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[The Athletic] How Isaiah Hartenstein and Gary Clark are navigating their biggest challenge

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Deuce, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. Deuce

    Deuce Context & Nuance
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  2. snowconeman22

    snowconeman22 Member

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    Can anyone paste the article here ?

    I have a feeling @Williamson might buy a subscription just to read about how we are undefeated when Hartenstein plays meaningful minutes
     
    #2 snowconeman22, Dec 3, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  3. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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    Meanwhile, Nene's waiting game is the chance to play just 10 games to make another $2.4m.

    poor guy, its a similar big challenge of patience and perserverance, but just with no practices or plane rides.
     
  4. Williamson

    Williamson HARTENSTEIN ONLY FAN
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    If @KellyUnchained doesn't mention in this article that the Rockets are undefeated when Hartenstein plays meaningful minutes he should be banned.
     
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  5. DreamShook

    DreamShook Member

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    nobody has a subscription to the Athletic on Clutchfans.
     
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  6. Williamson

    Williamson HARTENSTEIN ONLY FAN
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    @KellyUnchained

    fify.

     
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  7. Williamson

    Williamson HARTENSTEIN ONLY FAN
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    I do NOW.
     
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  8. RudyTBag

    RudyTBag Contributing Member

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    Pay this man his moneyyyyyy.
     
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  9. HP3

    HP3 Member

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    Oh god....havent had I enough foot in mouth this year LOL.
     
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  10. Y2JT

    Y2JT Member

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    SAN ANTONIO — Contend, or develop?
    Obviously, every NBA team would love to contend for championships, but for some, going the route of developing players while waiting on that transcendent talent (Zion Williamson) or diamond in the rough (Pascal Siakam) is smart business.
    Minutes aren’t exactly easy to come by in the big leagues. For head coaches who oversee what we classify as “championship contenders,” it’s difficult to find the rotational sweet spot; leaning on veterans while also nurturing young talent.
    The Spurs are a great recent example of a team that found a way to manage the balancing act. A strong argument could be made that the Raptors have too, even after losing Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Clippers. A similar one could be made for the Oklahoma City Thunder, albeit on a much smaller scale.
    These teams, however, are outliers. Young players have been sitting at the end of benches since the beginning of time. Yes, they can use those DNPs to soak up knowledge from the veterans, but at the end of the day, players want to get in the game. Chances are if you ask a player not named LeBron James, Luka Doncic or similar types who were thrust head-first into their respective rotations from Day One, they have their memories of sitting. And waiting. And sitting. And waiting. It’s even harder for those coming from a situation where they played heavy minutes before coming to the NBA. It’s quite a mental journey.
    Rockets guard Austin Rivers is one such example. Rivers was at one point the No. 1-ranked high school player in the country, leading Winter Park High School to multiple state championships, taking his talents to Duke University and averaging over 33 minutes a game. In his first few years in the league with New Orleans and the Clippers, however, his time on the court saw a big reduction. Rivers had been “the man,” and it wasn’t the easiest transition.
    “Ah, man, it’s so hard,” Rivers admitted to The Athletic. “All these young guys come in, and they’re used to playing so much. Every player was a star wherever they came from. And you come to the league and then you’re not playing, and they tell you to be patient, and you don’t even know what that’s like. ‘What does that even mean?’ I remember as a young guy, not playing, guys would tell me to be patient. I’d be like, ‘What the **** is he talking about?’ And that’s how you really feel, like, ‘What is he talking about? No one knows what I feel like.’ You feel like you’re the only one going through it.”
     
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  11. Y2JT

    Y2JT Member

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    At their core, both Isaiah Hartenstein and Gary Clark represent what the Rockets need: Hartenstein, a mobile big with solid fundamentals, and Clark, a defensive specimen with 3&D possibility, sort of a Trevor Ariza/Luc Mbah a Moute hybrid. They also bring what every older team needs — young legs.
    Being one of the oldest teams in the league and having fallen so close to the finish line in recent seasons, Houston is all systems go when it comes to championship chasing. And Mike D’Antoni is known to lean on his starters, quite heavily. He places an enormous amount of trust in them and counts on them to get the job done on a nightly basis.
    Both Clark and Hartenstein remember the long nights sitting at the end of the bench, watching and waiting. They remember the seemingly endless call-ups to the senior squad, only to collect DNPs and be sent back down to Rio. Yes, they would see the floor during blowouts, but it’s just not the same. At some point, playing the Westchester Knicks only does so much for one’s development. Young players need the experience that only comes in the rotational trenches.
    Both players recognize there’s value in waiting, however.
    “It’s just very important to stay ready,” Hartenstein said. “Both me and Gary know we have an older team. In a situation, we’ll get our opportunities in the season. We just have to make the most of it. And I think just people like Javair (Gillet), our strengthening coach, and (assistant coach) John Lucas always keep us ready. I think that’s the most important. We don’t have to go down to the G-League to stay ready. They keep us ready here, and I think that’s what they’re seeing now. Gary and I are professionals in that we make sure we’re ready when we get the opportunities.”
    Clark shared a similar sentiment.
    “As a competitor, you struggle with it for a while. And it’ll take over you if you don’t try to figure out the understanding of what goes into it,” he said. “This year, starting the season, there was really nothing I could do to change my fate besides staying ready. I was healthy, I was being positive, a good teammate, coachable, and still didn’t align to give you an opportunity. In those moments, it either makes or breaks you. So you’re either not ready, or you’re a bad teammate or uncoachable. So that way, when your time comes, the team doesn’t want to give you a chance cause you haven’t been professional, or when you get your chance, you’re not ready. So in those moments of confusion, ‘Why am I not playing?,’ ‘When am I going to get my chance?,’ just really hone and lock into yourself. Stay in shape and uplift yourself, making sure you’re ready for whatever comes.”
     
