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@  cointurtlemoose : (08 September 2015 - 01:17 AM) aaaah, thanks jorge
@  jorgeaam : (08 September 2015 - 12:21 AM) Love it how Hinkie and Morey always target the same players, but hoping he isn't another Covington
@  thejohnnygold : (08 September 2015 - 12:03 AM) Christian Wood has signed with Philly
@  jorgeaam : (07 September 2015 - 10:32 PM) If I'm not wrong, he hasn't been waived yet, they have until october 4th to do that
@  cointurtlemoose : (07 September 2015 - 05:39 PM) Anyone else surprised that Kostas hasn't gotten picked up by anyone yet? I wanna see that guy play somewhere
@  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


Member Since 11 Jul 2012
Offline Last Active Today, 03:10 AM

#46667 Missing the point

Posted by thejohnnygold on 02 February 2015 - 07:59 PM

Patrick Beverley just can't get any respect.  In this Bleacher Report article (which is actually pretty well written and conceived), the author makes a compelling case for the Rockets to make a move to upgrade the PG position.


My beef is the statistical validation the author uses to suggest Beverley is a below average (and way over-rated) defender.  Once again, people focus on the percentages and ignore the volume.  Much like the "Dwight Effect" which directs people's attention to how many shots don't even get taken because of him (all of which carry a 0.0 fg%--an excellent score indeed!).


In the author's statistical data, Beverley allows opposing PG's to shoot 46.9% against him (+2.7% better than their overall average).  This is true, but it casually glosses right over the number of attempts.  Beverley allows 4.0 makes in 8.6 attempts per game.  Now, stop and think about that.  He primarily defends each team's starting PG and most teams' starting PG is a stud offensive player.  Check out how many shots NBA point guards take per game: LINK.


For comparison, Aaron Brooks takes 8.8 shots/game.  Russell Westbrook tops the list with 20 shots/game.


Yet, Beverley is constantly derided for his opp fg%.  Well, if we factored in the 0.0% on the extra shots they normally would have taken I think that number would plummet.  (I know that's not how it works, but it is certainly something people should take into account when measuring his overall effect on the game).


I know there is overlap and not all of those shots belong to his "natural counterpart".


For comparison, here are some other players' numbers:


Beverley: 8.6 opp fga (+2.7 fg% above average)  31 mpg


Irving: 11.2 opp fga  (+1.2 fg% above average)  38 mpg


Lillard: 10.6 opp fga (+.4 fg%)  36 mpg


Rondo: 8.1 (+.9%)  31mpg


Wall: 10.0 (-1.6%)  36 mpg


Westbrook: 7.3 (+.5%)  32 mpg


Conley: 10.5 (+1.8%)  32 mpg


Curry: 10.3 (-3.8%)  33 mpg


Jennings: 7.5 (-.2%)  29 mpg


Lowry: 10.8 (-.8%)  35 mpg


Paul: 9.1 (-.3%)  34 mpg


Knight: 9.1 (-.9%)  32 mpg


(all data from NBA.com and ESPN.com)


I added the mpg to give it a bit more context and relativity.  It seems I have proven myself wrong :huh: .  Beverley compares favorably, but he doesn't separate himself from other defenders all that much when you account for minutes played.  Russell Westbrook is the clear winner here with Wall a close second.


Beverley does outshine Conley and Curry, but once you factor in offensive contributions that diminishes the achievement.


I still love Bev's heart and hustle.  His rebounding and shot blocking are excellent.  I also think he has a knack for timely late-game plays that can swing the tide for us.  Still, the numbers don't lie.  He's a solid defender, but not so much that we can ignore the offensive issues.


On the positive side, he ranks 9th among PG's in 3fg% while ranking 7th in total 3 attempts.  He is 5th in reb/48 among PG's.  He's solid in other areas too.  I know they are trying to work on his play making abilities and figuring out ways to maximize his skills within the offense, but at the end of the day he is not anywhere near the same league as most of his peers.


So much for my "Bev Effect".  Bev is good, but he's not as good as I had thought.  Brandon Knight looked pretty solid though.... :rolleyes:

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#46663 Josh Smith and the end of Moreyball?

Posted by thejohnnygold on 02 February 2015 - 06:33 PM

Woj just sat down with Josh Smith and wrote a nice little article about him.  LINK


I enjoy pieces like this because, as fans, it is easy to forget that, ultimately, these are people just like us.  Josh Smith isn't perfect (who is?), but I've enjoyed having him on the team.

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#46625 Houston Rockets 99, Dallas Mavericks 94: The Cavalry

Posted by thejohnnygold on 29 January 2015 - 05:34 PM

I don't think we win that game last night without the combined team effort (duh!), but I really think it was the plays Josh Smith made in the 4th quarter that pushed us to victory.  (Bev's spinning lay-up was huge too).


First, a little love for Josh.



To me, it looks like he is getting more comfortable with his role and his teammates--except for that hilarious double dribble.  I know this won't be the norm, but it isn't once in a lifetime either.  We'll see more of these.  (also funny is teammates seem to be ready for his wild, off-target, fastball passes now.  They're like the catcher from Major League when Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn comes in the game.)




