The Rockets Daily – August 13, 2013

Captain Jack Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD sent a tweet that launched about a dozen blog posts, including this one.

Cons: In Jackson’s last two seasons, he has posted PER’s of 10.71 and 8.09. His three-point percentage over the past three years has been 27 percent, 30 percent, and 37 percent. He’s 35 years old. Also, he played a significant role in this.

Pros: On January 12, 2010 I attended my first live NBA game in Charlotte. Stephen Jackson scored a career high and Bobcats single-game record 43 points just a few feet away from me. He was legitimately scary. He destroyed Shane Battier at the height of the the “No-Stats All-Star” craze just to prove that he could. Also, he played a significant role in this.

Stephen Jackson is welcome on my team any time.

Breaking Basketball – If you’re into basketball (yes) and TV shows about meth (not so much) then Steve McPherson’s article on Grantland comparing Breaking Bad characters to NBA players/teams should make your whole day. The Houston Rockets are Hank Schrader, whoever that is:

Maybe he hasn’t built his case completely on analytics or levelheaded judgment. But then again, neither has Morey, for all his reputation as a numbers guy. The numbers are just information and basketball is a flesh-and-blood game. They can help you understand what you need to do, but they can’t go out there and do it for you. Howard’s lost season in Los Angeles wasn’t something Morey could have banked on any more than Hank could have banked on Walt casually leaving the Gale-signed copy of Leaves of Grass in the bathroom. But just as the Rockets landed what looks to be a near-perfect complement to Harden’s pick-and-roll prowess, Hank has stumbled straight into a clue to the identity of Heisenberg. Sometimes, though, the last mile is the hardest.

If you watch Breaking Bad, I hope that meant a lot to you. And if you don’t watch Breaking Bad, then I apologize for the last thirty seconds of your life that you won’t get back.

My Whole Life Makes Sense Now – Daryl Morey’s Twitter account may have just explained the difference between those of us who write about professional sports and those who play them.

If you click on the link in that tweet, you’ll see that a disproportionate number of MLB players were born in August. Kids who are old for their class tend to be ahead of their peers in terms of physical development, and therefore tend to excel at sports when they are grouped together with younger kids. As Morey notes, most NBA scouts don’t take this advantage into account (as Shabazz Muhammad’s father is reportedly well aware).

I was born in late May. Trying not to be bitter.

Jeremy Hears You –  Jason Friedman interviewed Lin for the team’s official site. Guess what Jeremy Lin is working on this summer? Exactly the stuff that everyone always says he needs to work on:

JCF: So what are you primarily focused on from an improvement standpoint? I imagine shooting is probably right up near the top of the list.

JL: Yeah, shooting and doing a lot of lefty stuff – hopefully that will show that I’ve gotten a lot better at those things.

I would say another big thing has been posture. That might not sound like much, but it’s a big deal for me because it made me slower in the past. That’s more of a defensive-oriented improvement I’m trying to make.

So Lin scores a 10 on the self-awareness scale. He goes on to discuss reading the pick-and-roll, and that’s where things get nifty.

JCF: That’s an awesome answer which is too bad because now it means I’m about to make the worst segue of all time. I wanted to steal a question from Zach Lowe who likes to pose this query to point guards: We all know this is a pick-and-roll league and in Dwight Howard you now have perhaps the premier pick-and-roll roll man on the planet. So when you’re running the pick-and-roll, what are you reading, what are you keying on so that you can exploit the defense? Are you focused more on your defender, or the big man charged with defending the play?

JL: First and foremost, I look at the big man who’s guarding whoever is setting the pick. That’s the first read because if he’s not there then you don’t have to worry about everything.

Then it’s important to see how he’s playing you because if it’s a Miami trap type thing, you need to know ahead of time that, ‘I need to get the ball to my big or to some other release, and I need to do it quickly.’ Now if it’s Tim Duncan and he’s kind of “soft” showing and he’s kind of zoning you up, then you know you’re going to have a little more time to make your decision and he’s not going to give you anything right away; you’re going to have to be patient. Then there are some guys who just aren’t disciplined and you can split the screen and blow by them, or some guys are slow and you can exploit certain things. So that’s the first thing I look at.

Now the fact that Dwight Howard will be rolling down the paint is going to greatly affect how that big man plays me – how much space he gives me, how far up he gets on me, how much he commits to me – Dwight Howard is going to change all of that. Every team is going to approach it differently, but the end result is we’re going to have a lot more space to operate just by his mere presence on the floor.

The discussion continues on to how different big men guard the pick-and-roll. Lin is excellent at articulating the decisions that point guards make in a fraction of a second. I highly recommend reading the whole interview.

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About the author: John Eby got on the Rockets bandwagon in 1994 and never got off. He is a public relations guy and recovering TV journalist living in South Carolina.

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