Big Chocolate Shoulders – CSN Houston has put together a 20-minute special which is posted on the team’s official site all about Dwight’s arrival. Judging by Howard’s suit in the video, the interview was taped the day of his introductory press conference, and he said a lot of things that have been said already, but he brought up a couple of points which I hadn’t heard before:
- He said that after only a week of work with Houston’s training staff, his back was feeling better. This would be encouraging, but it really just confirms that his back continues to give him trouble and will be a concern going forward.
- When asked about the Rockets’ run-and-gun style, Howard said, “I love it, I just need to get in good shape … I think it’s going to be great for me even though I’m 27 and I’ve been around for a while just to add some more youth to my game.” Hold this thought for the next segment.
- “I have these big chocolate shoulders right here,” Dwight said, looking at the female interviewer with a grin, “and I’m going to put them shoulders to work for this city and this team, and we’re going to move forward.”
I really don’t know what to say right now. Quick, let’s rank something…
Rankage – ESPN’s Summer Forecast has Houston coming in 4th in the Western Conference next season, which sounds about right. Now, remember that thought you’re holding about Houston’s fast pace? Take it out, skip to the 5:08 mark of this video and listen to David Thorpe dishing the wisdom:
If you didn’t take the time to watch the video, Thorpe says,
“I think they have a systemic flaw in that I think Dwight Howard needs to play slow and that Kevin McHale needs to coach fast. I don’t think McHale is a great X’s and O’s guy. I think if he has a super fast system in place he kind of can manage from the sidelines, then he’s fine. I don’t think he’s a very good coach when the game slows down, and I think Dwight needs that.”
My contrarian take is that you need a decent post player to help run an offense when the game slows down, and McHale had nothing close to that to work with last year (unless you count D-Mo, which I don’t because his defense was so atrocious he couldn’t stay on the floor). But I defer to Coach Thorpe on this one, since he has more basketball knowledge in his left bicuspid than I have in my whole head.
If McHale doesn’t have the chops to get Houston’s half-court offense flowing, and if it looks like he might lose his job, the situation would be awkward since his presence was a huge draw for Howard. However, as NBA coaching staffs increasingly head toward specialized assistants as in football, it might be more likely that Morey hires on a new offensive guru as an assistant while McHale continues as head coach/motivator/figurehead.
The Lin Saga – We’ve got more context for Lin’s quotes about his struggles in confidence last season, thanks to SI.com and a video of Lin’s speech on YouTube (start at the 1:08:20 mark). Although much has been made of Beverley threatening Lin’s starting spot, it looks like Lin’s crisis of confidence really came before Beverley arrived on the team:
“On Dec. 15, 2012, I wrote in my diary: ‘I’m tired and weary and can’t wait for the season to end.’ I went on to write, ‘I haven’t been able to eat or sleep recently. I’m just tossing and turning with anxiety. What if I lose my spot as a starter? What if I have to be the back-up the rest of the season? What happens if my back-ups are actually better than me?’”
Beverley was signed on January 7, and by February, Lin was playing on a different level from the first half of the season. It looks like the issues that were holding him back are in the rearview mirror.
One final note about Lin’s mental toughness that I just stumbled across: two of the top three opponents that Lin averaged the most points against were his former teams–New York (17.5 points) and Golden State (19.5). When Lin has a chip on his shoulder, he’s hard to beat.
Bonus factoid: He really struggled against mediocre Eastern Conference teams: Milwaukee (9.0), Washington (7.5), Detroit (9.5) and Charlotte (6.5) all kept his scoring bottled up. This is either a fluke or evidence that Lin has trouble getting motivated for extremely uninspiring regular season games.
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