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@  redfaithful : (05 September 2015 - 10:48 PM) Llull line from today loss to Serbia: 30MIN 1-10PG, 0-5 3PG, 4-4FT 6AST, 1TO, 4REB, +/- -11
@  Losthief : (03 September 2015 - 02:27 AM) this dude's gun fired and all he got a misdemeanor at bush lol: http://abc13.com/new...ush-iah/815795/
@  Losthief : (03 September 2015 - 02:26 AM) theres more articles all over, but the jist is houston (and texas) doesn't really arrest for it, they just recommend you leave it in your car when they catch it. So seems dwight got lucky he was in texas and not cali or the NE.
@  Losthief : (03 September 2015 - 02:22 AM) honestly we should just be glad they caught it...
@  Losthief : (03 September 2015 - 02:21 AM) response: http://nymag.com/dai...n_airplane.html
@  Losthief : (03 September 2015 - 01:42 AM) one bullet left in the chamber is diff than fully loaded and ready to go. Still stupid...but not like he was prepared for a shooting spree.
@  jorgeaam : (02 September 2015 - 09:33 PM) http://www.tmz.com/2...t-get-arrested/
@  jorgeaam : (02 September 2015 - 09:33 PM) So according to TMZ (I know, I know) Dwight Howard had an incident last month in which he took a loaded gun into an airport, but he was allowed to give it to a friend to take it back and wasn't arrested.
@  jorgeaam : (31 August 2015 - 10:45 PM) The Los Angeles Rockets, lol
@  redfaithful : (31 August 2015 - 09:51 PM) Seems that Chuck is also on his way to the Clippers.
@  slick shoes : (24 August 2015 - 06:14 PM) ill just leave this here...
@  slick shoes : (24 August 2015 - 06:14 PM) http://www.timeandda...04&font=cursive
@  timetodienow... : (21 August 2015 - 07:20 PM) At least in my opinion.
@  timetodienow... : (21 August 2015 - 07:20 PM) I love having Terry. But the main factor was that New Orleans will NOT compete for a championship this year and the Rockets will.
@  jorgeaam : (21 August 2015 - 03:57 AM) Things that make me like the JET even more
@  jorgeaam : (21 August 2015 - 03:57 AM) Jason Terry said that he turned down a more lucrative deal from New Orleans in order to return to Houston.
@  clydesmoustache : (19 August 2015 - 08:32 AM) A year ago who would have thought I would be so happy to have Jason Terry on my team. Welcome back JET! Hurry up October!
@  cointurtlemoose : (19 August 2015 - 04:45 AM) Terry I love yooouuuuuuuuu
@  jorgeaam : (19 August 2015 - 02:38 AM) Yay Terry is back!
@  majik19 : (15 August 2015 - 09:33 PM) and i thought these shouts were limited to some number of characters!

Photo

Small ball, the Rockets and my take just before the NBA draft. Unedited.


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#1 NorEastern

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    Posted 11 July 2015 - 05:55 PM

    I almost never post anything from the start of the NBA playoffs until the beginning of the preseason. Fans expectations during that time can become so unbearable. This off season I have been thinking a bit about the Rockets prospects in 2015-2016. Last season was a gut check on the Rockets organization. Unbelievably strange and unusual injuries to normally healthy players. A decimated roster at times. The WC finals missing D-Mo and Beverley. The players, the coaching staff and most of all Morey stepping up time and time again. So, I thought I would organize some of my thoughts and write them down on virtual paper.

     

    The Draft:

    This draft for Houston is just a red herring to pique fan's interest without any chance of obtaining a player that will move the needle for the Rockets next season. Tyus Jones anyone? Can he ever overcome his lack of height, his lack of athleticism and most importantly of all his lack of quickness? I do know that some strong analytic forums like nyloncalculus have projected Jones as a top draft pick.(2) Almost every board from draftexpress to nbadraft to Ford's predictions have the Rockets taking Jones at 18. But the guy is short and slow and not athletic by NBA standards, without a great wingspan. Curry and Paul are not athletic by NBA standards, but they are lightning quick.

     

    The draft for the Rockets, sitting with the #18 pick, is almost inconsequential. I expect Morey to go with BPA at #18. The most interesting possibility I can see is if Kelly Oubre falls to #18. Now there is a young athlete in the vein of Capela who could make a difference down the road. If Oubre is there I expect Morey to jump all over him. Not for next season but in a couple of years after development.

     

    The Defense:

    The Rockets in the playoffs started to switch everything on defense. Especially against the Warriors when it became obvious that Terry and Prigs could not make it over the top of the screen to bother Curry's shot. An excellent strategy. The top two defenses in the NBA last season, the Bucks and the Warriors, relied heavily on this tactic. But for the Rockets it broke down because whomever Terry/Prigs switched onto became the focal point of the opponent's offense. Beverley suffered the same fate to a lesser degree in the regular season.(1) That is why I could see Morey drafting Wright or Grant. At 6'4”+ they can switch on defense and be effective. But no matter what they are not adding wins next season to this Rockets roster.

