The Rockets Daily – October 3, 2013

Euro-stepology – I love everything about this clip from Clutchfans of Dwight Howard talking about the Euro-step. You’ve got one All-star marveling at another All-star’s skills, one of the league’s best defender’s talking about what is going through his mind as he tries to guard an unstoppable move, and some self-effacing video game-related humor. Love.

(Quick update: Howard was back at practice on Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday with a sore foot.)

In this article on the team’s site about Harden’s signature move, Jason Friedman quotes some of Howard’s analysis from the video, and Harden explains the backstory behind the move.

“I can’t remember when my first one was,” he admits. “I worked on it after college. I was just taking it for a joke in the beginning, just messing around with it in pick-up games or games with friends. Once I realized the move actually worked and I could be creative with it, then I just took it from there and tried to master it.

“To be honest, I didn’t even notice it until two years ago when I started getting to the free throw line a lot more and just started getting to the basket a lot easier – it just kind of opened my entire game up.”

Like penicillin and vulcanized rubber, James Harden’s Euro-step was one of history’s happy accidents.

Already GoneB.J. Young has been cut. There are now 18 players in camp with 15 roster slots left. Jordan Henriquez may be next, but ailments that have kept Asik and Camby out of practice have given him a role in camp.

Looking UpSI.com’s Rob Mahoney lists Houston as having one of 5 teams with improving defenses for the coming season. His reasoning follows what has been said before: the addition of Howard with Asik moving to the backup role gives the team a defensive anchor for all 48 minutes. He also provides a good reminder about Howard:

All of this gives Howard the benefit of the doubt as far as his health and defensive commitment, but I feel safe in betting on him to have a bounce-back year. Even in lesser form last season with the Lakers, Howard was capable of game-changing defense in the paint, but simply not to the same level we’ve come to expect. He should be positioned to better approximate that previous performance with a full offseason to rest his back and a consistent chance to develop on-court chemistry with his teammates.

Plenty of observers have said Howard looked a step slow last year. Many fans listen to that and hear “Dwight Howard is a defensive liability.” Not so. Being “a step slow” means Howard goes from being the most destructive defensive player of the past 15 years to being an elite defensive center.

Beating a Dead Horse – I’m not done defending Dwight Howard today against all real or imagined critics. Again at SI.com, Ben Golliver looks at the most intriguing roster battles of the year, and Houston’s big man situation comes up. So do the RAPM numbers for Howard and Asik, which I’m sure I had seen before but hadn’t really noticed:

Both players ranked in the top 20 for regularized adjusted plus-minus (RAPM) last season, and both were game-changing presences last season: Houston’s defensive efficiency was 5.7 points better with Asik on the court, and the Lakers were 6.1 points better with Howard in the lineup.

As bad as the Lakers were (compared to expectations) last season, RAPM reveals that Howard’s defense was really the only thing keeping them afloat. Although I’m not quite sure where Golliver gets his RAPM data–the only list I could find was here–the numbers I can see show Howard ranking sixth in the league with a +5.5, entirely on the strength of his defense. The next best Laker was Kobe Bryant, with a distant +3.2. Bryant predictably took all the credit for the Lakers’ strong end to the regular season because of his scoring, and Howard took all the blame for losing early in the season and in the playoffs.  Their RAPMs reveal that Howard’s season in L.A. was the NBA equivalent of the Footprints in the Sand poem.

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

View this discussion from the forum.

This entry was posted in columns and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
Login to leave a comment.
Total comments: 4
  • Jeby says 6 months ago

    Yeah, it's ironic that Kareem said that right after I wrote the defense of Dwight. No daily today because Rahat's post on practice really covered everything that needed to be said, but Henry Abbott's reaction to Kareem's criticism of Howard is right on the money (http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/63101/kareem-abdul-jabbar-talks-dwight-howard).

    Abbott rightly argues that Dwight is extremely effective despite looking clumsy. One thing unmentioned by First Take in the comparison of offensive output by other great bigs is that Howard is operating under different illegal defense rules for defenders that have made it much harder to go to the post 30+ times per game (as Ethan Sherwood Strauss has written some fascinating articles about).

    Look, Dwight isn't as skilled as he could or should be. But He also managed to become the league's most dominant center and a sure-fire HOFer despite only being 6'9." That demands some respect.

  • rockets best fan says 6 months ago

    Rather than talk and complain about La La land, the best thing for the Rockets and D12 to focus on is to become the best basketball team possible, and all the rest will take care of itself.

    Still, I too have lost any remaining respect for Jabbar.

    I agree about the best course of action for the Rockets is to worry about themselves and ignore LA. however the venom flowing out of LA over the lost of D-12 is getting pretty ugly. never have I seen such apreviously proud franchise whine like a bunch of toddlers who had their favorite toy taken away. it's disgusting. I don't like the Lakers butI have up to now always considered them a class franchise, but their classless acts over the last couple of months has totally trash that opinion

  • rocketrick says 6 months ago

    totally agree it's time to defend D-12 :PI saw an interview with Stephen A. and Skip Bayless on first take today with Kareem..............I am floored :huh:this is sour grapes. Kareem was one of my favorites of all time, but today he fell a couple of levels to me and it's disgusting. check it out.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fV4sUVCgddA&feature=youtu.be

    notice how he says D-12 has low basketball IQ then turns around and says he's a bright young man.............I can't respect a player who would say some bullsh^t like this. while I know his feelings were probably hurt because D-12 left his beloved city and didn't want to workout with him but instead chose Dream.............he sounds like a baby crying for his bottle. Kareem loss my respect today.


    Rather than talk and complain about La La land, the best thing for the Rockets and D12 to focus on is to become the best basketball team possible, and all the rest will take care of itself.

    Still, I too have lost any remaining respect for Jabbar.
  • rockets best fan says 6 months ago

    totally agree it's time to defend D-12 :PI saw an interview with Stephen A. and Skip Bayless on first take today with Kareem..............I am floored :huh:this is sour grapes. Kareem was one of my favorites of all time, but today he fell a couple of levels to me and it's disgusting. check it out.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fV4sUVCgddA&feature=youtu.be

    notice how he says D-12 has low basketball IQ then turns around and says he's a bright young man.............I can't respect a player who would say some bullsh^t like this. while I know his feelings were probably hurt because D-12 left his beloved city and didn't want to workout with him but instead chose Dream.............he sounds like a baby crying for his bottle. Kareem loss my respect today.