My Thoughts on Howard, MDA, Les Alexander and the Future of the Houston Rockets

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by RocketsJumer, May 20, 2016.

  1. RocketsJumer

    RocketsJumer Member

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    I want to first say that I think I am a pretty level-headed fan of this team, the Houston Rockets. When things are good, I enjoy it as much as the next guy but know that things can change in an instance. When things are hitting the fan and exploding in a glorious fire, I try to prevent myself from becoming too overly emotional or rash in my thinking. The bottom line in all of this is that I am a Rockets fan who wants to see the Rockets succeed and win. I think in all of my accounts on sites that I frequent and post about the Rockets like here, r/NBA, and r/Rockets (I used to have a Dream Shake account but was not a fan of their format) I have built a pretty good reputation for saying my opinion in a fair and level-headed manner.

    So, here are some of my thoughts about some of the recents things that have been happening with the Rockets. I'll label each section then spoiler the actual writing to prevent this post from becoming becoming a scroll fest and so that one can just jump to a particular section.

    Dwight Howard:

    First I want to talk about Dwight Howard. First and foremost, I like Dwight. I was a fan of him ever since his early Orlando days and was overcome with so much joy when I saw that he decided to sign with Houston. I still have the screen shot of when he announced his decision to come here via his Twitter picture/bio saved on my phone. And overall, I enjoyed his three years here. He has been a great member of this community and a very good player for us. When he signed here, it brought such an excitement for NBA basketball to this city that I haven't seen since the 22 game win streak.

    But it would be a downright lie if I thought Dwight fulfilled the expectations we had on him and he should have had on himself when he signed here. Of course a championship would have been amazing and was the goal when the Rockets united Howard and Harden together. But realistically speaking, not winning at least one championship, while unfortunate, happens and has happened to greater players and duos in NBA history. But overall, Dwight tenure here never quite reached close to what should have been the expectations.

    Dwight was supposed to be, in the very least, the 2nd superstar next to Harden and in only one of the three seasons, he fulfilled that role. His first year here, he was great in both the regular season and playoffs but it ended in one of the lowest moments in Rockets history. His second year here was plagued with injury in the regular season, but he was very strong in the playoffs and the Rockets enjoyed one of their most memorable playoff run that did not end in a championship. We all know what happened his third year here this past season. Dwight's effectiveness and role on this team diminished greatly. He went from being the de-facto 2nd option to maybe not even being the 4th option on offense some nights.

    Which now brings us to talk about Dwight's recent comments.

    We all know what Dwight said and have probably built our own opinions on the matter. I just wanted to say that I am in the school of thought that there is no way Morey said those exact words to Howard. Morey wanted to bring Howard to Houston the moment Yao called it a career in 2010/2011 and Howard remains the Rockets' and Morey's biggest FA acquisition in recent history, if not ever. There is no way Morey would say "we don't want you to be involved" to the highest paid player on the team. It is way more likely that a scenario like this happened with Howard talking to Morey about getting more touches and Morey tried to angle to conversation into leading Howard into doing things that would make him more effective and could help the team win more games then Howard interpreted that to mean that Morey did not want him to get post touches and not be involved.

    Even if Morey meant those words to Howard, he is not wrong in trying to steer Howard clear of getting more post up opportunities and actually, Dwight got plenty of post touches. Dwight averaged 3 more post up per game in both the regular season and playoffs than the next highest player. Dwight's effectiveness, or rather ineffectiveness, in the post is the reason why his numbers went down. Dwight has never been a good or effective post player, but this season he was even more atrocious than ever before, given the amount of opportunities he received. There is a post out now that compared Dwight Howard's post up to Corey Brewer shooting this season, and Dwight's PPP in post ups are marginally better (0.03 PPP better) than Corey Brewer shooting the ball this season, which for the most part was a showcase in house building with all the bricks Brewer put up. People want to look at Howard's FGA per game and blame the Rockets for how low it is but FGA does not account for times when Howard got fouled or turned it over in the post. Add that Howard is a turnover machine in the post and his free throw percentage sunk into career worst for him this season. Frankly for analytics guy like Morey, seeing Dwight Howard post up as much as he does must be tortuous for him to watch since he knows that it is basically a wasted possession but the team must feed him the ball to keep him "involved". (Its actually amazing that the Rockets were the 7th best offense this season with Howard's post up and our piss-poor shooting.)

