GeekSpeak – Houston Rockets GM/stat geek extraordinaire Daryl Morey chats with TrueHoop TV about the team’s mediocre start to the season. His comments about the Twin Towers lineup are of interest.
Morey points out that the Howsik/Asward pairing needs to obliterate the other team on the boards in order to be effective, but they haven’t been boarding well so far. I’m going to throw out a theory as to why that may be the case. Some rebounds are gained through strength and positioning, while others are the result of hustle. The first kind of rebounds are typically grabbed close to the basket, and are the rebounds that both Howard and Asik thrive on by anticipating the play, sealing off their man, and taking care of business. They are simply the completion of a good defensive play. The second type–hustle rebounds–are Patrick Beverley’s specialty. These are offensive rebounds, long defensive boards, or rebounds that just take a funky bounce. They are an opportunity for a team to generate an extra possession. As fundamentally sound on the boards as Howard and Asik are on the boards, their ability to dart to the ball when it is up for grabs is limited in comparison to younger, quicker players like Omri Casspi and Terrence Jones. In other words, the Twin Towers only grab each other’s rebounds. And yes, that was a really long way of saying FREE TERRENCE JONES.
Loweball – In Zach Lowe’s column on early-season trends at Grantland, he shows some love for the dribble penetration that Omri Casspi gives Houston’s offense.
The Rockets are using Casspi as an undersize power forward, with the idea that Casspi can spot up for open 3s around pick-and-rolls that penetrate the defense. But Casspi isn’t a great 3-point shooter, and some power forwards are mobile enough to contest those open looks. Casspi is generally quicker than those big men, and when the initial look isn’t quite as open as he’d like, Casspi should have enough off-the-bounce creativity to keep the play moving.
Splitsville – Patrick Harrel at The Dream Shake makes the case for splitting up Howard and Asik:
If you breakdown team performance into four categories, interior offense, perimeter offense, interior defense, and perimeter defense, the Rockets are sacrificing three categories for an upgrade in one with this lineup. While they are stronger in the paint on defense, they are struggling to go help out on to shooters on the perimeter with Asik and Howard in the middle, and teams are burning them from deep. The Rockets are third worst in the league in terms of three point shots made, and their failure to control teams from shooting has cost them dearly in their losses to the Clippers and Lakers.
Personally, I’m inclined to agree with Morey’s earlier statement that the three-point shooting against the Twin Towers is “flukey.” Having both big men guarding the rim enables the perimeter players to hug up on shooters–at least in theory–and aside from Harden’s well-documented struggles, I think most of Houston’s perimeter players have made a decent effort to close out. It will be interesting to see if opposing teams’ shooting regresses to the mean over the next ten games or so.
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