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On Josh Smith, Motiejunas, Canaan

The less I say about Josh Smith tonight, the better. But I had believed that the idea of starting Smith was to solve the problem of ensuring post touches for both Howard and Motiejunas. Instead, Motiejunas spent very little time in the post tonight. It did work as Brewer continues to play out of his mind and Dorsey did contribute defensively. But what happens when Brewer inevitably regresses? Will the Rockets actually start going to Motiejunas or will we see something which will probably be less efficient offensively?

Paul McGuire had some interesting thoughts in his recap from last night with which I agree.  First, on Josh Smith.  He’s been so atrocious in these past two games that you could possibly even go so far as to say that the Rockets would have won both had he not suited up.  I think that’s a fair assessment.  The team looks completely lost offensively in response to this drastic implant.  (Adding Josh Smith into your lineup in midseason is like when the white blood cell count in the body rapidly multiplies in response to a foreign element and everything goes haywire..)

But that’s okay.  I still firmly believe it was a no-brainer to acquire him, even if we lose a few games in the standings.  One of my pet peeves is when a team acquires a new player, the team plays poorly upon acquisition, and the critics pound their chests in response. It takes time to adjust.  Ultimately, I don’t think Houston could have gotten through the West without that extra big body, especially one as defensively sound as Smith.  Seeding doesn’t really matter in the West.  These current growing pains are a worthwhile investment.  As I’ve been saying, it could turn out to be a disaster, but this was something the Rockets had to give a shot, especially at that pricetag.

My problem right now is Motiejunas and Canaan.  The reason the Spurs are so successful is because of the increased confidence their scrubs acquire from the increased playing time and expanded roles they enjoy during the season.  That’s supposed to be the silver lining with injuries.  That when your injured guys get back, your team is even better because now not only do you have your injured guys, but your scrubs are balling out of control too.  If you just chain your scrubs back to the bench, it kind of defeats the whole purpose of developing them.

I have no idea what’s going on with Canaan.  On paper, he seems to fit every need the Rockets have at point guard.  The situation is so baffling that I don’t even want to speculate.  Something is clearly going on at practice or, he’s just even worse defensively than I’m realizing.  (Though, it is hard to believe that that is the case when Jason Terry looks like the worst defender in all of basketball).

As McGuire noted, Motiejunas should be leading the second unit and getting all of the post touches he can handle.  Instead, he’s reverted to running around like a big oaf who is hanging onto the thread of his NBA career.  I realize he wasn’t productive in the, like three, touches he got last night.  But there’s enough of a body of evidence that he needs to be fed consistently to be productive, and there’s also enough of a body of evidence that feeding him is related to winning basketball.  Motiejunas mows people down and in theory, should have been mowing backups down.  It’s not happening.  Why?

“McHale” (and I put that term in quotes as representative of the entire staff because guys clearly have defined roles here) has done one of the best coaching jobs in the NBA this season.  As I know there are some of you here who take offense when I am critical, know that I am not calling for “his” head or anything remotely close to that.  No one’s above criticism.  For as much as “he’s” done in transforming the ethos of this team (to a defensive beast), “his” player management still leaves much to be desired.  I don’t feel “he” is always able to get the most out of all of “his” players and that’s what is necessary to win a title and not just feel good about winning 50 games.

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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of www.Red94.net.

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