Thoughts on Thunder – Rockets

2009 December 19
by rahat huq
  • Tracy McGrady enters the game with around 7:30 left in the 1st quarter, and right away, like we have seen the last few nights, the team looks for him immediately.  I actually think this is very telling.  Were it the case that, as some have suggested, management was simply going through the motions in activating him (in hopes to showcase for a trade), I don’t think you would be seeing the club look so intent on allowing him to ISO for numerous possessions each game.  I personally think that the eagerness to isolate McGrady indicates that management either hopes to incorporate this dynamic into the offensive attack or, at the very least, do its due diligence in seeing if it can ever again be an effective option.
  • With 6:08 remaining in the 1st, McGrady dribbles to his left and misses the pull-up jumper.
  • With 5:39 remaining in the 1st, McGrady drives to his left and misses the right handed layup.  He looks incredibly slow on the drive with zero burst.
  • With 4:12 remaining in the 1st, McGrady receives the pass inside and misses the layup.
  • With 3:53 remaining in the 1st, McGrady makes a very simple play by driving in slightly and then hitting the open Trevor Ariza in the corner for a 3.
  • With 3:23 remaining in the 1st, McGrady gets posted up by Jeff Green.  McGrady cuts Green off on his initial move to the baseline but then Green scores on the counter move with a short hook.  McGrady showed good lateral movement in cutting off Green but was unable to recover.
  • With 3:05 remaining in the 1st, Tracy backs in Westbrook and then passes out to Battier for a missed shot.  I thought this was a pretty interesting play because it wasn’t by design.  How much does it affect the team’s overall offensive efficiency when a player stops the flow of the ball on his own (ie: plays that are not ISO’s by design)?  Much is made of Tracy’s ball-stopping ways.  But in most cases, he stops the ball not to look for his own shot but rather to set up a teammate.  I would be interested in seeing an evaluation that compared the team’s scoring efficiency in situations where the ball is stopped with its scoring efficiency on plays when a shot is taken off the movement of the ball.
  • With 2:30 remaining in the 1st, Tracy steps right in front of a driving Westbrook in the lane and disrupts the play as Westbrook throws the ball off the glass.
  • With 2:08 remaining in the 1st, McGrady hits a long 2.  However, the highlite of this sequence was that he was able to kick the ball out from the post against a double team across the court to an open teammate in the corner.
  • With 1:12 remaining in the 1st, McGrady again challenges Westbrook and disturbs the shot.
  • With 8.9 seconds remaining in the 1st, McGrady doesn’t challenge Westbrook at all right at the basket.
  • McGrady misses the last shot of the quarter.
  • I’ll have an in-depth assessment of McGrady’s return sometime early next week.
  • Vintage Clyde with 1:27 remaining in the 2nd as Chuck Hayes actually attempts a dunk and misses.  Clyde excuses the miss remarking that “he went up with bad intentions.”
  • Westbrook – He’s one of the most impressive physical specimens we’ve seen at the point guard position and has basically been Aaron Brooks’ worst nightmare since they both entered the league.  However, and I realize that this may be a bit unfair on the basis of just a few games of watching him, I’m not sure he has elite level potential.  Offensively, he has maybe the best size in the league and great athleticism, but he doesn’t seem to have that extra gear off the dribble that we’ve seen from Derrick Rose (before the injury) and Brandon Jennings.
  • Jeff Green – He is one of the most versatile young players I have seen thus far this year.  I was very impressed with his ability to both fluidly operate from the post and also score off the dribble, especially at his size.
  • The Thunder are probably what I consider the most intriguing matchup in the league for the Rockets.  I say this not due to any on-court reasons, but because they are almost the absolute converse of the Rockets.  Both teams are young, but while the Rockets feature overachievers scrapped in later rounds, the Thunder are essentially the ‘model’ privileged young team in basketball, blessed with high growth prospects in the form of former high lottery picks.  The Rockets seem to dominate the head to head matchup, but it will be interesting to compare the trajectory of these two teams in the coming years as the Rockets continue building from their unique philosophy and the Thunder reap the rewards from the growth of their budding young stars.
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  • Lars
    You do Shane an injustice by not giving him mention for his terrific play on both sides of the court!
  • luislandry
    Since you mention commentators, I was watching the Bulls-Hawks game and heard this gem. Basically, Deng got hit coming down with the ball, but the guy said "...Deng gets fired" instead of "fouled". I noticed it, and apparently so did the commentator, because when they had a replay 20 seconds later, he says "you could see Deng gets sort of fired out of there", which made no sense at all as a pitiful attempt to make sense of his previous comment. The complete ridiculous comment and the attempted "subtlety" cracked me up.
  • durvasa
    Chuck Hayes was a beast this game. And he's made 3 outstanding outlet passes in the last two games. I know a lot of people think of Chuck as being a no-skills offensive player, but other than putting the ball in the basket as a scorer he does a number of things very well on the offensive end. For a C, he's an above average ball-handler in transition. He's a very good passer from the high-post. He sets terrific screens. He's one of the better offensive rebounders in the game. And he's one of the best outlet passers. So that's at least 5 things he does well on offense.
  • rahat_huq
    I was going to mention Hayes' offense in my post but decided to save it for another post. The thing that stands out to me is that he actually isn't 'unskilled' as it is described. He has decent footwork and a nice arsenal of moves. His problems stem from the fact that he's 6'6 and has zero shooting touch.
  • rahat_huq
    Lars - Have it on my list to highlight Shane at least once in the coming weeks. Want to pick the right matchup though.