Now, let's give it up for the defense.




Monta Ellis: 0-2 in the 4th quarter.


Dirk Nowitzki: 1-5 in the 4th quarter.


Rondo: shotless.  2 turnovers 1 shooting foul on Terry.  0 assists.


T. Chandler: 1-3 in the 4th.


Barea, Villanueva, Aminu, and Harris: 0-6 in the 4th.


Chandler Parsons: 3-3!!!  Good job, Chandler.  That was 2 three pointers and a nifty up and under lay-up.


That is 2-16 for everyone not named Parsons and 5-19 with him.  We can't take ALL the credit, but we can definitely take some.


In all fairness, our 4th quarter was not an offensive explosion.  Our defense gutted it out and as more and more teams try to beat us by shutting down Harden I think the guys will adapt and learn how to score when defenses are paying that much attention to him.


By the way, did anyone else think Rondo's defense on Harden was a little....bizarre.  There were times he was flat out hugging him.  Is that legal?  It was bordering on wrestling....which wouldn't be the worst thing ever.  Many an NBA player has stepped inside the ropes.  Just imagine the possibilities.....



...and everyone will enjoy seeing Karl Malone get taken down.




Back to basketball...Monta Ellis was simply on fire.  I don't think we played poor defense on him all night--he just wasn't missing until the 4th quarter.  Really glad he has come into his own as a player--he's fun to watch.


One last thing.  For those who enjoy the spite and malice that go with the Mavs' rivalry, here is a video from the same angry Mavs fan who went on a 5 minute rant after their first loss to us this season.  CAUTION: NSFW--lots of colorful, objectionable, and down-right immature language....but the agony and anguish are worth it.  It's a good reminder that the grass is (almost) never greener when you're a sports fan.



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#46503 Josh Smith and the end of Moreyball?

Posted by thejohnnygold on 16 January 2015 - 07:37 PM

Here is another oldie, but goodie. LINK


It's an article about Battier and Moreyball.  This snippet, he is talking about how it is difficult for basketball players to play completely unselfishly because they have their own selfish interests (mostly getting paid as much as possible) which are usually based off of box score stats.




When I ask Morey if he can think of any basketball statistic that can’t benefit a player at the expense of his team, he has to think hard. “Offensive rebounding,” he says, then reverses himself. “But even that can be counterproductive to the team if your job is to get back on defense.” It turns out there is no statistic that a basketball player accumulates that cannot be amassed selfishly. “We think about this deeply whenever we’re talking about contractual incentives,” he says. “We don’t want to incent a guy to do things that hurt the team” — and the amazing thing about basketball is how easy this is to do. “They all maximize what they think they’re being paid for,” he says. He laughs. “It’s a tough environment for a player now because you have a lot of teams starting to think differently. They’ve got to rethink how they’re getting paid.”

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#46502 Josh Smith and the end of Moreyball?

Posted by thejohnnygold on 16 January 2015 - 07:22 PM

Good points all the way through.


I think the expected return off of a missed shot is something that goes wholly overlooked when casual fans discuss analytics. One sure thing is that there are open shots available after a scramble for a rebound. Another sure thing is that we have the rebounding edge at just about every position including our back court hustlers like Harden, Ariza, Bev and Brewer. So if they have a greater than 50% chance of getting the rebound off their opponent especially on a long missed three, what is the expected return of that possession including the chance that the shot actually goes in? IDK, but I bet I know of somebody who does. I also bet that's a huge reason why coaching is OK with Smith's occasional chucking up of shots. Is it really all that terrible? The algorithm needed to figure that out has got to be pretty nasty.


This snippet is from that recent Grantland article about Moreyball.  It talks about this very thing.  Considering we are the #1 team in both total Off. rebounds and Off. Rebounding % it seems Morey knows exactly what he's doing.




As of January 1, Harden’s close-range field goal percentage ranked a mediocre 21st within a group of 27 NBA players who had attempted at least 200 shots within eight feet of the hoop. But a closer examination reveals that, incredibly, the Rockets retrieve a ridiculous 55 percent of Harden’s close-range misses, which is by far the highest share for any volume shooter in the league. Put another way: Harden converts only 54 percent of his interior chances, but when you consider that freakish offensive rebounding rate, a whopping 79 percent of his close-range attempts result in either a bucket or a fresh 24 for his team.




Here is another snippet from an article (an older one) about Moreyball.  Interesting insight into his perspective.




To turn something from a 52 percent probability of success into a 54 percent probability of success with no added cost is a huge victory of strategy. Yet there is a 46 percent chance it will fail, and in that case, it is important to trust the process not the result.



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#46444 Houston Rockets 113, Brooklyn Nets 99 - Don't wake the beard

Posted by thejohnnygold on 13 January 2015 - 06:16 PM


That video of D-Mo speaks for itself.


As for Dwight, ignore the numbers.  The best thing he is doing is just being on the floor.  Defenses are drawn to him like he has his own gravity.  Does anyone remember that article about Kyle Korver last year?  It's about Korver scaring defenses to the point his coach can construct offense around it.  Dwight has been doing the same for us.


