Rockets Daily: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

  • Remember the glorious month of August, one in which the Houston Rockets seemed to be among the chosen few angling for the services of one Carmelo Anthony? Entering the fracas at this point, an unbiased observer has to wonder if the Rockets’ calls are even getting through to newly named and, most likely, newly overwhelmed Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri. The Nuggets are apparently trying to move Anthony somewhere he has no interest in in the West, as the Clippers, King and Timberwolves have emerged as the Nuggets’ preferred trade partners. None of these places provide Mr. Ihatekatstacks with the win-now roster in which Anthony seems interested (scream sweating, hopeful Rockets fans everywhere). If Anthony can suck it up and learn to live, though, NBA Fanhouse‘s Tom Ziller thinks Melo should reconsider one of these NBA cellar-dweller’s offers: “Consider this, then, a plea for Carmelo to look past 2010-11 and embrace the wonderful future he could have with a young, rising team. Sacramento, for instance, could make Denver an attractive offer without putting Tyreke Evans or rookie Demarcus Cousins in play. The Kings have modeled themselves after the Oklahoma City Thunder; like OKC, Sacramento hit the depths, drafted a superstar, drafted well again and is ready to rise. Evans isn’t Kevin Durant, but one could argue Cousins is a bigger chip than Russell Westbrook and that the Omri Cassippi-Donté Greene dragon outstrip the Thunders’ third tier. (There’s also the fact that Sactown is an hour flight from L.A., with jets leaving five dozen times a day. Also, the team is owned by the Maloofs, who have some pulls both in Vegas and the entertainment world. And they got Evans a sitdown dinner with President Obama last season. Power comes in odd shapes and sizes!)”
  • Could the Houston Rockets completely fail to improve in the upcoming season? Stat-head Greg Steele seems to think the Wins Produced by this incoming group will look a lot like those produced last year thanks to injury concerns for the players expected to have the highest usage rates (Yao Ming, Kevin Martin), middling help at the four and a detrimental off-season trade that landed Trevor Ariza in New Orleans: “Despite their personnel changes, the Rockets are right where they were at the beginning of last season — and in fact at the beginning of the last several seasons – hoping that their oft-injured star players will be healthy and productive. If Yao and Martin produce at full capacity, the Rockets have the supporting cast to the push them closer to the top of the Western Conference. Unfortunately, this is basically the same prognosis one might have offered in any of the last four seasons, with the team merely replacing Kevin Martin with Tracy McGrady. After so many changes near the end of last season and during the offseason, it looks like more of the same in Houston this season.” I think it would be hard for hopeful Rockets fans to read words less noxious, yet it confirms a primary fear of the Rockets’ chances to make a deep run this year: the one that posits that a severely limited Yao Ming might not make a 42-win-team anything more than an also-ran in a league of superpowers. Still, the Yao Ming mystery will endure until he sees some court time, and it’s not like every basketball nerd disliked the Rockets’ move to acquire Courtney Lee, especially not ones with awesome names like Bradford Doolittle: “So Houston saved money with no likely dropoff in the quality of its projected rotation for the coming season. What’s not to like?”
  • For years, Yao Ming has been the greatest and only Chinese-born NBA basketball player. Those shaking their heads and mentioning Yi Jianlian are neglecting to remember that he essentially has not existed on an NBA court, as apparitions lightly floating off-balance and generally missed jumpers from 20 feet don’t count as NBA players. The former ghost of Yi (and current strangely-outfitted cover model for Vogue) plans to augment his level of NBA existence and has shown the world, and Rumors & Rants‘ Phillips, that he certainly has the capability to do such a thing: “Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either, but the No. 6 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft may have actually improved. Despite the fact that he’s been the most disappointing Chinese import since those toys with lead in them, and he’s already been traded twice in three years, Jianlian has apparently looked fantastic at the 2010 FIBA World Championships. Yi had 26 points and 14 rebounds against Greece on Saturday and added 26 more points and nine rebounds against the Ivory Coast on Sunday. Now, I know those aren’t exactly two world powers, but the fact that he’s actually putting the ball in the basket is a stark improvement over the past few years.”
  • The Basketball Jones’ Tas Melas has a realization that so many Rockets fans came to last year while watching a certain “galloping” 7-footer and his errant, line-drive jumpers. Enjoy, Toronto.
  • A truly gifted basketball journalist should have the drive and inherent need to want to be involved and at ease with the game as physically possible, and Bethlehem Shoals is nothing if not a fantastic NBA journalist. With typical George-Plimpton-esque panache, Shoals attended a D-League workout led by former slam-dunk-champion and current D-League coach Dee Brown and nearly died several times. The read is, of course, fantastic: “I can’t say he made me a better basketball player. Brown got that making me into an athlete was a lost cause — he liked my line about trying to get on “a level,” as opposed to the next one. That didn’t mean, though, that he didn’t want me to see the game like he did. That’s why, as I struggled through ball-handling drills with my non-existent left, Dee Brown demanded I respect the routine.”
  • Apparently, no interested Houston Rocket could hit a home run in Houston Astros batting practice. Those looking for an athletically capable cutter with blazing speed to help Yao ease back in to the league, though, need look no further than the Astros’ centerfield: “Astros center fielder Michael Bourn, who claims he can dunk a basketball, was impressed with Hayes, but he said he’s ready to show off his skills on the court. ‘They were out there to have fun and they actually know more about baseball than you think,’ Bourn said. ‘Now it’s time for me to go over to their territory. I can get up there a little bit, but I have to get my legs a little rest. They’re a little tired from this season.'”

in columns
  • CarlHerrera


    Maybe I missed something, but the Greg Steele article is marked as “Opinion by Dave Berri” at the top, but indicates the author was Greg Steele at the bottom. Weird.