     

    And the Rockets have to attempt to simplify their defensive strategy. Currently without switching Howard, Ariza, D-Mo and Beverley work. Harden works when he cares enough. Capela showed promise at times in the playoffs, in limited minutes against backups. The rest of the roster are not exceptional at classic NBA defensive schemes, but they can handle switching just fine, and so would benefit greatly from a switch on screened defensive philosophy. They are for the most part long and athletic. Terry and Prigs are just not going to work in that defensive strategy because they cannot handle the switch consistently. GS picked on them unmercifully on switches. Harden works defending Green. Prigs or Terry not so much. Over or under the screen becomes irrelevant when the defense switches. Switching cuts down immensely on shooters like Curry's space. A Harden sized point guard would help immensely in the future. But probably not next season.

     

    And the Rockets need to become better on defense. Howard screaming at Jones and Smith versus GS for not making the appropriate defensive switch onto the center when Howard has to rotate to a penetrating wing has to stop. During the regular season D-Mo just glared at Dorsey and Black and Smith. It was an evil, you drop dead glare. And that does not mean getting rid of Howard. It means that Jones and Smith have to learn basic NBA defensive principles. D-Mo learned them so why can't Smith and Jones? Good one on one defense is much less valuable than fitting into the overall NBA defensive scheme. Wing defense is somewhat of a concern but the Rockets do have the long quick personnel to excel. Howard may never get comfortable out of the paint, and that is very concerning when facing Warriors small ball. And the Rockets will see a lot of small ball because everyone is going to attempt to emulate GS. The NBA is a copy cat league if nothing else. However teams will be limited by personnel because finding a player like Green who can defend the paint and still function offensively and defensively around the arc is challenging to say the least. That is where D-Mo becomes so critically important.

     

    Small Ball:

    The overriding story this season was the Warriors small ball. Derived from the work of Nelson two decades ago and D'Antonio in Phoenix, the system finally won a championship. Defending small ball depends on having defensive help from the weak side to cover the paint and the defensive ability to recover to their marks when the ball swings around the court. If there is no recovery there is no defense against the wide open 3 point shot from the corner after the skip pass. If NBA teams whole sale adopt small ball, players like Hibbert and Bogut become irrelevant. And maybe Howard also. Unless of course Howard can change. It could happen but I have seen no sign of it yet. But what really matters when designing a defensive system to counter small ball?

     

    1. You must have a quick mobile center, comfortable on the perimeter, who is capable of switching onto smaller players on defense.

    2. Every player must be fast, and capable of recovering to their mark after diving to protect the paint from the weak side or coming off of double teams.

    3. You have to have several players who can comfortably guard almost every position on the court. If a player gets caught on an inappropriate offensive player, like Curry on Cousins, help must come quickly and recovery needs to be swift.

    4. Every player on the court has to be a more than competent NBA defensive player.

    5. You have to have a defense that creates turnovers and fast breaks and an offense that can overcome losing the offensive rebounding battle and the points the offense generates from just overpowering your players around the rim.

     

    It is more of a personnel issue than a learning issue. Every competent NBA player understands switching on defense. The Warriors implemented it mid-season.

    Because the Rockets have Smith, Harden, Ariza and D-Mo implementing a small ball defense will probably be much easier for the home team than many teams in the NBA. But wait you should be saying right now. That is not the Warriors small ball because the players range from 6'6” to 7'0”. And that is exactly the point. The Rockets can implement a Warriors (and Bucks) style defense without giving up size to any team but the biggest in the NBA. The most basic tenet of the Warriors small ball defense is to have players that can switch everything and get away with it most of the time. Admittedly the Rockets do not have Green. And the Rockets may never have a player like Green because he may be unique in the NBA. The Rockets would be surrendering some points on a Green-Curry P&R simply because D-Mo may not be able to keep up with Curry. But Curry is certainly no Westbrook, D-Mo is really quick for a seven footer, and the Beverley-Green match up would probably be significantly worse. But next to Green, D-Mo may be the best center candidate for small ball in the NBA. WCS should be drafted in the top five simply because he, like Green, can defend any player on the floor.

     

    The principles of small ball offense are probably familiar to everyone. It is the old Donny Nelson 5 out offense. What type of player makes this offensive system work? Everyone has to be a threat from downtown. Everyone has to be at least competent at passing. And everyone has to have great foot speed.

     

    1. Every player must be a threat from beyond the arc. They do not have to shoot lights out, Green only shot 31.7% from downtown last season, but that is still a threat. Green generated 0.87 PPP from three point land last season. LMA generated 0.86 PPP from mid-range last season.