On pick n rolls he rarely gets to touch the ball because defenses swarm him (which somehow makes people think he doesn't run the pick n roll), but those corner threes sure are wide open.  I can't wait for D-Mo to get double teamed every time he gets the ball in the post (teams have to start doing this, right?)  An open Dwight on the weakside (or Josh Smith) is unthinkable, but that's what is going to happen.  On post ups, Dwight's double team opens up the weak side for offensive rebounding as well.


Dwight is still averaging 17 & 11 for the season, but that's not important.  In January (7 games), he is averaging 13 & 10 and, more importantly, doing it in just 30 mpg.  His usg% is down to 21% and has been for the last 2 months after being in the upper 20's earlier.



This chart from basketball-reference.com is interesting.  It shows the positive effect rest is having for Dwight and also that his optimal minutes range seems to be around 33 mpg.  Ignore the individual stats and check out the +/- (or overall team effect).  That's what I care about.  When Dwight is on the floor and well-rested things seem to go well.


Everytime I think he's lost a step I'll see him sky for an alley-oop and quickly remember that he can still do Dwight things.  I think he is on permanent cruise control until the playoffs.  In the meantime, Motie and Beverley are becoming more integral parts of the offense (particularly in acting as creators in lieu of Harden doing it all.  Bev is averaging 10, 4, and 4 in January and his 3 pt. shooting has held up (NO JINX!).


Josh Smith....I guess I will just have to live with the fact that people are going to take pot shots at Smith forever.  



It's easy to focus on "bad" Josh Smith.  It's also easy to blow things out of proportion.


His ft% is atrocious.  It's true.  Good thing he rarely shoots free throws then, isn't it?


His 3 pt.% is atrocious.  It's true.  Good thing he rarely shoots threes then, isn't it?  (the 1-5 in the CHI game has been addressed--many of his threes have context and aren't "just Josh being Josh").


He shoots too much.  Not true.  Notice that his high FGA games coincide with his high ORB games.  The guy has an uncanny ability to get his own rebound--which inflates his FGA numbers, but on a per possession basis works out quite nicely.  Also, there are quite a few games where he barely shoots at all.


He shoots too many mid-range jumpers (the cardinal sin for Rox fans).  Guess what?  That 5-15 last night included but one mid-range shot.  Since his arrival he shoots 18% of his shots from mid-range--or slightly less than 1 out of every 5.  Considering he is averaging 10.8 shots per game that is hardly the team killer people want to make it out to be.  


Look at his minutes played.  Look at his peripheral numbers.  Realize that, eventually, he is going to figure out where people are on the floor and stop passing to ghosts.  Realize he is playing solid defense.  Realize he makes game-changing plays--often.  Realize that Smith is not what crazed basketball fans say he is.


Let's try not blowing things out of proportion.  That's all.

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#46375 Josh Smith and the end of Moreyball?

Posted by thejohnnygold on 09 January 2015 - 05:36 PM

Going to have to agree with Doug on the subject of variance. Bad defensive teams need high variance approaches, good defensive teams want low variance because they can bank on keeping their opponents to a low enough score that they don't need to gamble so much. 


On the other hand, I agree with GJ on there being a difference in this regard between the starters and the finishers. You can be much more tolerance of high variance approaches at the start of a game than at the end. It's only worth gambling late on if you are behind - in a close game with not many possessions left it's usually better to go with something that consistently produces positive results rather than something that either produces gems or trash and nothing in between.


Given the assertion that Josh Smith is a high-variance player, it would seem to follow that you can live with his approach early on in games but should probably not trust him in crunch time. That's my opinion of him too - I was dismayed to see him on the court at the end of the Bulls game.




Agreed.  I didn't address it in response to Doug, but the good team/bad team variance divide is very true.  That being said, I think every team needs/wants that wild card, microwave, whatever you want to call it.  They can be dangerous--both for you and your opponent.  Think Jamal Crawford, JR Smith, JJ Barea, Gerald Green, and even Jeff Green (who is coveted by Memphis right now).


On any given night, you stack up your "consistent" guys against the other team's "consistent" guys and often, in the NBA, it's a wash.  What's next?  How good is your wild card?  I would argue that as much as Dirk did to get the Mavs a championship, JJ Barea was also a huge component.  When Dirk sat, it was Barea that would come in and just KILL teams.  Heck, to this day Steven hasn't forgiven Eric Spoelstra for that.


Take Gerald Green.  When he shoots 50%+ the Suns are 11-2.  When he shoots 40% or less they are 7-10.  That's a big swing for a 6th man who averages 22 mpg.


Where Josh Smith differs from most of those guys, in my opinion, is his defensive consistency.  I think the ultimate goal is to focus his offensive contributions to play off of Harden, Howard, and Motie and to utilize his play-making to ease Harden's burden and keep defenses more honest when they hone in on James.  Meanwhile, he can help on the defensive end and, overall, have a positive effect on the team.


