Rockets Daily – Friday, August 6, 2010

Daily Factoid: From 1960 to 1970, not a single team in the NBA averaged .800 or more from the free throw line. From 2000 to 2010, 17 teams have averaged .800 or more from the free throw line.

  • Drew Cannon of Basketball Prospectus is making some noise in basketball circles with his argument that we shouldn’t judge a player based on whether he is a characteristic fit to play one of the traditional one through five positionsTom Martin of The Dream Shake applies that analysis to the Houston Rockets.
  • ESPN – ‘Agent: Shannon Brown, Lakers agree’: “The Lakers and free agent guard Shannon Brown have agreed on a two-year contract worth $4.6 million, Brown’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said Thursday morning… Brown is likely the last piece of the Lakers’ offseason puzzle. Though the negotiations took longer than expected, he and the team had expressed a desire to work a deal. Brown strongly considered the New York Knicks and New Orleans Hornets.”
  • Hardwood Paroxysm compiles a list of the biggest bargains last year.
  • Kelly Dwyer – ‘David Stern’s latest crisis’: “There was a rumor Monday that the NBA would open its season on national TV with the Miami Heat playing in Cleveland against the Cavaliers… We’ve learned since then that this isn’t happening. The problem isn’t that this almost happened, because we have no idea how close it came to happening. The problem is that we believed it could happen. That we believed it to be within the realm of the possible. And that’s how far this league’s credibility has sunk. That, if even for a moment, we believed the league to be crass, cynical and exploitative enough to ensure this macabre celebration of separation a reality. I’ve been covering this league for over a decade. I’ve sifted through two lockouts, an impending lockout, and all manner of bad behavior both on court and off. I think I’m within the belly of the beast so far as to know when things are getting silly, and when it’s time to defend against the nastiest of critics. And yet, I believed it. Didn’t assume it, but thought the rumor somewhat credible. Quite credible. And there’s your issue, NBA. You had me thinking that this mess could actually take place on your opening night.”
  • Fanhouse – An interview with Erik Spoelstra about his initial reaction after hearing that he would be coaching Lebron James.
  • Henry Abbott – ‘The danger of thinking’: “Gilbert writes about the trouble Alex Rodriguez developed hitting home runs after clubbing his 599th. One dinger from the milestone of 600, he became a guy who really wanted to hit a home run, and suddenly went from July 22 to last night without a homer. He says there’s evidence that for somebody like Rodriguez, thinking about hitting could be the problem… ‘One of the ironies of human psychology is that desperately wanting something can make attaining that thing all the more difficult. When stakes go up, performance often goes down. In one study, subjects practiced sinking a putt and got better as they went along — better, that is, until the experimenter offered them a cash reward for their next shot, at which point their performance took a nosedive. This is because we pay close attention to what we’re doing when what we’re doing matters, and though close attention is helpful when our task is novel or complex, it is positively destructive when our task is simple and well practiced. Golfers in another study were told either to take their time and think about their stroke or to step up and swing as quickly as possible. Although novice golfers did better when they took their time, expert golfers did worse. The lesson from the laboratory is clear: thinking about tasks that don’t require thought isn’t just pointless, it’s debilitating. It may be wise to watch our fingers when we’re doing surgery or shaving the family dog, but not when we’re driving or typing, because once our brains learn to do something automatically they don’t appreciate interference. The moment we start thinking about when to step on the clutch or hit the alt key, our once-seamless performance becomes slow, clumsy or impossible’… I’m not sure what of this applies to shooting in general — it would be an interesting thing to explore further. But I’ll bet you good money it has a lot to do with what happens at the free throw line. Think about those golfers whose performance took a nosedive when there was cash on the line. When they really wanted to make it, they missed. I bet a lot of NBA players can relate to that story.”
  • FanHouse’s FIBA World Championship power rankings. Atop the list? – Spain.
  • Shaq gets into a twitter feud with Jim Rome and caps it off by challenging him to a boxing match.
  • An instructional video from the NBA Playbook on how to run a fast break.
  • 48 Minutes of Hell – ‘Is genoism good for sports’: “Back in 2002, Danny Ainge and Kevin McHale were interviewed about brain typing, which was a fashionable–at least for former Celtics–player evaluation tool at the time. The idea was that certain brains were wired like Michael Jordan’s and others like Homer Simpson. Smart GMs accounted for brain typing before adding players to their roster. Kevin McHale was unambiguous, “If this [brain typing] gives you a quarter-inch, then it’s well worth it.” Prior to the the 2008 draft, NBA teams were scrambling to ascertain whether Nicolas Batum had heart trouble, and many of those efforts were bent on determining whether Batum had inherited a heart condition from his father. In 2005, Eddy Curry refused the Bulls’ request that he submit to a DNA test in order to detect a heart condition. Alan Milstein, Curry’s lawyer, argued that such tests were violations of Curry’s privacy rights. It’s not hard to imagine a world where sports executives clamor for as much genetic information about their players as possible. After all, every quarter-inch counts. And these players are paid handsomely on guaranteed contracts. The PR executive will tell us its about saving lives, and the CFOs will tell their bosses it’s about saving money. No matter the spin, the information locked inside our DNA is always valuable. It’s the red apple of temptation, and everyone wants a taste. After the celebrity-cool advanced metrics community settles into a more pedestrian profile, there will be a Daryl Morey of DNA analysis. Bank it. But does such knowledge lead to discrimination? Is it genoism? Why wouldn’t we apply the rules of evolution to sports–why not privilege those who are, in effect, more likely to succeed, or, in some cases, survive? Why leave anything to chance?”
  • Truth About It – ‘You Don’t Need An Excuse To Watch John Wall Highlights

