Awkward – Woj reports that the Rockets will play the Lakers on November 7 in Houston. Look forward to a confrontation somewhere between Hollywood Hogan v. The Rock and bumping-into-your-ex on the intensity scale.
Motivation– Jason Friedman wrote a fine profile of Chandler Parsons’ transformation from second-round pick to sports celebrity. A bit of it focuses on Parsons’ Jordanesque tendency to use perceived slights to motivate himself. But the high point is this:
General Manager Daryl Morey’s tongue-in-cheek pre-draft analysis of Parsons in retrospect: “The key to us drafting him was we thought based on the pre-draft interview that one day Dwight Howard would want to play with him. You can’t pass up that kind of value with the 38th pick.”
I think that was Dork Elvis doing a spot-on impersonation of himself, which is hard to do without a healthy amount of self awareness. The article also touches on Parsons’ unique relationship with McHale.
“He’s got this little runner that he shoots that he knows I hate,” McHale recalls with a chuckle when asked to shed some insight into the characteristics of their relationship. “He works on it with (Rockets assistant coach) J.B. Bickerstaff and I ask Chandler all the time: ‘Why do you work on that shot? Don’t ever work on that shot. I hate when you shoot it.’ So when he shoots it in the game and it goes in, he just gives me a look and just nods his head with that smile of his. And of course when he doesn’t make it – which is often – he never looks at the bench. So it’s a dreadful occasion when he makes one of those because that means I’ve got to hear about it for the next week. That pretty much sums him up. He likes to have fun out there.”
Can you think of a time when a role player–and a young one–gets that kind of leeway from his coach? That’s a level of trust that is usually only owned by superstars. Let’s just hope that doesn’t lead to conflict if Harden or Howard don’t get the same degree of confidence from McHale in the future.
What To Expect When You’re Expecting – (Note: It’s a long time until the Dwight-led Rockets squeeze out into the light of their first regular season. To fill some of that time, it’s worth taking a look back at some past articles of the travails and triumphs of Dwight that fans should prepare for going forward. This is the third entry.)
Dwight may be uncomfortable in the biggest market (and really, for basketball, L.A. is the biggest market because the Lakers don’t compete with two football teams like the Knicks do), but does that mean he shrinks from the biggest moments? Lets compare his regular season stats to the playoffs (all stats from BasketballReference.com):
Career Regular Season: 18.3 pts, 12.9 reb, 2.2 blk, 1 stl, 1.5 ast, 3.1 TO, 59.8 TS%, PER: 22.2
Career Playoffs (improvements in bold): 19.7 pts, 14.1 reb, 2.7 blk, 0.8 stl, 1.4 ast, 3.3 TO, 61.8 TS%, PER: 23.4
So at first blush, it looks like Howard plays much better when it counts. But if you discount Howard’s first two seasons, when he was still developing and his team didn’t make the playoffs, we get a different picture:
Grown-Up Dwight’s Regular Season Stats (Areas in which he still managed to improve in the playoffs are in italics): 19.6 pts, 13.4 reb, 2.4 blk, 1 stl, 1.5 ast, 3.3 TO, 60.5 TS%, 23.3 PER*
(*this PER is an average of the averages–a statistical sin. I don’t have the willpower or mathematical acumen to calculate it perfectly. Sorry.)
Playoff Dwight is almost exactly the same as Regular Season Dwight. He’s just slightly more efficient and better on the boards. Considering that the playoffs typically bring out tougher defenses and better big men, the fact that his offensive and rebounding numbers stay strong can be considered a net positive. Just don’t expect him to go supernova.
Moment of Zen – As The Basketball Jones points out, in the Houston Rockets’ big man pantheon, Dwight kind of looks like the runt. If he thinks about it too hard, he could become the first 6’10” man with a Napoleon Syndrome, which would be fun for everybody.
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