    Here is the next point. I don't know what Dwight is trying to accomplish in his recent media tour, giving out these kinds of interviews to TNT and ESPN. I know he is trying to save his own reputation for his lackluster play this season by pointing the blame to Harden, Morey and the Rockets but the way he is doing it is hurting both him and everyone in the Rocket's organization. Dwight is admitting that he took himself out of games and became disinterested when he felt like he wasn't "involved" in the offense. I think anyone who watched the Rockets play this season saw that Howard looked disinterested this season but for him to admit it and think that him not feeling "involved" justifies him not giving effort on the floor really shows how almost deluded Howard thinks of himself. This guy is the highest paid player on the team, a self-called leader of this team and this is how he acts if he doesn't feel "involved". What kind of leadership or example does that show to the rest of the players on the team. Dwight is basically saying, "If you don't feel involved, its perfectly fine to stop giving effort!" No wonder the Rockets gave up so quickly when things when faced with even a little bit of adversity. This is just hurting Howard if he is trying to convince teams to sign him this offseason. I mean, what team would want to sign a declining player to a long term max contract when he thinks its okay to take himself out of games if he doesn't feel "involved"? I don't know what Dwight and his reps are thinking right now because Dwight is hurting himself while he proceeds to throw the Rockets, the team and the fanbase that has gone out of their way defend Howard, under the bus.

    Everything Howard has said now is very hypocritical of what he was saying during the season. When the Rockets were struggling mid-season, Howard would talk about how the team needs to be together for the sake of winning and how they need to put individual problems aside to win. But now after the season, its time to tee off on how the Rockets failed to accommodate his need for more post touches.

    Honestly, the fact that the Rockets fell so greatly on defense this season should fall almost directly on Howard's shoulder. When he and Harden paired, the thought was that Harden would be the train that pulls the offense while Dwight will be the wall that solidifies our defense. Harden has been doing his job to carry this offense but Howard really didn't provide the leadership that was expected on him defensively. Of course, I can't put all the blame on Howard since our players, Harden especially included, failed on defense this season and Howard's decline can be a huge reason why he wasn't effective on defense but this shows that the days when having Dwight Howard on your team means you should have a top flight defense are over. He cannot carry a defense the same way he used to be able to.

    The bottom line is that Dwight Howard isn't as good as he once was and I think everyone but him, realizes it.

    Mike D'Antoni:

    When news broke out that MDA was the frontrunner and now the imminent head coach of the Rockets, I will admit I was pretty disappointed. The more I think about it, as long as the Rockets surround MDA with strong defensive guys, I can support this hiring.

    There should be no denying that MDA is an innovative coach, particularly on offense. The SSOL Suns were the pioneer team for how teams play today in the uptempo, space and pace, take the first good open shot style. People want to say that Nash should be held most responsible for the Suns' success but Nash was only a good all-star PG before MDA and when Nash entered MDA's system he turned into 2x MVP and arguably one of the greatest floor general in NBA History. In my opinion, I think James Harden is a more dynamic player than Nash giving Harden's talent to getting into the lane and finishing plays by scoring. Also, Harden is a very underrated passer and while he will never be confused for Nash, Harden can definitely benefit just as Nash did in MDA's system. Pairing Harden and MDA will be a high risk, even higher reward because if this pairing works, there is no telling how monstrous Harden can be now that there will be an actual system in place for him rather than him having to create things on his own.

    There are some causes for concern though.

    First, I felt that the reason why the Suns were so successful during 2004-2009 was because they were the only team capable of playing their style of play. Most of the NBA was playing slower and the Suns were able to literally blitz teams because they had the style and players to do so. In today's NBA, this is not the case. Almost every team is playing fast and blitzing a team with a uptempo offensive attack is almost the strength of many of the top tier team in the league, certainly for teams like the Warriors, Clippers, Thunder and Cavs.