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of

in columns
  • Farah89ster

    In your opinion, do you think the Rockets can win the championship title within 2 or 3 years?

  • Michael

    It's been about a week or so since I've last been able to check on the site, but it's nice to have you back Rahat!

    And Royce, I like the customized links and info you're bringing to the site. I know it's slim-pickins' right now but I know when the season kicks off things will get much more interesting.

    For everyone's weekend entertainment, I give you the New York Knickerbockers:
    “Isaih Thomas to serve as New York Knicks' consultant”

  • rahat_huq

    realistically speaking, no.

  • Interesting factoid. Unlike height, FT% is not something you scoured the globe for. I wonder if it is a trend that reflects increased competition. How did you get these numbers?

  • Royce_chang

    Toeholds – I found it using's database. Also interesting – the ten best FTpct's recorded each decade has steadily increased. To why this is, I think you're right. Unlike free throw attempts, points, and every other offensive stat, free throw percentage is never going to be a product of way the game is officiated. Someone shooting .500 from the line in the 60's is going to shoot .500 today. So I think it's safe to say players back then were worse shooters than shooters today. Of course, this could be a result of many reasons (the level of league exposure, the way teams were built, foul rates of fowards/centers versus guards, etc.) that may or may not be worth looking into.

    Michael – thanks!

  • Stephen

    RE the FT%.
    If you ever get the chance,watch a game from the 70s,early 80s.
    You'll quickly note almost all outside shots are from barely beyond 15'.(I always crack up hearing the commentator talk about the team's outside game as some player launches a FT line jumper.)
    In other words,the FT line was nearing the limit of most player's range of the time.
    Today most players are comfortable shooting from 20' plus. Move the FT line out to 18-20' and we'll prob see FT%s in line w/those of earlier decades.

    There's been a revolution in the NBA that nobody seemed to notice. In the 60s,70s,80s offenses basically functioned in a box drawn 15' down baseline,up to about FT line,across FT line and back down to 15' on opposite baseline.
    Today,offenses use almost all of the half-court to run their sets.(Watch how often a ball-handler is picked up as he crosses half-court. In earlier Decades defenders would often wait til the ball-handler passed the top of key before picking him up.)

  • I looked around on the web on the FT% thing, and came across this from NYTimes last year, which states that FT% stayed even across the board over the decades:

    Taken at face value, the combination of the article (avg FT% constant) and Royce's factoids (upper echelon improves) suggests that there is a wider spread in FT%. Now that would be interesting to speculate about – I have to crunch the numbers myself sometime to see if that's true.

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