Rockets Daily: Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg2uIwpLMl8

Analysis and the daily links come after the jump.

In basketball, some skills must be swept under rugs and appreciated only in seedy backrooms. Flopping cannot be praised on television, or those damn Euros will figure out they were right all along. The ability to push one’s man off subtly, despite the move’s literal omnipresence in every single play in basketball at any level, will not be given its own section in upcoming Free Darko encyclopedias, but those best at it likely coincide with this league’s best performers. One of those dirty, unspoken skills doesn’t even take place on a court, or at least it doesn’t always. No, admitting defeat generally takes place in some boardroom full of glassy-eyed executives who thought everything was going to go a lot differently than this. Houston Rockets executives, meet this. It has come, and the time for making moves has as well.

There’s not much more to say about a 3-10 team that looks a lot better spread around as role players around the league and not a mismatched goulash of non-complementary talents all going through slumps concurrently. Those brilliant Daryl Morey contracts that screamed “tradeable” towards the end of their on-court effectiveness‒ trade them now, Mr. Morey. It it not that this team as presently constructed is awful; this simply cannot be the case. Though the team’s record may look more like that of a team that could win the lottery next year, the Rockets are not 3-10 bad; injuries and early season scheduling are certainly to blame for some of the team’s travails. But through 13 games, we have all learned a lot about this team. We have learned that without Aaron Brooks, ball movement is always precipitously close to ceasing to exist. Without mismatches guarding our best two offensive players left (Luis Scola and Kevin Martin), the effectiveness of both will decrease exponentially. And without the ball movement necessary to create those mismatches… I think you get it. And defense… I have never seen a Rockets defense gone so wrong. Flat-footed, uncaring, badly planned‒ the defense reeks of failure throughout, from the best defenders slower steps (Lowry and Battier simply can’t make their men work as hard as they have in previous years) to mismanagement in the lineups and defensive schemes (there is no help to be had once the initial play is made. God help the Rockets if the opposing offense actually reacts to what is being given to them).

This is not to say that this team is without its charms. Their movement will look much better against worse defenses (though only four of the team’s losses have been against teams ranked in the top 10 for defensive efficiency) when all of the team is intact, and I’d be surprised if, given the time, this team’s defense didn’t start talking more and being better prepared. None of that will change what this team is, though: mediocre, at best. Mr. Morey, you know what to do; you always have. The proposition of rebuilding strikes fear in fans’ hearts, but it shouldn’t with a talent like Morey at the helm. But because he is so good, I anticipate the nuclear option. Blow it up; it’s time.

Houston Rockets 116, Phoenix Suns 123

Box Score

Valley of the Suns

On to the links…

  • Speaking of the brilliance going on over at HP, Noam Schiller talked a bit about Derrick Rose and the ineffable argument that pervades Internet discussion of NBA players to a maddening degree: “You’re just hating.” Schiller sips a Big Gulp of Haterade and goes in on the logic of that particular remonstration: “And when the hype and anti-hype collide, that other H word comes out. Stand in the way of the hype at your own peril, lest you be called a hater. It’s a ridiculous argument, of course, one that basically admits all other arguments were lost and yet you refuse to admit discussional defeat. And yet it’s incredibly hard to prove otherwise – YOU HATE HIM, I KNOW IT, DON’T TELL ME OTHERWISE is as irrefutable as cherry pie. The worst thing about this terrible debating technique is how easily it can be thrown your way. You don’t even have to show any dislike for a certain player or team – all you have to do is rationally promote your position as to why he’s not the best ever or why the team can’t win 83 games in a season and you’re a hater.”
  • We live in an age where we as basketball viewers have had to start to learn to balance what we see and think we know from our hours, days and years of watching basketball with the cold, terrifyingly accurate statistics that suffuse every inch of worthwhile basketball discussion. Because of that, we have to deal with bizarre, completely counter-intuitive thoughts. Like, I don’t know, that David Robinson was clearly a better player than Hakeem Olajuwon. Look and argue; I’ll have more thoughts on this fairly old post from Nerd Numbers the Blog later, but I’ll throw one thing out there for now: no playoff numbers are taken into account.
  • Kobe Bryant talked to Adrian Wojnarowski in an article on which I can’t even begin to explain my feelings. You simply must read it after you check out this quote: “’In an individual sport, yes, you have to win titles,’ Bryant said. ‘Baseball’s different. But basketball, hockey? One person can control the tempo of a game, can completely alter the momentum of a series. There’s a lot of great individual talent. Oscar Robertson was a great individual talent. So was Elgin Baylor. Part of my frustration was that I didn’t want to go down that path for the second half of my career. I didn’t want to be a Dominique Wilkins. I didn’t want to be an Elgin Baylor and not win… Part of the pride within me was that I won by being the sidekick. I’m going to be the only player in league history that’s won being a sidekick – and I had a lot of responsibility – going to be the only player to do that, and being the main guy. I’m going to show you that I can do that.'”






in columns
  • Nerd Numbers

    Jacob,
    That post came about from a funny hypothetical situation; 3 v 3 half court with a team of clones, do you pick David Robinson or Hakeem? I’m happy to see people like it. Of course you may now force me to go more in depth and put together all of the playoff stats :) Looking forward to your reply.

