The Rockets Daily – September 19, 2013

Dream SpeakHakeem Olajuwon talked at length to FOX 26 in Houston about Dwight Howard and Jeremy Lin, both of whom has has been training. Aside from calling them a “deadly” pick-and-roll combo, what I found more interesting was how Olajuwon took umbrage to being quoted as saying Dwight Howard was “raw.”

“That was insulting,” Olajuwon said. “The guy’s been in the league for 10 years. Every time I work with him, I see him train, I’m more impressed to see how much talent and how far he can take it.

“So how can you say that kind of player is raw. I was very upset because that was insulting to me and to Dwight.”

The “raw” statement came from this piece by Jason Friedman, which was published on the team’s site last month. The exact quote was:

“As good as he is right now, he’s still very raw. But he has all the tools so I’m like a kid in a candy store. That’s why we give him the fundamentals of these moves. There’s a rhythm. And once he sees it, then it’s easier to emulate and then incorporate with power. He has the power. Now we’re adding finesse to the power.

“The best big men in the game – they’re game-changers. That’s what he is. And he’s in the right situation where the coach understands it, he demands it, and Dwight can give it.”

So what do we make of Olajuwon’s claim of being misquoted?

Without having the tape of the original interview, I would say it’s a safe bet that those words did indeed come out of Dream’s mouth in that order. I would also say that he chose the word “raw” to refer to Dwight’s incredibly high ceiling rather than to his overall lack of ability. After all, he follows that statement up with saying Dwight is among “the best big men in the game.” He’s probably also peeved because two words in an otherwise complimentary statement about Howard turned into a bunch of headlines like this one.

He wasn’t misquoted, but it’s understandable why he would be upset. (Confession: I went back to check on what I wrote when I linked to that first article after it was published, just to make sure I didn’t make a big deal out of the “raw” quote. So glad I didn’t. I’ve ticked off plenty of people with things that I’ve written, but none of them were my childhood hero.)

Back to the subject of Lin and Howard–ESPN’s Amin Elhassan weighed in with his take:

 Ranketology – Another day of ESPN’s NBA Player Rankings, and another Rocket has been added to the list: Marcus Camby. At 363, he’s down more than 200 spots from his 2012 ranking. Camby is coming off what was by far the worst season of his career, and he’s 39 years old. Despite all of that, I feel like he is one of the few players in the 300-400 range of NBA rank who could still give you two elite skills (rebounding and defense) for about ten minutes per night. In my mind, that puts him ahead of the myriad vaguely skilled twenty-somethings (yo, Quincy Miller) who surround him on the list.

Kelvin Sampson and the Straight Shot – If you ever want to get a straight answer from a member of the Rocket’s coaching staff, then Kelvin Sampson is your guy. He tells it like it is, and this interview with Rockets.com is no exception.

Hey Kelvin*, how was the defensive intensity last year?

If you look at our roster, other than Omer last year, almost everybody else on our roster was in the league because of their offense. Pat Beverley and Omer were the only two guys on our team who hung their hat at the defensive end.

Oh, okay. Well how about Harden and Parsons? They’re kind of the leaders of the team, right?

But James [Harden] has to be more conscientious. Chandler [Parsons], defense has to be more important to him. Those are the guys that we’re going to challenge this year. Our perimeter defense has to be better.

Man, you make it sound like those guys are the weak links or someth–

Where we’ve got to make our biggest improvement though, Jason, is at the one, two and three, especially the two and the three — those were our biggest holes defensively.

Alright. I get it. James and Chandler are dogging it. Is there anything else you want to say about guys who aren’t really pulling their weight for half the game?

Last year we had a lot of guys who were one-way players – they were all offensive guys. We ran and ran and ran and ran, and with our pace we found that a lot of times our guys would rest up on defense. Championship teams don’t rest on defense. It has to be more important to Chandler Parsons this year to play both ends. James has got to be a two-way player. Jeremy Lin has got to be a better two-way player. Dwight will help some of that, but he was on the Lakers last year and they weren’t a great defensive team – just because you have Dwight doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good defensive team. For us, we’ll make that huge step up when our guys start taking defense more seriously and that’s our responsibility to help get them there.

Thanks, coach. Good talk.

*(These are not Jason Friedman’s actual questions, but Sampson’s quotes are real.)

