The Rockets Daily – September 5, 2013

Know Thine Enemy – The Spurs blog Pounding the Rock has a fine preview of the Rockets’ upcoming season. A few points of interest:

  • The writer predicts Donatas Motiejunas as the starting PF with Smith backing him up, Garcia as the backup SG, and Casspi as the backup SF. Somehow that kind of traditional depth chart now strikes me as odd. More on that later.
  • On Houston’s style of play: “If they become a half court team that tries to use the post as one of its main weapons, the Spurs will eat them alive.” Yeah. Maybe, assuming that Tim Duncan is an ageless cyborg (very possible) and that Splitter and Dunacan can keep Asik and Howard from eating them alive on the boards (less possible). The writer is more afraid of what will happen if Houston runs a wide-open PnR attack, as is every team in the league.
  • On the big picture: “If everything works out and they figure out what to do with Lin and Asik, they could be a strong contender; there’s just too much talent there. But I can just as easily see them struggling to find an identity and going through a lot of roster churn on the way to a possible coaching change somewhere down the line.”

Crickets – In part three of ESPN Insider’s David Thorpe’s series on how to beat the Heat, Thorpe explains how teams will need unconventional schemes and/or future stars to topple LeBron. McHale gets a mention under the schemes section along with coaches of other teams with a shot at contention. But as for future stars? Not a single Rocket gets mentioned. No love for The Hair. No love for Patrick Beverley. No love for Lin. Nothing for D-Mo. Hopefully at least one of those guys can prove the scouts wrong (again).

Rolling in the Depth – As I alluded to above, traditional depth charts don’t seem like an adequate way to project this year’s team (or many teams for that matter). Since McHale operates on about an 8-man rotation, presenting each position as starter/backup/reserve doesn’t have much predictive value. For instance, consider how McHale will likely fill the SG spot:

  1. James Harden – starter
  2. Lin slides to the 2 as the team either goes small or Harden takes a breather
  3. Garcia fills the spot in a big lineup
  4. Brewer fills the spot in a special defensive lineup

It entirely possible that options 3 and 4 never even get used except in the case of injury or for seconds at a time at the end of quarters, in which case, the title of “backup SG” is irrelevant.

The picture gets even more muddled when you consider that Houston is likely to play some big wing players as “stretch-fours.” While Parsons is clearly a starter, I doubt it’s even safe to say he is the starting SF. He could be the starting stretch 4 with Garcia starting at the 3, or vice-versa. Parsons, Garcia, Casspi, Williams, Brewer and Covington could all conceivably slide between the 2, 3 and 4 spots depending on the situation, and Terrence Jones could play the 3 or 4. So while Motiejunas and Jones are ostensibly fighting for the starting PF spot, the competition may extend to all of those wing players as well, and those two guys could be left in the lurch. Truly, I don’t think anyone can predict what the rotation will look like until the coaches have settled on their style of play and evaluated who fills roles the best in training camp.

A Face in the Crowd – Buried in that list of wings was Robert Covington, the undrafted rookie out of Tennessee State who sat down for a Q & A with the team’s official site this week. One of the surprises from the interview was that Covington says he played out of position in college:

JCF: What do you see as your natural position?

RC: Small forward, definitely. In college I played power forward because I was one of the biggest guys on the team and my versatility allowed me to do that. I played at the three some also so that gave some people the idea that I was a tweener. But I’m a natural small forward who played power forward in college because that’s what my team needed most from me to help us win.

“Tweener.” That’s usually code for “can’t guard anybody,” right?

JCF: What are some of the things you picked up quickly that caught the eyes of the coaching staff?

RC: My defense. The way I guard my position and fight through screens. People have said that I wouldn’t be strong or tough enough, but these coaches have helped me overcome all of that. They’re so passionate about what they do, they see the upside in me, and they’re doing everything they can to bring that out of me.

Okay, now I’m interested. But can he shoot the…

JCF: I remember watching you play pick-up ball a few weeks ago. You found yourself on James Harden’s team early on and you caught fire from the outside, just draining one three after another with that effortless stroke and perfect rotation you have on your shot. At one point, James came over and was just like, ‘Man, that kid’s a sniper!’ How much does that mean to you to be on the receiving end of that sort of praise from a guy of his caliber?

RC: I mean, that to me is just great motivation. He’s seen what the coaches saw in me. That was the first time I’d set foot on the floor with those guys and it meant so much for him to say that to me that day and tell me, ‘You have great upside. You’re lights out when you get going, and that’s the style of play we need because we want shooters.’

…THREE! Now everything about Covington’s signing makes sense. The team signed the league’s most dominant big man, and immediately turned around and said, “We totally need a guy named Rob who can play and guard either forward spot and shoot from downtown.”