    luislandry - lot of gems on a nightly basis in the nba
  • r13
    are you going to change the name of the site to 'mcgrady94'? this is absurd! he is just another player. are you going to peer through his window and rifle through his bin after the game? quit obsessing on t-mac, he been a liability for the rockets lately!!
  • Ish
    Are you an idiot? ???

    Of course we have to pay attention to tracy's return retrd... he is a 23 million dollar player who can affect the course of the rockets either through trade, chemistry, or all star play so by monitoring his play we get to see his progression and whether the rockets should keep him or try to trade him.

    please learn basketball and dont refer to a 23 million dollar player who was once the best player in the league as just another player. He has the potential to either ruin our team or elevate them to the playoffs and that is why he is so important because his potential to come back or be traded for an asset makes him supremely valuable and highly important to monitor
  • rahat_huq
    You took the words right out of my mouth. I'm not interested in providing AP recaps or game summaries. Those can be found elsewhere. The Tracy McGrady situation right now is the single most significant issue impacting this franchise's future at the moment. He can ruin the team, help them, be traded for nothing, or be traded for beneficial assets. I think that warrants a close look.
  • r13
    of course pay attention to t-mac. but the article commences when he enters the game! that is over the top. they have been taking out top teams without him. why do you think adelman was reluctant to put him on the floor? you are reinforcing the AP press outlook on the rockets by constantly harping on about t-mac and understating the other players (noteworthy) achievements. @Ish your insults make you appear to be a fool. and by the way, its been for a few posts now that you are obsessing over t-mac, its boring, thats all.
  • Ish
    you lack of common sense warrants insults but your right perhaps i shouldnt respond to fools like you.. like i said earlier if you dont understand how a 23 million dollar player who could potentially change the team (for better or worse) then you should probably reevaluate your inductive state of reasoning.

    I can tell you that me and at least 10 others i know really appreciate the look into tmacs return, especially working people who cant catch every minute of every game. furthermore, rahat does a great job addressing other players and im sure he will continue to look at players like shane and ariza in a further detail as he sees an emerging trend over the season.
  • ghost of cassell
    The fact that the AP mentions T-Mac and Yao's absences has nothing to do with "outlook." It has to do with the fact that each of their articles are written for a broad audience, who don't follow the Rockets as closely as the readers of Red94. Putting a Rockets victory or loss into context for a new reader requires mentioning that two All-stars equalling $40 million in salary are in street duds.
    What's more, I can read all about the Rockets who put up big numbers in the AP recap, but I will only find a detailed analysis of T-Mac's play here. That's why I read Rahat.
  • Alituro
    I love the daily breakdown of McGrady's 8 minute stints each game. Right now there is no more important issue concerning the Rocket's this season. We are blessed with a coach and a team that is able to take 8 minutes early in each game to test the waters and provide a missed training camp for an outstanding player, and not let the game get away from them during those minutes. Does anyone here with any inside info know when we can expect him to be any part of the regular rotations? If Bud is out a few games do you think it will be sooner rather than later? The reason I am concerned, is yes we are seing playing time from him, but he is being used only on a purely chronicalogical basis. Part of his evaluation absolutely has to be made based on situational implantation into the lineup both for the Rockets' and T-mac's sake. 8 minutes in the 1st qtr against purely random matchups ans situations can hardly be construed as basis for an accurate evaluation. When do we see how he performs under a little more pressure? From his past, we all know he thrives in high pressure situations.

    As far as Chucky goes... What a great ball player. He has the best positioning and moves away from the ball, setting picks, etc.. And is the #1 defender in the league IMO. When he has the ball, he always plays within the scope of his limitations which he seems acutely aware of. As long as he sticks to his little reverse layups, baby hooks, and superb outlet passing and doesn't start jacking up 3s or trying to dunk on Shaq, then there's nothing more you can ask for out of him. He gives his all, all of the time.
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