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@  majik19 : (13 October 2015 - 09:09 PM) Apparently we claimed Arsalan Kazemi off waivers from the Hawks today... yet another undersized (6'7") power forward for Morey's cupboard.
@  Mario Peña : (10 October 2015 - 01:12 PM) If your part if the Red94 Fantasy Basketball League check the thread to vote for the date and time for the draft event. Thanks y'all!
@  jorgeaam : (07 October 2015 - 08:47 PM) Guys we need 1 more owner for the Red94 fantasy league, if interested please comment on the post in the fantasy basketball thread
@  slick shoes : (07 October 2015 - 06:50 PM) Kobe ranked one spot higher than Ariza? Is this based on legacy or...??
@  slick shoes : (07 October 2015 - 04:13 PM) It was hard to keep up with both the Astros and Rockets at the same time. Should be interesting on Thursday with the Texans and Astros on simultaneously.
@  Mario Peña : (07 October 2015 - 04:09 PM) It was fun to have the Rockets on last night! Right now I'm watching the Celtics versus Milan and Alessandro Gentile is impressive.
@  jorgeaam : (06 October 2015 - 07:47 PM) Well, thinking twice about it, I'd rather have him score less and have the team as a whole do better. Lawson should take a lot of his load off
@  jorgeaam : (06 October 2015 - 07:47 PM) Loving that, hope he hits 30 PPG this year
@  thejohnnygold : (06 October 2015 - 06:15 PM) Someone is feeling confident :) : LINK
@  jorgeaam : (06 October 2015 - 05:54 PM) 10 Teams done, will need 2 more
@  Mario Peña : (06 October 2015 - 02:35 PM) Alright guys, if anyone is interested in joining the Red94 fantasy basketball league we could use one more player to get us to 10 teams (or three to get us to 12 teams). Just check the thread in the Fantasy Basketball forum. Thanks!
@  thejohnnygold : (05 October 2015 - 06:23 PM) I use leaguepass here in Austin with no problems...
@  skip 2 my lou : (05 October 2015 - 03:14 PM) Hey fellas, I'm a rocket fan but I live in the heart of Dallas. Does anybody know if I buy NBA Leaguepass if it's too close to be subject to blackouts?
@  Losthief : (02 October 2015 - 02:24 AM) tks jg
@  thejohnnygold : (29 September 2015 - 05:16 AM) FYI, it was media day today. Interviews are up at NBA.com
@  slick shoes : (23 September 2015 - 06:37 PM) kind of late in the day but NBATV is broadcasting classis Rockets games all day today.
@  SadLakerFan : (16 September 2015 - 04:37 AM) Man, as a Laker fan, I'm learning how little you care about the off season when your team sucks. Anyway, a quick moment to remember Moses. Still remember watching the 81 team as a kid - losing record, NBA Finals. I would have cried w/joy if they could have beaten the Celtics.
@  jorgeaam : (15 September 2015 - 08:30 PM) http://bleacherrepor...ist-after-crash
@  jorgeaam : (15 September 2015 - 08:30 PM) So to celebrate his new contract, Montrezl Harrell saved someone's life on monday
@  thejohnnygold : (14 September 2015 - 04:36 PM) A good article from Blinebury talking about when Hakeem and Moses used to play in the park. LINK

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How Do the Rockets Beat the NBA?


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#61 BrentYen

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 08:41 PM

1. can Asik and Howard be more than a temporary matchup lineup. an ability to keep these 2 on the floor can be devastating defensively if the offensive spacing can be worked out.

I personally feel if both can be better in terms of their interior passing. They can be deadly together as well. Alway feel teams with 2 big man who attack as a pair is about to become a lost art.

 

2. can T-Jones or D-Mo step up to contribute consistently? even if D-12/Asik is successful they can't play all the time. we need one of the two between T-Jones and D-Mo to round out the rotation.

It is hard to ask them to step up just in one summer, even if they try as hard as they can. Development takes time. So...I really doubt it. However, I do think they can be serviceable form time to time.
 

3. PG........has Lin made the necessary adjustments to be able to thrive within the starting lineup.

Compare to the adjustment needed for the D-Mo and T-Jones, I think Lin does not need to adjust as much, hence more likely he can thrive. I also want to point out that, PB will need to adjust as well. In a team point of view, we really need as more play maker as possible. He did not run the offense well IMO last season while needed. In the end, we want Harden and DH12 to be used as less as possible while still winning, so we gets more chance to have a better run deep into the season and most likely playoffs.

 

A final remark, we also need to see how McHale works his coaching this time. He is also a big factor here.
 


Edited by BrentYen, 26 September 2013 - 08:46 PM.

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Is a big Jeremy Lin fan and was a big ROX fan. More importantly, a huge bball fan in general.


#62 Red94

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    Posted 27 September 2013 - 11:09 PM

    New post: How Do the Rockets Beat the Southeast Division?
    By: Forrest Walker

    The NBA season is nearly here. Exhibition games start in a mere eight days. The Houston Rockets held their media day today, in preparation for training camp to begin. Now that the Rockets have two superstars on the roster, Houston has to prove that James Harden, Dwight Howard and the team assembled around them can compete for a championship. To beat every team, Houston has to beat each team, and today we’ll look at how they can attack the Southeast Division.

    Miami Heat

    Here’s a shocker: the defending NBA champions present the greatest challenge in the Southeast Division. The Heat sport the best basketball player in the league and probably on the planet. The Heat have also been to the finals every year since he arrived, and have won the last two championships. Of course, LeBron James isn’t their only weapon. The Heat are still Dwyane Wade’s team in a lot of ways, and Wade is still one of the elite players at his position, even with his injury problems last season. Chris Bosh headed to South Beach as well, filling out a truly mighty big three. With a group of veteran role players filling out the roster, the Heat are willing and able to win any given game against any given team.

