only to have the ball swatted away at the rim.  “He took 19 dribbles,” McHale said, in the midst of some monologue regarding the unnecessity of personal challenges.  The commentary was humorous in light of the fact that a) Harden has been playing that way on like 30% of his individual possessions all year and b) the Rockets have had, to date, one of the best offenses in NBA history.  I think whatever he is doing is working, Kevin.
  • Where would the Rockets be this season without Nene?  He’s on the books this year at a paltry $2.9million and then is unrestricted this summer.  What already looked like a steal last summer has turned out to be one of the best bargains in the league.  Nene filled in when Capela went down and stepped up when Capela and Harrell got pushed around by bigger players.  There’s no way he comes back for peanuts again, does he?  But despite his performance, will there even be a market?  He’ll be 35 this year, and can only provide a limited role.  Either way, here’s to hoping Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell continue developing.

in columns

Defending the Houston Rockets – Part 3

As you know, what has made the Warriors so great these past few years is that they combine the league’s best offense with probably its best defense.  They’re the one team in the league that can confidently score with the Rockets, but also present serious challenges at the other end.  Yesterday’s loss started out poorly, largely in part due to a slew of turnovers committed by Houston in the early going.  It wasn’t the Rockets being sloppy – the Warriors just knew their tendencies.

See how Draymond stops right short of contesting Beverley in the paint, anticipating the pass to the corner?  He knows the Rockets want to kick drive out to shooters in the corner.  Probably no other ‘big’ in the league makes that play.

I counted multiple times when this happened – the Warriors basically create a wall around James Harden. Instead of being out in space after he makes his crossover, watch how Klay Thompson boxes him into a crowd.

in musings

More on Harden, the MVP race

  • I disagree with James Harden’s assertion that playing in every game should hold weight in the MVP race.  I feel that missing a significant chunk of the season should be a disqualifier (say, greater than ten games), but I don’t think there’s any substantive distinction in the merits between someone who has played every game, and someone who has missed a handful.
  • I think Harden needs to sit.  At least for a game.  That wrist needs to heal, and it was clearly bothering Harden last night as he grabbed it numerous times, grimacing in pain.
  • The SportsCenter Twitter account tweeted out a graphic last night, which has been making the rounds, about James Harden becoming the first player in NBA history to score and assist on 2,000 points each in a season.  While impressive, recognition of the feat has not been met by the same masturbatory response as has acknowledgment of Russell Westbrook’s triple double exploits.  Why?  Because its a construct which has not been romanticized in the basketball zeitgeist.  The same goes for all of James Harden’s achievements this year, most notably percentage of total points contributed to team production.  As a value-metric, that tells us more than just about anything other than Lebron’s gaudy on-court/off-court statistics.  But those things aren’t accessible in the mainstream – they haven’t been defined in the zeitgeist, much less elevated.  The triple double, on the other hand, like ‘the 20 game winner’ in baseball, holds an almost folklorish place in sports culture, so much so that mere recognition of its existence is affirmation of its analytical value, thus leading to the “HOW CAN A GUY BE AVERAGING A TRIPLE DOUBLE AND NOT START THE ALL-STAR GAME/WIN MVP???!” consternations.  Ice Cube did not mess around and “accumulate the greatest percentage of total team points contributed” on that one fateful day.  But he did mess around and get a triple double.  Westbrook’s candidacy is 2017’s ‘count the ringz’ and on which side you fall in this debate speaks to what you value.  A construct is not more value-inherent by being recognizable.


in columns

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