RealGM Analysis Houston Rockets: How To Make The Offseason 'Win' Work On The Court

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by YOLO, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. YOLO

    YOLO Member

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    http://basketball.realgm.com/analys...w-To-Make-The-Offseason-Win-Work-On-The-Court



    With a frenetic summer signing period finally slowing down, we have finally have a chance to evaluate how everything has come together for teams across the league. Five franchises in particular stood out because of the collection of talent they acquired both in the draft and free agency. In this series, we’ll look at not only why these teams “won” their summers, but the work that’s now required in order to mold their new-look rosters into a cohesive units.

    What the Houston Rockets got right

    When it comes to Mike D’Antoni’s system, it’s fairly obvious that you need three things to achieve success: a primary ballhandler capable of creating (efficient) shots for himself and others, a five man that can suck in defenses with his roll to the rim and lots of lots of shooting. In James Harden, the Rockets already had the biggest piece of the puzzle in place. They caught another break when Dwight Howard skipped town and freed up an opportunity for Clint Capela - an excellent pick-and-roll finisher (84th percentile, per Synergy data) and offensive rebounder (6th among all qualified players in our RealGM database) -- to audition for the starting role.

    They complemented those two in-house solutions by nabbing two of the best shooters on the free agent market in Eric Gordon (career 38.3 percent from 3) and Ryan Anderson (career 37.7 percent). Those two will join holdover rotations members Patrick Beverley (40 percent last season) and Trevor Ariza (37.1 percent this past year) and give Houston at least four players to mix and match around Harden and Capela. It’ll help create a totally different dynamic for a team that launched the second most 3’s in the league despite only converting them at a clip good for 19th.

    A pure scorer, Gordon has the potential to join with Harden in a backcourt with a potency few other teams can match. Because of his shooting ability, Gordon can easily play off the ball while Harden is doing Harden things. But Gordon also has some scoring punch (playmaking, not so much) to also take over a few possessions and spare Harden some of the heavy lifting.

    The final addition of note is the signing of veteran center Nene. While a definite injury risk, Nene may prove to be a nice addition to the second unit. While he’s not a hard-rolling, lob-catching dunk machine, Nene does a good job “pacing” (shuffling along mirroring the ballhandler) whoever is handling in pick-and-rolls. He can also catch the ball early on the roll and take a dribble or two to finish. On top of that, Nene is a creative passer for a big man (though he misses some easy reads). When he’s in the game instead of Capela, Nene could be used in sets that give him the ball up high and let him thread passes to cutters off the ball (one such set being delay double quick).

    I suppose it’s also worth noting the presence of D’Antoni. Despite some less than stellar records with the Knicks and Lakers, and a slightly over exaggerated aversion to defense, D’Antoni is still a top flight coach. If Harden buys into his new coach’s approach, an MVP caliber season with unseen efficiency could be in the cards. And if the offense is humming at top 3-5 level, the defense just has to be good enough for D’Antoni to make this Rockets squad a real threat out West.

    Questions that need answering

    - How will the rotation shape up?

    Gordon and Anderson will certainly be key rotation cogs, but it will be interesting to see how exactly they fit. For Gordon, it will be interesting to see if he winds up in a super-sub role or perhaps supplanting Beverley as the nominal point guard (with Harden actually taking on those ball handling duties). There’s not doubt that Gordon will likely be finishing games somewhere in the lineup, but when he impacts it before that will be something to keep an eye on.

    For Anderson, the question isn’t about starting -- he’s a lock for the open power forward spot -- but finishing. His defensive limitations will be an issue in crunch time, especially when teams go smaller and put a player capable of both blowing past Anderson on closeouts during offensive trips and switching off him to thwart pick-and-rolls defensively. It’s essentially the same problem the Cavs have/will continue to face with Kevin Love. During the regular season, it’s unlikely to be all that devastating, but come playoff time it could be an issue that comes back to haunt Houston.

    In general, the rotation will be interesting to watch not for who plays, but for how long. For all his positive qualities, D’Antoni has a track record of playing with short rotations and letting his key players accumulate big minutes. With the injury history of rotation members like Nene and Gordon and the burden Harden will carry offensively, it would be smart for the Rockets to do their best to stick to a Spurs-like devotion to minute management.

    The hardest path to convincing D’Antoni to do that, will be what Houston can manufacture offensively when Harden is out of the game. Gordon can replicate some of his scoring punch against bench units, but aside from that, the team doesn’t have a lot of firepower offensively. Weighing against that is the fact that playing Harden (or other key rotation members) heavy minutes during the regular season could wear them out for a deep playoff run.

    - What happens if Trevor Ariza is sidelined for a prolonged period of time?

    Houston doesn’t have a lot of depth, so any injury to a key rotation member will sting. But of all players not named Harden, Ariza might be the most vital. When it comes to perimeter defenders, the Rockets can only conjure up two impactful ones that don’t have serious drawbacks offensively. Ariza is particularly valuable because of his ability to slide up to the 4 and Houston roll out what might be their best 5-main unit (Beverley, Gordon, Harden, Ariza and Capela).