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  • Sasaki

    The question I have been wondering when Rockets fans talk about the need to “blow things up” is…. what, exactly is there to blow up?
    We have three long-term contracts. Lowry, Martin, Scola. As Miller’s contract is only partially guaranteed in the last year, I’ll leave it out. Given that Martin and Scola have been our two best players this year, and that Lowry is still young and can hopefully start playing better (which he did to some degree yesterday), I don’t see the need to necessarily hurry in dumping them.
    Now, it does mean that you take a long, hard look at retaining Brooks and Yao, but we already knew that from the beginning of the season even without this season. So I don’t see the need to rush to blow it up, and we shouldn’t even be thinking about it until really the end of December, when hopefully Brooks and Yao get back and we have a better idea of the roster.

  • Bob Schmidt

    If all owners, managers, and coaches approached their team building efforts with the type of thinking flowing from this post, it would make sense to cancel the rest of this season and begin the playoffs next week. Why bother to see if what has been assembled as a team can function with all of the pieces in place?

    Yeah, I’m frustrated too. But, it is far too early for the official TrueHoop Rockets blog to bring on the demolition team. Sure, our record is lousy but somewhat understandable. When the Spurs and the Thunder had slow starts last year, they worked their way up and played some great ball later in the season. Impatience does not build anything but frustration in my opinion. Building any type of sports team is an inexact science, to say the least. I would rather have read something about our rebounding and Hill’s game last night… Need I say more?

  • Anonymous

    The Spurs and Thunder had young, burgeoning talent that needed to coalesce and hurt veterans that had actually achieved something. This is not an overreaction; sitting on its hands will leave this team in Pistons territory. Without seeing what can be had for Scola and Martin, trying to rebuild will prove impossible.

    This is no new idea. Various permutations of this team have been run out for at least three years. It has had its chances. Holding on to this version of the Rockets is more sentimental than forward-thinking.

  • Anonymous

    I could only watch the highlights on this (both here and on nba.com) and one thing I noticed was that without fail, every time Nash had the ball he appeared to be guarded by one of our bigs – mostly Scola, but also Hill and Miller. Did we decide we were going to switch on every screen and roll or something? I mean, I guess selection bias on the clips means that I’ll only have seen the ones where the big man was made to look like a fool, but still! There were at least 6 separate clips of Nash doing whatever he wanted against an outmatched opponent.

    Now I realise that we’ve had problems to start the season because our perimeter players have been struggling to get through the picks, so maybe this defensive strategy is worth a try, but it didn’t look like it was working…

  • Wtflife

    I do agree we should trust Morey to pursue the right option. However it seems to me that we have nothing to blow up? How can we trade Kevin Martin’s contract and get value back? I agree we could trade Scola, but should wait till a team in contention has an injury that makes him more attractive. We should try to move the expiring deals for future talent. Didn’t last year show that the maximum value of an expiring contract is often to be had at the deadline? I don’t enjoy watching bad basketball either, but if Morey trades now then he is pandering to our desire for decent basketball instead of maximizing value. I am not happy, but I don’t see a trade we make that gets us in the playoffs? We are not LA, Miami, New York or Dallas. Hopefully Morey can stockpile more picks and we get a star out of one. Sadly I think this is a multi year process we see before us.

  • Bob Schmidt

    Many pieces of this team were not on the roster 2 or 3 years ago. I took issue with “blowing up this team” because they have not yet had a chance to work together as a unit. Plus, shopping Scola and Martin is not blowing up a team in my mind.

    As you acknowledge that last years Spurs and Thunder had young, burgeoning talent, is that not an appropriate description of our present Rockets team? I’m only suggesting a bit of patience before a major demolition project…

  • Sasaki

    ……………Really. Calling this team the Pistons isn’t an overreaction? I expect this from Clutchfans, not here.
    The Pistons’s troubles come largely from 1. An incompetent coach and 2. A bunch of really, really bad contracts given out to Rip, Villa, etc. and 3. a team that is largely filled with similar guys.
    This is a diverse team, though it may have too many good rotation players, though this was the result of gambling for a star that failed due to the changed ideals for stars these days. It has no seriously bad contracts – Detroit would trade Rip for expirings if they could, but no one will do that for them. And it has potentially good draft picks.
    Now if we resign Yao and Brooks for double digits and try again? Yes, you may have a point. But until then, and only until then, we have a good opportunity to rebuild.

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  • Anonymous

    What differentiates the two teams other than this team being better built (or having a plan at all) and the future cap situation? I agree, that last point is a big one, but for the purposes of my argument, their product on the court is similar. Many players are forced to go one-on-one who can’t because of the lack of any kind of ball movement, and our defense is filled with aging veterans who cannot hold the ground they once could and a big, creamy center . Yes, that comparison seems rather harsh on our end of it, but the hope fans are holding out for this version of the team seems too far on the other end of the spectrum. My primary reason for the comparison, honestly, was the complete and utter lack of exciting young talent (which Detroit may even have over Houston thanks to Greg Monroe and Austin Daye’s presences) and bleak future if no change in direction is made.

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