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@  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
@  rockets best... : (14 September 2015 - 02:29 AM) I agree totally. I got to watch his Rocket days and the man was a hell of a player. BIG MO R.I.P.


Member Since 08 Jun 2012
Offline Last Active Aug 22 2015 10:37 PM

#48592 Small ball, the Rockets and my take just before the NBA draft. Unedited.

Posted by NorEastern on 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


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


  • 1

#48359 How important is Ariza?

Posted by NorEastern on 03 June 2015 - 12:19 PM

You are correct Rahat, there is absolutely no salary path that gets the Rockets Love or LMA without giving up Ariza and getting no salary back. That by itself can be problematic, especially since Brewer and Bev would have to be released.


Assuming that the Rockets do the obvious and attempt to keep this team together how does the team stack up defensively? Harden - average defender, Bev - slightly above average defender, D-Mo - very good defender, Ariza and Howard - excellent defenders.


Now assume that Ariza is gone and LMA or Love is signed. Then you have a ? at point guard, Harden - average defender, ? at small forward, Love - very bad defender or LMA - average defender, and Howard - excellent defender. Where exactly will the Rockets get defense?


Basically I do not believe that Morey is going to make a significant play for LMA or Love this off season. The defense would be decimated and how much more offense does starting Love or LMA over D-Mo bring to the team? Eight points a game? The Rockets would lose far more than that without Ariza because the wing defense would be in tatters.

  • 2

#48209 Houston Rockets 113, Los Angeles Clippers 100: I love this game

Posted by NorEastern on 19 May 2015 - 03:23 PM

NBA teams by mid-season are much better than they were in the first 20 games. Why? Because it takes time for the players to understand their teammates tendencies and strengths and weaknesses, time for the coaching staff to get all of the players on the same page, time to "gel" as a team. The Rockets are just now hitting their mid-season form.

  • 1

#48052 Los Angeles Clippers 109, Houston Rockets 115: Lob Cities

Posted by NorEastern on 07 May 2015 - 07:11 PM

So I want to simultaneously give McHale credit and pile on him for changing things up so late.


For the first 6 quarters of this series, he guarded Blake mostly one on one with Jones or Smith. The occasional double would come from Brewer or Harden (both of their own accord I'm guessing), but he basically was allowed to carve those guys up from the 4. He also tried Ariza, but that went terribly. 


Then, at halftime McHale (or his staff) had an epiphany and he started doing three different things - 1) front Griffin with Ariza, 2) put Howard on Griffin, 3) Double team quickly, before Griffin was deep in the lane. These three different looks put the Clippers' offense in the mud, and save some good free throw shooting from Jordan (unsustainable) and crazy shots from Crawford (always hit or miss with him), we would have won by more. 

Hold on just one second. Did not Griffin just almost average a triple double in a seven game series against the Spurs? Are you calling Pop a bad coach, slow to respond? You do need to put into the appropriate context your view of this series. Seriously.

  • 1

#47718 Tiebreakers and the Playoff Picture

Posted by NorEastern on 14 April 2015 - 08:33 PM


I did an analysis over at TDS if anyone is interested.

  • 2

#46999 Houston Rockets acquire Prigioni and McDaniesl, Goran and Zoran to Heat for a...

Posted by NorEastern on 20 February 2015 - 04:45 AM

A very interesting article yet again Rahat. I am no insider, but I am an ardent Rockets watcher and here is my take. Miami gave up two future first round picks for Dragic, not second round picks.


Canaan is not a point guard. He is a shooting guard in a point guard's body. That would have been just fine because Harden is the Rocket's point guard. But if you look at what the Rocket's "point guard" needs to do, it is to defend the opponents best guard. Harden does not have the energy available to handle quick point guards. Canaan does not have the size required to handle the NBA defensive switches to the opponents shooting guard. If Canaan had the defensive chops of Bev it would have been OK.


But then there was the trade target. KJ McDaniels was truly a steal. A very tall wing at 6-6, with a great wing span, he is an athletic freak. A highlight reel every night. Even though he is a rookie he already is excellent on the defensive end according to SprortVU data. He also is great at penetrating the paint. However the most interesting aspect of his game, according to nbadraft.net is "He has outstanding efficiency numbers defending the ISO according to Synergy and he can guard 1-2-3 without any problems due to his length and quickness." If KJ can actually defend the point and manage the defensive switch to the two and three he might just be what the Rockets are looking for.