    The off-season for the Heat was largely unremarkable. Chris Andersen, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem all stayed with the team. Only Mike Miller moved on, leaving for the Memphis Grizzlies in free agency. Battier had already largely supplanted Miller’s role, however, making this departure easy to stomach. On the other hand, the Heat picked up two low-risk players in Greg Oden and MIchael Beasley. Oden is making his return after being out of the league due to recurring knee injury. Oden’s star level potential was perennially quashed by his ongoing battle with injury, and the Heat offer him an opportunity to contribute without being under external pressure to do so. Michael Beasley, for his part, is returning to his original NBA team after being summarily dropped by the Minnesota TImberwolves and the Phoenix Suns. Expecting much from either player seems hopeful at this time, but neither addition seems likely to harm the team.

    The good news for Houston is that James Harden is on the rise while Dwyane Wade is declining. The bad news for Houston is that the Rockets haven’t won even a single game against Miami since LeBron James signed on. The first two years of Miami’s “big three” era came against a Rockets team that barely resembles today’s squad, but last season saw a Rockets team that features most of the same players. The upside is that both games were close, and the Rockets are expected to be far better this year, given the inclusion of Dwight Howard. The Heat, however, are still likely to beat the Rockets in every game. Both games last season featured a sleepy start from LeBron James and a powerful finish to knock off Harden’s Rockets. A motivated Heat team is nearly unbeatable due to the level of sheer talent involved, and the Rockets have painted a giant red crosshairs on their backs this year. To beat a motivated LeBron, Wade and Bosh, The Rockets will have to pull heroic effort from their own stars.

    If Bosh continues to play center, Dwight will have his hands full with one of the craftiest big men scorers in the league. Bosh’s combination of skills is often underrated, but he remains a deadly midrange shooter, willing three point shooter (if not exactly good) and a very capable post player. Dwight Howard should be favored in that matchup, but Bosh pulling Howard away from the rim is the nightmare scenario. Leaving the paint uncontested would put Houston’s wing defenders on an island against two of the best drivers in the league. LeBron, when he decides to utilize all his skills, is unstoppable from anywhere, meaning that Chandler Parsons and possibly Francisco Garcia would be left having to hope for the best. Most likely this would mean giving him space in midrange in order to try to prevent the drive, a strategy that the Spurs used happily in the Finals. It worked for a few games until LeBron decided to bury them under an avalanche of jumpers. Meanwhile, this leaves James Harden on Dwyane Wade, a defensive matchup that can’t possibly end well. The Heat would then fill out their lineup with Chalmers, Allen and Battier, spacing the defense with deadly three point threats and preventing Houston from going big in return. In this case, Houston has to either double down on defense with Ömer Aşık and Dwight Howard patrolling the paint together, or double down on offense and try to bury the Heat right back. Bosh is a capable defender, but Howard is one of the most athletic and deadly pick and roll finishers in the league. Harden can’t guard Wade, but Wade can’t guard Harden very well either. The Rockets have their own three point shooters to pile onto the court, making this almost a mirror match. How well the Rockets can cope with small ball strategies is going to determine how well they can defend the Heat, and their defense is going to decide how these games turn out and these games should prove to be yardposts for a team looking to improve to championship status.

    Atlanta Heat

    The Atlanta Heat look different. Danny Ferry has cleaned house in the past two years, unloading a problematic Joe Johnson contract on the Brooklyn Nets and letting Josh Smith leave in free agency this summer. Al Horford and Paul Millsap make up their starting frontcourt, a pair of underrated and deadly players. Lou Williams will likely start at shooting guard now instead of coming off the bench, a promotion he’s deserved for some time. Jeff Teague still shows piles of promise, has been given to the keys to the offense. Elton Brand, Kyle Korver and Gustavo Ayon make up the rest of the highlights of the roster, which is both good and bad. The Hawks look ready to fight for a playoff spot in the relatively weak east, but look unlikely to make it any higher than sixth at best.

    The inclusion of Paul Millsap this summer was a huge get for Atlanta, who now have cap flexibility and potential going forward. The loss of Josh Smith stings for Atlanta, but the reloading effort takes precedence over a player who quite frankly has shown spotty decision making skills. Teague continues to be a tantalizing long-term option for Atlanta, and Korver’s defense isn’t nearly as bad as it’s made out to be. Atlanta will be interesting to watch going forward.

    Beating the Hawks will largely be a matter of containing their shooters. Korver is deadly from three, and the entire rotation of Horford, Millsap and Brand are happy to let loose from midrange. As long as the Rockets don’t stray from their marks or get lost on the pick and roll, Houston should be able to keep hands in faces. Teague should prove an interesting matchup for Jeremy Lin, as both point guards love to attack the basket, and both have similar roles to grow into.

    Washington Wizards

    Are the Washington Wizards a playoff team? This is the pressing question for Washington this season, a team which seems to be on the correct side of a rebuild. The Wizards suffered at the hands of injuries last season, and are hoping to avoid the same fate this year. Unfortunately, Emeka Okafor herniated a disc in his neck and Chris Singleton broke a bone in his left foot. Both players will miss at least the next 6 weeks, and their loss will hurt the Wizards’ chances.

    The biggest move the Wizards made in the off season was the addition of Eric Maynor, a backup point guard who should be able to lighten John Wall’s load somewhat. The Wizards’ hopes lie in the combination of John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene, all of whom are capable players when healthy. Wall still has star potential, Beal’s ceiling is still unknown, and Nene is one of the more dependable big men in the league as long as his health holds. Unfortunately, health doesn’t seem to be Washington’s strong suit lately.

    The Rockets had trouble with the Wizards last season, splitting the season series with two tight games. Washington actually has a solid defense, including players such as Trevor Ariza. Ariza remains a solid defensive player, even if his offensive game seems to be stagnating. Without point guard John Wall much of last season, the Wizards relied on their defense to win games, and it only worked part of the time. Without Okafor, the defense will suffer, but Wall will make the offense functional, at the least. The Wizards should be able to provide a challenge for the Rockets, but a split season series would be a disappointment for Houston.