As of now, I agree that Smith is not ideal for closing out games.  Personally, I think James and D-Mo should be playing an inside-out game down the stretch alongside Bev, Howard, and one of Ariza/Brewer.  I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that sentiment.  Smith presents too many risks between his iffy shot selection, lack of clock management, and I-can't-bear-to-watch passes that may or may not find a receiving team mate to get minutes down the stretch in tight games where each possession is magnified in value.


Like you said, ST, using him to span the 1st-2nd quarters and 3rd-4th quarters is ideal.  Also, by spending more time against (lesser) bench guys it should skew his %'s up towards the good end.

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#46349 Josh Smith and the end of Moreyball?

Posted by thejohnnygold on 08 January 2015 - 03:32 PM

I don't mean to be political or whatever, but still, the definition of Ridiculous is Newtown and 20 kindergarten kids shot to death by a very sick individual.


Or perhaps a dozen or so cartoonists simply doing their job and believing in their thoughts including Freedom of Speech being mowed down in their office yesterday in Paris.


Just saying someone's post that mentions the word ridiculous is out of bounds and/or simply unacceptable, well, I just ran out of words here............


Well, just a quick Google search brings up this definition of "ridiculous":


deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd


Now, if you feel like Doug's thoughts on Josh Smith compare to the examples you gave then I guess you are taking this forum more seriously then I ever imagined.  Personally, I would have gone with "tragic".


It's not about definitions--it's about respecting others.  You didn't merely "mention" the word ridiculous, Rick.  You aimed it directly at another poster on this forum.  Scroll up and re-read it for yourself.  We are not here to be condescending or dismissive.  Calling another's opinion "ridiculous" without offering anything constructive does just that.


It's a simple request for respect and consideration not forceful censorship or agenda-driven manipulation.

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#46346 Josh Smith and the end of Moreyball?

Posted by thejohnnygold on 08 January 2015 - 02:58 PM

Saying one person's opinion is "ridiculous" is not warranted nor up to standard.  Most all of us have expressed a thought or opinion that others could label as such--whether right or wrong in hindsight.  None of us know how the Josh Smith signing will ultimately play out--to believe that would be "ridiculous".  As fans we are all emotionally invested in this team which means we are going to have emotional reactions--probably more often than we like to admit.


All in all, Smith played a great game for us last night.  This got posted over at Reddit.com yesterday:



Call it what you want, but the numbers are promising.  Small sample?  Sure it is.  Proof that chemistry is improving?  Why not?  Did Smith take ill-advised shots yesterday?  Yes.  He also made 2-4 of those (I don't count the corner three which Harden directly passed to Smith to shoot it a bad shot).  He was 4-4 from inside, 2-4 from mid, and 1-2 from deep.  He also made, possibly, one of the most critical plays of the game clinging to a 6 point lead with 6 minutes to go Howard turned the ball over on a bad pass and it looked like Kyrie was going to make it a 4 point game until Smith flew out of nowhere to make a spectacular block which led directly to a 3 by Brewer that, in my opinion, sealed the win.  The Cavs didn't go away completely until Smith sank a 3 with 48 seconds left (again, assisted by Harden).


It seems that Josh likes to shoot his threes in pairs--as soon as he makes one he jacks up another.  I can live with that.  It's still 1.5 ppp.


Smith had 2 turnovers yesterday--One was another oops pass where Brewer moved left just as Smith passed to where he used to be--it happens.  I don't recall the other.


McHale's first quarter interview was comforting.  He was asked about Smith's role and McHale mentioned everything except shooting the ball--rebounding, hustle, blocks, steals, driving to the rim, and play-making.  That is what they are working to mold him into.  Let's relax and let it happen.   :)

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#46338 Josh Smith and the end of Moreyball?

Posted by thejohnnygold on 07 January 2015 - 10:29 PM

thejohnnygold, I don’t agree it that it matters who ends the game, not who starts it.  It matters who gets playing time.  Whether Smith plays the first 25 or the last 25 minutes of the game is really irrelevant.  I know we remember the end of the game more than the beginning, but points scored and allowed count just as much at the beginning as at the end. 


Regarding Morey figure it out.  I disagree.  I disagree because there’s nothing to figure out here.  It’s simple in this case.  Smith is a horrific shooter, and he takes lots of terrible shots.  That’s his problem.  It’s not like with a lot of young players where you hope they improve this or that.  With Smith, we all know why he’s terrible.  And there’s a very, very simple solution to this problem: Smith needs to stop shooting those terrible shots.  But he doesn’t.  He has taken those shots for years now.  Why would he stop taking them now?  Really, why? 


Regarding Smith bringing a lot to the table otherwise.  Again, I disagree.  He’s a decent shot blocker (but not someone you fear driving against), and he gets some steals.  But he’s a turnover machine.  I grant you that he won’t continue to turn the ball over at the historically bad rate he has been at with the Rockets.  Small sample size, new team, etc.  But over the course of his career he has always been turnover prone.  That really negates some of the added possessions he gets on the defensive end.  And what else does he do well?  Really?  His rebounded often gets discussed, but he’s an average rebounder.  (He’s no Black, for instance.)  He's an above-average passer, I grant you that.  Is it possible that his individual defense makes up for some of his box score deficiencies?  Sure.  By my eye test, he looks lazy on defense and has missed a huge number of assignments.  But maybe that’s just my eye deceiving me and his getting used to a new system.  Setting that aside, he would have to be an incredibly elite one on one defender to make up for his horrific shooting and his otherwise mediocre stats.  I don’t even think it would be possible to be so good at one on one defense in the NBA to make up for his otherwise terrible play.  And, even if he were elite, that would make him an average player in the NBA.  He simply can’t be good or great because of his horrible shooting and turnovers. So, really, we're talking best case scenario of maybe a slightly above average player?  