    2. Every player must be able to make the appropriate pass. With 5 out traps on the perimeter will occur with some frequency. Making that skip pass across the court becomes a necessity.

    3. While not an absolute requirement, every player on the Warriors small ball lineup can put the ball on the floor and drive to the rim. But being a decent ball handler is critical. A player must be able to dribble under pressure and maintain control.

    4. Having a great penetrating wing would be an incredible luxury in a 5 out offensive set. GS had absolutely no one on Harden's level as a dribble drive penetrator. Harden would have many 40 point games if the Rockets adopted the 5 out offensive system full time for no other reason than the shot blockers will be following D-Mo around on the perimeter.

     

    Golden State inverts the normal offensive lineup and brings their power forward and center out to the arc in the center of the court. The wings, normally out top many times occupy the deep corners. But there will be Curry or Thompson out running the P&R with their bigs. This leads to odd defensive alignments that look like this:

     

    <a href="http://imgur.com/8gGusON"><imgsrc="http://i.imgur.com/8gGusON.png" title="source: imgur.com" /></a>

     

    The paint in such an offensive set is invariably sparsely populated, leading to lightly contested shots close to the rim. These are the most efficient shots in basketball. For a complete breakdown of Golden States offense see (4).

     

    The Rockets do have an almost viable small ball lineup on offense in place for next season. D-Mo, Smith, Ariza, Harden and Bev. The fulcrum of that lineup is of course D-Mo punishing lesser players in the post at times and shooting over larger slower players from the corners with Harden penetrating a sparsely occupied paint. If D-Mo comes back healthy next season and manages to progress in his ability to shoot from beyond the arc to say 41% for the season (what he averaged last season for the last three months) D-Mo becomes a very dangerous player. Add that to his NBA leading FG% in the post and an excellent second in the league 0.98 PPP in the post, he may be able to punish other teams unmercifully. I would explain it but it is obvious.

     

    Brewer, if he could actually shoot the three ball anywhere close to league average would be a perfect small ball offensive player. He has a handle just good enough to get to the basket reliably if the paint defense is sparse. And he is fast, lightening fast. But the defender will just play five feet off of him and dare him to shoot.

     

    But then there is Howard. The Rockets have $20+M of cap space tied up there. And if Howard is healthy and playing like he does in the playoffs, the Rockets have no real reason to go small on offense next season. Howard can just be that good still at 30 years old. On both sides of the ball. But the calculus changes immensely if Howard again goes down with an injury. Or if Green is the center when facing GS.

     

    The Offense:

    On offense, short of bringing in a Paul, a Conley, or a Westbrook, Harden will remain the de facto point guard. The fact of the matter is that Harden, with the ball in his hands, generated more PPP than any other player in the NBA last season. But then there are those turnovers. Having a healthy D-Mo and his post game back will help somewhat, but certainly D-Mo is not anywhere near a complete answer. The ideal player for the Rockets offense does exist in the draft, but unfortunately his name is D'Angelo Russell and he will never make it past the Knicks at the fourth pick. Having a healthy Beverley back may solve the problem. While Beverley is no Paul with the ball he sported a healthy point guard assist: turnover ratio last season of 2.2:1. People in every nook and cranny of the internet are proclaiming Llull as the answer. I just do not see it. Euroleague, while much better than NCAA Division 1 basketball, is a far cry from the NBA. Llull could come over and be like a deer caught in the headlights. I view that outcome as at least as likely as Llull coming over and averaging his Euroleague 10/1.7/5.8 line.(3) Best case is Llull becomes Beverley without the bull dog defense but maybe with some P&R utility.

     

    However, even without a PG upgrade, the ball handling duties can be spread around the roster to other players in many situations. Harden is a double team magnet out there. Even when Harden does not have the ball defenses shade towards him. Smith, Jones, Beverley and Ariza can take the ball up the court in most circumstances. Initiating a high pick and roll with the ball in D-Mo's hands is very similar to initiating it with the ball in Harden's hands. Hand offs are part of every NBA players skill set. D-Mo, Smith and other players have the ability to hit from the top of the key cutters and players coming off of screens at the rim. I expect McHale will integrate more of these actions into the offense this off season.

     

    In Conclusion:

    NBA small ball is coming to an arena near you next season. Every coaching staff is clustered together right now trying to map their roster into some, at times demented, version of the GS system. But that does not mean it will succeed in most cases. But for a roster constructed like Houston's small ball holds great promise. Long, athletic, quick, with a made to order paint protector and an excellent three point shooter like D-Mo, Morey has little to do to enable McHale and the coaching staff to implement a very effective small ball offense and defense.