    Charlotte Bobcats

    The last season of the Charlotte Bobcats looks to be another painful one. They might be among the bottom of the pile in the NBA, but at least their nickname change to the Charlotte Hornets has already been submitted. The addition of Al Jefferson comes at a hefty price tag, but cap space is not an issue for this team. The Bobcats have had two historically weak seasons, which seems to be part of general manager Rich Cho’s plan. Al Jefferson might be a strong post player and a real veteran, but the rest of the roster has a lot of experience to gain. This team will probably be better than last year, but they’re still destined for the lottery.

    Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller all show promise for the Bobcats, but none of them are good NBA players yet. Bismack Biyombo remains a fan favorite, but has yet to match his hype with his play. The Bobcats also feature players such as Gerald Henderson, Ramon Sessions and Josh McRoberts. All of these players are in the NBA. The talent differential between the Bobcats and the Rockets is stark at the least, and insurmountable in all likelihood. The biggest threat the Bobcats can bring is to surprise the Rockets while their guard is down. Any team can sneak up on you, and Jefferson in particular may have something to prove. As long as the Rockets also have something to prove, as they will on the first game of the season, Houston should be able to take these games.

    Orlando Magic

    The Orlando Magic still don’t have Dwight Howard. The Orlando Magic used to have Dwight Howard, but now the Houston Rockets have Dwight Howard. The Orlando Magic have Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis, Tobias Harris, Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic. The Orlando Magic also have something to prove against whatever team features Dwight Howard. The Houston Rockets have Dwight Howard, who has something to prove against the Orlando Magic. The Houston Rockets also have James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Ömer Aşık and Chandler Parsons. The Houston Rockets and the Orlando Magic will both play hard in the games in which they meet. The Houston Rockets have a better roster than the Orlando Magic and will almost surely win those games.


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    #63 BrentYen

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    Posted 28 September 2013 - 06:56 AM

    Kind of out of context, just wanna ask, it it a joke that I don get or it should be Atlanta Hawks instead of Atlanta Heat?


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    Is a big Jeremy Lin fan and was a big ROX fan. More importantly, a huge bball fan in general.


    #64 ale11

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    Posted 28 September 2013 - 06:15 PM

    Honest mistake, I guess


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    #65 apt2rant

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      Posted 28 September 2013 - 11:03 PM



      Why is Lebron the best basketball player in the league but just "probably" the best player on the planet? Do you think that there is someone out there better than Lebron James as basketball but has just decided to do something else with his life?


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      #66 BrentYen

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      Posted 28 September 2013 - 11:10 PM

      Why is Lebron the best basketball player in the league but just "probably" the best player on the planet? Do you think that there is someone out there better than Lebron James as basketball but has just decided to do something else with his life?

      There are always possibilities, since we just do not know every single one of ppl who plays in the world. :rolleyes:


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      Is a big Jeremy Lin fan and was a big ROX fan. More importantly, a huge bball fan in general.


      #67 thenit

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        Posted 29 September 2013 - 12:47 AM

        Then we shouldn't call pro teams winning championship in the USA world champions either. I always hated that term.
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        #68 Red94

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          Posted 04 October 2013 - 10:00 PM

          New post:
          By: Forrest Walker

          The Houston Rockets play their first exhibition game tomorrow. In a few short weeks, the safe harbor of the pre-season will be behind the Rockets, and the vicious storm of the Western Conference will be upon them. After three years of low expectations, Houston has to prove that they can weather the lofty expectations they’ve piled upon themselves. Now we look at the challenges the Northwest Division poses, and how the Rockets can overcome them.

          Oklahoma City Thunder

          The Oklahoma City Thunder are the scariest team in the Western Conference. The San Antonio Spurs are the cagiest, most dependably dangerous team. The Los Angeles Clippers are the deepest, and maybe hardest to gameplan for. The Rockets are in the elite as well, now, with their efficiency-first style and pair of elite talents. None of those teams are as immediately intimidating as this Thunder team. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are two of the ten best players in the league, and LeBron James is the only player living who’s better than Durant. They have continuity, chemistry, youth, experience, talent and skill. Their offense has everything but a post up threat, and the past half decade of NBA play has shown that post play is no longer a necessity. Their defense has gone from good to great in recent years, and defensive stalwarts like Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison work alongside the continuously improving skills of Kevin Durant to create a consistently high level team defense. This team is the favorite to come out of the west, and there’s little argument to be made there.

          That little argument to be made comes in the form of a loose suture in Russell Westbrook’s ailing knee, resulting in him missing at least a month of regular season basketball. This is a complication of the meniscus tear he suffered while bumping into Patrick Beverley, an incident that occurred in the first round Rockets-Thunder series of last year’s playoffs. That injury nearly cost the Thunder that series, and it certainly cost them their second round loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Now that injury might cost them some regular season losses this season, and those losses may very well cause them to drop in the rankings of a brutal Western Conference. The only major change in the Thunder roster is the loss of Kevin Martin, who happily moved to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the offseason. Martin did a good job of replacing Harden’s scoring input, so that load will now have to be spread to a few other players, possibly including sophomore Jeremy Lamb.

          While the Westbrook injury means that the Thunder may struggle in the early part of the season, the Rockets have no realistic opportunities to capitalize on Oklahoma City’s misfortune. The Thunder and Rockets meet in Oklahoma City on December 29th, but there’s little chance that Westbrook is still out. Even should he be at less than 100%, the newfound rivalry between these teams, subdued as it may be, should push the Thunder to use any available resource, including a recovering Westbrook.Instead, this situation slightly increases the Rockets’ chances of sneaking into a high seed in the West. If the Thunder and Rockets are near each other in the standings, those four games they play against each other will be particularly meaningful for seeding going into the playoffs. Winning the season series would mean not only holding the tiebreaker, but at least a two game swing between the winning and losing teams. It’s absolutely critical that the Rockets leave it all on the court in those games, and they surely know that.

