Nostradamstrauss – In ESPN’s 5-on-5 roundtable of predictions for the New Year, Ethan Sherwood Strauss goes way out on a limb and says the Rockets will shock everyone:
The Rockets will trade James Harden. He’s bad at defense and they care about things others don’t seek to quantify. I could see Houston trading Harden for some depth and high draft picks.
Strauss is just spit-balling, but I can’t see this happening unless Harden just gives up on the team. Despite what his defense looks like, the team is still clearly and quantifiably better with him on the floor. The fluffy face of the franchise isn’t going anywhere.
Evolution – David Vertserger at Hickory High has some insight into Dwight Howard’s image since his arrival in Houston, comparing what was said in the L.A. press when he left the Lakers to his production this year.
Dwight Howard has yet to become the league-wide favorite he once was, and perhaps he may never regain this widespread fandom. Whatever doubts concerning Howard’s immaturity, childish antics and mentality that still remain – they have their place. But as for his basketball this season, it has been unimpeachable.
Injury Report – According to the Houston Chronicle, Omer Asik’s knee issue continues to linger, which is like totally the worst thing since unsliced bread. For those of you just tuning in, Asik’s knee has reportedly felt fine until be begins strenuous workouts, and then it swells up. His knee is not well enough for him to suit up to play, only well enough for him to suit up.
Stat Geekery – The Dream Shake has an excellent breakdown of SportVU stats for the Rockets, and finds a couple of incredible nuggets. The first reveals just how selective star players are with their movements on the court.
Howard’s 3.8 mph mark ranks 8th slowest in the league by that measurement and Harden almost takes the cake, coming in at 3.7 mph and tied for second to last in the league with Andrea Bargnani, Al Jefferson, and Marc Gasol.
In fact, among the other intuitive big men that are members of this category (Roy Hibbert, Zach Randolph, DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, etc) there are some star players whose inclusion force you to consider the multiple overlapping ways people can find themselves in these spots. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are actually tied with Dwight, Roy, and DeMarcus. DeAndre Jordan is technically faster than both LeBron or Carmelo over the course of their minutes on the court. Some players are just slow, but others just control their foot speed better than other players, resulting in such an interesting cast of players who log heavy minutes.
The second-most fascinating tidbit was about Chandler Parsons.
For instance, only two players have logged over 1000 minutes this season and have a higher true shooting percentage as Chandler Parsons (60.9%): Kevin Durant (62.4%) and LeBron James (67.3%). Oddly enough, Parsons is tied with Nicholas Batum for this distinction, a man making about 10 million more dollars than Parsons this year.
This information reveals a few things. The first is that LeBron James lives in a dimension of higher basketball nirvana than anyone. The second is that Chandler Parsons is going to get paid at the end of this season. The final thing to keep in mind when comparing these numbers for Parsons to LeBron and Durant is that Chandler Bang is not the focus of the opposing defense, nor does he use up nearly the number of possessions that those superstars do. While the 1,000 minute filter weeds out a lot of role-players from this list, it still doesn’t adjust for the added difficulty that comes with being the no. 1 option in an offense.