Pairing Asik with Howard should be top priority

In the aftermath of The Signing, as rosters became finalized upon smaller deals and maneuvers, season predictions and forecasts have come out as they customarily do around this time of the year.  Some of these, upon the basis of advanced data, have had the Rockets amassing lofty win totals, some even projecting victory levels into the mid-60′s, if predicated upon the premise of an Orlando Dwight.  While I don’t think the team is ready to reach those heights, it’s astonishing to consider that the sentiment doesn’t seem so far-fetched.  The Rockets managed to add the game’s second most dominant player of the last half-decade while essentially losing nothing.  And it could be argued that the sole sacrificial lamb, Carlos Delfino, was actually replaced by a player of greater value in Francisco Garcia.  (Recall that Garcia hadn’t broken into the rotation until Delfino became injured, essentially replacing him.  Until the playoffs, they hadn’t played together regularly.)

But where I think the greatest potential lies, aside from full health for Howard, is in the issue of Omer Asik, both for now and in the long-term.  In my opinion, the team’s greatest peak–greater than even the impact of any trade–would come in the form of finding a way to keep Dwight Howard and Omer Asik together on the floor for a sizable chunk during the game.  Why?  Because that would allow the team justification to hold onto Asik.

My contention, with which I think most people would agree, is that unless he can be given close to 30 minutes per game, Asik either probably should be or will be dealt.  This is because it is difficult envisioning the Turk sticking around past the expiration of his current contract to retain a limited role – Morey would likely deal him preemptively to realize his value.

What makes Asik so valuable?  Because, with Howard, he allows the team to field a top 10 defense on court, at all times, for the full 48.  This point has been beaten to death.  But it is my contention that maintaining this 48 minute top 10 defense would be far more impactful than the marginal benefits realized from upgrading the power forward position (via a trade of Asik).  Already having a top offense, it is my belief that the Rockets have reached a diminished returns threshold on that end of the court whereby, yes, they have room to improve, but costs invested towards that improvement would be grossly asymmetrical to the end output.  To put it simply, when you have the league’s 6th best offense, but also have other weaknesses, you get the most bang for your buck addressing the weaknesses instead.

One nonconventional idea popularized by the advanced stats movement is the belief that no time frame during a game holds inherently superior value than any other.  (This, starkly in contrast to the mainstream fetishization of “clutch time” performance.)  Indeed, Daryl Morey once famously said that “good teams don’t win close ballgames – they avoid them.”  To that end, while a ‘spread 4′ would help, it can be argued that of greater import is the the fifteen or so minutes that Dwight Howard is not on the floor.

Many have clamored for Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge.  While Aldridge has his strengths, I’m almost certain that the Rockets would not pay max dollars, on this team, for a player who takes the most inefficient shots in the entire league (and only shoots 41% from that distance while doing it.)  The spacing Aldridge would provide would be a boon, but the team could find cheaper options to replicate much of the same effect.  Asik’s defense during the ‘Dwightless-15′ is of greater value.

Finding a solution to Howard-Asik coexistence isn’t about the merits of that time spent together.  It’s about making that shared court experience palatable enough for the offense to where its use can be continued; because that shared court time is the key to a justification of keeping Asik.

How might Kevin McHale make it work?  Writing in Grantland, Brett Koremenos discussed possibilities, drawing analogy from Greg Smith’s time at power forward.  As Koremenos outlines, there will be extreme challenges, namely Howard’s willingness to do what is needed.  But it should at least be explored.

In the end, I do think Asik will eventually be dealt as the challenges of pairing the two 7 footers will prove too much to overcome.  That’s a shame.  But in the coming weeks, during camp, figuring out how to make it work should be one of Kevin McHale’s greatest priorities.  Having 48 minutes of top 10 defense would likely do more for this team in the standings than any other factor.

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Total comments: 87
  • Opasido says 8 months ago

    Trade Asik for Korver and maybe a 2nd rounder

  • Red94 says 8 months ago New post: Howard-Asik experiment could already be over
    By: rahat huq

    I wrote back on September 4 that finding a way to make the Omer Asik-Dwight Howard pairing work should be the Rockets' top priority.  To Houston's credit, they took a stab at it, trying desperately for eight games to fit a square peg in a round hole.  Kevin McHale may have finally seen enough with sophomore forward Terrence Jones starting the second half at power forward on Monday night.  The Chronicle reports that a change now could be coming to the starting lineup.

    Quote:

    With matchups against the smaller lineups of the 76ers tonight and Knicks on Thursday ahead, Rockets coach Kevin McHale apparently decided it is too big to succeed, at least for now.

    McHale would not specify the lineup change he had in mind, but said there would be a change to go smaller than the combination of Dwight Howard and Omer Asik that has started every game this season.

    In the 93 minutes the two centers have appeared together thus far this season, the team has posted a -15.8 net rating, scoring just 87 points per 100 possessions while giving up 103 points per the same amount.  Even more egregiously, in the 48 first quarter minutes in which the pair has appeared, the team has posted a -49 net rating, scoring just 71 points per 100 possessions while giving up 120 points per the same frame.  The marriage has been a downright disaster.  But hold on a minute.  In 45 third quarter minutes, lineups featuring the pair has produced a +21 net rating, scoring 106 points per 100 possessions and giving up just 85.

    That third quarter production seems to indicate that it can work, that the pairing is not fundamentally flawed.  Kevin McHale seemed to feel the same, stating the other night prior to tipoff against the Clippers that the team just had not come out with any urgency in first quarters.  Still, it appears he may have seen enough.  If he truly has decided to scrap the experiment, it's difficult to blame him.  It's difficult enough winning games in this league; it becomes almost impossible when having to claw back from big deficits night after night, especially against good teams.

    It's anyone's guess what happens going forward.  One solution--which I posed in this week's podcast--might be to pair Howard/Asik together during a middle part of the game, when offensive flows have already been established and might be more difficult to disrupt.  If that doesn't happen, it would mean relegating Asik to the ten or so minutes Howard is resting on the bench, a definite waste of the former's value.

  • Buckko says 10 months ago That depends on if a player is willing to learn.
  • Cooper says 10 months ago

    I disagree, a player can always learn a jump shot.

