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The Rockets Daily – September 11, 2013

Patrick’s Day – Jason Friedman at rockets.com continues his series of interviews with each member of the roster, landing on Patrick Beverley this week. Each of these stories has been insightful, and the comments from the Tasmanian Devil are no exception. He talks some about putting on some muscle weight to help him get to the rim, then makes a prediction:

JCF: When fans see you in training camp and preseason, what do you think they’ll see about you that’s markedly different than the last time they saw you out on the court?

PB: I think they’ll see me more in attack mode. When you come to a new team, especially in the middle of the season, you don’t want to come in and be ball dominant. So this year you’re going to see me attack more and stay aggressive over the course of the game.

Despite Beverley’s athleticism and all-around aggressiveness, his ability to attach the rim was a legitimate weakness last year. He averaged 2.1 free throw attempts per 36 minutes (less than jumpshooters Steve Nash or Ray Allen). By comparison, Lin averaged 3.7 attempts, and Harden was the king of this stat with 9.6 attempts per game.

However, he shot a respectable 60 percent at the rim, and a stellar 50.9 percent from 3-10 feet–one of the most difficult shot distances in the league. But despite being an effective finisher and and 82 percent free throw shooter, he took more threes all season (120) than shots near the basket (100). Beverley is a decent three point shooter (36 percent), but not good enough to park himself outside the arc and let his elite athleticism go to waste. The next question will be whether he has the court vision to match his athleticism and aggressiveness–an area in which Lin still has an advantage.

Lin’s assist percentage was 29.4 percent last year, with a turnover percentage of 18.8. Beverley’s percentages were 24.2 and 17.5, respectively, revealing Lin’s edge as a creator (all stats from BasketballReference.com). With Howard in the fold, the ability to hit the roll man may prove even more valuable to the team than last year.

Back to Friedman’s article, the most surprising statement from Beverley was about one of his teammates:

JCF: I know you’ve played with just about everyone on the roster at various points of the summer – some guys you’ve obviously seen more than others – but who’s stood out and impressed you the most?

PB: I’d say Reggie Williams. Greg Smith is in incredible shape and a beast, and I’ve been playing with Terrence Jones all summer, but the guy I’ve played with who’s surprised me is Reggie. People don’t really see what he does off the court. He’s an extremely hard worker. We spent some time in Chicago together and worked out a lot together. I’m excited to have him.

Add that stick to the fire of speculation about which of the approximately 347 wing players on the roster will grab Kevin McHale’s broken pool cue and find a place in the organization.

Covetousness – The comment forums have been full of speculation about potential trades for an All-Star power forward, and count me in with the group that sees LaMarcus Aldridge as a good fit. Of course, the big knock on him is that he shoots lots of long twos (a skill that I believe will increase in value as defenses evolve to take away moneyball shots), instead of threes. Well, in this interview with Truehoop’s Henry Abbott, Damian Lillard says he thinks the big man will start launching from beyond the arc. If he does, then his value around the league would skyrocket. There are about zero 7-foot guys on the planet who can block shots, post up, rebound respectably and shoot threes.

That being the case, I would expect that Morey is pushing to trade for him before the start of the season at a discount, and Portland is holding out and hoping for a king’s ransom (including a top-ten lottery pick) come February.

Mockery – Chad Ford has released his first 2014 Mock Draft (ESPN Insider). He projects the Rockets taking Jarnell Stokes (PF – Tennessee) with the 23rd pick, based on a forecast record of 53-29. He describes Stokes as “NBA ready.” A couple of thoughts:

  • Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones need to take this as motivation, because it is a clearly a vote of no confidence in the ability of either one of them to nail down the starting spot.
  • Morey typically goes for talent over need. Stokes is rated as number 21 on Ford’s Top 100 Board. Unless he is rated even higher than that on the Rockets’ internal big board, chances are that the Rockets take a player with greater potential who happened to slip. Think someone like Gary Harris at Michigan State–a talented guard who could slip due to questions about his size (probably wouldn’t slip to 23, but still).

Got any sweet links or suggestions? Email them to jeby901@gmail.com or message @EbyNews on Twitter.

View this discussion from the forum.

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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