Rockets Daily: Friday, September 3rd, 2010

  • Yes, the Houston Rockets run the best organization, without a doubt. In the D-League. D-League Digest‘s Matt Hubert gives the Rockets and its job running its D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a score of perfect, based on a composite score of several experts (including our own Rahat Huq). Although division rival and general bastions of perfection the San Antonio Spurs were also in the highest tier of D-League usage, the Rockets’ constant use and selective control of its affiliate team has allowed it greater flexibility and player development than any other organization: “As the only team to earns a perfect 4.00 GPA (with a boost from Matt Moore’s A+), the Rockets are clearly a model franchise… The point is, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is one of the brightest minds in basketball. The man knows how to bring in talent and build a team. His commitment to using the D-League is one of the reasons why Houston is at least a step ahead of almost every team in the league… Assignments, call-ups, innovative use of the affiliation system—the Rockets do it all very well.”
  • While the Rockets’ organization may be run differently than other teams’, exactly how typical are Houston’s players on the court? Hardwood Paroxysm‘s Tom Haberstroh writes about the commonalities between all of those NBA players’ shot selections at particular positions; most interestingly, Haberstroh lists the players who shoot most and least like others at their positions. While few Rockets make the list (not many players on the team are particularly prototypical or revolutionary in their shooting styles), of particular note is Kevin Martin’s presence as one of the NBA’s most shooting-guard-like… shooting guards. Like most 2’s, he shoots a lot of threes, mid-to-long-range jumpshots and goes to the basket on occasion; his back-up, Courtney Lee, is ranked immediately behind him in terms of normality. As both are recent acquisitions, this news may lead readers to think the Rockets are piling up literal role players, players who play their positions on the court to a T without deviating too far from their positions’ strengths; however, another new face, Jared Jeffries, leads the list of out-of-the-norm power forwards, shooting less like a power forward than any other 4 in the league. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Jeffries does not take many shots.
  • Speaking of Jeffries… even that seems strange because no one has been speaking of Jeffries. The all-world defender and professional Plastic-Man-impersonator finds himself lost in the shuffle of Rockets forwards, and his expiring deal makes him one of the more likely Rockets to find a new home by the end of the season. Luke Byrnes of Hoops World recognizes the poor, lanky man’s plight and writes of the frustration of being on a team with too many good players: “Few players in NBA history have been less heralded for the dirty work they have done on the basketball floor as has Jared Jeffries… The former Indiana Hoosiers star has been a starter in the NBA at four different positions (SG, SF, PF and C) over the course of his career. Jeffries comes into the 2010-11 NBA season in a loaded Rockets front court that includes Shane Battier, Yao Ming, Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, Brad Miller, Jordan Hill and rookie (14th overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft) Patrick Patterson.  Considering the mainstay that Battier has become in Houston, Yao’s return from injury, Scola’s big payday this offseason, the free agent acquisition of Miller, Hayes’ defensive ability and the upside of Hill and Patterson, Jeffries (and his nearly $7M of expiring contract) is seemingly the odd man out in Clutch City.”
  • The coronation of Kevin Durant has been a lot quieter than the same was for King LeBron James several years ago, if the clatter of typewriters producing the words “good teammate” and “down-to-earth” counts as quiet. As he has become the smiling face of a league facing its greatest paradigm shift in a decade, there’s little question whether Durant’s image ascended to new heights as LeBron’s plummeted down to South Beach. Durant provided the ultimate counter to LeBron and the rest of the Triumvirate’s callous self-adoration, or did he? Slate‘s Tommy Craggs asserts that Durant is simply the league’s new prince, necessary to success because the league’s new whipping boy can only be used to sell magazines and no longer to promote the virtues of the league: “This is how sports heroes are made nowadays—not by some feat of athletic transcendence, but by virtue of not being the bogeyman of the day…And now people praise the allegedly humble Kevin Durant for not being the allegedly narcissistic LeBron James, whom they once praised for not being the allegedly selfish Kobe Bryant, whom they once praised for not being the allegedly thuggish Allen Iverson.”
  • Does anyone else think there might be just a bit too much pressure on Jeremy Lin? At this point, the kid has an entire league looking at him, an entire ethnic group rooting for him and an entire generation waiting for him to prove them right. It all seems like a lot to handle for a kid angling for a backup-point-guard role on a team in disarray led by one of the NBA’s more indifferent yet occasionally belligerent coaches. Any way you slice it, he’ll always still have that sweet new jersey.
  • NBA fans have to love the obsession young players, especially last year’s rookies, have shown with the game this offseason. Tyreke Evans is shooting 100,000 threes. Stephon Curry is learning about playing on a team that won’t always simply rely on his talent. Brandon Jennings seems to be working on everything. Omri Cassipi, however, has set his sights a little higher: “At the Peres Center for Peace youth sports camp Wednesday in Jaffa, Israel, he supervised drills. He answered questions about Kobe Bryant. He scrimmaged with a girls team against a boys squad consisting of Israeli and Palestinian youngsters. Sounding at times like a diplomat and on other occasions like a coach, the Kings’ second-year forward spoke about unity and tolerance. He stressed the cultural, ethnic and political diversity of the Kings. He left the community center, he said, encouraged and better educated. “It was really enlightening to see kids from behind the borders, playing basketball with Israeli kids,” Casspi said on his cell phone from his native Israel. “When you see something like this, you realize that it’s true, that basketball can connect people from so many countries.”

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