    Plenty haven't
  • Buckko says 10 months ago I disagree, a player can always learn a jump shot.
  • RocketTim says 10 months ago

    Thank you for the article Rahat. That is exactly the opinion I have been espousing for the last two months. The Rockets defense last season was the 7th best in the NBA when Asik was on the floor, and 27th when Asik sat. It is not much of a leap in logic to say that the Rockets should have a top 5 defense next season because either Howard or Asik will always be on the floor. If the Rockets traded Asik and next season Howard gets hurt, then the Rockets would be in a world of hurt. With Asik available the Rockets would still field a competitive squad.

    In addition it should be possible to play Howard and Asik 6 minutes or more together over the course of the season. Up 10 with 8 minutes to go and wanting to slow the pace down, play them together. There are many other situations where they could co-exist on the court. That would push Asik up to 22-24 minutes a game.

    The Rockets do not need much from their power forward. The ideal player in that position would shoot 35% from behind the 3 point line, get paid on the rookie scale, and play average defense. There are realistically few shots to allocate to that position.

    This is the reason I think Morey has yet to trade Asik because the scare of Howard....sounds oh so familiar with Yao Ming and having Chuck Hayes back him up..

  • Buckko says 10 months ago Agreed, don't underrate asik people.
  • rockets best fan says 10 months ago

    Ha, I was just about to write something akin to this....Lay-ups are very soft shots and are easy to miss when trying to muscle through big, strong guys while still maintaining control. If I'm not mistaken, Asik shoots a better percentage on FT's then he does lay-ups (Feel free to correct me on that) which actually lends credence to the notion that he has better control of longer shots than the closer, softer ones. I'm not saying we should start running an offense predicated on Omer shooting 15-18 ft. jumpers, but I do think he can be a threat to keep defenders honest.

    I disagree Asik will never be a good jump shooter......he simply doesn't have the touch.....sure he hits one every now and then, but he will never shoot high enough percentage to make the defense honor him from there. I more concerned with his ability to catch....if he could learn to catch he could drive his scoring up at least 4 points per game

  • thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

    I personally think catching the ball and finishing layups are different from hitting a jump shot. All require different kind of touches and balance abilities. The only reason if he still can not hit the J later in his career will be because he does not practice it IMO. I think he knows it, and I just assume he has been working on it every day. BTW, his shooting form is not bad.

    Ha, I was just about to write something akin to this....Lay-ups are very soft shots and are easy to miss when trying to muscle through big, strong guys while still maintaining control. If I'm not mistaken, Asik shoots a better percentage on FT's then he does lay-ups (Feel free to correct me on that) which actually lends credence to the notion that he has better control of longer shots than the closer, softer ones. I'm not saying we should start running an offense predicated on Omer shooting 15-18 ft. jumpers, but I do think he can be a threat to keep defenders honest.

  • BrentYen says 10 months ago

    Asik is 27 its not like he just started playing basketball yesterday, while shooting is one of the things you can really improve on later in your career, if he hasn't gotten basic things like catching the ball and finishing layups yet I wouldn't expect that to change a whole lot he just doesn't have soft hands.

    I personally think catching the ball and finishing layups are different from hitting a jump shot. All require different kind of touches and balance abilities. The only reason if he still can not hit the J later in his career will be because he does not practice it IMO. I think he knows it, and I just assume he has been working on it every day. BTW, his shooting form is not bad.

  • Cooper says 10 months ago Asik is 27 its not like he just started playing basketball yesterday, while shooting is one of the things you can really improve on later in your career, if he hasn't gotten basic things like catching the ball and finishing layups yet I wouldn't expect that to change a whole lot he just doesn't have soft hands.
  • thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

    While your point is valid, I will offer this counter-point. I can't recall exactly when it occurred now, but mid-late season last year Asik hit a late game 18 ft. jumper that helped seal a victory. After the game, one of our players (again can't remember now) was asked about the shot and if he was surprised it went in...he replied, "No, I wasn't surprised. I see Big O make those shots in practice every day...." and so on.

    Now, maybe he was just politicking to the media....or maybe he was being sincere. Who knows? Personally, I think Asik does practice those shots and will improve to the point where it will at least be something the defense has to deal with or pay the price.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 10 months ago

    Imagine if he develops a jump shot, European players are known for being hard workers at refining skills.

    That is the most far fetched thing I've ever heard.

    If he was so great at developing skills, he would have:

    1) learned how to catch

    2) learned how to do a simple layup

    3) .......and so on and so forth.

    Asik is not very skilled. But he's learned the mental side of the game, such as where to be on rotations and things like that.

  • Buckko says 10 months ago Imagine if he develops a jump shot, European players are known for being hard workers at refining skills.
  • myjohnlai says 10 months ago

    Asik is not a finished product. He has been making progress in offense. He was even hecked in the playoff but he survived and he made the shots. He certainly can develop shots away from the basket. He still has lots of upsides and he has proved to many that he could learn to be a better basketball player.

    He's going to be fine. Don't mess with him what he couldn't. It was history. He has proved that many were wrong about him. The Chicago team has lost a great player in him and I sure hope that Houston would not make the same mistake.

  • Buckko says 10 months ago Winning fixes all ills.
  • rockets best fan says 10 months ago

    Will see that's whats great, we are so versatile, we can either play this lineup for most of the game or for none of it. I honestly can't see a problem with it.

    problem is when we hit a string of teams who play small ball and Asik's minutes decline because of it. will he remain positive with the reduced minutes? he has already said he wants more than a backup role

  • Buckko says 10 months ago

    Will see that's whats great, we are so versatile, we can either play this lineup for most of the game or for none of it. I honestly can't see a problem with it.

  • rockets best fan says 10 months ago

    It won't be for extended periods.

    there are some teams that we will be able to play most of the game this way....ie Memphis, the Spurs.........but there are also a lot of teams this won't work on at all......ie GSW, Denver. having to big defenders who can't get back on the break will only allow the opposing team transition buckets. they may be great in the half court, but that's only half the problem

  • Buckko says 10 months ago It won't be for extended periods.
  • rockets best fan says 10 months ago

    With Howard-Asik together, I think we can guard stretch 4s. Usually the problem is it draws one of the better defenders away from the interior. The defending 4 will always need to hedge toward the middle. But if we send Asik out to guard the stretch 4, we will still have Howard inside to terrorize them. Anyway we'll have a taste of the medicine we gave to our opponents last year. If we experience problems, then we;ll send someone like TJones or Casspi to guard that stretch 4.