As far as Morey not picking up any of the six traded point guards, I do not believe any of them were viewed as a fit with Harden. Dragic was perhaps the best, but the Rockets would have had no chance to retain him this summer. None. And the Heat surrendered all of their depth and two first round picks to obtain him. That is a drastic price. They are without assets until 2019.


I do not believe that D-Mo was ever in danger of being released by the Rockets. D-Mo is a very very big man. It has been statistically shown that those type of players take longer to develop. People talked about how Hibbert was likely to be released before his breakout playoff series against the Heat. Well, he currently is a gem of a big man in the NBA these days. And if anyone knows NBA big men it is McHale.Besides I believe D-Mo was always Morey's insurance should Howard not pick up his player option in the summer of 2016.


The Rockets are very competitive this season if Howard comes back healthy. Only OKC and GSW are truly scary playoff opponents. They have an incredible young pipeline of talent with D-Mo, Jones, Papa, Capela and KJ. And the NOP pick. Life is good if you are a Rockets fan.

  • 2

#46685 A (Reasonably) In Depth Analysis of Houston's Defense

Posted by NorEastern on 03 February 2015 - 12:51 AM

I decided to look at the SportVU defensive data for the top eight Rocket's players in minutes played. For your information SportVU data is the seminal analytical tool available to NBA teams. Even the neutered version offered to fans is the most precise measure available of many different metrics in the NBA. SportVU data offers a special look into the defensive prowess of NBA players. Normally we fans are limited to imprecise metrics such as xRAPM. SportVU offers a precise analysis of every play in the NBA, and distinguishes between the specific offensive player versus the specific defensive player. SportVU then rolls all of that data up into an easily digested format.


In this article I will focus on the Rocket's defensive player's ability to reduce the offensive player's FG%. After all that is what NBA defense is all about. There are a number of caveats to this analysis. It does not take into account the Howard effect (The Dwight Effect:A New Ensemble of Interior Defense Analytics for the NBA, MIT Sloan Sports Conference, 2013). I have assumed that the SportVU data properly corrects for the quality of the offensive player. I believe it does, but I have no proof that Westbrook is treated differently than Canaan on offense. That issue is easily solvable. Unfortunately Jones does not have a statistically significant amount of data this season. For that reason I did not include his numbers. Papa is on the borderline, but I did include him. He has four times as many minutes this season than Jones.


The data presented in the following graphs is easily interpreted. The better defender will always hold their opponent to a lower FG%. Therefore the more negative the number the better the defense.


This chart will be the over riding theme of this article. Smith is really really good on defense. And D-Mo is really good. Otherwise it is a mixed bag that I would not have expected. Smith, despite who he guards around the rim is a great defender. Dropping the FG% around the rim from say, 54% to 44%, is actually a huge deal. That reduces an opponent like West to somewhere around the offensive force of a second string power forward like Plumlee. D-Mo, with around fifty percent of his court time at center, effectively reduces a Cousins to a Len. From a powerhouse to an average NBA center. Ariza, Bev and Brewer are obviously over matched around the rim.


This graph documents each players defense from inside the arc to the basket. It is reminiscent of the previous rim protection graph. What this graph really describes is how quick a player is closing out on two point shots, and how effective they are on the close out. And again somehow we again see that Ariza is less effective than other Rockets defenders. A 7.6% over average FG% is huge. More on this later. But I would like to point out that besides D-Mo and Smith, the Rockets cannot effectively defend a player like LMA. It will become obvious later why Howard would not be a great choice to defend LMA.

What really stands out to me in this graph is how darn good Papa and Harden are at defending the arc. Those two players basically convert a Curry into a D-Mo from beyond the arc. And look at D-Mo's numbers. I have little doubt that D-Mo is the fastest seven footer in the NBA. This graph illustrates why the Rockets team is the best in the NBA at defending the three point shot. A minus five percent in opponents three point percentage takes an offense from ~36% to ~31%.