Regarding gut feeling.  Gut feelings are simply prejudices wrapped in superstition.  If the numbers don’t back it up, they don’t back it up.  Your example of Beverly is a good example.  The numbers can’t explain why Beverly out rebounds someone bigger than him.  That’s his skill, effort, etc.  And the numbers can’t evaluate his hustle and determination.  But the numbers can measure how many rebounds he gets a game.  And that’s the important number.  I don’t care how much heart or desire Beverly has.  I care about his ability to get rebounds.  And if he tried super hard, and cared more than anyone, but still didn’t get rebounds, who cares?  And if he didn’t care at all, but still led all guards in rebounds, I wouldn’t complain. 


Often time “gut feelings” are nothing more than our attempts to justify our own false perceptions.  When we all watch games, we notice crazy athletes more than the quiet, unathletic producer.  We do.  Averaging 1 extra turnover, 1 extra foul, and 1 extra missed shot a game can turn a really good player into a bad player.  But who notices such small things over the course of a game?  Our gut might say the guy who gets that extra turnover, foul, and missed shot is a really good player because he’s an amazing athlete and gets 1 or 2 great plays a game.  It’s like the Kobe Bryant effect.  Everyone thinks he’s the guy to take game winning shots because we can all close our eyes and picture a game winner (or 5) he’s made.  But the reality is that he’s one of the worst last-second shooters in the game.  Our gut would say give the ball to Kobe, whereas the stats would have said give the ball to Gasol. 


And this last (long-winded) point brings me back to a broader point I mentioned above.  Josh Smith is a classic example of a player who stat-heavy GMs should avoid and non-stat-heavy GMs should love.  Smith is crazy athletic.  He makes lots of amazing, memorable plays.  Whenever someone describes Smith, they always use the word athletic and potential.  But he doesn’t produce.  He doesn’t.  He almost certainly never will.  If Smith were a young player, I’d think, great.  Maybe we can develop him and that crazy athleticism can be harnessed into a productive player.  But Smith is not young.  


Regarding not blaming Smith for our losing.  To some extent, I agree with you.  I’d honestly feel the exact same way about Smith if we had not lost a game since he came here.  It’s a long season, and you can’t judge a team based on a few games.  And as terrible as Smith has been, there’s only so much damage one player can do to a team.  That being said, over the course of a long season, his presence will take a toll, and we will lose games (maybe a lot of games, depending on how much he plays) because we have him in there as opposed to a productive player. 


Thank you for your comments.


MrLobble, I think that is the only way to possible give Morey an out in this.  But, as I noted above, Smith would have to be one of the greatest defensive players in the league to make up for his historically terrible offense.  Also, at this point, we need more offense, not more defense.  We have more than enough elite defensive players.  We need guys who can efficiently score. 


Alituro, I take your point that, “If IMWT, then IMWT to the end . . . .”  But I also think there must be a breaking point, and I think this move, for the reasons I’ve given, brings me to that breaking point.  It also makes me wonder now how much of Morey’s moves have been luck, as opposed to skill.  Again, maybe I’m the one who is insanely wrong on this one.  But it reminds me of the story about the million people who are in a giant “flip a coin” tournament.  It’s a single-round elimination tournament, where one player must guess whether the flipped coin is heads or tails.  At the end of the tournament, the champion, who at this point will have won thousands of one-on-one games, declares that he’s the best coin-flip guesser of all time.  Is that Morey? 


Losthief, I don’t think plus/minus is a relevant statics.  It’s noisy.  And it’s certainly says nothing over a short period of time.  


Thank you for your responses.  


If you're not careful, people are going to mistake your long posts for one of mine  :lol:


I'll try to briefly respond, but we all know how that goes.


The end of game vs. starting thing was a direct quote from McHale.  It doesn't really matter my thoughts on it nor yours--that is our coach's take.  I seriously doubt that Smith jacking that three at the very beginning of the possession was part of the plan.  The line-up was Bev, Harden, Ariza, Smith, and Howard.  I am pretty sure the idea was lock them down on defense and let Harden do his thing.  Seems like a pretty good plan.  Unfortunately, it didn't work at all, but I agree that we need to give them time to work this out.  Smith will get the message that Clutch time is Harden time not jack-a-three-after-just-making-one-heat-check-time.  The coaches will set him straight.  Go check out the shot chart at ESPN.  You can filter it down to just Smith's shots and by quarter.  The 2nd and third quarters were pretty solid for what we are looking for.  The fourth quarter...not so much.  One of those missed 3's was with 15 seconds left and the game already out of reach.