          The strategy that brought the Rockets back from losing three in a row to force a sixth game will surely be the first option. The Thunder have a penchant for small ball, but the Rockets are just as staffed to run that scheme. Lineups with Harden at the forward looked dangerous, but turned out to be critical to slowing the Thunder. Ibaka looked like he might be too much for Harden to handle, but in the end, Ibaka’s offensive game is predicated in large part on pick and pops and cleaning the glass, both of which Houston was ready for. Harden is tall enough to at least get a hand in Ibaka’s face, and having an elite rebounder in Ömer Aşık helped lessen the impact of Ibaka’s putbacks. Dwight Howard is an even better rebounder than Ömer Aşık. meaning that the same plan should be viable. The biggest concern is that Westbrook will simply overpower Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley if the guard the shot, or shoot over their heads with no warning should they guard the drive. Westbrook is a dangerous passer, a deadly midrange shooter and a fearless slasher, giving the Thunder a much-needed triple threat. Guarding against Westbrook will take actual, coordinated team defensive schemes, but thankfully Dwight Howard is as able a rim protector as exists in the league.

          All of this would be manageable were it not for the fact that the Thunder also include Kevin Durant, the deadliest scorer in the NBA. Without Westbrook, Durant had to do it all, and it eventually proved to be too much burden. Now, when Westbrook returns, Durant will be able to delegate the chaotic, unpredictable shots to Russell while taking his preferred, hyper efficient shots himself. The only fly in the ointment is that the Thunder lost Kevin Martin, a deadly marksman from three point range and a crafty seeker of foul calls. Jeremy Lamb may be able to spot up from the perimeter, but he hasn’t shown the ability to full take on the role Martin held. Reggie Jackson is a capable three point shooter, Sefolosha is a master of corner daggers, and Ibaka has been working on his three point shot, but losing Martin changes the shape of OKC’s perimeter threat. Durant is a threat from anywhere on the court, but Westbrook’s three point shot and shot choices leave something to be desired. Without Martin stretching out the defense as much, Houston can be quicker to rotate, trusting in closeouts more often. Seeing exactly how small they can play and how much rotating they can get away with will be critical for Houston.

          If a Howard, Harden, Parsons, Lin and Beverley lineup is viable on defense, that crew will more than hold their own on offense. More than last year, the Thunder will pay heavily any time Kendrick Perkins takes the floor against Houston. Ibaka’s greatest skill is as a shot blocker, but his effectiveness drops the farther from the basket he has to play. With Perkins on the floor, presumably to slow Howard, Ibaka would be forced to guard James Harden, Chandler Parsons or perhaps someone like Francisco Garcia. Whoever he faces off against will be three point catch and shoot threat at the least or a superstar level talent in James Harden at the most. Given Perkins’ almost total lack of offense, the Thunder have little option but to run Ibaka or Collison against Dwight Howard, and settle on a one big man lineup. In either scenario, Dwight Howard will do his best to body into the paint and draw help defenders in. As deadly as the Thunder’s offense is, this should prove to be an equally deadly attack for Houston, as every other Rocket on the floor is willing and able to sink three point shots the second they see daylight. This matchup should prove not only as a true test for the new Rockets, but as some of the most enjoyable basketball of the season. Highlight these dates, because all of them might be instant classics.

          Denver Nuggets

          The Denver Nuggets finished third in the Western Conference last season, had the best record in franchise history and looked poised to ride their high octane offense and lockdown defense all the way to the conference finals. Then Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors detonated on them, finishing not only the season, but the tenure of their head coach (George Karl), general manager (Masai Ujiri) and biggest-name player (Andre Iguodala) as well. With new head coach Brian Shaw, nobody’s quite sure what to expect from the Nuggets this season. They may remain good despite all the changes and make the playoffs, or they may flounder and hit the bottom of the standings. The only thing for sure is that losing Iguodala is a huge blow, especially since they lost him to the very team that knocked them out of the playoffs.

          The biggest additions for the Nuggets in the summer were J.J. Hickson and Nate Robinson, news which can’t make Denver fans happy. Iguodala was an elite wing defender, a capable player on offense, and a fantastic distributor. Hickson is a workmanlike big man who can shore up a team’s frontcourt depth, and Nate Robinson is energy, streaky shooting, and questionable decisions. Andre Miller remains on the team and he remains one of the craftiest point guards around. His old man game won’t last forever, but it’s still here today. JaVale McGee should now be the starting center with the loss of Kosta Koufos, and this could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on McGee’s development. Kenneth Faried is still a manimal, tearing into rebounds and blocks, but Danilo Gallinari is still out with an ACL injury.

          The Nuggets have one of the best home court advantages in the NBA, and some of it is due to the altitude at which they play. Road teams will always be winded by the thin Denver air in the mile high city, and this should help the Nuggets rack up a few wins. Unfortunately, it takes more than altitude to win games, and the Rockets should be able to show them that up close and personal. The Nuggets aren’t the only team with hyper-athletic big men any more, and Dwight HOward should be able to keep up with JaVale all night long. The Rockets are likely to trot out wave after wave of players at the 4, daring Faried to keep up with all of them. Ty Lawson remains one of the top ten point guards, however, and the Rockets will have their hands full with him. The point guard position is probably the position of greatest strength for the Nuggets, and LIn and Beverley will have their hands full trying to contain them. On the other hand, the wings are thin for Denver, leaving WIlson Chandler as the only threatening player in that rotation until Gallinari returns. James Harden should have a field day with Evan Fournier, and Harden’s defense can thankfully be hidden on the shooting guard spot. The Nuggets may pull out a game in Denver, but there’s no reason to believe that the Rockets can’t win this series.