No surprises here. Except Papa being so good 15 feet and out from the basket. The eye test is certainly satisfied that Howard has a difficult time leaving the paint to close out on shots away from the basket. This means that whoever is playing power forward along side of Howard must be great at switching on defense so that they can cover Howard"s defensive outside responsibilities. Howard definitely won't be there 18 feet out.

Less than 10 feet. The paint. Again it becomes obvious that Brewer, Bev and Ariza need help down there. Significant help. However Smith, Howard and D-Mo can obviously handle their defensive assignments down there with little support. I do find Harden's defense to be less robust than I would have expected. But then again it is approximately league average.

And then the overall data. How important is the difference between Smith's -4% and Bev's +2.5%. About 13 points per 100 possessions. At 1.03 points per shot in the NBA. D-Mo's stats do pass the eye test. He is all over the floor, and is great at intimidating shots. Harden's numbers belie the MSM rhetoric that Harden is not a very good defender this season. Brewer, Ariza and Bev are not as good on the defensive side of the ball as my eye test. However their three point defense is obviously the league best. These numbers were much better earlier in the season. Which is why the Rockets are gradually falling in defensive ranking.


A final caveat. Some statistical analysis has shown that Houston's defense benefits from an above league average of missed wide open shots.




  • 4

#46246 Washington Wizards 104, Houston Rockets 103: A total moral defeat.

Posted by NorEastern on 30 December 2014 - 08:20 PM

Ok I am going to weigh in on this topic with some trepidation. First let me take the coaches view point. It is imperative to fully explore the possibilities of Smith on the roster. The man at 29 is still just this side of an athletic freak. Once integrated into the systems he will be a force on the defensive end and a player that can actually create his own shot opportunities. By post season time the Rockets could be by far and away the best defensive team in the NBA. Smith provides the length and the athleticism to push the Rockets over the top in their chase for the 'ship.


From a reasonably knowledgeable fan perspective I find that view point reasonable in a very detached and logical way. However the Rockets were 8-3 without Howard and running with a front court rotation of Dorsey, Black and D-Mo. They should have just been killed but were not. So I have to ask this fundamental question. What is more damaging to a teams record – injuries or rotational changes brought about by acquiring players mid-season that affect the teams rotation? The data set is still small and a coherent analysis looks down right impossible to me. But given the most important current example I would lean towards new player acquisition mid-season being worked into the player rotations as more damaging to a teams W-L record.


So what exactly is missing from the Rockets game right now? I would guess two things. Howard is a block first type of defender. However going for the block actually takes him out of the game for a full second or more. This works well if he is playing next to a very fundamentally sound PF like D-Mo. But next to Smith or anyone else? I have my doubts.


The second thing that is missing right now from the Rockets game is the D-Mo post up. This one just sort of sticks in my craw. D-Mo's post ups differ radically from Howard's. D-Mo is much more contained and turns the ball over much less. D-Mo post ups, even when he misses almost never result in breaks for the opponent. Plus D-Mo is hitting ~55% down there, equivalent to 37% from beyond the arc. With absolutely no long rebounds. The Rockets have gone from giving D-Mo 10 or so post ups a game to zero. Somehow I feel that this is a critical piece of information.


The Rockets are spending $6M+ on the coaching staff. They will figure it out. If not Morey's analytics will straighten them out. But I am impatient.

  • 1

#46218 My Christmas Present - A Really Beautiful New SportsVU Tool

Posted by NorEastern on 28 December 2014 - 05:33 AM

What do you see in the image above? I see an excellent Memphis defense that has collapsed into the paint while still maintaining the ability to close out on shooters. The classic Coach Thib 2.9. Four, count them four players in the paint, none of which is going to be called for a three second violation. 


Taking a look at that image I immediately wonder what would happen if the Rockets shifted Brewer (33) over behind the three point line strong side. I would expect the Griz to move 21 strong side shaded hard to Smith. Thus the easy double team on the ball. It really is a joy to look at a great NBA defensive team's strategies.


I have seen some very explicit examples of what SportsVU offers to NBA teams. One of the most useful additions that we fans cannot access is the actual spacing between players. I am sitting at my monitor with a little six inch plastic ruler to indicate spacing to me. Knowing the overall court dimensions makes this actually pretty easy.