    Anyhow, to the extent that the article is based on Dave Berri’s formula, it should be pointed out that most of the other “stat heads” don’t think much of Berri’s book or his method so I highly doubt that any of the other stat heads (the kind that hang out on the APBR discussion board), would agree with the conclusion in an article based on Berri’s methods.

    As far as I can tell, the Berri method doesn’t value Brooks much and finds Landry to be more valuable than both Kevin Martin (for whom he was traded) and Luis Scola (who took on many of his minutes).

    We’ll see if Berri is right, but I doubt Daryl Morey’s method agrees with his since Morey traded Landry for Martin at a much higher salary and then signed Scola to a long term deal.

  • RL

    I find the article from Greg Steele somewhat ludicrous. In the past 4 years after Yao had become a dominate low post force, whenever he was able to play a significant portion of the season, Rockets had always finished with more than 50 wins. In his projection, Rockets can only win 42 games or so even with Yao playing at least 57 games. That's a bit strange. Greg need to read pass the stats a bit.

  • rahat_huq

    If the analysis is taking injury probability into account, I don’t have any problem with Steele’s estimation. Except for the renewed optimism (delusions?) that accompany each new year, is there really any reason to think anything will be different for Yao this season? In fact, I think Steele is spot on as he concedes that the Rockets could be near the top if healthy. I’m not saying Yao will necessarily go down again, but no reasonable person would expect/predict that he stays healthy.

  • rex

    It's amusing to read Rockets blogs and all their fantasies, .. er projections of upcoming success this season.

    It's kind of like listening to America's wishful delusions about how its cleaned up that Gulf oil disaster thingie. Lol.

  • Stephen

    Looking at his numbers and assuming Ariza and Landry would have been given credit for 12 wins,his WP for the Rockets last yr would have been @ 36 wins-w/out McGrady. Part of diff would be the play of Bud and Andersen and the new guys,but sometimes the sum is better than the individual parts.
    An issue is how do you account for rookies and second yr players? There is very little statistical record to go on. The Rockets have 3 second yr players in Bud,Hill and Taylor,a rookie in Patterson. If any of them have a big jump then the preseason WPs go in the toilet.
    Interesting that he doesn't like Jeffries and his WP,whereas Jeffries has had outstanding plus/minus,adjusted plus/minus numbers.

    The Yao/Tracy combo won over two-thirds of the games they played together(reg season of course 🙁 ). Can Martin/Yao duplicate that w/a better roster? If so and they play some 50 games together that's 33 or so wins and if the team plays .500 like last season,that works out to @ 49-50 wins.

  • Chest Rockwell

    dude im getting burned out on the whole melo bullshit honestly. seems like another media whore, and what is up with that whole kat stacks thing??? how funny and immature is it to even be linked to something like that. im gonna go ahead and just dance with who brung us, and hope that Morey can make a good assessment during the season and make a move if needed. I take offense to Steele calling our 4 position 'middling' … luis scola is a legit power forward in the NBA, he's absolutely killing it right now in the FIBA championships and i expect that confidence to carry over into the season, he and yao will make a great tandem since both like to take turns on the block and from around 15, taking turns on different sets, and how refreshing is it to have these so called professional analysts/sportswriters keep regurgitating the same tired injury excuse and history. Last time I checked the ROX are all going INTO the season fully healthy, i'm sure Morey and Rick are going to sit down and discuss how to keep these so-named injury concerns in limited roles to ensure a full campaign. I think that yao is going to provide a presence that is going to make it easier and more fun for the guys to play and in turn with the great chemistry i dont see these pesky “damnit we're losing and my ankle kinda hurts' injury bugs strike the team.

  • luislandry

    Ooof, no response to Ziller's dis of Landry by suggesting Casspi/Greene are somehow the third best players/prospects on the Kings?

  • Blake

    I'm a fan of the WP method, but Steele's article isn't compelling to me. His minute allocations are quite terrible. He says that both Lowry's and Budinger's minutes will drop significantly. He uses WP48 numbers only from last year for most players. Last time Scola played alongside Yao, his WP48 was higher. Kevin Martin historically produces more as well, and it sounds he will be playing this year without old injury problems (new injuries are always a possibility). He doesn't even account any minutes for Patrick Patterson. All in all, it's a poorly researched and poorly thought-out article.

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