          Minnesota Timberwolves

          How good are the Minnesota Timberwolves? Nobody knows. If you ask them, they’re sure to tell you they have eyes on a playoff berth. When healthy, perhaps they can make it. Unfortunately, they just can’t seem to stay healthy, and last year was almost comically full of injuries. This year, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are ready to play, and this may just be their first foray into the post season for those two young players.

          The main offseason move for Minnesota was the signing of Kevin Martin, a hyper-efficient scorer that Houston knows well. Martin is reunited with head coach Rick Adelman, a duo which has been united and reunited in all three of Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota. Chase Budinger also plays for his old Houston coach, but unfortunately remains sidelined by injury. Never prone to ailment in Houston, Budinger has suffered major injuries both seasons in Minnesota. The Wolves lost Andrei Kirilenko to the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, a loss which will hurt their depth and flexibility. Corey Brewer returns to the fold, however, and Shabazz Muhammad and Ronnie Turiaf look poised to make meaningful contributions.

          The Timberwolves have been a thorn in Houston’s side ever since Adelman moved north, winning 3 out of 4 in Adelman’s first year coaching the Wolves. The Rockets fared better last season, winning 2 of 3, but Houston needed big efforts to come back from deficits and win those two games. If the Wolves are healthy at all, expect a surprising amount of challenge yet again as one of the best coaches in the league leverages a pile of talent against a front office he knows well. Kevin Love is a monster on the glass, and Dwight Howard will have his hands full trying to contain him. His three point shot on the other end it top-tier, meaning that an athletic 3 or 4 will have to try to guard love on the perimeter while Howard or Ömer Aşık deal with Nikola Pekovic inside. Pekovic is one of the most powerful forces inside, and seeing him body up with Houston’s centers should be fascinating and potentially painful. Lin and Rubio will make for an intriguing matchup, with Rubio as the better passer but Lin as the better finisher. Both teams will have weapons on the perimeter, but Minnesota will be much more likely to run complex sets and an endless litany of backcuts.

          Once again, the Rockets should have an advantage on the wing, with Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin facing off against Chandler Parsons and James Harden. In previous years, Adelman’s coaching and the youth and talent of the Wolves could keep pace with Houston. This year, Houston has a marked advantage in talent, and are if anything just as young as Minnesota. Adelman’s schemes won’t be able to overcome Houston's advantages as long as McHale’s Rockets continue to play to their strengths and not let Minnesota dictate pace or style. As we’ve already learned, offense isn’t enough to beat top teams.

          Portland Trail Blazers

          Damian Lillard is extremely good at basketball. The reigning rookie of the year pulled the Blazers from the basement they were expected to live in all they way to the front door of the playoffs. LaMarcus Aldridge might not be quite the franchise savior Portland hoped for, the Trail Blazers look ready to challenge for a playoff spot again, this time with added depth.

          The starting lineup of Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews is good if not great. Lopez and Matthews are the weak links there, and those links aren’t bad. The b team behind them, however, is where the most improvements were made. Portland finally has a real backup point guard in Mo Williams, and he’s leading a group consisting of Dorell Wright, Thomas Robinson, and Meyers Leonard. Victor Claver and C.J. McCollum are the most likely to fill out the ranks after that, giving Portland a solid bench at the least. The only thing standing between them and an improved record this year is the improvement of the rest of the west as well, with only the Lakers and Suns looking to have any real drop off.

          Something else might stand between them and a playoff spot later in the year, specifically at the trade deadline. The rumors of LaMarcus Aldridge desiring a trade are still swirling, and they seem in sync with the fact that Aldridge is unlikely to contend for a title while in Portland. Few would be surprised if he were to be moved to a contender at the deadline, and his attempts to add a three point shot to his arsenal don’t hurt his trade value. If he’s on the Portland roster in April, he may be preparing to face the Thunder. If not, he may be preparing to face someone like the Hawks.

          In any situation, the Rockets have a number of advantages to attack from. Parsons and Batum should provide an exciting matchup, while Lillard may have his way with Lin. Limiting Portland’s three point looks will prove critical, especially with Aldridge getting in on the fun. Lillard will get past his man, meaning that a center must be at the rim at all times. This means that ALdridge is likely to be guarded by someone smaller than him, leading to a difficult tradeoff between postups and shooting for his defender. As long as Batum can be contained, the Rockets can expect the tandem of Aldridge and Lillard to score the lion’s share of the points but still lose. Adding Batum into the fray opens up the doors for that depth to strike, and this is the last thing the Rockets need.

          Utah Jazz

          The Utah Jazz don’t seem very good any more. Their entire frontcourt rotation consists of Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and whatever remains of Andris Biedrins. Kanter and Favors show promise and skill, and should be capable starters for years. However, they still aren’t anywhere near the level of Dwight Howard and Ömer Aşık, who can actually take a break without the team falling apart. Gordon Hayward is a fascinating talent and yet another wing with a similar skill set to Chandler Parsons. Behind him, however, is the questionable group of Jeremy Evans, Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams. The rest of the wing rotation consists of Alec Burks and Brandon Rush, both of whom show promise but neither of whom are quite on a starter level yet. With Trey Burke and John Lucas III rounding out the point guard position, it’s hard to see this team challenging any of the top six teams in the west.

          Last year, an inferior Rockets team demolished a superior Jazz team by 45 points in Houston’s biggest blowout of the year. Such an extreme differential isn’t likely to happen again, as those require a lot of factors to come together. The roster changes for these teams, however, only shift that needle farther into the red that it’s been in for a while. The Jazz don’t seem to be trying to win games this year, and the Rockets will be happy to hand them losses.

           


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          #69 Red94

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            Posted 07 October 2013 - 05:00 PM

            New post: How Do the Rockets Beat the Central Division?
            By: Forrest Walker

            James Harden and Dwight Howard plan on leading the Houston Rockets to a championship. Windows of opportunity in the NBA are short and brutal, unless you’re the Spurs, and the Rockets need to figure out how to win early and win often. The Rockets will need a gameplan against every team in the league just to make it to the Finals. Today we look at the competitors in the Central Division, and how the Rockets can plan for victory.