Shape. And spacing. That describes both the offensive and defensive strategies in the NBA. SportsVU is absolutely unparalleled at showing shape. The triangles, with two offensive players around the rim actually describe the vast majority of offensive sets in the NBA. The one set not dependent on that shape is the DDMO. No formation is better adapted to clearing out guard driving lanes than the DDMO. I will publish an image the next time I see one.


What we see daily watching the NBA is not the chaotic tangle of athletes we imagine. It actually is more like a choreographed Bolshoi ballet. Every player has a position he must be at on the court. If one player fails to be there, the entire system quickly breaks down. The Griz almost never break down on defense. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

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#46214 My Christmas Present - A Really Beautiful New SportsVU Tool

Posted by NorEastern on 28 December 2014 - 02:25 AM

We are all children at heart. And we all love presents. Preferably incredibly techie all out cool presents that allow our own personal hobbies to take a major step forward. My hobby, in case you had not noticed is NBA basketball. Rockets basketball in particular.


I do not know about you, but I personally find it difficult to completely track NBA offenses and defenses. Players are flying all over the court, movement is incredibly fast, and I easily lose track of who is exactly where. Frame by frame analysis is tedious and I find myself with a pen and paper drawing circles on the page.


Well on Christmas day I found myself futzing around with SportsVE data. Another hobby of mine. And then lo and behold I unwrapped my own very best Christmas present ever (except perhaps that $400 sous vide cooker my girlfriend got me this year). Let us take a peak.



I went and looked this morning at all of Smith's made shots in the Memphis game. Graphically. With each players number artfully painted on a little circle that I did not have to doodle on a piece of paper.


In the above image we see Brewer acting like a swivel for the Rockets almost at half court. Fast break protection and outlet target. We see Harden as the center of the offensive set at the FT line. Bev is camping out in the corner for the step back three. Dorsey is weak side and we have Smith with the ball near the restricted area. And there is that little gold circle that is the ball that is about to get flushed in 0.25 seconds.


I am going to go play with new toy. I do hope you enjoy playing with it too. It is really ground breaking in NBA play visualization. Here is the link I was working with. Merry Christmas everyone.



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#45841 At what point can I feel safe trusting Donatas Motiejunas?

Posted by NorEastern on 08 December 2014 - 03:41 PM

I have done much research on D-Mo over the last three years. These are some of my current thoughts.


  • D-Mo in the post is reminding me more and more of McHale. Herky jerky movements. Numerous feints. Getting the defender to commit. Splitting the DTs. We may next season be witnessing the best NBA post game in more than a decade.
  • It is interesting that D-Mo becomes a RFA and Howard has a player option in the summer of 2016. It would not surprise me at all to see Howard go after one last huge $35M contract. In which case expect Morey to match any offer for D-Mo. That will be 4 years at ~$23M.
  • D-Mo obviously learned a lot from Asik. He reminds me of Asik (or Hibbert) on defense. They cannot leap out of the gym, but they challenge shooters with their 7 foot height right in their face. No contact allowed, because it will result in a charge. Yes D-Mo is finally now getting the calls.
  • If D-Mo continues to develop his defense and post game and manages to hit an NBA average % from beyond the arc D-Mo will be an all star.
  • D-Mo is perhaps developing into the best passing big in the NBA. Some of his assists are just stunning.
  • D-Mo, for a 7 foot 270 pound man is incredibly quick and fast. It has seemed recently that there is no big he cannot stay with. Including Blake. D-Mo's is amazingly fast closing out on the three point shooters from the paint. If you do not watch defense closely you can get an idea of his speed from watching him on the break.
  • D-Mo has been lauded multiple times as the hardest working Rocket. If he is not in practice he is in the weight room or the gym. (Or if I read things right at the bar with Harden and the gang).
  • The Rockets defense is predicated on two basic principals. Trap the ball handler against the sidelines or the end line, and if that does not work funnel them quickly towards the paint protectors. God help the Rockets if both D-Mo and Howard are not available at the same time.
  • D-Mo has gained 50 pounds in the last 18 months. He seems to be getting comfortable with his new muscles, which is probably why his shooting has improved. We may see further improvements.
  • D-Mo is currently Morey's best trade chip. He is no longer a backup center. If D-Mo gets traded expect a massive return. D-Mo could start at the 5 for 20 teams in the NBA

Anyway that is just what popped off the top of my head in ten minutes. I feel sure there is more. Best to everyone.