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Total comments: 20
  • thejohnnygold says 11 months ago

    Buckko,

    While I have no doubt that is true--let's not assume that "butting heads" includes tossing around disparaging remarks. Like my previous post said, it is fine to disagree but let's do it on a higher level. That is the standard for Red94 and we will not tolerate anything less. I implore you to ponder the significance of that last sentence before proceeding.

    I understand that you may see this as a very small thing--and it can be--as long as moving forward we have a mutual understanding of what is acceptable and what is not. It is not ok to call people names. Period. It is not about profanity it is about respect. Posts that contain no more than contrary "You're wrong! I'm right! So there!" statements are not of that higher standard. Like I said, they will be tolerated--up to a point. No more "idiots". No more "chumps". Those words do nothing to further your point. Facts, stats, video, supporting articles, etc. do help further your point.

    All eloquence aside, the bottom line is shape up. The language will not be tolerated.

    Also, in the future please use the private message system. It exists for a reason and we prefer to keep this stuff off the message boards. Failure to do so will be seen as blatant insubordination and will be dealt with appropriately.

  • Buckko says 11 months ago I did not mean that in a negative,insulting way. Me and RBF just enjoy butting heads.
  • thejohnnygold says 11 months ago

    There's always next time chump, so keep your hopes up.

    Attention Buckko:

    Due to your insistence on not checking your private messages we will now have this conversation in a public setting. While the following will be addressed to "the community" please regard it as very personal.

    To all members and readers of Red94 we would like to remind everyone about proper etiquette and tact when posting. First, we encourage posts that are well thought out, insightful, and contribute to the overall topics of discussion in a positive way. It is fine to fall short of that, but we will not tolerate name-calling, taunting, bullying, or any other kind of childish abuse. If you find your sports forum experience unsatisfactory without these antics please excuse yourself to another site and spare us banning you from this site--which is what will happen if the issue does not get resolved.

    While we dislike losing any Rockets fan, the community as a whole is more important than any one person. So let this be a reminder that it is fine to disagree with one another, but let's try to do it more like gentlemen than like children. Thank you.

  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago

    And that's why fans don't make decisions. I'll leave those decisions to those who know basketball better than me(i.e. Morey, Sampson, etc....). But nice try. Maybe next time I'll respond to your bait tactics. Keep it up.

    :lol: :lol:

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago

    glad to see he mentioned sacrifice. that may be a necessary attitude when he is demoted to a backup role :lol:

    And that's why fans don't make decisions. I'll leave those decisions to those who know basketball better than me(i.e. Morey, Sampson, etc....). But nice try. Maybe next time I'll respond to your bait tactics. Keep it up.

  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago

    Anyone see this yet?

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9701567/jeremy-lin-humble-predicts-houston-rockets-contend

    I'm excited to see how this team comes together.

    glad to see he mentioned sacrifice. that may be a necessary attitude when he is demoted to a backup role :lol:

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago

    Anyone see this yet?

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9701567/jeremy-lin-humble-predicts-houston-rockets-contend

    I'm excited to see how this team comes together.

  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago

    I see your point.......and agree differential is probably a better measuring stick. however I still expect top ten no matter the measuring stick. there is just to much talent on this team for us not to be top ten.

  • thejohnnygold says 11 months ago

    I think Harden responds too. when I read Kevin Sampson's comments I understood what the Rockets were trying to do defensively last year. there's no doubt they tried to cut corners on the defensive end, but Sampson said they were trying to hang close to the paint to make teams shoot outside. it shined a light on why the Rockets were so poor at stopping 3 point shots. they were basically daring teams to gun them down from that range and still keep a fever pitch of play going. I think Harden is capable of playing above average defense, but was trying to save himself for the offensive end. with the help D-12 will provide both offensively and defensively it should give All Rocket players the ability the expend more energy on the defensive end because their offensive burden has been lifted to some degree. another factor is the overall depth of the team has improved drastically affording minutes to be cut which should in theory keep players fresh. if we don't crack the top ten in defense this year I'm going to be looking at McHale, because what that will mean is either he didn't use the available pieces to maximize performance or he didn't hold his players accountable.

    I agree here except for one point. While I do think we will, and should crack the top 10 in defense it is not the most important factor. Those defensive ratings are based off of points allowed per game (if I'm not mistaken) and do not account for pace. If the Rockets maintain an elite pace then we may fall below the top 10 on that scale. What I am looking for, and NorEastern's most recent post attempted to simulate this, is an increase in our overall point differential. We were able to post a solid one last year, but that was largely due to a high number of blow-out games that skewed the stat.