            Chicago Bulls

            The Bulls might be the best team in the Central Division. Much as the Western Conference has a stable of five or six top teams that are hard to rank, the Eastern Conference features the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks as a clear top five. Within that group, the Bulls seem better than the Knicks, worse than the Heat, and roughly equal to the Pacers and Nets. It’s anyone’s guess as to how effective the Bulls will be at returning to form with the return of Derrick Rose, but it’s doubtful Chicago will feel vindicated with anything less than a Conference Finals appearance.

            What changed for the Bulls this summer? Not very much apart from the departure of Nate Robinson. Oh, except for the return of Derrick Rose. I guess that event might be described as the most anticipated injury recovery in the NBA for the past two seasons. Yes, Rose is a huge part of their team. He played in their first preseason game and looked ready for more. Their offense should be functional again, and their defense will remain at its team-based Thibodeau-fueled heights.

            Head coach Tom Thibodeau is one of the most intimidating factors about the Bulls, a defensive-minded coach who isn’t afraid to run his starters into the ground. Many people have decried the loss of Chicago’s once-formidable bench unit, but with the starting five playing so extensively, the impact of the “Bench Mob’s” decline is somewhat lessened. Last season, the Rockets were able to push the pace on the Bulls and deliver a Christmas Day beatdown that was only fun for Houston faithfuls. Houston’s offense is designed to punish traditional defenses, and to get off shots before a defense can settle in and lock down. There were questions about Houston’s pace this season, but Saturday’s preseason game made it clear that the Rockets intend to continue pushing the pace and capitalizing on fast breaks.

            We know the Rockets will push the pace, but will that be enough? The rain of threes early in the shot clock will be hard for Chicago to stop completely, but Joakim Noah adds a difficult wrinkle. With Dwight Howard in the fold, it’s clear Houston is willing to go to him in the post once the defense has settled in. Unfortunately, Joakim Noah is one of the best big man defenders in the league, and he’s sure to make Dwight Howard’s life miserable. How well Howard can force double teams in the post is a major factor for Houston’s offense, and if Noah can handle Dwight with single coverage, the rest of the Rockets are in for a long night.

            Indiana Pacers

            The Pacers might be the best team in the Central Division, too. Roy Hibbert, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West and George Hill is a tough defensive unit to say the least, and the Pacers were the best defending team in the league last year. Danny Granger is ready to play this season, and adds extra depth to the team at the very worst. Lance Stephenson has shown a willingness and ability to play well in their systems at both ends of the court, and as a sixth man he would be exceptional.

            The Pacers acquired Luis Scola and Chris Copeland during the summer, two sneaky good pickups for their bench. Scola is a perfect fit in their reserve unit, allowing the power forward position to transition from David West’s deadly midrange shot to Luis Scola’s deadly midrange shot and crafty post play. Chris Copeland is a capable sophomore big who can space the floor and bring energy to the reserves. The Knicks’ decision to let him walk in the summer still remains confusing, but can only help the Pacers.

            The Pacers are a scary team. They easily handled Harden’s Rockets last year, and look constructed to be one of the toughest matchups for Houston again. Paul George is a masterful perimeter defender, and if he can keep goading Harden into playing iso ball, will be able to badly disrupt Houston’s system. Roy Hibbert has the height, size and skills to defend any big man in the league, including Dwight Howard. We’ve seen that Howard gets frustrated by overly physical defense, and Hibbert won’t hesitate to deploy anything he can to frustrate Dwight. While Danny Granger’s stock has fallen precipitously in recent years, he still has to be favored in a matchup between himself and Chandler Parsons, who displays a similar skill set.

            The Pacers’ defense is one matter, but the fact that they seem to be developing a competent offense is equally terrifying. The Pacers are increasingly willing to shoot three pointers, and it carried them to the Conference Finals. Hibbert is a solid post option, and George Hill is a capable distributor. Hill might not be a flashy point guard, but he maintains an even keel and seldom makes stupid errors. A showdown between these teams may simply come down to which team can hit their open shots better, which may somehow favor the Pacers. West and Scola are happy to shoot long two pointers, a shot which Houston is wary of themselves and may be too prone to give up to other teams. Expect these games to be close and physical no matter what the outcome.

            Detroit Pistons

            Continuing a theme, the Pistons look like they will be a defensively competent team with some real questions on the offensive side of the ball. We know that Andre Drummond and Josh Smith can and will play solid defense, and that Chauncey Billups will provide a stabilizing influence. What we don’t know is how Brandon Jennings will do, or is Greg Monroe can continue improving his game. There are a lot of question marks for the new look Pistons, a team which might just end up being a League Pass favorite.

            The Pistons made some moves in the summer. Josh Smith signed a contract in free agency, Brandon Jennings was acquired in a sign and trade for Brandon Knight, and Chauncey Billups returned to the team he won a championship with. All three players are expected to start, which raises an interesting question. Are Drummond, Monroe and Smith all going to play at the same time?

            The answer seems to be yes, and that presents an interesting opportunity for Houston. Smith can play as a wing, and can defend well in that position, but this lets the Rockets counter big with small. A lineup of Howard, Parsons, Harden, Lin and Beverley would be able to run circles around the Pistons’ bigs, and would be able to retreat off the perimeter with aplomb on defense. Billups and Jennings are the only starters who would present a credible threat from distance, and letting Josh Smith hike up long twos is a tried and true way to beat his teams. With more questions than answers, it’s hard to know what to expect from Detroit, but it’s also hard to expect a lot of wins.