    On offense, I think our coaches are creative enough to design something unexpected. Asik showed last year he can pass in the interior.so maybe we'll see passing from high to low post and vice versa. We can run pick and roll on either side. Asik and Howard can screen each other's defenders. If coaches and players can stretch their imaginations and are willing to try things new for them, I think we'll see good things.

    Of course, opponents can adjust by playing small but that's one thing we're good at too. I'm excited!

    WELCOME to the forum B)I totally agree on defense. we will be capable of guarding almost anybody........both Howard and Asik are nimble enough to get out and cover the opposing PF and the other team grabbing offensive rebounds will be almostunheard of.I disagree on offense though. teams will simply pack the paint and force us to shoot from outside.......picks only work wellif the defensive man has a reason to follow the offensive player out side 8-10 feet. if neither Howard or Asik can hit a shot from there.......their man will have no reason to do so. we may be able to sustain it through hot outside shooting in small stretches, but for extended periods it will hurt us.

  • Chichos says 10 months ago

    In the playoffs

    A. you would have less trouble sitting a starter for extensive times, see Tiago Splitter in the finals

    B. matchups are hard to predict, so keeping all options open is a good thing, for example, having Dwight + Asik is potentially really good against Miami given how poorly they deal with size.

    C. Dwight gets into major foul trouble a lot in the playoffs, making the value of a quality backup much much higher.

    you forgot D. Having Howsik (seriously how great is that nickname) set roughly 10 total screens on every offensive set. Having both men set multiple screens will open up role players to more easy buckets.

  • thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

    Let us also remember....IF we get to the finals this year it will be against Indiana B) and we will be very glad we have Asik on board against Hibbert & Co.

  • Marquette says 10 months ago

    With Howard-Asik together, I think we can guard stretch 4s. Usually the problem is it draws one of the better defenders away from the interior. The defending 4 will always need to hedge toward the middle. But if we send Asik out to guard the stretch 4, we will still have Howard inside to terrorize them. Anyway we'll have a taste of the medicine we gave to our opponents last year. If we experience problems, then we;ll send someone like TJones or Casspi to guard that stretch 4.

    On offense, I think our coaches are creative enough to design something unexpected. Asik showed last year he can pass in the interior.so maybe we'll see passing from high to low post and vice versa. We can run pick and roll on either side. Asik and Howard can screen each other's defenders. If coaches and players can stretch their imaginations and are willing to try things new for them, I think we'll see good things.

    Of course, opponents can adjust by playing small but that's one thing we're good at too. I'm excited!

  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    I'd note that Lebron appeared to have more trouble guarding David West than Derrick Rose / Tony Parker, it's obvious who's the worst overall offensive player of that group.

    The general point of those lineup is that it either forces Lebron to not guard a perimeter player (a huge plus) and/or it forces them to keep Haslem / Anderson in the game at all times instead of going to smaller lines (which is also good. ) .

    Is the plus worth the minus? I don't know, nobody knows until we see things, as Bickerstaff said in his interview a couple days ago what happened in this year's playoff was that after the Rockets got destroyed in game one they went back and realized they may have found by accident the linup to beat OKC which was the really small lineup. which they discovered by accident because of that game right after the trade deadline where they moved Patterson / Morris but haven't gotten Robinson / Garcia back yet so they were super short handed and started Delfino that game.

    But at worst I think this probably works in the regular season to enough extend to make keeping Asik on the roster reasonable, which is actually the biggest point. in the playoffs, all gloves are off and you never really know how matchups work out.

  • Buckko says 11 months ago 48 mins of rim protection, to keep howard rested, and Howard insurence incase of injury or Howard playoff foul trouble. That's why we keep him.
  • Cooper says 11 months ago You think lebron couldn't guard asik? All he has to do is not get pushed around he's easily 250-260 pounds asik is listed at 255 and might be a bit heavier than that but they're essentially the same wieght with asik several inches taller. Okc wouldn't have an issue with that lineup as well. I'm not advocating to dump asik tommorow but its unrealistic for him to be on the roster long term unless there are other changes made.
  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    well actually no, LMA cost 14m so the rockets need to send out about 9m money to match, which means Asik + Jones would be enough to be legal.

    (CBA wise anyway. I don't think the Blazers would really do a trade like that, if they were really going to blow things up they'd look for much higher long term upsides .)

  • Buckko says 11 months ago To make the money work, we would have to trade Lin and then be left without a starter quality PG and a 3rd Allstar reduced to a role player who shoots nothing but the worst shot in basketball and severely deplete our bench and reserves.
  • Stephen says 11 months ago

    Rahat,
    It won't be Lin and Asik for Aldridge.
    It would be Asik(to third team) and Jones(or Motie and a min player) and a future First.
    Would you give up Asik,Motie,Brooks and a Lottery protected 2014 First for Aldridge as part of a three way deal? I would,but that's without seeing how much Motie has improved over the Summer.
    Again,an Aldridge trade is most unlikely,but if it happened next Summer the Rockets could be a hair under Cap,or just over. So the Rockets could give Parsons a huge extension-and still be under Lux Tax and thus able to use the full MLE.

  • Buckko says 11 months ago Splitter is complelty inferior to asik.
  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    The Spurs couldn't play both together because in game 4 they inexplicably got out rebounded when Miami went smaller, the thing with Splitter is that he's actually a terrible rebounder for a center.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago A points to how the Spurs Couldn't play two bigs together so you hurt your own argument there.

    B watch against the Spurs.

    C - good point.
  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    In the playoffs

    A. you would have less trouble sitting a starter for extensive times, see Tiago Splitter in the finals

    B. matchups are hard to predict, so keeping all options open is a good thing, for example, having Dwight + Asik is potentially really good against Miami given how poorly they deal with size.