     

    I do expect Morey to make small adjustments to the Rockets roster. However, I believe he will just be making small adjustments, not tearing it down yet again. Changing the identity of a WC finals team is probably not in the cards. And realistically, every team improves with experience in their offensive and defensive systems and with greater familiarity with their teammates. That certain improvement is contingent of Morey not turning the roster over this off season yet again. And Morey has never had a roster this close to making it to the NBA finals.

     

    However, the coaching staff and the players have their work cut out this off season. A fully integrated Howard into the defense against the Warriors small ball is a necessity. And that is going to take practice time. Immense amounts of it. They probably will work on a small ball offense with D-Mo at the center position. It seems a natural fit to the roster. Perhaps with D-Mo, Smith, Brewer, Harden and someone at the point guard position. That would be an incredibly difficult lineup for most second strings to handle. That would be an incredibly difficult lineup for most starting units to defend.

     

    Trades are probably off the table. The Rockets have exactly three valuable trade assets. Harden, Howard and Ariza. All of them will be off the table, because without them the Rockets have no chance to complete for the 'ship next season. I would normally include D-Mo, but he is injured and probably cannot pass a physical yet.

     

    Some will stand up and cite Kpap's non-guaranteed contract as an asset. Tax penalties are computed on July 1st. Non-guaranteed contracts can be valuable at the trade deadline. They are significantly less so during the summer. Basically they are a tool in the summer to match salaries. Nothing more.

     

     

    (1) Beverley actually was a good defender last season on the perimeter. When he got switched onto a much larger player he broke down badly around the basket. The guy is six feet tall. In shoes.

    <a href="http://imgur.com/bhRvq5P"><imgsrc="http://i.imgur.com/bhRvq5P.png" title="source: imgur.com" /></a>

    (2) http://nyloncalculus...ba-draft-model/

    (3) Llull can generate assists. But can he do anything at all well against the much much stiffer competition in the NBA? That remains to be seen. But an average NBA PG is better by a long shot than the best Euroleague PG. In addition Llull shot this season 38% from downtown, a sterling performance if it had been in the NBA with its extended arc and its much much better defenders. I do not understand why anyone would expect Llull to do as well in the NBA.

    <a href="http://imgur.com/KnyeLLD"><imgsrc="http://i.imgur.com/KnyeLLD.png" title="source: imgur.com" /></a>

    A question. Does Jeremy Lin put up 20/7/8 for Real Madrid in the 28 minutes Llull got last season? I think it would be a real possibility. Heck, in Euroleague an assist is registered if the player receiving the pass goes to the foul line.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/embed/o3sC6-f3q9E

    2.  

    For a much more in depth and generalized discussion of the Warrior's small ball offense and defense, please read the exceptional article at:

    http://www.canishoop...2851.1434719672


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    #2 Jatman20

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      Posted 12 July 2015 - 07:05 PM

      Average NBA point guard is better than Euro League best point guard? If you mean the price is too steep for Llull I agree. I believe if Llull is not good, he still remains "NBA average".

      Scouting Report: 1) Runs well and Jumps well per size 2) Good Catch-n-Shoot 3) Vocal Leader on the court
      4) Good Stepback Jumper 5) Adept Pick-n-Roll player 6) Can put the ball high off the glass during bank shots. 7). Good FT shooter.

      Who is this scouting report for? Scout for the Warriors in 2013- Chris Thomas.....talking about Goran Dragic; but it is the same for Llull.
      Here is a clip of Llull and Prigi vs Rubio and Juan Carlos Navarro. Llull was 23 y/o at the time in 2010. Since then he has worked on his defense and has polished the rest of his game. The next year Rubio signed with theT-Wolves. Rubio averaged 4.38 APG (5th in league) for Barcelona while Llull averaged 3.0. If Rubio can play in the NBA....so can (could have) Llull. Rubio started playing at the age of 14 and had some years on Llull before this game. Rubio was a better passer, but Llull is a better shooter.

      https://m.youtube.co...h?v=F3H7DvrkZvE

      Here is a clip of Harden breaking down some defenses this past year. Picture Llull where the PG is on each play. When Harden or others penetrate the paint.....there are one or two players open each time. Llull would have been just fine. Too bad he had a big buy out and the Rockets could only help with about $600,000.....anything more would go against the cap. Playing for $7 mil was like Llull playing for $2.5 mil after he had to payoff his buyout.


      https://m.youtube.co...h?v=khQWTR8lE1k

      Oh, well. Marcus Thorton is the type of player I was hoping for as well. 6'4" PG/SG 14/15 8 Pts 38 3P% 82 FT% ....assist may come.
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      #3 NorEastern

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        Posted 12 July 2015 - 08:31 PM

        Llull actually had below average NBA starting point guard stats in Euroleague last season. PG is by far and away the most talented position in the NBA. The gulf between the talent levels in the NBA and Euroleague is huge.


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