The Rockets Daily – October 22, 2013

Lucky 7 – Dwight Howard came in no. 7 in ESPN’s #NBARank. A few thoughts:

  • He dropped four spots from his no. 3 ranking last year. When you’re in the top ten, those four spots are the difference between “generational talent” and “perennial All-Star.”
  • He is sandwiched in between Steph Curry (6) and Kyrie Irving (8), who both beat out Marc Gasol (10). Somewhere in the evaluation of rising stars, we forgot about defense.
  • This means James Harden is a top-5 guy. Let that sink in. A year ago at this time, it wasn’t even clear if he would be an All-Star. There were doubts about whether he was even a franchise player. The craziest part is that means OKC drafted three top-5 players in three years. That has certainly never been done before, and it may never happen again.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting – I know we’ve already gotten a taste of what Howard brings to the court through some preseason play, but John Schuhmann’s One Team, One Stat feature on the Lakers gets into the numbers on Dwight’s deterrent effect:

With him on the floor, their opponents shot worse, committed more turnovers, got to the free throw line less, and grabbed fewer offensive rebounds.

And Howard was clearly a rim protector. With him on the floor, L.A.’s opponents attempted just 31.7 percent of their shots from the restricted area. With him on the bench, their opponents attempted 37.3 percent of their shots from the restricted area. That’s a critical difference with restricted-area shots being the most efficient on the floor.

This backs up Kirk Goldsberry’s excellent study on The Dwight Effect, which establishes that while other players (LARRY SANDERS!) are better at altering shots at the rim, no one scares opponents out of attacking the rim altogether the way Howard does.

Shoot This Way – Schuhmann’s one stat for the Rockets focused on shot selection:

The stat

14.6 percent - Percentage of Rockets shots that came from mid-range.

The context

That was, by far, the lowest rate in the league. In fact, it was just a little more than half the league average (28.3 percent). Mid-range shots are the least efficient shots and the Rockets did their best to avoid them.

In a way, this reveals that Houston has one of the hardest paths forward of any team in terms of improving offensively. Shot selection is a choice, one that doesn’t require days and hours of practice to improve. If Houston is to improve it’s shooting, it will have to rely on the continued skill development of key players like Lin, Harden and Parsons. They have gone about as far as Moreyball can take them on its own.

Love and Donuts – Noam Schiller has a crush on Donatas Motiejunas, and he writes about it at Hardwood Paroxysm. However, he doesn’t let his feelings get in the way of a solid assessment of where the big man is and where he should be going:

It’s not hard to imagine Donatas’ NBA destiny as a pick-setting, floor-diving big man. Of course, for that to happen, the shot has to sort itself out. Otherwise, there will be no closeouts left to attack, and no lanes to drive through. San Antonio aside, Houston may be the best place in the league to do so, with an organization-wide commitment to the long ball that has helped guys like Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris an acceptable part of their arsenal. Motiejunas himself already has a picture perfect Houston Rocket shot chart, the mid-range shot all but eschewed, with the vast majority of his threes coming from the corner. His percentages have yet to spike accordingly, but it’s a good sign that he’s getting the right guidance.

“There Was No One In Sight” – Via Clutchfans, Omer Asik compares being the roll man in the halcyon days of last season to playing next to Howard now.

Relax, Omer. We love you no matter what.

Got any sweet links or suggestions? Email them to jeby901@gmail.com or message @EbyNews on Twitter.

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Total comments: 9
  • rockets best fan says 6 months ago

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=El_mA5bY1kc

    He seems more easy-going speaking Turkish, although not much....doesn't he?

    I never thought about it from that angle. you do have an interesting point

  • ale11 says 6 months ago

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=El_mA5bY1kc

    He seems more easy-going speaking Turkish, although not much....doesn't he?

  • ale11 says 6 months ago

    It seemed that he doesn't feel comfortable speaking in English (even though I never lived in an English speaking country, I can speak it since I was 15 and I still don't feel comfortable doing it), and that's perhaps why never replied whenever Harden barked at him last season (aside from his personality). Shyness could really surface when you are speaking a language that isn't yours

  • Sir Thursday says 6 months ago

    watching the interview on Asik reminds me of something Rahat told me when I ask him for an interview on Asik not to long ago. he said.....don't quote me..........Asik was a dull interview...he doesn't talk much and usually gives one word answers. I have to say looks like Rahat is right. trying to get answers out of him is like pulling hippo teeth.........Yes it can be done, but it's sure going to take a lot of work :lol:

    That's actually the most talkative I've seen Asik in an interview setting. Maybe he's starting to get a little more comfortable with the reporters?

    ST

  • rockets best fan says 6 months ago

    watching the interview on Asik reminds me of something Rahat told me when I ask him for an interview on Asik not to long ago. he said.....don't quote me..........Asik was a dull interview...he doesn't talk much and usually gives one word answers. I have to say looks like Rahat is right. trying to get answers out of him is like pulling hippo teeth.........Yes it can be done, but it's sure going to take a lot of work :lol:

  • Alituro says 6 months ago
    I love Omer!
    Anybody catch that sick screen he set on Ellis in the corner last night to free up Harden? Absolutely beautiful.
    Also Bev's putback was insane!
    Parsons catching Carter sleeping and going back door for the ooop!
    Red94 needs highlights daily!
    After watching last nights game, I think the biggest adjustment when pairing the two bigs is going to need to come from Howard. He has 9 years of playing C to erase from his instinct in this situation and learn how to think PF with a big C down there. It will take some time, but at least this should only be for a few minutes in only some games, so I'm not too worried. I better like the idea of splitting their minutes to preserve each's health, and surrounding them with shooters like Casspi and Parsons.
    Also, Bev and Lin play extremely well together.
  • rockets best fan says 6 months ago

    T-Williams?are you talking aboutT-Jones?

  • rocketrick says 6 months ago Nice post, Mr. Eby!

    I also believe that Motiejunas and T Williams are in the right place and at the right time. With the moves Morey made over the summer, especially re-signing Francisco Garcia and the Casspi signing, the Rockets are in a good place at the momemt without needing to rely on either Motiejunas or T Williams to play heavy minutes. I actually wouldn't mind both seeing some time (separately, of course) in the D-League as sitting on the bench for the most part during the regular season isn't going to allow them the opportunity to improve much upon their games this season. I also hope the Rockets will at least start one of these guys for a few minutes at the beginning of each half before relying on the otherwise 8-man rotation of D12, Harden, Parsons, Lin, Beverly, Garcia, Casspi and Asik.

    I haven't seen T Williams play in person yet this pre-season, but I thought Motiejunas was somewhat improved from last season the few minutes I saw him play earlier tonight. He seems more sure of himself, especially on the defensive end, and I believe that bodes well for him as the season progresses. I definitely liked his effort and overall hustle and I do believe he can become a key player for the Rockets down the road. If the injury bug hits the Rockets this season, Motiejunas and T Williams may both have to be relied upon more heavily than last season. However, it seems the pressure is off both of them at the moment as the Rockets have a pretty good 8-man rotation to start the season. And at some point, I expect Mr. Camby will make an appearance, too.
  • NorEastern says 6 months ago This ship is Howard's. Do not believe anything you read about Harden leading this team to a championship. Dwight is a HOF center in his prime. He is, as you said, a generational(?)talent.