    C. Dwight gets into major foul trouble a lot in the playoffs, making the value of a quality backup much much higher.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago My points have been about the playoffs.
  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    In the regular season defensive schemes are considerably simpler yes. you don't specifically game plan for opposing's team's 3rd most used lineup that's for sure.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago So are the defensive schemes simple? You don't think they would take that into consideration?
  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    Agreed.

  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    I think we must agree on some general premise here.

    1. in the regular season, it's a lot easier to get away with flawed lineups / players

    2. it's also a lot easier to get away with it when your doing it for 5-10 min instead of 15-20 min.

    In a league where there' a bunch of starting "shooting" guards that can't shoot (and one such shooting guard got to the WCF btw), to say that you will surely not be able to play a C disguised as a PF that can't shoot, for a short duration, in the regular season, is pretty over the top.

    let's see the theoretical here, let's say you put Dwight low post and Asik high post, the theory on why it won't work is that the guy suppose to be guarding Asik would just go over to double Dwight and Asik can't hit a jumper (enough) to make up for it..... right?

    Isn't that a bit too simple of a diagram for the complexity of NBA plays? what if it's the other way around? what if you put Howard up high instead? are you going to double Howard at the top and leave Asik open down low? or are you going to let Dwight steamroll to the basket uncontested? it doesn't really matter how many bigs you have down there in that situation.

    Or even in the first case, so now the completely unguarded Asik sets a pick .... and then what? you have no one to switch to, you'll either have Harden or Lin driving down in a full steam or have a wide open off the screen / dribble 3 pointer. that's ideal?

    Spacing is poor gets thrown around without understanding what it means, the theory is basically that they'll give Asik space to take away space from Howard and the dribble penetration of Harden / Lin , the reality is that there is a lot of plausible way for Asik to use said space WITHOUT shooting the ball himself. it's obviously still a question if the team can actually execute, but usually competent teams / players can you know... execute.

  • thejohnnygold says 11 months ago

    I would like to speak for everyone and state this presumption: no one here is advocating that the Rockets always/never play Howard+Asik together (maybe a few "nevers"). It seems to me a lot of confusion occurs because each poster is imagining a different scenario/set of criteria to evaluate the value of this concept. Every single game will present opportunities for mismatches and this gives us the ability to go that direction if we like. If it works better than expected then great. If not, no big deal. Of course they can't tackle every small ball line-up....but they can destroy some of them--it all comes down to talent and execution.

    In the meantime, other well-made points have been all but ignored. FSS's reminder that keeping Asik helps us get Howard to the finish line (playoffs) in a relatively fresh and healthy manner is being severely under-valued. The full 48 minutes of quality rim protection is also being severely under-valued by quite a few people. Remember when we were excited to get Dalembert? I do. Look how far we have come in such a short time. After superstars, quality centers are arguably the second hottest commodity in the NBA. We've got two. Morey will not sell low and until he gets a godfather offer Asik will be playing here.

  • NorEastern says 11 months ago

    I was just sort of hoping that I could e-mail an article to someone for review.

  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    I believe you have to become an editor.

  • NorEastern says 11 months ago

    Asik does not need 6 minutes every game. He just needs it over the entire season. There should be ample opportunity to get him his minutes. McHale is not known as a players coach for nothing.

    And Rahat how do I submit something for publication. I do spend serious time on writing articles. http://www.thedreamshake.com/2013/8/24/4655654/what-the-heck-was-the-rockets-offense-last-season

  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    FYI this will not be our starting lineup, we will probably use this lineup for about 5 minutes a game so stop complaining that it would destroy our offensive game plans.

  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    The benefits on D outweigh the costs on O. We already have a killer offense for the entire game, so sacrificing it for a few minutes to help our defense will not hurt us but definitely keep the other teams edgy about their lineups they used. I think we should all be overjoyed we can use this for a few minutes. When you have ran up the scoreboard, send out asik and Howard to keep them from making a comeback and crush the morale.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago

    Against teams like Miami, OKC, and NYK that can go small, the defense won't be great either. Does anyone here truly believe that Asik/Howard can guard Melo/KD/James at the 4?

    So, against top tier opponents, that pairing will fail offensively(for reasons we all know), and will not be great defensively. So while that lineup might work in certain situations in the regular season, we're no longer just trying to make the playoffs. We're championship contenders. Like it or not, Dwight made us a championship or bust team. That's what having 2 top 10 players and a decently deep bench will do for you.

    If you want to make the point that having Asik to keep Howard rested for the postseason, then great. But it makes me laugh when people talk about the Asik/Howard pairing like it will help in the playoffs.

  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    Proponents of Asik + Howard pairing truly pointed out great potential on defensive side. But, you are right that pairing won't be better for offense.

    I think it's the other way around. The defense will go up, but the offense will go down more than the defense will go up.

  • BrentYen says 11 months ago

    IMO, each line up has its pro/cons. ASIK and DH12 will work in some scenarios and will not in some other scenarios. I think that is true for each particular lineups (no matter which 5 NBA players on the court), and it is down to Coaches been creative to exploit possibilities.

    Personally, given how ASIK can keep DH12 fresh (less likely to be injured) by staying on the court with him or back him up from the bench, that is already a good enough reason (pros) for keeping Asik on the court with DH12. And that is just on the offensive end, we do need to say how good it may be on the other end of the floor.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago I don't think Mchale can coach competent xs and os
  • Rahat Huq says 11 months ago

    At issue w/Garcia is he can't stay healthy.
    Hasn't played more than 65 games in his last 5 seasons.

    I'm a big Aldridge fan and the worries about his fit are hugely overblown.
    He had tremendous chemistry w/Roy in the pick-n-roll. He is an extremely good 1-on-1 defender,esp in low post,thus freeing up Howard to help out everywhere else.
    His new coach last yr was an offensive coach in Dallas and wanted Aldridge to play like Dirk. Not to mention LMA WAS the offense for Portland and everybody geared up to stop him.
    He's also a low-maintainence person,which means no drama in locker-room.
    He's only signed for this season and next,fitting in w/Morey's other big salaries(Lin,Asik).(Put it this way,while the Cap Salary is vastly diff,the actual money Les will have to pay is just $1mil more for LMA over Asik in 2014.)
    That said,I doubt Portland trades him until Feb,and then only if the Blazers have fallen apart. And it would take a 3-way trade for Houston to get Aldridge.