Morey has had his eye on Smith for years.  I just can't rationalize his inability to see that "Smith sucks" while he hits home run after home run with nearly every personnel move he makes.  That doesn't mean it will work out--sometimes you don't know how things will mesh until you put them together.


Morey has always preached variance.  As previous posters have noted, Smith epitomizes this characteristic.  Any given game he could drop 30 pts, 17 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks.....or 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 steal, and 6 turnovers.  To issue a blanket statement like yours ignores Smith's ability to absolutely dominate a game.  The last time he played the majority of his minutes at PF (as he will do here) was in ATL in the '12-'13 season.  You can go to basketball-reference.com and see his game logs from that year.  They are sortable as well.  What you can see is he posts some ridiculous games and he posts some head scratchers.  Now, in trying to find a correlation to the team's overall success I sorted every stat column and the only one that truly distinguished itself was his rebounding.  When Smith rebounds well  (11+ rpg) the Hawks were 19-3.  Many of those games included lots of off. rebounds.  Morey loves offensive rebounding.


Go back and look at those game logs.  That season, Smith averaged roughly 18 pts, 8 rebs, 4 assists, 1 steal, 2 blks, and 3 to's per game while shooting 46% overall and 30% from deep.  With a guy like Smith that simply does not tell the whole story.  His variance is probably in the top 10 in the NBA.  (this is part of why he was not a good fit in Detroit.  Brandon Jennings is a high variance guy.  You can really only have one of them per team.)


As for him being a turnover machine.  His TOV% is in line with Harden's and for most seasons is lower.  He generally has a very high usg% and has been leaned on to be a creator for his teams.  Turnovers happen.  Most of his turnovers in Houston have been from passes that either went to players who weren't there or to players who weren't ready.  That's chemistry.  It will improve.


The bottom line is it is fairly easy to read between the lines here.  While you are admirably carrying on a discussion about Smith with us, your mind is made up already and there is nothing that will change that except for Smith to completely stop taking shots outside of 10 ft.


As for gut feelings being "simply prejudices wrapped in superstition"....you are welcome to see things that way.  I would call them instincts.  Some people have strong ones, others don't.  Some people are great with people, others aren't.  Some people are masters of math and others the written word.  There are yin and yangs for all types and the case is true here as well.  What I've learned is just because I don't experience something doesn't mean it isn't true for another nor that it doesn't exist in the world.


You vehemently claim that Smith doesn't produce--"He doesn't".  If you look at him through a macro-lens I can see how you feel that way.  If you look at him through the narrow scope of amalgamated offensive efficiency--I can see how you feel that way.  He's not James Harden.  Josh has had to be "the man" for the last 3-4 years on his respective teams.  It's going to take time for him to adjust to his new role.  He can and he will--give it time.  The last time he really had the luxury of playing with a full compliment of talent was '09-'10.  His usg% was lower and his production (and efficiency) were higher.  He also shot a total of 7 3's that season--it can be done....it will be done.


That year he had a PER of 21.0, he shot 50% from the field.  He averaged roughly 16 pts, 9 rebs, 4 asts, 2 stl, 2 blk, and 2 to per game.  Now, that was many years ago.  We likely won't get that guy.  I just disagree with these blanket statements and assertions.


Also, the Josh Smith signing still ranks lower than the Royce White draft pick on Morey's list of questionable moves.  Some would also add drafting Marcus Morris over Kawhi Leonard.  Heck, some would add hiring McHale...and re-signing him this year.  :lol:

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#46314 Josh Smith and the end of Moreyball?

Posted by thejohnnygold on 06 January 2015 - 04:25 PM

I'd also like to add that Josh Smith is not single-handedly killing this team.  I saw so many things in last night's games and the games we've played over the last month or so.  Simple things.  The basics.  Blocking out on rebounds.  Making better passes to shooters.  Finishing at the rim.  Finishing on fast breaks.  Lazy passes.  Dwight looks like his legs lost some strength/springiness.  Players not knocking down a good % of open shots.  So much stuff and not one of them is related to Smith.


On top of that, the coaches/staff are openly saying that they are experimenting with line-ups now that we have 3 new players.  You aren't going to beat many good teams (and the majority of teams we are losing to in this stretch are GOOD teams) with that many things going on at once.  Yet, we aren't getting blown out (Pellies game aside).  This is a good thing.  It is also worth noting this free throw disparity that keeps rearing it's head.  Not sure what to make of that, but I will be keeping an eye on it.

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#46312 Josh Smith and the end of Moreyball?

Posted by thejohnnygold on 06 January 2015 - 04:02 PM

Josh Smith was a short-term, low-risk gamble. If you listen to the latest podcast from the Rockets website, in which you'll hear an interview with Morey, you'll be reminded of how much confidence Morey has in McHale to bring the best out in his players. Just like Morey gives McHale young, unproven talent to mold into great NBA players (Parsons, Beverley, D-Mo, to name just a few), Morey has decided to give McHale a shot a fixing a veteran up. It might work and it might not, but again, it's low-risk at the price.