    No other player on the roster can remotely replace Ariza’s impact should he be out an extended stretch of games. Corey Brewer struggles shooting the ball and is too slight to slide up to the 4, even if the other team is going small as well. Youngster Sam Dekker, who shot over 50 percent from the field in summer league, can play both forward spots offensively, but wouldn’t be able to match Ariza’s defensive prowess. The bottom line is that Ariza’s two-way impact at both frontcourt spots is essentially irreplace given the current roster construction. The Rockets better hope health is on their side.

    Synopsis

    After flailing around during a lost season, the Rockets seemed to be pointed back in the right direction. D’Antoni’s style of play could be a huge boost for a number of players on their roster. But the questions abound, with the most looming one being whether Harden is capable of balancing out his game in order to make the team better as a whole. Houston should be better than they were last season, but by how much will depend on injury luck and a commitment from their star guard.
     
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  2. JoeBarelyCares

    JoeBarelyCares Contributing Member

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    Good read, thanks for sharing.
     
  3. Chamillionaire

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    Ryno better be finishing out games busting a$$ playing defense and knocking down open looks as much as he's getting paid.
     
  4. IvanLCPM

    IvanLCPM Member

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    Good read!! Nice to see some positivity from the media.
     
  5. Astrodome

    Astrodome Member

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    Their floor should be about 50 wins.
     
  6. HillBoy

    HillBoy Contributing Member

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    This had me LOL. A slightly over exaggerated aversion indeed. BWAHAHAHAHA!!!
     
  7. Spacemoth

    Spacemoth Contributing Member

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    Finally a national analysis that actually paid some attention to the play on the basketball court. I agree with most of the conclusions in the article. It's true that those Phoenix teams had much more firepower, if not someone as good as Harden at creating his own shot. I could easily see Harden Beverley Gordon Ariza Capela being our close-out unit, so long as Beverley and Ariza haven't regressed further on defense. Whether or not we win 47 or 54 games will be entirely up to James, though.
     
  8. Eric00009

    Eric00009 Member

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    The team is actually a better team than the team that went to the west finals
     
  9. YOLO

    YOLO Member

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    I don't know about that. I really don't think this is better than that 56 win playoff caliber team
     
  10. Deuce

    Deuce Contributing Member

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    Good write up. And is probably right that the closing lineup will likely be Beverley/Gordon/Harden/Ariza/Capela. A lineup that doesn't include 4/80 Ryan Anderson.
     
  11. OTMax

    OTMax Member

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    Short rotations with starters playing big minutes, uh-oh...
     
  12. Derp McFlopsky

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    I think one of the big failures leading to the demise was an inability to get depth on the court. I'm not asking for big minutes out of KJ McDaniels or Dekker...anyone in particular. But if they can't come in for 5 minutes and contribute anything in any situation all year long, get rid of them.

    I think they broke KJ with that fouling stunt. How is he supposed to believe he's good enough to do anything else? I think the same of TJones/DMo always getting traded in and out for each other. Sometimes you have to have a little faith to inspire confidence.
     
  13. Deuce

    Deuce Contributing Member

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    When KJ is on the court he always looks lost or hesitant to me. I don't know if it is lack of basketball feel or he hasn't been "coached up" enough or put in the right positions to succeed. He just doesn't look as fluid as he should.

    Rockets hired John Lucus and Josh Oppenheimer (Shot Doctor) to improve their "player development" department. These guys need to make strides with KJ, Harrell, Dekker and Capela. Rockets need to see some nice internal growth in addition to Morey's player personnel moves.
     
  14. finsraider

    finsraider Member

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    KJ is Bazemore before Bazemore became Bazemore.

    I hope MDA puts him in a position to succeed. KJ is best suited running the floor, slashing to the rim and spotting up. He is not a creator, which was the role they gave him in summer league. He is best suited playing next to Harden and Gordon, benefiting from their shooting and playmaking abilities.

    As they were prepared to give Bazemore 4 years $70 million, that kinda tells me they don't think KJ is ready, but who knows. One positive sign is that he hit 35% from 3 on 5 attempts per game in D league.
     
  15. Deuce

    Deuce Contributing Member

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    Bazemore plays with more purpose. He glides around the court. KJ looks lost and hesitant. I just don't know if that is him, or lack of coaching. But I am sure Morey knows.
     
  16. The Cat

    The Cat Contributing Member

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    I try not to do much self-promotion on the board because I know it's annoying, but I'm going to make an exception here. Brett (the writer of this piece) joined my podcast today, and I think a lot of you guys will like his interview:

    https://audioboom.com/boos/4868576-...-houston-make-a-western-conference-finals-run

    He's a sharp guy. Summary: While he did throw out some caveats, he thinks the Rockets -- as currently constructed -- can win "at least" 50-to-55 games and potentially get as far as the Western Conference Finals.
     
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  17. Russjr2

    Russjr2 Contributing Member

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    Good write up. I don't think the roster is set though. I will reserve judgement until I see who goes to training camp. I do think the new players we signed will be a big help on the court. Much better than last year's roster.
     
  18. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    I have said as much myself

    Rocket River
     
  19. caneks

    caneks Rookie

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    Crap. tell those fans in NY and LA and see if they agree.
     
  20. YOLO

    YOLO Member

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    how did those rosters look on those respective teams during his tenure there
     

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