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  12. hakeem94

    hakeem94 Member

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    that was a crutial addition to the paragraph, lets see if hes gonna add it , otherwise he should be classified as a doubter
    edit: perhaps even as a hater
     
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  13. Y2JT

    Y2JT Member

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    Sure enough, this season has provided chances to get playing time. The Rockets have endured a number of injuries, having lost Danuel House, Gerald Green, Eric Gordon and Clint Capela at some point in the young season. With this comes a chance to play and impress. The only thing left to do is seize the opportunity.
    “It happens every time in this league,” Rivers said. “I don’t care who you are, you will get an opportunity. It’s just what it is.”
    Rivers’ locker is right next to Clark’s and Hartenstein’s, and that isn’t by accident. The three of them talk, constantly. Clark would use the team’s frequent plane rides during the season to build chemistry and a rapport with Rivers, but also to soak up knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Regardless of when Clark or Hartenstein would come in the game, they would run with the second unit, with Rivers. So late nights, when some teammates would use that time at 30,000 feet to catch up on much-needed sleep, Clark and Rivers would bounce ideas off of one another.
    “We talked all the time about stuff on and off the court,” Clark said. “… I know how aggressive he is, wants to fight over (screens) and try to hone in. What can I do to be that vocal leader on the second unit, and being able to talk with him first so we communicate throughout the whole game when we’re in together.”

    How can young players make an impression on their coaching staff?
    One obvious answer is playing well, but playing with effort is a very close second. Privately, Houston understood that Hartenstein and Clark would benefit from being around the senior squad as much as possible and didn’t need to be sent down to play with the Vipers as much as last season. But they wanted to see an improved effort defensively from both.
    “They told me they don’t really want me to go down anymore,” Hartenstein said. “So it’s just me staying ready and just helping the team out.”
    At times last season, opposing players used to target Clark in halfcourt situations, making him look anything like the man who won Defensive Player of the Year twice in Cincinnati. For Hartenstein, he had work to do on his posture, his defensive stance, and his penchant for fouling. There would have to be considerable leaps in improvement for both players to avoid falling into the pit of “attachable asset.”
    “That was actually the biggest part coming into this season, especially after last season,” Hartenstein admitted. “I think I had trouble staying in front of people sometimes, trouble boxing out or keeping people in front of me. That’s what they told me when we first went down, get my defense up. I took that personally, so every time I come in, I just try to stay solid on defense and try to impact the game as much as I can. If it’s just setting screens, I don’t have to score when I’m in the game. Getting other people open, defending and talking.”
    Clark too understands where his game was lacking last season.
    “Yeah, I think that was one of my weak points, coming in from last year. Just being able to stay in front of people. A lot of times, teams would come right at me when I was in. And this summer I really honed in being able to slide my feet and being able to use different things — my size and wingspan — to give myself an advantage. Last year I think there was a little confusion of knowing what we were doing, playing “54,” playing “55,” but now knowing more, talking to Tuck (P.J. Tucker) more. Taking pride in sitting down (on defense). Of course, I’ve never been the person to care about how many shots I’ve made or scoring.”
    Similar to what’s been spread in countless self-help books, the first step to overcoming a deficiency is addressing the problem. Step two, therefore, is outlining the steps to correct it. Hartenstein didn’t have to look far for guidance. Capela, the starting center, did his time on the bench as a young man. Capela used that period to develop and hone his skills, becoming the archetypical big man Houston has been seeking since the Dwight Howard experiment fizzled out. Apart from Capela, Hartenstein sought out the advice and expertise of Tyson Chandler, the former Defensive Player of the Year with nearly two decades experience.
    “I watch a lot of Clint,” Hartenstein said. “But the guy I talk to most is probably Tyson Chandler. Especially at the beginning of the season. I went up to him because I saw that my post defense wasn’t where it should be, so I talked to him a lot about that. He helped me a lot, especially coming into games against KAT (Karl Anthony-Townes), (Nikola) Jokic and all those guys. Just helping me be able to do what I do now and giving me more confidence. He told me where to keep my hands, how to be there on the first bump. Nothing dramatic, just a little stuff that helps a lot at the end of the day.”
    Clark is aware of the impact Ariza brought the team, and also defensive stalwarts like Mbah a Moute and Tucker. The former two are no longer with the team, but Tucker’s locker is but a few feet away. The Carolina natives have a close relationship, and Clark used that to study him, both by watching him on the court and his own private film study. The goal? Learning to move his feet and be the aggressor on defense, instead of the reactor. If you watch the great defenders around the league, oftentimes they’re the ones that initiate a sequence, setting the tone for a one-on-one possession.
     
