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.”

in columns
  • jmwilliamson

    Great daily. I particularly enjoyed the bit on Casspi and the youngsters. Very good find.

  • rahat_huq

    The Slate article nailed it. Our cultural obsession with heroes and villains has always been oddly perplexing.

  • Easy

    I don't get the Durant piece. Because Kobe and LeBron aren't as clean as we thought, so Durant must be that too? Great logic.

    The article's subtitle is “The sports media celebrate Kevin Durant for being something he isn't” I kept waiting for the writer to reveal something we hadn't known about him to “expose” the dirty side of the guy. The only things I found was (1) he “trashed” Lebron for getting a a twitter account, and (2) he attacks the basket.


  • Carl Herrera

    Re: Martin

    How about the possessions in which he drew fouls? Did these mostly come from the 3 pt line/16-23 ft or were those close to the basket? If the latter, maybe his shooting patter isn't as typical as you might think. These are shooting attempts (or at least driving attempts, might be in the penalty and not shooting fouls), just not recorded as FGA officially.

  • Jacob_Mustafa

    I don't think the idea is that Durant is somehow dirty or less than a great guy; I think he was saying that we overplay his virtues because we have created this even more ludicrous villain in LeBron in order to sell an easier story to the audience. Durant does not lack for character, but the big, bad LeBron storyline has gotten so omnipresent that the media needs an obvious counter to it.

  • rahat_huq

    That was my understanding as well. It's not that Durant is necessarily bad, just that our purpose in building him up is absurd.

    I've expressed it many times, but I think it's sad how we, in sports, rely so much on juxtaposition to make a point. We seemingly can never just appreciate something in and of itself. It was never that the Rockets last year played hard – it was that they played harder than the teams of the devil Tracy McGrady. Lebron didn't make an ass of himself this summer – he did things Kobe would never do. On and on. I guess now that so many holes have been poked in the Kobe angle, we're turning to Durant as the new savior to show just how evil Lebron is. It's really sad.

  • Stephen

    Re Jeffries.
    I have this sneaking suspicion he ends up the back-up PF if Hill doesn't start strong.
    Adelman used him quite a bit after the trade,pairing him w/Andersen and sometimes using him at C w/Ariza playing PF.
    If Hill struggles early Jeffries might just end up being paired w/Miller w/Chuck coming in to cool off a hot opponent big. W/probable second unit of Lowry,Lee,Bud and Miller that's plenty of O and outside shooting-having a player willing to do all the little stuff will look mighty attractive to Adelman.

    Andersen went down mid-March and the Rockets shut him down. Jeffries injured his Achilles a couple of games earlier and came back to play in the last 7 games. At this point the Rockets were pretty much eliminated from Play-Offs and would seem to be the perfect time to give Hill experience. In those 7 games Scola had 244 minutes,Hayes 180,Jeffries 143,Hill 88 and Hilton Armstrong a whopping 2 minutes.
    After a two week run of giving Hill minutes,as soon as Jeffries was healthy enough to play Adelman went to him over Hill.
    I think that Adelman wants to win too much to continue developing a player during games.

  • Tkired

    Agreed. Topics hit on all kinds of things, from the D-league (and Morey's greatness) to Kevin Durant/Lebron as the hero and villian archetype America loves, to Jeremy Lin's cultural expectations, and even some Jeffries and Scola love… And the bball story with a link to the biggest issue of the day, peace in the middle east. Quite the range.

    I think the Durant and Lin topics are related… Both are issues more of public perception and expectation rather than actual identity of the person. Just as the media and fans project the good guy/ cowboy in the white hat image onto Durant, I believe the same is being done to Lin, but with the whole minority savior kind of deal. I doubt he feels like he is representing all asian americans or even asian american ballers, he is just Jeremy… It may be different in regards to Taiwan, but he is playing in the Bay, not Taipei.

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  • kevman86

    dude no. jeffries is a waste of money and doesnt fit with the team. the article described it perfectly. hes the odd man out. the rockets front office has one goal with jeffries, and that is to find a trade partner that wants his expiring contract. sure they might showcase him a little bit, but mostly only at the end of games which have already been decided. they dont need him. he's expendable. his best quality is also his worst – his contract. he makes way too much money to be average at best. hill was better pre-development than jeffries is. no, stephen… the rockets are way too stacked in the frontcourt with much better talent than jeffries to spare much in the way of playing time for the lanky contract hustler. how DID he get a contract that big anyway?! sure he got some playing time last year, but that was before adding yao ming, brad miller, AND patterson to the roster. meanwhile veterans hayes and the development project hill are needing playing time. sorry dude, jeffries is soon to be in a different city, and next year will be making a hell of a lot less money.

  • Stephen

    I would expect Hill to start the season as the back-up PF and hope Patterson has a Landry-like development curve and can play his way into the regular rotation. Perhaps a little arrogance on my part,but I expect the Rockets would like to see this happen as well.
    BUT,and this is where we seem to differ,IF Hill struggles early,I don't think Adelman will have a lot of patience w/Hill and if Patterson isn't quite ready I believe Rick will go to Jeffries. Simply because Jeffries is like that old pair of shoes,the beat-up,clunky,cracked,but still so comfortable ones you won't throw out because they're just so d*** comfortable.
    My point on the minutes is that even when the season was all but over,Adelman still went w/Jeffries over Hill. Adelman wants to win,and he's going w/who will help the team win now,not in the future. So I believe Hill(or whoever wins the back-up 4 out of camp) is going to be on a short leash-esp as you pointed out the options there are at the 4.

    Jeffries is on the end of what started out as a MLE contract,much like Battier. Jeffries got the deal because he plays defense,rebounds,sets screens and does everything but score that old-school coaches like.(And the Knicks plus/minus was significantly better when Jeffries was on the floor.)
    Yes,Jeffries will get a smaller contract next season…but so will Battier,and LeBron,Wade and Bosh signed for less this yr than what they made last yr 🙂 I really don't think Adelman cares too much about a player's contract in deciding who to play(just ask McGrady).

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