    I don't think there are any worries about fit with LMA - he's actually the perfect fit. He spaces the floor etc.

    What I, and I think others, are saying is that that fit isn't enough of an upgrade to justify the cost especially when you consider it comes in the form of mid-range shots (the lowest yield return.) If it were a 3 point shooter like Love, it'd be different.

    I'd personally honestly rather just have Lin and Asik.

  • John P says 11 months ago

    Everyone is crazy but me... just kidding.

    In my mind this is an argument about liking a player and not wanting to lose him.

    Yes, if we have either Howard or Asik in at all times during our games we will be much much better on D against most teams during the regular season.

    But all teams now have some sort of small ball, 3 point shooting, perimeter sitting lineup that will eat the two bigs alive at one point. Wade, Lebron, Allen, Battier and maybe Oden or Birdman would just keep the one big in the middle and let Lebron and Wade go to work.

    Don't keep Asik or like Asik cause we like him and we don't want to take a dip defensively during the 10 minutes or so Howard rests. I don't think that outweights the impact of instead having a well rounded solid D and jump/perimeter shooting 4 that can have a bigger impact over a larger stretch of the game than just the 10 minutes Howard needs a rest.

    I love Asik....and was actually more for signing Iggy and Millsap over just Howard ...if we could have afforded it.

    But I just think that having excellent post D for all of the game but bad to medicore 4 play for 3/4th of the game is not as good as having excellent post D for 3/4ths of the game and also having great 4 play also for 3/4ths of the game.

    I am not for trading Asik now...it could work playing them together (though I highly doubt it) but seeing if it can work and seeing if a bargain deal comes up to maximize the eventual Asik trade, but I would be shocked if Asik is on the team come trade deadline unless Jones or Dmo have approached even Patrick Patterson's level by that time

  • Freebird says 11 months ago

    Personally, I would LOVE to see Asik and Howard on at the same time.I don't know why we put such an emphasis on the stretch 4. Many a team has played and won with a big 4 pounding the boards. Heck, McHale was one of them. Just saying that a quality big is what is needed. The stretch 4 was needed for last year to help with our offense. This year, we will have a pounding offensive - something more of the inside-out variety, methinks.

    I understand that we want layups and 3's, but a second big at a given time just increases the offensive rebounding numbers. Having 2 options to get a layup/dunk will just increase the percentages. And when they are in a bad position, they will still kick it out to Harden. No worries.

    D12 has the athleticism (for now) to guard almost any 4 in the league, if need be. Heck, it makes D easier for everyone having both on the floor. It lets our perimeter guys take a hard line on the 3 point line. Let those guys blow by you - and get it stuffed. Force other teams into the shots we don't like to shoot, and something good will happen.

  • Stephen says 11 months ago

    At issue w/Garcia is he can't stay healthy.
    Hasn't played more than 65 games in his last 5 seasons.

    I'm a big Aldridge fan and the worries about his fit are hugely overblown.
    He had tremendous chemistry w/Roy in the pick-n-roll. He is an extremely good 1-on-1 defender,esp in low post,thus freeing up Howard to help out everywhere else.
    His new coach last yr was an offensive coach in Dallas and wanted Aldridge to play like Dirk. Not to mention LMA WAS the offense for Portland and everybody geared up to stop him.
    He's also a low-maintainence person,which means no drama in locker-room.
    He's only signed for this season and next,fitting in w/Morey's other big salaries(Lin,Asik).(Put it this way,while the Cap Salary is vastly diff,the actual money Les will have to pay is just $1mil more for LMA over Asik in 2014.)
    That said,I doubt Portland trades him until Feb,and then only if the Blazers have fallen apart. And it would take a 3-way trade for Houston to get Aldridge.

  • Cooper says 11 months ago Would Howard or asik be effective guarding teams that decide to go small instead of trying to match bigs? If anyone can bring in a decent sized wing that can shoot and just not be pushed around by asik so much when he is defending to keep asik from easy dunks then that totally negates having both of them out there since having either away from the hoop they become more of a liability and less of an asset.
  • feelingsupersonic says 11 months ago Welcome to Red94 Journeymany. I hope you enjoy debating with fellow forum members as much as you have enjoyed reading the topics in the past. The coming Rocket's season is going to be an exciting one and I am glad you are on board here. Go Rockets!
  • Journeymany says 11 months ago

    Long time reader, first time poster here :) - agree with most of what johnnygold said. Does noone remember McHale/Parish vs Sampson/Hakeem? Furthermore, if Howard does want to play more in the post, that would be the perfect time - you could go with a lineup of:

    Beverley
    Brewer

    Garcia

    Howard

    Asik

    I could see that being exceptionally hard to score against, meaning you wouldn't need to score that many.... and scoring can still be achieved with good coaching. Could be a real test of McHale's x's and o's ability.

  • Chichos says 11 months ago

    I definitely see it having the most value against the Heat where I think you have to have something truly extraordinarily unique to overcome Lebron. Having two top-5 defensive 7 footers on the court together could be that. But the season needs to be used to experiment to get the offense during that time acceptable. As we saw with Lin though, I'm not sure McHale is ready to sacrifice wins for long term benefit.

    The big test will be to see if McHale gets creative with his defensive sets against OKC, Clippers, Memphis, etc. Those will all be "important" games so to see how he adjusts, if at all, will be an indicator of his priorities.

  • feelingsupersonic says 11 months ago First of all I am starting with the fact McHale is in charge and has the full backing of the front office to lead his team as he wishes. I am sure some strategy comes from Morey but I'm sure it has to pass muster with McHale. And let's be clear these two are probably much more on the same page and not at odds as much as some here on this forum would like to imagine. The approach McHale takes with Howard and Asik will probably be experimental at times and is not really comparable to how he dealt with Lin who was not even a seasoned veteran. Much of how Howard and Asik will be used might be dictated by the realities of the situation (injuries and trades) whereas Lin is much less significant to the big picture, probably not a major player and may be gone within the next couple of years.