Welcome to Clutch City, Big Shot Rob. No pressure.

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Total comments: 29
  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    Depends on the matchup and situation. Putting up your best players doesn't always make the best lineup.

  • myjohnlai says 11 months ago

    If you read enough, you will find something insane like this.
    That's ridiculous.
    A team has to put all their major investment on the court to be competitive.
    It has to be (Asik Howard Harden Lin Parson.)

    Yet, you hear something totally unacceptable here. Good grief.

  • BrentYen says 11 months ago

    You hear something enough, you start believing in it.

    This is very true......

  • Buckko says 11 months ago You hear something enough, you start believing in it.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago I think coaches aren't swayed by popularity, but I could be wrong.
  • Buckko says 11 months ago I didn't say parsons gets voted in, I said parsons popularity might help him get a coach's pick for reserves. Come on and use your head, parson over KD, that's insanity.
  • thenit says 11 months ago Yea there are so many girls watching basketball that they will vote parsons in. Lin might get in because of the Asian fans, but there is no way parsons gets more votes than Durante throughout his career. I will put my house on that.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago Coaches don't care much about popularity as much as you seem to think they do. And Parsons is not as popular as Durant, so his popularity is not that relevant.
  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    I'm very interested to see Parsons and Leonard go head to head next year. Just about every quantifiable metric says that Leonard is a better player. But I have no doubt that if Parsons was determined to kick Leonard's butt for a night, he would do it. He has a competitive edge that I don't think is there for Leonard. It's kind of like how Carmelo is never as good as Kobe and LeBron over the course of a season, but he can beat anybody in a head to head game.

    Another thing I forgot to mention for allstar selections is it is a popularity contest which means Parson could have an advantage when he is a very likable guy and has a the pretty boy crowed so you know the girls will be giving him a boost even though coaches pick the reserves, the popularity alone will help him. Also if Lin pulls off 13&8 along with improved defense and 40% from the 3. I could easily see him get an allstar selection due to the growing chinese and asian crowed when he was rather close to beating out Chris Paul in voting last season.

  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    You might wanna consider that came off a .398/.271 FG /3 ..... granted, the volume of it is enough to take it away from being the worst true. but having a negative offensive winshare is impressive in its own way.

    It still isn't anywhere close to the worst and I'm sure 30 out of 30 GMs would take that for a rookie season.

  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    They said Covington defended well in the summer league, even though it is still summer league, I'll take any glimmer hope that says he is better than Marcus Morris. Also were you comparing Canaan and P-Bev to T-mac and Brooks?Canaan is no where near as talented and fast as Brooks and Beverley is not a facilitator or creative SG

    One more thing "one of the worst rookie seasons ever was Russell Westbrook" that was sarcasm right, because 15/5/5 is not a bad rookie season by any stretch.

    You might wanna consider that came off a .398/.271 FG /3 ..... granted, the volume of it is enough to take it away from being the worst true. but having a negative offensive winshare is impressive in its own way.

  • Jeby says 11 months ago I'm very interested to see Parsons and Leonard go head to head next year. Just about every quantifiable metric says that Leonard is a better player. But I have no doubt that if Parsons was determined to kick Leonard's butt for a night, he would do it. He has a competitive edge that I don't think is there for Leonard. It's kind of like how Carmelo is never as good as Kobe and LeBron over the course of a season, but he can beat anybody in a head to head game.
  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    He showed he can be in the post season but his stats during the regular season were far less, however if he can carry his post season stats over the entire season, I would give it to him. Just don't count out Parsons which I predict he will have a stat line of 17ppg 6 boards 5 assists, improved defense and 40%+ from the 3, and at least 80% from the line.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago

    Parsons is not as good rebounder or defender, but he is still a good defender, rebounder, assists, shooter, a bit smarter basketball IQ, and scorer. However Leonard has a much higher ceiling. We will have to wait and see how they compare come their junior seasons.

    I think Leonard makes the all star team this year as he's the second best SF in the West behind KD. I don't see that for Parsons. I guess we're just going to have to agree to disagree. Don't get me wrong I like Parsons, but Kawhi is a borderline all star this year and a future superstar(in San Antonio's system).

  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    Parsons is not as good rebounder or defender, but he is still a good defender, rebounder, assists, shooter, a bit smarter basketball IQ, and scorer. However Leonard has a much higher ceiling. We will have to wait and see how they compare come their junior seasons.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago

    Better all around player? WHAT??? Unless you are talking about pre-draft. If you're talking about right now, I'd worry.