    Secondly, defense was never a strength of those Suns' team or any MDA team, save for the 2014 Knicks who finished 5th in defense. Hopefully, if MDA is hired we need to immediately hire strong defensive assistants to balance out the team. I'm sure its contingency of the MDA hiring that the Rockets get to pick the assistants, which explains the Rockets interviewing Silas and being connected to Lionel Hollins if MDA is hired.

    Third and most importantly, the current Rockets are not constructed to be emulate the Suns, particularly the shooting the Suns had on those great teams. Those Suns teams had elite shooting with most every one of their perimeter players shooting near 40% from three. Players like Joe Johnson, Jim Jackson, Quinten Richardson, Leondro Barbosa, Raja Bell, Tim Thomas and even Shawn Marion shot pretty well from three. The Rockets, for sure, do not have that type of shooting on the team and that must be addressed this offseason. If we hire MDA, the Rockets have a lot of work to do this offseason to rebuild the team to make the hiring as successful as it can be.

    The most disappointing part of the MDA hiring is that it seems like Morey couldn't do his job and pick a coach he wanted. According to reports, he couldn't even interview coaches who probably should have been given greater looks at in JVG, Vogel and Joeger. And with that comes the next topic..

    Les Alexander:

    I'm sure all of us are pretty wary about Les Alexander right now. His meddling right now might translate to failures the Rockets may experience in the future. In the recent years, it seems like Les' meddling has been very bad for the Rockets. From not allowing the Rockets to tank when Yao retired to get a top pick, signing Jeremy Lin instead of keeping Dragic and now not even allowing Morey to do his job and evenly evaluate potential coaches for the job is now becoming inexcusable.

    To not even interview JVG, Vogel or Joeger is a huge mistake. Those were the best coaches in the market and each brought what we need from a head coach, particularly defense, yet Les continues to be enamored with offense. Its just sad that Morey cannot do his job properly, yet if this MDA experiment failed, Morey's head will be on the line. While Morey is not perfect at his job and evaluating talent, he is one of the best GMs in the NBA when allowed to do his job. It seems like Les is not going to allow Morey do his job right now.

    In fact, it sounds like the Rockets front office is trying to compensate for Les' decisions and to me, this is a very dangerous predicament to be in when the owner is not allowing the people he hired and are constantly "in the game" to do their jobs because only one of the parties involved can be fired if things fail.

    As Rockets fans, we have to hope that Les wizens up and stop meddling or that Morey and co. can properly compensate enough to keep this organization afloat.

    The Future of the Houston Rockets:

    The immediate future of the Rockets falls directly in the hands of one James Harden. Like it or not, he is the franchise now and will be if or until he decides to leave.

    To be honest, he is probably one of the few players that you can confidently set as your franchise player. He does have a lot of growing up to do, no doubt about that, but name 10 players that you rather build around in the present and into the future. Curry, Davis, KAT, KD, maybe Westbrook and Leonard are the only players for me since LBJ, while highly effective, is trending on the downswing of his career, Cousins is a monster but dysfunction sums up teams he has lead over his career and Wiggins, Simmons and Ingram are still too young to really gauge how good they will be.

    The fact of the matter is that Harden has never missed the playoffs in his career. Every year he has been the cornerstone of this team, he has averages of 27ppg, 6.6apg and 5.4rpg. Only 2 or 3 players in the league are capable of those numbers. He has finished 5th, 2nd and 9th in MVP voting the past 3 years respectively, even though this season was a total embarrassment for Harden and the Rockets. He consistently plays the most minutes in NBA and has only missed 15 games over 4 seasons, one of those games because he got suspended.

    I'm not trying to be a Harden-homer because, like I said, he still has a lot of growing up to do as a player, leader and person. Obviously his most recent TMZ accusation does nothing to help him and until he shows that he has matured up that moniker of him being immature will follow him, maybe even unfairly at times.

    As a leader, as the 2015 season was a huge step for him the 2016 season was almost 3 steps back in that regard. But the thing is that he has shown he is capable of being the leader we need and should be expected of him so its not like we are hoping for something we haven't seen. Its there and just needs to be brought out consistently.