    With regards to Howard and Asik playing together I must say this has been discussed extensively here in the forum around the time of Howard joining the Rockets. I am of the same mind now as I was then. I echo what some have already stated that Asik is here above all else to make sure that Howard enters the post season at one hundred percent instead of limping in. You cannot put a price on health. A quick rundown of teams in recent NBA history that were partially derailed by injuries includes the Thunder, Lakers, Celtics, Bulls and the Spurs (and those were just a few contenders, there are a list of other teams who have been kept from the playoffs or deep runs like the Knicks and Timberwolves among many others).

    I also strongly disagree that for limited stretches that the offense will somehow drop off so much that it negates the huge difference in defensive improvement. It is not all about offense and the growth area for this team is obviously on the defensive end and Rahat is correct in pointing that out. It's about defense this year and I know it's not as exciting for many of you but I would put money that is what gets developed this year. McHale must be chomping at the bit, he finally has the team he was always meant to coach.

    I don't think this conversation can be had without separating the regular and post seasons. The Rockets must get through the season healthy and with defined roles. Once the post season arrives the Rockets should be ready to create mismatches on both ends of the court and therein lies the Rockets true strength I believe. They could be dangerous in the post season.

    These are just my opinions.
  • Alituro says 11 months ago

    I'm not saying it would be easy (or that it will definitely work) but the continued assertion that Houston cannot score the basketball with Asik+Howard on the floor is making me crazy. If you mean James Harden will have trouble dribbling for 18 seconds and then putting his head down, barreling towards the basket and sort-of-shooting-sort-of-flailing-his-arms-and-drawing-a-foul-or-not offense.....I still disagree. His whole schtick relies on contact so why not put more big oafs down there for him to bounce off of? Obviously, I am being a little sardonic....the point is, I feel most of the opposition comes from either the stubborn belief that there is but one way to play offense...that and the Scientology of Spacing.

    Before anyone attacks me for being anti-spacial, I am all for spacing. I also believe there are ways around that issue. It's called good coaching. In a playoff series, maybe a team can bust the Asik+Howard option. That's fine. These things happen to almost every team in the playoffs.

    I know this thing has been beaten to death. I think we should let them play some games before we set this notion in stone.

    What else is the offseason for if not beating speculations to death? Every post here could be closed with your last sentence. But, what fun would that be?

  • thejohnnygold says 11 months ago

    I'm not saying it would be easy (or that it will definitely work) but the continued assertion that Houston cannot score the basketball with Asik+Howard on the floor is making me crazy. If you mean James Harden will have trouble dribbling for 18 seconds and then putting his head down, barreling towards the basket and sort-of-shooting-sort-of-flailing-his-arms-and-drawing-a-foul-or-not offense.....I still disagree. His whole schtick relies on contact so why not put more big oafs down there for him to bounce off of? Obviously, I am being a little sardonic....the point is, I feel most of the opposition comes from either the stubborn belief that there is but one way to play offense...that and the Scientology of Spacing.

    Before anyone attacks me for being anti-spacial, I am all for spacing. I also believe there are ways around that issue. It's called good coaching. In a playoff series, maybe a team can bust the Asik+Howard option. That's fine. These things happen to almost every team in the playoffs.

    I know this thing has been beaten to death. I think we should let them play some games before we set this notion in stone.

  • Alituro says 11 months ago

    Whenever Asik and Dwight are on the court together, I foresee a decrease in penetration from our guards, and a decrease in the effectiveness of the pick and roll.

    Yes, this is where any problems with this pairing may arise, but we're also talking for what? 10 minutes per game tops? No question the defense here would be balls. But, we're also assuming that PnR and driving guards are our two offensive options. We could call this post-up time for Dwight. He would demand a double team immediately on the entry pass, probably coming from the perimeter, opening up 3's. No double? Then it's an automatic 2. Someone gonna help off Asik in this situation? Please, pocket pass and Dunk.

    This is also assuming the two characters in question are inane clods who do not much more than take up space on the block. No, neither one would be able to pull their defenders to beyond the arc. But, if Asik is setting the pick, DH could at least pull his man 15' or so off the block on the weak side, where it would be as foolish to leave him alone there as it would Parsons behind the arc.

    I'm not necessarily a proponent of this pairing, more I want us to do whatever possible to retain Asik, get the most for our money, and keep him happy with his role on this team as I feel he will be pivotal in our chase for the one ring. Not a proponent but definitely not paranoid of the pairing as some are. I'm confident they can make it work for short stretches.

  • NorEastern says 11 months ago

    I do not believe that game in and game out Howard and Asikcan fit on the floor together, but during the season there will be times that the pairing would work acceptably. For instance against Memphis, Detroit etc., those teams that typically play two very large and not terrifically mobile big men together, and perhaps against SAS. Also when the competition is thoroughly outclassed. There should be ample oppertunities to get Asik up to 24 minutes a game over the entire season.

    The Heat is the one team that playing Asik and Howard together would be an unmitigated disaster. The same for other talented teams that decide to go small.

  • Richards says 11 months ago

    I definitely see it having the most value against the Heat where I think you have to have something truly extraordinarily unique to overcome Lebron. Having two top-5 defensive 7 footers on the court together could be that. But the season needs to be used to experiment to get the offense during that time acceptable. As we saw with Lin though, I'm not sure McHale is ready to sacrifice wins for long term benefit.

    I have to strongly agree here. (yes. I do not agree to use both Asik and Howard together in general)

    I think starting the same five (unless no better options) to play against different teams/systems/schemes should be a thing in the past. You are right that ability to stop Heat out-weight the drop in offense.

  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    By bad fit, are you referring to Howard with Asik or Howard with Aldridge?

    heh, Adridge and Howard in a vacuum is a good fit, just that add Harden and it becomes questionable.

    I'm mostly speaking of Asik + Howard, teams havn't made twin towers work in a while, (at a truly elite level.) so if we could do it it would be huge.