  14. Y2JT

    Y2JT Member

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    “Honestly, just being able to watch P.J.,” Clark said. “How physical he is with guys. Not letting them have the dance, but being the person that’s taking the dance. He’s commanding where the offensive player is going, rather than the offensive player doing whatever he wants to do. It’s one thing knowing a guy’s gonna drive or shoot it, but just being able to keep them on one side. Just being able to be physical and command where you want the person to go.”
    These days, there’s a little more pep in their step during pregame layup lines.
    December is still in its early days, but Hartenstein and Clark have enjoyed playing time as of late. Clark was the beneficiary of 53 minutes over his past two games, and Hartenstein logged at least 10 minutes or more in five of Houston’s last seven games, including 31 minutes, 21 minutes, and 13 minutes twice. For anyone who’s hip to D’Antoni’s rotations, these are moments to be cherished.
    “Gary’s been so solid, man,” Rivers said. “Right from the get, he’s just been super active. That last game was very impressive. For him to just play like that after not playing this entire season, and the same with Isaiah and his energy. They’re going to continue to play. And they have to be ready and understand that even due to things outside of their control — when Clint gets back and D.House gets back and Gerald gets back and Eric gets back — you don’t know how much they’re going to play, you know what I mean?”
    When Clark is on the floor, he’s able to play freely with energy and effort, like he’s back at Cincinnati. Against the Hawks, he did it all. Clamping Trae Young at the end of the quarter, forcing a shot-clock turnover. Banging with Jabari Parker down low, refusing to give up an inch, and shifting out back on the perimeter when the switch came. His shot didn’t fall, missing four of five of his 3-point attempts, but Clark doesn’t let missed shots consume his brain like it did last season.
    “That’s where I lost myself last year,” Clark said. “When I was playing so well, it was because I was making shots. I played hard as well, but I transformed from doing it all to just trying to make a shot to stay on the court. And now after watching a lot of film and understanding what the coaching staff expects and doesn’t expect from me. And just knowing, ‘OK, I went 1-for-5 from 3’, but they’re going to look at the film and see ‘Gary didn’t get beat off the dribble one time tonight. Gary boxed out every possession.’ Understanding that is what gets you on the court more so than making shots. Making shots will always get you on the court, but at the end of the day, you want to be in at the end of quarters and games to try and get a stop.”
    Hartenstein has impressed the staff with his ability to stay solid defensively, whether it’s momentarily on the perimeter, keeping up with guards driving, but most importantly his rim protection — without fouling.
    There’s no bigger cheerleader for their success than Rivers, and he’s constantly reminding both Clark and Hartenstein that there’s a bigger plan in play, one that players should always be aware of in the business part of the league.
    “This isn’t final. Houston isn’t final,” Rivers told The Athletic. “It’s not final for me, it’s not final for them, it’s not final for anybody. You’re going to end up going somewhere, you’re too young. It’s only your ****ing 20s. … I just know how it goes. This is my fourth team — really my third team, but still I call it my fourth team technically. The league is all situational. Everything is situational. There’s a good four to five players in the league that can go anywhere and play well. Everybody else is all situational. This might not be the best thing for them right now, but make the most of it. Cause they’re going to go somewhere one day that’s going to be perfect. And if they didn’t handle this the right way, they’re not going to be ready to play.”
     
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  15. snowconeman22

    snowconeman22 Member

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    "That’s where I lost myself last year,” Clark said. “When I was playing so well, it was because I was making shots. I played hard as well, but I transformed from doing it all to just trying to make a shot to stay on the court."

    MDA strikes again ....

    I kid I kid , but for real .....

    Lets hope the rockets coaches and development staff really do value the other things and Clark and Harty can continue to work towards being solid two-way players.

    Thanks for posting
     
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  16. jcf

    jcf Member
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    Rivers continues to impress.
     
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  17. hakeem94

    hakeem94 Member

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    THIS
     
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  18. FrontRunner

    FrontRunner Member

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    Yeah, listening to Rivers talk basketball or do in-depth interviews is really cool. He's really generous with his time, insightful, and seems like a great teammate. He's basically the exact opposite of who I thought he was.

    I could be wrong but I think this team's got some good chemistry right now. The veterans are encouraging to the young guys; the young guys are working hard to get better; and Westbrook, who's turned out to be a much better human being than I imagined, has happily taken a backseat to James at times, and vice-versa. There are no guys like Chriss or Knight, or even Anderson, sulking on the bench, thinking they're all that and complaining about not getting minutes or touches. Literally everyone on this roster is capable of contributing when their number's called.
     
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