            Cleveland Cavaliers

            The Cavaliers have a rising star in Kyrie Irving, and now have a decent roster to surround him. Anderson Varejao is great when healthy, and hopefully will recover from his blood clot soon. Dion Waiters is in his second season and shows improvement. Andrew Bynum on a two year contract with only $6m guaranteed is a calculated risk with potentially great rewards. The Cavs might challenge for a playoff berth this season if everything goes right, and that’s better than they’ve looked in years.

            The selection of Anthony Bennett first overall was a surprise in the 2013 NBA Draft, but in a relatively weak draft, the Cavaliers may not have hurt themselves. Picking up Bynum will either turn out to be a huge steal or a move of no consequence, and the rest of their team is very young except for Varejao. The Cavs are now focusing on growth and development, something which should be heartening for Cleveland fans.

            There are, of course, weaknesses in the Cavs team. Kyrie Irving is increasingly dynamic, skilled and unstoppable, but the rest of the team isn’t as intimidating. Nobody knows when or even if Bynum will play basketball again. Varejao is on the wrong side of 30, and is in recovery from a life-threatening blood clot. Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters still haven’t justified their draft rank, and Bennett is an even bigger question mark. Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee are competing for starting privileges at the three, and to be honest both deserve to come off the bench. Irving will tear into the Rockets’ defenses, but the rest of the team should be a paltry match on talent level alone. If Bynum and Varejao are healthy, the Cavs may pose a threat, but as it is the Rockets seem unlikely to drop games to Cleveland

            Milwaukee Bucks

            What are the Bucks doing? They’re certainly changing everything up, from their roster to their coaching. We don’t know what the endgame is, though, and we probably won’t until after this season. The Bucks lost both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis in free agency, making their team even more forward-heavy. John Henson and Larry Sanders are still solid players with bright futures, but now have O.J. Mayo and Luke Ridnour at the perimeter. Caron Butler made his way back to his home state, and Carlos Delfino left the Rockets to rejoin the Bucks. Add in Ekpe Udoh, Zaza Pachulia, Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Knight, and you have a team that seems pulled out of the clearance bin at a sporting goods store. None of those players are bad, and all of them are underappreciated, but it’s unclear exactly how the Bucks make sense as a team and not as a placeholder.

            If the Bucks are indeed throwing caution to the wind, they may be an easy out for most teams, but a surprising challenge from time to time. Mayo, Butler and Delfino are all happy to let fly with shots, and if they can find openings they can hurt any team. Ilyasova is a capable shooter and solid big, while Sanders seems to be a high-octane engine designed only for blocks. Ridnour is as staid a point guard as you can find, and has the bag of tricks you pick up after years of experience. He’ll give Lin some trouble, but ultimately the Rockets are better at every position except the four. As long as someone remembers to keep a hand in Ilyasova’s face and the Rockets don’t forget to guard the perimeter completely, the Bucks are among the easier games of the season.

             


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            #70 Red94

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              Posted 14 October 2013 - 01:00 PM

              New post: How Do the Rockets Beat the Southwest Division?
              By: Forrest Walker

              It’s game face time for the Houston Rockets, who have a particularly tough year ahead of them. After flying under the radar for years, the Rockets are not targets in a super stacked west. No division in that Western Conference is quite as stacked as the Southwest Division, and the Rockets now have to learn how to swim in the deep end.

              San Antonio Spurs

              The Spurs, until further notice, remain the crown prince oh the Southwest Division. Their dynasty seems endless, and their system is the key. With head coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R. C. Buford working together, the Spurs remain competitive even with their starting lineup missing. Their offseason was quiet, primarily featuring the loss of Gary Neal and the signing of Marco Bellinelli.. DeJuan Blair also left for greener pastures after a disappointing year.San Antonio needed little in the way of change after a Finals run last year, and they focused instead on keeping their core together.

              The Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard rank among the deadliest lineups in the league, Manu’s decline notwithstanding. Every game between these teams will be an absolute slugfest, and a showdown at each position. Parker is one of the best point guards in the league and the focal point of San Antonio’s offense now. Beverley’s defense is sure to be important for Houston’s well-being. Chandler Parsons will have to drape himself on Kawhi Leonard, who’s sure to do the same to him. Dwight Howard is sure to have a bone to pick with Tim Duncan after Duncan manhandled the Lakers in last year’s playoffs. Dwight’s ability will determine the matchup inside, and if Duncan gets going the Spurs are nearly unstoppable. As always with these teams, expect all four games to come right down to the wire. If Houston can go at Manu, somehow their point of weakness, they have a realistic shot to at least split this series.

              Memphis Grizzlies

              The Memphis Grizzlies are a very good team. With a sudden head coaching change, we don’t know how good they are just yet. Mike Miller and Kosta Koufos joined the club, adding needed depth to a team that often leans on starters. Apart from the question mark that is new head coach Dave Joerger, the Grizzlies seem to be in a similar place to last year. The downside for them is that the rest of the West improved as well.

              Memphis may be one of the few teams that Houston can trot out a twin towers style lineup, putting Asik on Marc Gasol, while Howard, a more athletic player, may be suited to guard Zach Randolph, a player who is at home shooting anywhere on the court. Mike Conley will be a real concern for Houston as well. Conley has emerged as one of the most competent point guards in the league, and is one of the few grizzlies with a three point shot. If Houston can take away the three from Memphis, they’ll have an easier time packing the paint and helping on defense, something which could mean a two-center lineup. No matter where they fall in the standings, there’s no reason to ever take this team lightly, and will be ready for them.

              Dallas Mavericks

              Are the Mavericks the worst team in the Southwest Division? That’s a strange question to ask of a team that won a championship in 2011, but happenstance and planning have conspired to bring us this strange team. Monta Ellis marks the biggest acquisition this summer, Ellis and Jose Calderon make up the starting backcourt for Dallas, a lineup that shouts three pointers, but has little to say about defense. With these players plus Dirk, the Mavs might be fun, fast and high scoring. They also might turn out to be the same as last year.