One thing I don't understand about the pervasive lamentations concerning the Josh Smith signing is that everyone seems to think that, despite Morey/McHale's history of complete willingness to bench underperforming players, some people seem to think that, even if Smith completely ignores everything that Morey and McHale tell him to do, we'll still start him every game and pass him the ball on some blind hope that he'll get better.


There were a few games where they started Smith since allegedly, that was part of the deal. But when it wasn't working, they benched him. By benching Smith, the Rockets have shown already that they are very willing to knock him down a few notches if he doesn't  play his part on the team. I see absolutely no reason not to believe that they will continue to knock him down through the rotation if he doesn't shape up and take the right kinds of shots. That leaves us with a worst-case scenario of an extra couple million on the books and a pissed-off guy at the very end of our bench. If we had paid K-Pop and Ariza an extra million each, would anyone be saying the sky is faling? I don't think so, which is why I can't understand why you think that we "will be lucky to make it out of the first round."


I agree here.  I'd like to add that McHale said, "it's not who starts a game, but who finishes it".  They have already decided Smith isn't a starter and with a couple more showings like last night against Chicago he won't be seeing the finishes either.  Morey and McHale aren't going to let one guy ruin what is a very good shot at a title run.  They aren't going to let one ego hamstring an entire organization.  Despite Morey's Micro-approach to basketball, I have always marveled at his "big picture" focus that dominates all other decisions.  That is a rare combination.


Going back to one of your points, Doug, I'd like to suggest that Morey is very much on top of this signing.  The statistical analysis of Smith is hard to argue against.  So I will put out this idea: I presume that Morey and Co. (coaches included) are frantically scouring every second of game tape with Smith and crunching numbers day and night.  His performance here and with these players is what matters.  They will figure it out.


Smith does bring a lot to the table.  His passing is good--just not right now.  Guys aren't where he thinks they will be.  Harden never even thought Smith was going to whizz a pass by his head when he was under the basket (which would have led to a lay up or foul shots).  Let's be frank, D-Mo is in the same boat here--some of his passes result in turnovers because players (mostly Dwight) don't see them coming.  This will work itself out.  Not completely, but every player--EVERY PLAYER--suffers from bad passes at times.


Smith will be reigned in.  These guys watch film.  The coaches tell them what's what.  Smith is quickly going to see that he is not as good as the guys he is playing with.


Speaking of, can we get a little D-Mo love?  Many worried about D-Mo's minutes and confidence when Smith was signed.  Turns out, neither his minutes nor his confidence have waned and he is killing guys.  He just went up against Noah and Gasol and performed like an all-star.  I wish they had given him more chances down the stretch, but I understand the Rockets are content to sit back and let things happen when they are studying them--which is what is happening with out late game stuff.  We are experimenting and trying to find out what we have and what we can do besides Harden ISO's.  People do still want that, right?  Well, there are growing pains to get there.


I'll tell you this much, Doug.  If you let Josh Smith turn you off from being a Rockets fan then he truly has won.  Don't let Josh Smith beat you.  He will be long gone sooner or later--fandom never dies.


I'd also like to add that one should not under-estimate the power of "gut feelings".  There is a reason Morey hired McHale and it's not because he loves analytics.  McHale embodies "going from the gut".  Morey values that as much as he values his numbers.  Statistics do not give us answers in sports--merely educated guesses.  Ultimately, decisions are still made based on human evaluation.


There is no way to measure why Beverley often out-rebounds guys nearly a foot taller than he is.  He just does.  Statistics can only show that he does it.  Watching him shows you his athleticism, heart, smarts, and hustle.  Do you really need a number for that?  Not trying to sway you from your love of analytics--just pointing out that both sides have merits and both have their faults.  Balance brings out the best in everything.

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#46162 Josh Smith - First Glimpse

Posted by thejohnnygold on 25 December 2014 - 04:17 PM

I'm not sold on Josh Smith...considering that one of the worst teams in the NBA just flat out let him go while on the hook for a 26mil salary should be a red flag.


That said, as another contributor said..if the coaching staff can structure his play towards a more productive direction (no taking bad shots, especially from the outside) he could turn out to be a steal especially with the gratituous pleasure of knowing that Chandler Parson's HUGE contract was a reason the Mavs couldn't afford to offer as much as the Rockets could to Josh Smith.  And it's just for one season.


Josh Smith has one season to prove he can play with the Rockets.  I'm not thrilled about moving Donuts back into a reserve role..he was starting to play well and had some great games (especially that 25 point game !) And D-Mo has a much better postup game than Dwight Howard ever had.  (sorry to say this, but it's true..Dwight's game is so simple that it's only through his strength and sheer atheleticism that it actually works)   Motiejunas' postup game is a good deal closer to Hakeem's than Howard's will ever be.


If he pans out..then damn, the Rockets will have a defensive answer for Notwiziki and Aldridge.


And has anyone noticed that Ariza has been in a lengthy shooting slump of late ?