    As a player, I really thought the addition of Lawson would have helped him grow as a player but, if it was due to Harden's refusal to change his game or Lawson's inability to play basketball, that did not happen and while James was very impressive this past season, he took just as many steps back in certain aspects of his play. His lack defense will always been a calling card but the turnovers this years, especially the frequency and types of turnovers, are really worrisome. We can only hope that his decision making and hopefully having more help on the team will greatly lower those numbers.

    Just as we need to add personnel and players to help the imminent MDA hiring (or any coach, really) to be as successful as possible, we also need to do that for Harden to put him in the best position to lead this team. We all know what can, should and could be done to do this from signing Conley, Anderson, Horford or any X, Y and Z player, but Morey and Co. must be on their very best game to rebuilt this team.

    To conclude, this is a major offseason for the Rockets and how its starting has definitely not been looking good for Red Nation. From Howard's comments and backlash, the almost imminent MDA hiring, Les' meddling and the dependence on Harden as the future of the Rockets, the fate of the Rockets look as cloudy as ever before in recent memory.

    I can only hope that things turn out for the better concerning these things.
     
    11 people like this.
  2. BigShasta

    BigShasta Contributing Member

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    Good stuff. Posting to add to my midnight reading. Thanks
     
  3. Haymitch

    Haymitch Contributing Member

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    Haven't read it yet but I like the first sentence. Very Perd Hapley-like.
     
  4. J Sizzle

    J Sizzle Member

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    I enjoyed reading this. Well said and repped.
     
  5. IvanLCPM

    IvanLCPM Member

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    Very good post.
     
  6. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    My thoughts:

    On the Rockets Offseason
    [​IMG]

    On the Rockets 2016-17
    [​IMG]

    On the Rockets Future/Longer Term
    [​IMG]
     
  7. FTW Rockets FTW

    FTW Rockets FTW Contributing Member

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    My thoughts on your thoughts.

    [​IMG]

    :grin:
     
  8. mig0s

    mig0s Member

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    my thoughts on your knowledge about stocks and investing

    LULZ
     
  9. DonKnock

    DonKnock Member

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    negged
     
  10. Hakeemtheking

    Hakeemtheking Member

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    Very well written and on point. Will rep whenever I can.
     
  11. SF3isBack!!

    SF3isBack!! Member

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  12. Tfor3

    Tfor3 Contributing Member

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    This. God damn
     
  13. Fyreball

    Fyreball Contributing Member

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    Your loss. OP was really well written, and on point.
     
  14. Gimmmethemike

    Gimmmethemike Member

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    Amazing post! Very spot on!
     
  15. LosPollosHermanos

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    take my reps.

    But I disagree with you.
     
  16. rocketsballin

    rocketsballin Member

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    someone's thoguhts on my thoughts on the guy's thoughts of the op's thoughts
    fk no

    more thoughts
    none
     
  17. ashleyem

    ashleyem Member

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    I think fans here overreacted and D'Antoni is incredibly underrated here. Steve Kerr has said on multiple occasions that the Warrior offense, which many drool over, is variant of D'Antoni's offense. I understand the concerns over his aloof personality and lack of discipline on offense but with D'Antoni it's almost thing that our offense will improve drastically. And we can compensate for his weaknesses by bringing in a good defensive-minded assistant coach, like what the Warriors did by hiring Ron Adams, who was Thibodeau's top assistant. I am probably the only person on this forum that supports D'Antoni and I am glad that Les took over the whole searching process because when the last time Morey had control, he failed miserably, and not only did he fail, but he continued to support McHale after that humiliating loss vs Portland which at least set us back a few years. Les is a pretty smart man when it comes to personnel selection. People who complaint about Les need to realize how lucky we are to have Les as the owner. This is our worst season in years and we still made the playoffs. As an NBA fan and soccer fan, trust me, I've seen far worse owners and the Rockets are among the most well run organisations in sports and the whole city of Houston should thank Les for what he's done for the team.
     
  18. ashleyem

    ashleyem Member

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    This thread needs a bump
     
  19. OTMax

    OTMax Member

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    Like stated in the the ESPN article, now the word is out about power struggle between Morey and Leslie, how you expect D'Antoni to get along, respect and work with Morey? He knows Leslie has his back..
     
  20. Harden's beard

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    pretty much this
     
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