    I don't know if anyone recalls, but I took the time to remove any games where our point differential was 10 or more and after doing that found that the remaining games averaged out to something negligible like +.1 or something. Basically, if we weren't blowing people out (usually associated with excellent 3 pt. shooting on our part or terrible 3 pt. shooting by the oppopnent) then we were an average team as far as point differential goes.

    I will definitely be concerned if our point differential drops--to me that is a key stat when looking at championship contenders. If that is the case then the coaches may need to shoulder some blame. It won't become clear until late in the season because we need a decent sample size to really gauge that statistic.

    Given the reasons people have already stated above, I see no reason why we should not expect to post a top 10--more likely top 5--differential for the season. I would very much like to see us in the range of 101 ppg on offense with a 92-94 ppg on defense for a +9-7 range. That will be excellent!

    Keanu-Reeves-in-Bill-Ted.jpg

  • feelingsupersonic says 11 months ago

    I personally think Harden can play elite D. He got the talent, he just did not use it. From time to time (ok actually rarely, I admit), I saw good D from him.


    I agree and that dual with James when the Rockets played in Miami sticks out in my mind. This was Harden going back to Miami after the Heat had effectively turned him into a non factor the Finals before. Harden found motivation and still had enough energy at that point in the season to go head to head with James on both ends of the court in the final minutes. I believe he will be motivated this year, plus he is not carrying the weight of a franchise alone anymore and he and the Rockets have a year under their belt which is a big difference relative to where all the key players found themselves a year ago.
  • BrentYen says 11 months ago

    Has to be right, otherwise, all the points he scored will be compensated by the score of his men. lol

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago I hope you're right.
  • BrentYen says 11 months ago

    I personally think Harden can play elite D. He got the talent, he just did not use it. From time to time (ok actually rarely, I admit), I saw good D from him.

  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago

    I think Parsons responds.

    I think Harden responds too. when I read Kevin Sampson's comments I understood what the Rockets were trying to do defensively last year. there's no doubt they tried to cut corners on the defensive end, but Sampson said they were trying to hang close to the paint to make teams shoot outside. it shined a light on why the Rockets were so poor at stopping 3 point shots. they were basically daring teams to gun them down from that range and still keep a fever pitch of play going. I think Harden is capable of playing above average defense, but was trying to save himself for the offensive end. with the help D-12 will provide both offensively and defensively it should give All Rocket players the ability the expend more energy on the defensive end because their offensive burden has been lifted to some degree. another factor is the overall depth of the team has improved drastically affording minutes to be cut which should in theory keep players fresh. if we don't crack the top ten in defense this year I'm going to be looking at McHale, because what that will mean is either he didn't use the available pieces to maximize performance or he didn't hold his players accountable.

  • BrentYen says 11 months ago@myjohnlai

    I kind of missing your points. So you think

    1. Lin is a good help-defender.
    2. PB only good at mem-2-men, and can not run offense?
    3. The offense is the reason they do not do defense?
    4. They should keep their pace on Offensive end

  • myjohnlai says 11 months ago

    Lin has been helping out on defenses and that's why he has got lots of steals and blocks. It's team defense and everyone picks up the slack.
    In run-and-gun offense, they have lots of time harassing and waiting for the team who tried to slow down the tempo. For the opposite team like GS, all they have do is to put their hands up because they let go their shots so fast that there is no time to set up the defense.

    In fact, with Omar in the middle getting rebounds and challenging layups around the rim, the rest trying to spread out and go for long rebounds, the Rox were doing fine.

    Patrick was just doing man-to-man defense because he can't setup many plays. His assists number is far from being impressive. What else can he do? By spreading out, the team let the other team have more space too.

    Your type of offense limits your defense. The point is they are really fast on the court. They gambled and went for the ball more than defending single player with the mighty Omar at the middle.

    I just hope they won't slow down for the defense this season.

  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    Harden needs to become average while we need Parsons to become an elite perimeter defender.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago I think Parsons responds.
  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    So Sampson is going to challenge Harden and Parsons more this season on the defensive end. I hope they respond well.

  • Jeby says 11 months ago

    Sorry I posted this originally with the wrong date. My apologies for the confusion this will create in the forums. This thread is for September 19.