Rockets Daily – Monday, August 2, 2010

Daily Factoid: Since hand checking rules were implemented in the early 2000’s, championship teams have, on average, ranked in the top 30% of the league in free throw attempts per game during the regular season.

  • The Dream Shake – ‘How Will Yao’s Return Affect the Rockets Offense’: “With Yao back in the paint, the Rockets will have a legitimate post threat. Notice I say ‘threat’ and not ‘player.’ Yao should be plenty effective in the post, but his presence on the block will likely open up options for spot-up shooting and general spacing. That said, I expect the Rockets to focus less on the spot-up jumper. Many of these shots took ample time to produce – the Rockets would like to employ a more free-flowing offense that doesn’t use up nearly as much clock… While Yao’s presence will likely result in a slower pace for the Rockets, they should be a much better defensive team. Trevor Ariza and many other perimeter defenders should be able to take more gambles and cause more turnovers with Yao in the paint. This will lead to plenty of fast-break attempts, which are usually more successful than normal transition attempts. I expect the Rockets to have far less transition attempts in 2010-11, but I also expect them to convert at a higher rate… Having Yao as a second or third option on the pick and roll should improve the shot selection and effectiveness of the ball handler. Aaron Brooks has become a much better passer and finisher on the drive. Even if the Rockets decide to use the pick and roll with Scola, having Yao on the opposite block should give Brooks a one-on-one matchup or an easy passing target should the defense double him off the screen. Many of the pick and roll plays in which Brooks kept the ball led to a three-point shot (converted 30.5% of the time). With added talent surrounding Brooks this season, shooting a three off the dribble would be a less-than-desirable way to end a possession. This is the common theme throughout the post: Yao’s presence itself opens up the offense and provides more options. This same philosophy can be applied in the isolation game. More options and more space should aid Brooks in the iso game… Despite how well the Rockets shot from three-point land last year, they should look to reduce those numbers in 2010-2011. Kyle Lowry should be shooting less threes, as should Shane Battier and Trevor Ariza. Instead, the bulk of the outside shooting will fall on Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks… Look for similar conversion rates, if not higher conversion rates from the Rockets, but on less attempts.”
  • Tom Ziller – ‘Luis Scola to Play for Argentina at FIBA Worlds’: “Luis Scola, weeks removed from agreeing to a fat contract with the Houston Rockets, has received clearance to play for the Argentine national team this summer at the 2010 FIBA World Championship.”
  • A documentary on Luis Scola which includes highlights from early in his career.
  • Tom Martin of The Dream Shake compares Kevin Martin and Tracy McGrady and details why Kevin Martin is the more efficient player.
  • Basketball-Reference compiles a list of players with the greatest yearly decline in 3-point attempts.
  • Kelly Dwyer  – ‘Chris Bosh says he went hard. We saw something else’: “While the Raptors were bad at the start of last season — league-worst bad in defensive efficiency — Bosh wasn’t terrible. But after his February injury and the All-Star meeting, he was as bad as the rest of teammates down the stretch. If you want to go with stats, go with stats: Bosh is a 6-foot-11 guy with major hops and long arms who blocked six shots in his last 17 games as a Raptor. He’s also a lefty, and lefties are better at blocking shots because their strong hand pairs up with their man’s usual strong shooting hand.Just a quick look at one of the Behind the Box Scores from that time reminded me how terrible his pick-and-roll defense was. Box score stats don’t pick that up. I’m sorry, but he took it easy. On both ends. Once again, “taking it easy” results in about 22 points and nine rebounds per game for Bosh. He’s a terrific player, even when his transmission’s gummed and he’s stuck in second gear… This wasn’t a tank job. And it certainly wasn’t every game. Maybe not even every other game. This was just Chris at about 85 percent of what we saw from him earlier that season (and his contributions agree with that percentage), and about 90 percent of what we’ve seen from him for his career. This wasn’t Carter. It wasn’t even Pau Gasol in his last year with the Grizzlies. But Bosh wasn’t going as hard in March. Especially on defense. And when you act the way you’ve acted? Soliciting free-agent suggestions over Twitter on April 30 even though you’re still technically a member of the Toronto Raptors until July 1? Following Dwyane Wade around North America like a tagalong little brother? The Hamptons nonsense? The All-Star admission? Just being in the same picture as LeBron James, who has become public enemy No. 1? It allows for those with long memories and nothing to do on a Tuesday night in March to recall what went down. That’s what you’re left with, Chris. And you’re best served not protesting too much. Better to let this slip away. Kind of like you did with the Raptors’ season.”