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#45740 Houston Rockets 105, Memphis Grizzlies 96: Outgrinding “Grit and Grind.”

Posted by NorEastern on 04 December 2014 - 05:11 AM

I do so disagree with your opinion of D-Mo. The guy is phenomenal on defense and one of the 10 best post players in the NBA. He has starting center and an eight figure contract in the summer of 2016 inscribed on his forehead. We will see if Houston can keep him. Oh, and Randolf and Gasol scored 16 points between them tonight. Do you believe that that was just luck? It was D-Mo again shutting the paint down.

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#37758 Let's Talk About Kevin McHale

Posted by NorEastern on 19 March 2014 - 10:08 AM

I believe that people tend to over rate the importance of a head coach. What makes a great coach? Great players. Did Phil ever coach without Pippen, Jordan, Kobe or Shaq? Did Pop not fall into Timmy D and then Parker and Manu? The NBA game today is to fast for a coach to have a big effect on the game. R&R, modern NBA defenses. We have little other than rotations to grade a coach and his staff. And even rotations suffer from incomplete information. Who is suffering from nagging injuries? Who is gassed? Who has a hangover (looking at you Harden)? Those issues make it impossible to judge a coach on a game by game basis.


Some people attempt to judge a coach by X's and O's. It has been shown that timeouts significantly hurt the offense and helps the defense. Calling timeouts impedes the offense, so I would say that the first coach to run out of timeouts may be the poorer coach.


So if we fans cannot judge a coach by game performance how can we judge him? Perhaps I am dense, but I see little other than game preparation, roster attitude, team cohesiveness, player improvement, and system buy in along with its execution. Meta data so to speak. McHale seems to be succeeding in all of those areas.


Perhaps we should look at the one metric that means anything. Morey. McHale still has a job. I take that to mean that McHale is doing a good job.


And the answer is - 8.

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#32354 A Few Observations: Over a Quarter of the Season has Passed.

Posted by NorEastern on 11 December 2013 - 11:59 PM

  • The Rockets are currently leading the league in total attendance with more than 237,000 fans watching the game in person.
  • The Rockets are tied for fourth in the margin of their victories (6.27 points).
  • The Rockets are dead last in turnovers (I am shocked!). But they currently are only 2.3 turnovers a game worse than league average.
  • The Rockets have the most free throws per field goal attempts in the league. By a large margin. To bad they are currently next to last in FT%.
  • The Rockets allow the sixth fewest free throws per opponent shot attempt in the league.
  • The Rockets lead the NBA by a wide margin in three point field goal attempts per possession. I feel sure none of you all saw that coming.
  • The Rockets are second in oRtg and 11th in dRtg in the league. I guess that explains their margin of victory.
  • The Rockets are third in offensive EFG% and forth in defensive EFG%. That certainly is encouraging.
  • I have many defensive stats to discuss. Another post maybe. But the Rockets are currently the fifth best NBA team in opponents PPP (0.85). They are forth in post defense and fifth in P&R ball handler defense. Unfortunately they are only 19th in spot up shot defense. They need spacing coaching on their 2.9 defense.
  • The best Rocket defender this season is Omri Casspi. By far. Bet that caught you by surprise. Don't ask me, I have no clue.



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#30268 Morey's unmistakable fingerprints.

Posted by NorEastern on 18 November 2013 - 01:59 AM

I would like to post a table for you all to ponder. The important column is the last one - the "Total 2 point jump spots" (per game).



The Rockets are currently taking an amazing 9 fewer inefficient mid ranged jump shots compared to the nearest NBA team. I actually admit I was wrong when I said many months ago that I did not see how the Rockets could drive down further from the 22(? something like that) mid ranged two point shots that they took last season. This table illustrates how influential Morey has been on the Rockets coaching staff. It is an example of applied advanced metrics in its finest form. And it bodes well for the future!



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