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What to expect from the Rockets' upcoming season: Shooting Guard

#1 User is offline   RedNinetyFour 

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    Posted 11 August 2011 - 01:05 PM

    As the doggedly hot days of this Texas summer try to turn our t-shirts into swimming pools/wet mops, the NBA lockout continues to encourage us, like a worried parent, to find other hobbies. In lieu of taking up shuffleboard or Starcraft, I’ve decided to help pass the time by breaking down the Rockets’ roster.

    I’ve chosen to separate the players by position, though I realize that in this post-modern NBA doing so is a somewhat dubious and often generally pointless exercise. For the purposes of this column and my hopes of not drastically straying off topic, position will serve a purely functional distinction.

    As I began last week with point guards (the easiest to define), we’ll stay in the backcourt this time around and discuss Shooting Guards.

    Kevin Martin

    Martin is about as intriguing an NBA player as they come. Not in the way that weirdos like Ron Artest (excuse me, Meta World Peace) or Kevin Garnett captivate us with their eccentricities, but for exactly the opposite reason. I can’t think of a single memorable post-game quote or highlight that litter other stars of Martin’s caliber’s portfolios. And make no mistake about it, despite his slight frame and seemingly diminutive on-court demeanor, Kevin Martin is a legitimate NBA star.

    Martin finished second in scoring per 48 – minutes last season, behind only Kobe Bryant and ahead of the household names like Carmelo, Durant, LeBron, Wade, and Dirk. He was in the top twenty in PER despite the fact that he doesn’t collect rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks, the stats that usually keep pure scorers like him out of Hollinger’s highest ranks. What makes Martin such a special (and interesting) player is his uncanny ability to get to the free throw line. He tied the NBA scoring champ, Kevin Durant, for the most made free throws and was 4th in free throw attempts last season.

    Why is this so significant? A possession that ends in free throws is potentially more successful than one that ends in an open look or even a made shot, especially for a player like Martin who converts nearly 90% of his attempts, because it also results in a foul, which can not only take opposing players out of games but also lead to more team free throws. Wonder why the Rockets had one of the top rated offenses in the league last year? Look no further than Kevin Martin’s awkward pump fakes and floppy jumpers.

    Before we move on and I choke on this Kevin Martin love sandwich, it should also be noted that he is an absolutely miserable defender. This was particularly a problem at the beginning of last season as he far too often shared the court with Brooks and Scola, leading to Globe Trotter style alley-oops for opposing teams and a considerable collection of sideline face-palms for Rick Adelman. And while Martin looked at times like he was somewhat aware of defense as an idea that exists in the world of basketball by the end of last season, he can’t reasonably be expected to turn into Tony Allen any time soon. What we can expect from Kevin Martin next season is for him to continue to do what he does best:  score as efficiently as anyone in the league.

    Courtney Lee

    Unfortunately for Courtney Lee, what most people probably remember him for is missing the game winning lay-up in the Finals against the Lakers. And even more lamentable is the fact that that’s probably what he’ll continue to be remembered for. Lee’s greatest assets are his defense and three point shooting, skills that won’t make him a super-star anytime soon but will earn him minutes on most any NBA team. What he did well last season, particularly after the all-star break, was play within himself. He’s not the guy you want initiating the offense for your favorite team, but he is a dead eye three point shooter off the catch. He generally makes good decisions with the ball and isn’t turnover prone. He won’t fall asleep on defense and gets the occasional fast-break igniting steal. His biggest obstacle next season might just be finding playing time on this crowded roster, though I suspect his consistent play will earn him that as well.


    #2 User is offline   Stephen 

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      Posted 14 August 2011 - 03:23 AM

      Okay,I've held back for a few days,but now I've got some time and away I go. I apologize in advance for the length :)

      "And make no mistake about it, despite his slight frame and seemingly diminutive on-court demeanor, Kevin Martin is a legitimate NBA star."

      Stars have two defining characteristics.
      1)They are commonly acknowledged as stars. Kevin Martin is not regarded as a star outside his family. Far be it from me to be overly snide,but re-watch Rahat on what to expect and notice how he says Morey's big goals to acquire A star,not get another one. ClutchFans,The Dream Shake,etc all constantly run posts on how the Rockets can get a Star,are w/out a star and so on. If his own fan base doesn't recognize Martin as a star...
      Ask any NBA fan who the star's are and Kevin Martin is not going to be mentioned.
      2)Stars have an impact on games. They alter the way the other team plays and they make their own team better.
      Over the past two seasons the Rockets went 85-79,54-50 w/Martin playing,31-29 w/out him. Not much of an improvement. Two yrs ago the Rockets were hanging around the Play-Offs when they traded for him. Martin did not provide any Play-Off push. This past Season in the 10 games before the team was eliminated and the Rockets were making their Play-Off push,Martin shot measurably worse from field,3pt line,FT line than he did the rest of the season. Clyde and Bill tried to explain it as Martin was just "worn down","tired". That's one way to look at his performance.
      Rick Adelman,who knows a thing or two about offense,did not put the ball in Martin's hands when trying to protect small late leads-it went to Lowry on 1-4 sets,and did not put the ball in Martin's hands in close games and said win it stud. Contrast that w/Ademan giving it to McGrady or going inside to Yao to close games.
      JaVale McGee was second in blocked shots in the NBA,does that make him a star?
      A star,Martin is not.