  • Kelly Dwyer – ‘Kendrick Perkins – Game 7 was the worst time of my life’: “Getting all the way to the Finals, game seven, probably the most important time and I couldn’t be a part of it. You know I had to watch from the sidelines. It was one of the most hurtful feelings. I thought it woulda been better if we woulda won. It woulda made things a whole lot better, but we didn’t and I feel like maybe if I was in there I coulda helped. It’s something that you’re gonna take probably for the rest of your life, but you gotta move on and just get ready for the next season.”
  • Ball Don’t Lie – ‘Mike James admires the Utah Jazz organization’: “Former AP scribe and current ESPN columnist Chris Sheridan — in a Tweet, not a column — mentions that former journeyman point guard Mike James ‘Admires Jazz org’. Stuck up against the 140-character limit, Chris didn’t even have room for punctuation…And while I appreciate that — James played hard during his nine-year career for nine teams — the request seems rather specific. Maybe I’m just reeling from all the players who want to latch on with the Miami Heat (James started his NBA career in Miami, by the way), but the Jazz? This isn’t some ha-ha slam at Salt Lake City. It just seems so pointed. Like, ‘Keith Bogans really appreciates the direction the Philadelphia 76ers are heading in.’ Or, ‘Anthony Johnson thinks the Milwaukee Bucks are real up-and-comers.’ Like, ‘Earl Boykins thinks Atlanta is ‘his kind of town.’ It’s just random. No real link between the two, but Mike James admires the Jazz organization. He probably should.”
  • Marc Stein –  ‘Latest buzz: Shaq, T-Mac, more’: “Shaquille O’Neal and Kwame Brown. Those two haven’t shown up in the same sentence too often over the years, but they’re linked on this occasion because they both remain on the radar of the Boston Celtics.
    The East champs, even after the recent signing of Jermaine O’Neal, still want one more big man after inching to the brink of a full roster with Thursday’s signing of guard Von Wafer. The problem? The Celtics only have minimum money left. Sources say they’re having trouble getting Brown to accept those wages, so you can imagine where Shaq stands on the idea. Word persists that Shaq still hopes to be sign-and-traded somewhere by Cleveland that will allow him to secure a salary next season above the $5.8 million mid-level exception… As of Friday morning, Chicago had not completely ruled out the signing of Tracy McGrady. Miami’s signing of Eddie House extinguished one of the Bulls’ other prime options and thus helped keep alive the possibility of McGrady scoring the deal from the Bulls that he so badly wants, as chronicled here. Chicago, though, continues to look at other options such as Keith Bogans and Roger Mason.”
  • Hoopinion – ‘Dwight Howard Gets It’: “Howard also speaks of the potential folly of the Hawks building a team specifically to counter him: ‘That’s only four games out of the season. You have to look long term and what’s best for your team. Cleveland got Shaq to match up with the Magic. They also got Antawn Jamison to match up with the Magic. But they didn’t even play the Magic. They played Boston [and lost]. You match up for the league, not just one team.'”
  • Tom Haberstroh of Hardwood Paroxysm presents a table which summarizes all of the free agent moves from this offseason.
  • Nets Daily – ‘Nets Looking Forward to the Next Free Agency‘: “In an ideal world, the Nets would develop their young players, make the playoffs…and have $18 million in cap space to once again make a run at top free agents.  That could change, of course, if a top player becomes available at the trade deadline or before. So who’ll be out there? The headliner, if he passes on Denver’s $65 million offer, is Carmelo Anthony, but there are others. Yao MingTony Parkerand Andrei Kirilenko, who has given Mikhail Prokhorov advice on the NBA, will be available.”
  • John Townsend – ‘Deconstructing Hinrich’s Versitility’: “Based on the per-minute, pace-adjusted PER stat, Hinrich is clearly a better guard than a forward, both offensively and defensively.  Offensively, he is just above average as a PG and a SG and well below average at SF.  Defensively, Kirk is able to defend guards quite well, but gives up far too much to opposing SF.  Overall, Kirk Hinrich is an average producer in all facets of the game as a backcourt player, but suffers when played at the 3.  (On a somewhat related note: LeBron James’ career PER is 26.8.)  The PER Reference Guide labels Kirk Hinrich as a player who is somewhere between a 3rd banana and a pretty good player at both guard positions. This might explain why coaches, dating back to college, have tried to plug Hinrich in at different positions.  In the world of sports, teams look for players that fit neatly into score books and can be defined by one, primary role.  The NBA has plenty of players who have specialized and fine-tuned their games to contribute in one or two statistical categories.  We have the 3-point specialist (Korver); the defensive specialist (Artest); the slasher/scorer (Ellis); the pass-first creator (Duhon); and the hustling, high-energy guy (Varejao).  Hinrich’s generalized abilities may have done more to frustrate general managers and coaches, than they have put them at ease.”

*The answer to last Friday’s Daily Factoid: Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Jerry Stackhouse, and Michael Finley. Josh Howard signed with the Wizards last week.

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

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Rockets Daily – Friday, July 30, 2010

Daily Factoid: As of this morning, there are five former all-stars who are unrestricted free agents. Can you name them?