This keeps getting mentioned, but I whole-heartedly disagree.  Van Gundy had to make a choice in trying to put out the dumpster fire that is the Detroit Pistons.  He can't move Smith because the salaries need to match and he needs the space to re-sign Drummond and Monroe.  The teams that wanted him weren't willing to give up what he wanted so they cut bait--it was that or wait out his contract, lose Monroe, and postpone a meaningful rebuild for another few years.  Van Gundy's system and style is not the right fit for Smith.


None of this makes Smith a "cancer".  It is simply a way to continue the narrative while turning a blind eye to the fact that this move makes sense for both sides.  Turning a blind eye to all the circumstance that led to Atlanta letting him go.  Turning a blind eye to the fact that some of the most well-respected franchises (which include well-respected coaches and GM's) were lining up to sign him.  "Cancer"....riiiiiiiiight, you know, because smart people line up for that.


Smith is not a marching band kind of guy.  He's fusion jazz.  Surround him with other great "players", put him on the court, and watch the magic happen.  That's what people don't get.  He's been stuck with these Sousa types when what he needs is Miles Davis.  Yup, I just compared McHale to Miles Davis.   B)


D-Mo is going to get minutes--there is zero concern there.  He'll be fine and we'll be better for it with him playing a big role for our bench.


Ariza will be fine.  The coaches will set him right, and playing a few less minutes per game won't hurt either.  I think he is forcing his threes and rushing them (just a bit).  The good part is teams have to respect his shot which makes the spacing for Harden, Howard, and D-Mo better.


Oh, by the way....Josh Smith is shooting 57% on corner threes this season.  (that is only on 7 attempts so grain of salt)


The bottom line is this guy, before his reputation went down the drain, was arguably the closest thing to LeBron James the league had.  I think in a healthy environment and surrounded by talent we will see that guy again.  He's wired differently than LBJ, but the talent is there.  This Houston team entered the season good....now we are ridiculously good.

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#46015 Houston Rockets 115, Denver Nuggets 111: James Harden and MVP chants in Denver.

Posted by thejohnnygold on 18 December 2014 - 06:17 PM

I'm not too happy with the knock on Harden's defense.  While he acknowledges that it was a bad play on his part, there is more to it than simply, "Oh, that's just James being James".  First, listen to his post game interview (the one on court, not in the locker room.  LINK)  He was expecting Beverley to foul (because that would have been a smart play) which is part of why he was "ball-watching"....the ball should not have made it to Afflalo.


Next, as you can see in the video below, it happened fast.



Combine what he said in the interview above with the fact that Beverley and Howard were up near that part of the 3 pt. line already, Afflalo was feinting as if he was floating to the corner and Harden was reading that (as he should have), and then Afflalo bursts towards Howard and Bev, gets the ball and hoists the shot all at once.  Harden actually recognized pretty quickly and reacted fairly well all things considered.


Seriously, go through frame by frame.  From the time Afflalo breaks for the ball at 2.0 seconds remaining, gets the ball, and releases only 1.6 seconds tick off the game clock.  It was a really good play by Afflalo to recognize that Harden was covering towards the corner three (as he should and since he expected a foul from Bev was comfortable doing exactly as he did).  Repeat: that was more about Afflalo making a great play and much less about any failure by Harden.


Go back again, check out where the ball is at 2.7 seconds left and then think, "Wow.  In 2.3 seconds, Afflalo is going to have already caught and released the ball."  That is fast and one misstep (created by Afflalo's nice play) can take you out of the play.


Even funnier (since I find it funny to read Rockets' fans supporting the Harden Narrative) is that never is there a mention of when Trevor Ariza completely loses his man and lets him drain a wide open shot (as happened last night).  Howard gets no credit for not sliding over more.  Bev gets no credit for not fouling Lawson when he had the chance.  Whatever, see things how you like.  Apparently, it's all James' fault Afflalo hit that shot.  Of course it is....I remember when it was all Parsons' fault last Spring....


Personally, I like that James took credit for the bad play.  For all those who think he lacks leadership, well, I beg to differ.


Moving on.  I liked Nick Johnson's play.  Yes, he doesn't seem to have any concept of spatial relations when it comes to putting the ball through the hoop when he gets a chance for a lay-up.  We could focus on that, or we could focus on the fact that he got to the rim with ease 3 times and once more (a little less gracefully, but cleaned up by Dwight) after that.  His defense was, and has been, impressive.  He stays engaged, makes heady plays, and will figure out how to finish at the rim.


Many have called for his quick return to the D-League--which would be fine.  I see lots of positives and am not worried one bit about what he is lacking.  The shooting will come--everything else is pretty much there already.  I like Canaan, but he has got some serious competition nipping at his heels.


I loved how we opened the overtime going to D-Mo in the post.  It both recognized their big men's foul trouble and D-Mo's ability to be a reliable option on offense for us.


I also liked Dwight's post passing.  He made a couple of nice dishes.


Despite everything ugly that happened in that game it was fun to watch and ended up being a great win for us.  If we were in the Eastern Conference, we'd be in first place.  As it is, we are 2 games back in the West and that's after playing half the season with one arm tied behind our backs.

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#45819 At what point can I feel safe trusting Donatas Motiejunas?

Posted by thejohnnygold on 07 December 2014 - 07:37 PM

Just found this....thought I'd share.


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