              The key to beating the Mavs is Dirk, as always. If Nowitzki gets in his zone, little on earth can stop him. The question wiill be if he can drag the rest of the team with him. It’s likely that Dalembert becomes a target for Dwight Howard. Dwight’s iffy shots in the post notwithstanding, he can overpower most big men in the league with his athleticism, making Samuel Dalembert worrk even harder on defense. Calderon and Ellis are likely to let players in regularly, making Dalembert’s job even harder. The Mavs might find some diamonds in the rough, but right now there’s just too much rough there. It’s hard to see the Mavs keeping up with the top teams in the conference.

              New Orleans Pelicans

              In the one year with no Hornets in the league, the Pelicans present a strange situation. Nobody knows exactly how good they’ll be just yet due to some serious upheaval. Greivis Vasquez was traded to Sacramento, where he may be able to continue his improvement. He’s been replaced by Jrue Holiday, a young all star who still has a high ceiling. The Pelicans also acquired Tyreke Evans, former rookie of the year and potential star. Along with Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are a team hoping to bank on ceiling as early as this year.

              The Pelicans eked out a win against the Rockets during the preseason, a fact which is cause for only minor concern. Houston’s starters looked superior all game long, and are likely to dominate in the regular season as well. The Pelicans, however, have players like Evans and Gordon who are happy to let fly from deep and push it right down a defense’s throat. As long as Parsons and Howard can remain committed on defense, the game should become very much about Anthony Davis, something New Orleans will be happy to allow. Davis is the future of their franchise, and the sooner he gets to establish himself, the better. Houston needs to go in and get wins against this team while their players are still developing, because they may be a much harder out next season.


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              #71 rockets best fan

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                glad you're on board, but I been on this boat since it left

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              Posted 14 October 2013 - 04:26 PM

              finally worked your way around to our division :) I agree San Antonio until defeated deserves to be considered top dog. however I expect Houston to take care of that in short order. they have cheated father time, but you can only keep plugging leaks in the dam for so long. I expect them to still be good, but last year they may have missed their last opportunity. Memphis will take a step back this year IMO. I agree with you.....they have basically the same team, but you make an excellent point that all the teams around them got drastically better this year. it's a case of (if you're not moving forward you're falling behind). they benefitted from a good playoff draw last year, but I don't expect them to have that advantage with the improvements out west this year. Dallas is a scoring machine with no brake pedal. so unless we get in to a shootout with them I see them as only a minor concern..........the Pelicans are a mystery. I like the young core, but Gordon is to injury prone and they still have no center. they are still a couple of pieces away from being a threat to us. as for wins in the division.............I say we split with the spurs, take Memphis down 3-1, take Dallas down 3-1 and sweep the Pelicans. when the dust clears we win the division followed by the Spurs, Memphis, the Pelicans and Dallas in the cellar


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              you can only warn a man that the bridge is out.....if he keeps driving he's on his own B)


              #72 timetodienow1234567

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              Posted 14 October 2013 - 04:41 PM

              Kawhi will cover for the decline of Manu, but unless Splitter or Baynes takes a huge step forward, they won't be able to make up for Duncan's decline. I still think they will win the division because they're not new. Houston will have growing pains as will Dallas and the stupid bird team. Memphis lacks an elite wing scorer so will struggle at times.
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              Why so Serious? :D


              #73 Mason Khamvilay

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              Posted 14 October 2013 - 04:54 PM

              I think Splitter is underrated due to his lack of playing time and recent poor performance in the playoffs. He will never make up for Duncan's decline, but he's a solid defensive center, and offensively he's a pretty good finisher around the basket. 


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              #74 rockets best fan

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              Posted 14 October 2013 - 05:03 PM

              Kawhi will cover for the decline of Manu, but unless Splitter or Baynes takes a huge step forward, they won't be able to make up for Duncan's decline. I still think they will win the division because they're not new. Houston will have growing pains as will Dallas and the stupid bird team. Memphis lacks an elite wing scorer so will struggle at times.

              I agree Kawhi will makeup for some of Manu's decline, but they are old all over.......no telling where the dam will spring a leak this year :lol:


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              you can only warn a man that the bridge is out.....if he keeps driving he's on his own B)


              #75 timetodienow1234567

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              Posted 14 October 2013 - 05:34 PM

              I think Splitter is underrated due to his lack of playing time and recent poor performance in the playoffs. He will never make up for Duncan's decline, but he's a solid defensive center, and offensively he's a pretty good finisher around the basket.


              I don't think Duncan will decline that much, but I'm not sure about Splitters improvement.
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              Why so Serious? :D


              #76 rockets best fan

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              Posted 15 October 2013 - 12:27 AM

              I don't think Duncan will decline that much, but I'm not sure about Splitters improvement.

              I agree on Splitter, however I think it will be hard for Duncan to duplicate last year's efforts


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              you can only warn a man that the bridge is out.....if he keeps driving he's on his own B)


              #77 Buckko

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                Posted 15 October 2013 - 12:27 AM

                Splitters stats shows he does far more than what the eye test can see and with a significant rise in minutes, he should produce around the area of his contract worth.
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                #78 rockets best fan

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                Posted 15 October 2013 - 03:31 AM

                Splitters stats shows he does far more than what the eye test can see and with a significant rise in minutes, he should produce around the area of his contract worth.

                I'm not underestimating what Splitter is capable of........I'm saying I don't know if he will get much better than he is now. while he is a decent big man he does have limitations.


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                you can only warn a man that the bridge is out.....if he keeps driving he's on his own B)


                #79 Sir Thursday

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                Posted 16 October 2013 - 05:58 PM

                I'm not underestimating what Splitter is capable of........I'm saying I don't know if he will get much better than he is now. while he is a decent big man he does have limitations.

                 

                You also have to factor in that he's 29 already, having played in Europe for quite a while before coming over to the NBA. Players of his age are unlikely to improve by leaps and bounds.

                 

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