  • Rahat Huq says 11 months ago

    Thorpe is doing a piece on what it would take to beat the heat and he just finished his third installment.http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9633703/future-stars-unconventional-schemes-keys-beating-heat-nba

    At the very end he talks about coaches doing something crazy like a triangle and 2 or a box and one. I think the Asik Howard combo has the most value in a series with OKC or Miami where we run that unconventional defense and truly force the role players to score 20 points a night for 4 games. Both Asik and Howard have the skills to make these sets work defensively I think we all agree there. But the risk reward would be high. I think making it to the playoffs and being able to implement these type of sets would do wonders for the teams moral. I don't think Morey moves Asik until next year specifically to see if the Howsik (Rahat can I trade mark this? Where do I fill out the paperwork) combo is really more valuable in a 7 game series where we have time to game plan for specific components of top offenses.

    I definitely see it having the most value against the Heat where I think you have to have something truly extraordinarily unique to overcome Lebron. Having two top-5 defensive 7 footers on the court together could be that. But the season needs to be used to experiment to get the offense during that time acceptable. As we saw with Lin though, I'm not sure McHale is ready to sacrifice wins for long term benefit.

  • Rahat Huq says 11 months ago

    Whenever Asik and Dwight are on the court together, I foresee a decrease in penetration from our guards, and a decrease in the effectiveness of the pick and roll.

    Definitely. That's why it will probably fail overall. And so that's why I hope emphasis is placed upon that in camp. I'd try and rest Harden during those minutes since he won't have any driving lanes anyway.

  • Richards says 11 months ago

    Howard makes significantly more than harden.

    We all knew that. What I am saying was Howard could have made more if he signed with Lakers. Bigger media market, celebrities with basketball town. More potential commercial deals, etc.

  • Chichos says 11 months ago

    Thorpe is doing a piece on what it would take to beat the heat and he just finished his third installment.http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9633703/future-stars-unconventional-schemes-keys-beating-heat-nba

    At the very end he talks about coaches doing something crazy like a triangle and 2 or a box and one. I think the Asik Howard combo has the most value in a series with OKC or Miami where we run that unconventional defense and truly force the role players to score 20 points a night for 4 games. Both Asik and Howard have the skills to make these sets work defensively I think we all agree there. But the risk reward would be high. I think making it to the playoffs and being able to implement these type of sets would do wonders for the teams moral. I don't think Morey moves Asik until next year specifically to see if the Howsik (Rahat can I trade mark this? Where do I fill out the paperwork) combo is really more valuable in a 7 game series where we have time to game plan for specific components of top offenses.

  • Cooper says 11 months ago

    I understand your Miami logic and LBJ, Wade, and Bosh earned my highest respect. They sacrificed money, fame, and ego to win championship. Fortunately for them, everything is easier since they all took less. For Howard case, he already took less by choosing Rockets while player like Harden reaping the maximum. I wish, like you suggested, Howard sacrifices more. But we all are human beings and loaded with egos. None of us are Jesus nor Buddha.

    Howard makes significantly more than harden.
  • Richards says 11 months ago

    Whenever Asik and Dwight are on the court together, I foresee a decrease in penetration from our guards, and a decrease in the effectiveness of the pick and roll.

    Proponents of Asik + Howard pairing truly pointed out great potential on defensive side. But, you are right that pairing won't be better for offense.

  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    Whenever Asik and Dwight are on the court together, I foresee a decrease in penetration from our guards, and a decrease in the effectiveness of the pick and roll.

  • Alituro says 11 months ago

    Great Article... Pretty much sums up my feelings about the situation. I actually think it could work, playing them together for short stretches. Let's say Howard is the "starting C" logging 30 mins per night, solo. That gives Asik 18 mins of solo C play per game. If McHale can find 5-10 opportune minutes per night to play them in Tandem, then Asik bumps to 23-28 mins per night on the floor (worth it). And, Howard keeps his minutes sub-40, hopefully contributing to his season long preservation.. This is the most important aspect of this situation... keeping Howard healthy all season long. In blowouts, I don't see Howard playing any more than half the game.

    When they do share the floor, as far as naming which position they take on, there is no point. As with the wing positions, when pairing two 7 footers in the post, their named positions makes no difference. The only real difference it makes is their defensive assignments, and many times it will be, "OK, you take Splitter, and you, Duncan" (Jordan, Griffin) (Gasol, Randolph) etc, etc., neither should shy away from any assignment. It's by no means a diminished role to guard a (big) PF if you are a natural center. Stretch 4s could present a problem, however.

    As far as last season, compensating for when Asik rested (RBF), is absolutely not true. Sometimes we did, barely, and many times we didn't. I'd say we could have enjoyed, easily 6-10 more wins had we had Asik's caliber of play for 48 minutes. I've seen so many leads get erased by halftime and never fully recovered.

  • Richards says 11 months ago

    -It's definitely a concern, I agree. That's why I think it probably won't work. But as to why he should sacrifice, I'd argue because that's what it usually takes to win a title ie: D Wade. He can also prolong his career by keeping Asik happy. I suspect he might realize this given his rumored comments about wanting to play with Asik. But we'll see whether that was all just talk.

    I understand your Miami logic and LBJ, Wade, and Bosh earned my highest respect. They sacrificed money, fame, and ego to win championship. Fortunately for them, everything is easier since they all took less. For Howard case, he already took less by choosing Rockets while player like Harden reaping the maximum. I wish, like you suggested, Howard sacrifices more. But we all are human beings and loaded with egos. None of us are Jesus nor Buddha.

  • Rahat Huq says 11 months ago

    I do not agree at all on pairing Asik and Howard. Here is why:

    - Neither is natural PF and Asik would be terrible at PF. We sold Howard on "Legacy of Centers" and he is better at C than PF. Why should he sacrifice? Dealing with new system and gelling with new teammates are tough enough, adding position change would be very very bad.

    - Asik off the bench is great weapon but under-utilizing and wasting potential of a good player. And that make Smith absolute surplus.

    Priority should be trading Asik to get better role players with either good defense or 3pt shooting. We signed some good shooters and defenders but none of them is clutch.

    -It's definitely a concern, I agree. That's why I think it probably won't work. But as to why he should sacrifice, I'd argue because that's what it usually takes to win a title ie: D Wade. He can also prolong his career by keeping Asik happy. I suspect he might realize this given his rumored comments about wanting to play with Asik. But we'll see whether that was all just talk.