  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    I don't know how Leonard would fit though. Considering they were already going for Parsons. Leonard is a far better defender and rebounder while Parsons is a better shooter, glue guy, and all around player. They needed a PF and they knew their SF was going to be Parsons so they risked it.

  • Jeby says 11 months ago

    They said Covington defended well in the summer league, even though it is still summer league, I'll take any glimmer hope that says he is better than Marcus Morris.[/color>


    I'm not sure if Covington to Morris is a great comparison. Morris was an extremely accomplished college player with a tremendous array of offensive skills. Those skills just didn't translate well to the pros, or lend themselves well to playing a role like "stretch four" or "3-and-D." Covington is a sweet shooter with a full three inch advantage over Morris in wingspan, and he has a 1/2 inch higher standing reach, despite being almost an inch shorter. He also racked up far more steals and blocks in college than Morris.

    I guess the reason the comparison isn't fair is because I have no doubt that Morris is a better basketball player, but there's a good chance Covington will be more successful at filling his role on a team. Kind of like how Morris was better than Kawhi Leonard coming out of college, but the Rockets SHOULD HAVE TAKEN LEONARD AND EVERYONE KNEW IT! So bitter about that.
  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    Agreed, I've read some people saying we can get aldrige for asik, jones, and a pick. Besides the fact aldrige doesn't even fit our team, people really need to come to their senses.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago As Rockets fans, we tend to overvalue Rockets players and undervalue other teams' players. At least in terms of some trade scenarios I've read.
  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    They said Covington defended well in the summer league, even though it is still summer league, I'll take any glimmer hope that says he is better than Marcus Morris. Also were you comparing Canaan and P-Bev to T-mac and Brooks?Canaan is no where near as talented and fast as Brooks and Beverley is not a facilitator or creative SG

    One more thing "one of the worst rookie seasons ever was Russell Westbrook" that was sarcasm right, because 15/5/5 is not a bad rookie season by any stretch.

  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    Morris is a good comp, in the sense that the theoretical player Marcus Morris is good, but the real Marcus Morris falls considerably short of that due to inconsistency and god awful defense.

    Can Covington be closer to the theoretical version than Morris ? I hope so, but we'll have to see, the most telling part would really be if he can defend, which is hard to ask for any rookie off the bat.

  • Stephen says 11 months ago

    Gotta be honest,when I read the Covington article I thought Marcus Morris.
    Looks like Morey got a Morris replacement for 1/4 of the price.

    As for Cannan,once he gets called up in Feb,he'll see a lot of time in a small ball line-up next to Beverly. Ultimately,the Rockets may be thinking of using him like Morey envisioned Brooks next to T-Mac,a guard to bring up the ball,then space the floor for the creative SG.

  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    I don't think we can say anything about rookies for sure until we see them play a bit quite frankly, I like the theoretical player in Covington more than the theoretical player Canaan, but really, no body here really has a clue how close or far the real Covington and Canaan is from the theory, they could be better or worse easily.

    And even then, one of the worst rookie seasons ever was Russell Westbrook ... so... really.... just wait and see, I wouldn't be surprised if they spend the entire season in d-league or play a lot either way.(granted I would be a lot more surprised to see Canaan play a lot.)

  • Buckko says 11 months ago You need a player to contribute to both sides of the floor and Covington can already do that and has the potential to get far better at it. While Canaan won't even be close to Beverley or Lin on the defense side unless he learns to become a very smart and harassing defender.
  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago

    The reason I would take Covington over Canaan is Covington has the body and athleticism for the NBA while Canaan is short and slow and needs to develop a game to compensate for that.

    either of these players will feed off open shots created by others.....what they need to be able to do is knock those shots down and they will be just fine. we don't need them to be stars.......just capable shooters and that's something I think both are capable of

  • Buckko says 11 months ago The reason I would take Covington over Canaan is Covington has the body and athleticism for the NBA while Canaan is short and slow and needs to develop a game to compensate for that.
  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago



    I really see a great future for Covington, honestly better than Canaan. Young and the center however look like they will get cut quickly in training camp.

    I'm really intrigued by Covington. I think he will surprise a lot of people. sometimes when players come from small schools they get overlooked by some GMs. I think this kid may be a diamond in the rough.........I also believe Canaan may be a diamond in the rough too. sometimes the system a player plays in can make all the difference in the world. the right fit can be more important than minutes played. players must be in systems that bring out the best of their talents. now there are always some exceptions, but most players must be put in a position to succeed. both of these players are clearly shooters and because of the makeup of our team they will be in positions that are tailored to their talents. I expect them to prosper because of that fact

  • Buckko says 11 months ago

    I really see a great future for Covington, honestly better than Canaan. Young and the center however look like they will get cut quickly in training camp.