      What he is is an extremely effective scorer in the flow of an offense. He is decisive w/ the ball,either immediately setting up his shot or moving it just as quickly. Give him a sliver of daylight and he'll decide in an instant whether to shoot the dagger-3 or draw a foul. You cannot put him in isos and expect much and you certainly can't give him the ball on the perimeter and say get some. He is not a creator who sets up others(46 of 80 games w/2 or fewer assists,as many games w/ZERO assists as games w/5 or more-6),doesn't rebound all that much,(35% of his games w/2 or fewer rebounds) and his defense is shaky at best.
      If you want your SG to,well,shoot,and um,score,Kevin Martin is your man. If you want a multi-threat,do-it-all type,Martin is definitely not your man.
      For a Rockets team wanting to space the floor for the bigs,who can draw fouls and who doesn't kill the clock dribbling,dribbling,dribbling but instead moves the ball quickly,Martin is an extremely good fit. But it does require the wing playing alongside him be a pretty decent defender and playmaking out of either the PG or SF spot.
      A surprising weakness of Martin's is his turnovers. Martin turned the ball over 2.5 times a game Per 36,higher than Brooks' 2.4 in Hou last season and Lowry's 2.1.
      One warning signal about Kevin is last yr he played a season injury free and put up numbers he had not done in several seasons. He increasingly relied on his 3pt shot(whether a product of Rocket teachings/system,declining ability to get closer to rim,whatever) and for all the FTs he shot,in 2007/8 and 2008/9 he shot between 1 and 2 more FTs a game. Me,I'm hopeful but skeptical Martin can go another season injury free.(Perhaps the key is keeping his minutes down to @32 a game.)

      Courtney had a decent season,but it was more of what he did on court that doesn't show up in the stats section. He is a far superior defender to Martin,yet his DRtg of 110 is just a shade better than Martin's 111. He is a better playmaker than Kevin,yet Per 36 he had just 2.1 assists compared to Kevin's 2.7. He was a much better rebounder at 4.4 to Kevin's 3.6.He stole the ball just a hair more at 1.2 vs Kevin's1.1. Where Lee's playmaking ability shows up is in turnovers where he ave'd 1.4 Per 36 compared to Martins' 2.5. OTO Kevin scored 26 points per 36 while Courtney put in 14.
      While Kevin is a deluxe scorer,Lee is more of a jack-of-all-trades,who's not particularly exceptional at any of them-yet. Lee has shown good chemistry w/Bud and also w/Martin when after trade of Battier Adelman would go Lee/Martin to close games.
      At this point Lee is a great fit as a back-up getting solid minutes and can easily be seen as a starting complementary SG to a scoring SF.

      Which brings us to the other SG possibilities.
      We saw Dragic essentially play SG to Lee's de facto PG at end of season. If Adelman had come back,I think we would have seen quite a few Lowry-Dragic shifts. Now,maybe not as much,but if there's an injury-or trade-we might see it quite a bit.
      Terrance Williams has SG skills and could well play there-assuming he plays. He's shown the most court vision and passing skills of any of the Rockets,w/possible exception of Lowry,and the worst use of his abilities of any of the Rockets. Should Lee be traded a Dragic/Williams backcourt makes a lot of theoretical sense.
      While this is about a increasingly remote this yr,next season LLull likely comes over. In Spain he's shown an ability to get a team on a run,plays a lot of SG,is fairly good defensively and would be a combo Gd able to play either position.
      And a dark horse candidate for SG is...Bud. He's no worse laterally on D than Martin,athletic,can shoot and has put up numbers in-between Martin and Lee(yes at SF I know,but still,in Adelman's system the two positions were pretty close). Per 36 his 2.6 assists to 1.4 turnovers is far superior to Martin or Lee,his 5.8 rebounds is better(again I know SF,still...),and his DRtg
      of 110 is equal to Lee,and while his 15.9 points per 36 is nowhere cole to Martin's 25.9,it's superior to Lee's 14. If Lee should get traded,I can see where Bud may become the back-up SG w/either Morris,or more likely Williams starting at SF.

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      Posted 15 August 2011 - 07:34 PM

      Agree with Stephen. Kevin Martin is no star. What he is is a damn efficient scorer, a first-rate role player (though scoring, as a role, usually gets disproportionate consideration as star-quality). If you remember when the Rockets got Martin, his role was to score points, certainly, but getting the opponent into the penalty to enhance Yao's effectiveness was a big part of his potential value. Martin was to be a supplement to Yao, a legit star.

      I like what Martin brings to the table, especially when the Rockets have somebody like Courtney Lee backing him up. However, while Dragic and TWill probably have the ability to play the 2, it makes less sense with the Martin-Lee combo (in terms of skill-set, not just minutes). Basically, the Rockets have a lot of overlapping parts, which gives them flexibility to get a star.... Man, why am I wasting my breath. There are no stars on the trading block. There's not going to be a season. This is depressing...

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