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The Rockets Daily – September 25, 2013

The Strangest One-On-One Game Of The YearJason Friedman interviewed Jeremy Lin about his summer, specifically about his training sessions with Dwight Howard and Hakeem Olajuwon in Aspen. Something happened that we really, really need to find video of:

JCF: I also heard through the grapevine that you also had some pretty epic one-on-one games with Dwight. How exactly does that work with the obvious size discrepancy between the two of you?

JL: That was interesting (laughs). We were both basically just shooting jumpers the whole time. It was just for fun. We were messing around. I was only allowed to take two dribbles and with two dribbles I can get into the paint but I’m not going to be able to shoot over him so I shot a lot of jumpers. And then the triple-threat isn’t exactly his strong point so he ended up shooting a lot of jumpers, too.

JCF: Well what I heard was that there were a lot of rules and restrictions that had to be put in place.

JL: Yeah, I had a dribble limit. And then we had an agreement that he probably shouldn’t be allowed to just back me down and dunk on me – that probably wouldn’t have been as fun.

JCF: So who won? I guess that’s really the most important question here.

JL: I won one and he won one.

Seriously, how much money could Dwight and Lin make if they sold tickets in Houston, Taipei, Shanghai and Disneyland for people to watch them play one-on-one in the off-season? Their agents need to make that happen.

Basketball Bible – I know this is weird, but for me, the day when the new ESPN Player profiles come out is almost a sacred event. At least it was when John Hollinger used to do them–when it felt like he came down off the mountaintop with scouting reports etched in granite. Now it’s more of a round-robin of writers, and the Rockets’ profiles were penned by Bradford Doolittle, co-author of Basketball Prospectus. I have always considered these profiles to be my online NBA Bible.  They’re easy-to-remember summary of each players skills that informs snap judgements on questions like, “Should Donatas Motiejunas have taken that shot?” Obviously, sites like basketballreference.com have more in depth statistical information, but sometimes the sea of numbers is difficult to recall in the course of watching a game. They’re subscription only, and I’m not going to anger the mother ship by copying the entire contents here, but here are a few highlights:

On James Harden:

Harden’s usage rate climbed by 7.6 percent on the Rockets, and his true shooting percentage still landed right on the rarified .600 mark. That combination of volume and efficiency established Harden as one of the best offensive players in the NBA. Harden assumed much of Houston’s playmaking responsibility as well, with an assist rate that was a career best.

On Jeremy Lin:

Overall, he shoots OK from the outside if he’s attacking off the dribble, but when left open, he ranked in just the 29th percentile, per Synergy Sports. Lin’s 34 percent rate from behind the arc was also below league average, and the portion of his used possessions that terminated in 3s was way up in Houston’s system.

On Chandler Parsons:

Parsons reportedly spent much of the summer working on his post-up game, not a featured part of his arsenal thus far. However, he has the height advantage over most defenders when he plays the 3, and it will be a nice option to have if he can translate the offseason work to the regular season.

Ok, so I admit maybe I was off in my assumption yesterday that he was practicing his post moves in order to play the 4, although Doolittle also makes mention of his ability to slide over. Don’t rule it out.

On Donatas Motiejunas, who is projected as the starter:

On defense, he’s more a traditional big, comfortable defending the pick-and-roll and the post, but will need to become more accomplished on close-outs in order to pair with rim protectors Omer Asik and Dwight Howard. He also needs to cut down on fouls.

On Terrence Jones, who is confoundingly low on the depth chart, yet projects to have a higher WARP than D-Mo:

An underrated element of upside to the Rockets’ much-anticipated season is the potential for a breakout season from Jones. As a rookie, he got just 275 minutes with the Rockets, but showed off his top-shelf athleticism, His rebound rates were high on both ends, but especially on offense. He put up a high rate of steals and blocked nearly three shots per 40 minutes.

The book on Dwight was basically that he should return to being the league’s best big man while playing next to Harden on a team he likes with better health than last year.

The most interesting comparison for me was between Jones and D-Mo. If Jones can be consistent with his shot selection and defense, then he projects to have a far bigger impact than Motiejunas. On the other hand, Motiejunas is perceived to be more polished and dependable. Despite ESPN’s insertion of Motiejunas into the starting 5, it feels like a wide-open race.

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

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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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