  • Rahat Huq says 11 months ago

    I should generally point out that most championship teams made seemingly bad fits work, Miami with the big 3 and no center, Dallas staring both Barrea and Kidd, Lakers with the triangle etc... if anything, we could argue that it might actually be harder to win with the conventional . that most real championship teams are bizzaro in some way.

    In short, you never win by being the same as everyone else.

    By bad fit, are you referring to Howard with Asik or Howard with Aldridge?

  • Richards says 11 months ago

    I do not agree at all on pairing Asik and Howard. Here is why:

    - Neither is natural PF and Asik would be terrible at PF. We sold Howard on "Legacy of Centers" and he is better at C than PF. Why should he sacrifice? Dealing with new system and gelling with new teammates are tough enough, adding position change would be very very bad.

    - Asik off the bench is great weapon but under-utilizing and wasting potential of a good player. And that make Smith absolute surplus.

    Priority should be trading Asik to get better role players with either good defense or 3pt shooting. We signed some good shooters and defenders but none of them is clutch.

  • NorEastern says 11 months ago

    Thank you for the article Rahat. That is exactly the opinion I have been espousing for the last two months. The Rockets defense last season was the 7th best in the NBA when Asik was on the floor, and 27th when Asik sat. It is not much of a leap in logic to say that the Rockets should have a top 5 defense next season because either Howard or Asik will always be on the floor. If the Rockets traded Asik and next season Howard gets hurt, then the Rockets would be in a world of hurt. With Asik available the Rockets would still field a competitive squad.

    In addition it should be possible to play Howard and Asik 6 minutes or more together over the course of the season. Up 10 with 8 minutes to go and wanting to slow the pace down, play them together. There are many other situations where they could co-exist on the court. That would push Asik up to 22-24 minutes a game.

    The Rockets do not need much from their power forward. The ideal player in that position would shoot 35% from behind the 3 point line, get paid on the rookie scale, and play average defense. There are realistically few shots to allocate to that position.

  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    If the Rockets could cut Shaun Livingston and Jonny Flynn , then there's a good chance they could cut Marcus Camby.

  • Buckko says 11 months ago You do realize if we dominate the entire 3 quarters and 36 mins, than we don't have to worry about closing games out in the last 12. You're not making any sense -_-
  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago

    If your logic holds, no one would give Andrew Bynum or Greg Oden any money at all,

    it may turn out to be wasted money on both. as a matter of fact that's the most likely scenario

  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    If your logic holds, no one would give Andrew Bynum or Greg Oden any money at all,

    Different sports, but I give you an example

    Mark Prior was a stud pitcher in the early 2000s for the Cubs. he was probably one of the best pitcher in the world in the 2003 season (the infamous one where a fan catch ruined the Cub's playoff run.)

    After that year though, he started to get hurt, and never really recovered.

    10 years later, he's still in baseball, but hasn't seen the major league in 7+ seasons 5 different clubs have signed him since he was released by the Cubs, he never made it back on a major league roster, but they keep giving him chances. he was just released again by the Reds late June this year.

    So no, clubs don't ALWAYS sign people expecting them to be able to play, at all.

  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago

    Camby's health is extremely debatable, especially on a guy about to be pushing 40 and is not a guy who can do 15 min a night. Asik and Howard won't be on the court most of the time but a few minutes of rotation to get asik his minutes. RBF don't you underrate that 15 min of drop off when Howard is not on the court. With asik we will have a top 5 defense with a top 5 offense.

    do you think the Rockets signed a player in Camby who they thought would be hurt all year and could offer them nothing? think about that for a moment. we can't be worried about getting a player his minutes....we must be worried about winning. no player is bigger than the TEAM. 15 minutes of drop off means little in the grand scheme. most NBA games are won in the fourth quarter. I doubt Howard will be resting during that time period. what we need to be worried about is having the firepower to put teams away in the 4th quarter and we more than have that base covered. this is the point where to much stat watching can lead to the wrong conclusion. most NBA games are close during the 4th period no matter how much of a difference there is in talent between the two teams

  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    You lose about 6 pts per 100 play between Asik to normal backup C , for 15 min , that's probably about 1.5 pts a game in real terms, which is still very significant for 1 player.

  • Buckko says 11 months ago Camby's health is extremely debatable, especially on a guy about to be pushing 40 and is not a guy who can do 15 min a night. Asik and Howard won't be on the court most of the time but a few minutes of rotation to get asik his minutes. RBF don't you underrate that 15 min of drop off when Howard is not on the court. With asik we will have a top 5 defense with a top 5 offense.
  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago

    I totally disagree.............Asik and Howard can not be on the floor for long stretches. I also think to much pub is being given to this 48 minutes of top 10 defense thing. all teams go through some form of change when their stars take a break. Asik rested last year and we still manage to compensate for his absence. Asik will not be happy for long sitting on the bench behind Howard. to believe we can survive with them both is unrealistic. sure the defense is better, but the opposing teams defense will be better too because they can pack the paint on us and dare the others to hit outside shots. we don't want to close the paint off.........we want to open it up by forcing the opposing team to guard us all over the floor. the combination of Asik and Howard defeats that purpose. Yes having Asik for the 15 minutes Howard is resting would be great, but 8.3 mil is to much to pay for 15 minutes a night. Camby should be able to cover that at far less money. I know some think Camby is washed up...........I don't. he had a nice year for us the last time he was here, was hurt in NY for most of last year and has finally gotten healthy. 15 minutes a game is not that much. I think he is capable of handling that. that's why he was brought here......not to sit on the pine and mold others(even though that's a side benefit of him being here).

  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    I should generally point out that most championship teams made seemingly bad fits work, Miami with the big 3 and no center, Dallas staring both Barrea and Kidd, Lakers with the triangle etc... if anything, we could argue that it might actually be harder to win with the conventional . that most real championship teams are bizzaro in some way.

    In short, you never win by being the same as everyone else.

  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    Agreed, but I think the may draw to asik staying is being on a contender and finally someone agrees that LMA would be terrible for this team.