The top 10 reasons things went wrong last season

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

  1. topfive

    topfive Contributing Member

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    I know, I know -- the new season is about to start and we should put last season in the rear-view and focus on what's to come.

    HOWEVER...

    I've been giving a lot of thought to where the train left the tracks last year and whether the possibility exists for a similar derailment and disappointing season this year. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on how last season slowly disintegrated, broken down into 10 specific reasons, some of which are common knowledge and others that were more under-the-radar...
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    1. Beard showed up out of game shape and had to use the entire preseason to work himself into condition.

    Obviously, Harden was distracted by the whole Khloe thing, but who knows how much that actually affected his summer training schedule? His focus, though, was almost certainly disrupted. Then he injured his ankle at some point, and if I recall, McHale said he'd sprained it "badly." We do know he played in the Drew League and took his team to the title, so maybe it was after that. Regardless, that give us our first reason.

    2. Our big off-season Ferrari purchase turned out to be a used Moped.

    Most of us had very high hopes for the acquisition of Ty Lawson to pay big dividends, or at the very least to be an upgrade over PBev in terms of true PG play. He missed much of training camp with injuries and never really played well at all. I'd go as far as to say the offense pretty much ground to a halt when Ty was on court. He also didn't seem to care that much about it, to be honest. Was this due to his alcohol issues and rehab, or was it because McHale failed to properly incorporate Ty's talents? Bottom line is it doesn't matter, because they're both gone.

    3. Training camp injuries were the first domino to fall.

    Nearly everyone missed preseason games due to injuries:
    Out of 8 games, Dwight missed 7, Lawson missed 3, Harden/Ariza/Brewer/TJ missed 2, and DMo missed them all. Our starting center and PF played a combined total of just over 20 minutes. From that we can extrapolate that there was also significant practice time missed as well by all of these guys. A team composed of mostly returning guys might have weathered this situation better, but I think McHale's lackadaisical coaching style hurt us here because he seemed to assume things would be fine once everyone was healthy. Consequently, we limped into the regular season.

    4. Those first 3 games killed the season.

    Obviously. We got murdered by teams who were ready to play when we were still in pre-season mode. Again, the injuries played a huge part in our not being ready, but I lay much of the blame on McHale and his staff not realizing how bad the situation actually was.

    5. Les panicked and did the worst possible thing.

    Regardless of your opinion of Milkhair, replacing a veteran coach who had the respect of the players with an untested assistant during the season was a recipe for disaster. Bickerstaff may be a decent head coach (I have my doubts), but he took over a team in total disarray and was never able to do any more than coach 50-win talent to a 41-win season. I think McHale might have won us a half dozen more games, because...

    6. Dwight saw JB's hiring as his chance to reclaim his place in the offense, then went into a season-long funk when that didn't happen.

    I have no absolute evidence of this, but it's a very educated guess. Dwight was already unhappy that McHale was directing the offense through Harden (as everyone other than Dwight knows he should have been) and was already mopey at times. A rookie coach takes over and Dwight thinks he can convince JB to use him as more of a focus on offense, as he had been during his superstar seasons in Orlando. JB is smart enough to know that's a terrible idea, especially when Dwight is no longer that same player and you have James Harden on your roster. When Dwight's place in the offense remained much the same as before, he pretty much threw in the towel. He's admitted that he gave poor effort for most of the season, and I think it was because he finally realized that on the Houston Rockets, he would always be a distant second banana to Beard. His big chance at a fresh start had once again gone sour.

    7. Dwight's lack of effort on defense killed our overall defense.

    Why should Harden, who already doesn't enjoy playing defense, put any effort into it if our other star is only trying in less than half the games? And without Dwight dominating the paint on defense, the other guys have to work twice as hard. You could literally see the frustration on Ariza's face as the season wore on and he realized this problem was not going to be resolved. All those easy points at the rim last season were the direct result of Dwight's moping and its effect on his teammates.

    8. JB was simply too inexperienced to re-motivate Dwight.

    McHale might have been able to pull this off, but once Dwight realized he was the #2 guy on the roster under two coaches, he mentally checked out and took the entire team down with him, because...

    9. DMo was missed on defense more than most people realize.

    "Dmo's defense?" you ask skeptically. Yep. Every team needs a guy like Dmo who's not a great one-on-one defender but who understands his role in a team defense scheme and is almost always right were he's supposed to be, doing what he's supposed to do. He cleaned up a lot of messes, not with a spectacular block, but just by being in the correct spot to prevent the opponent from capitalizing on someone else's mistake. Watch DMo when the opposition puts up a shot from the perimeter -- he's the only one on our entire team whose first impulse is to find the most likely rebounder and box him out. If there were a stat for "rebound assists" he would be killing it (and Morey likely does have such a stat).

    10. Last year's Rockets team was not built on a very solid foundation to begin with.

    It's a pretty common opinion that the 2014-2015 team over-performed. But when we lost, we often lost ugly (five of our eight playoff losses that year were by double digits) and everyone on the team knew that on a given night the wheels could totally come off. Then we lose a key cog (Josh) and bring in a troubled starter (Lawson). So basically a team that probably should have only won about 50 games the year before encounters all sorts of problems beginning in training camp and limps to a 41-win season.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    So that's it. There are still some pretty big problems to overcome in order for us to have a successful season this year, but that's fodder for other threads.

    If it seems like I'm laying much of the blame on Dwight, that's only because I am. :grin: His refusal to take the coach's advice and play to his own strengths (P&R), his self-admitted fear of incorporating new elements to his game, and his willingness to pout to the detriment of his team (and an entire city that embraced him despite a questionable reputation), are all things no fan in his/her right mind would want from a superstar. And for him to repeatedly deny these things during the season, then admit to ALL of it when the season ended is mind-boggling. Three years ago I was an open-minded Dwight Howard fan. Now I've learned the hard way like Lakers fans did.

    TL;DR: Injuries led to a bad start, which led to a bad decision to replace McHale, which led to Dwight not giving a sh!te, which led to our defense totally crumbling.
     
    #1 topfive, Sep 20, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
    5 people like this.
  2. Deuce

    Deuce Contributing Member

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    Last year's training camp foreshadowed a lot. Looking forward to a much tighter more focused camp.
     
  3. Rockets025

    Rockets025 Rookie

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    Jbb couldn't coach a Ymca league. A true piece of ****
     
  4. Rockets025

    Rockets025 Rookie

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    I'd say 10 of our losses came from the jackass putting brewer at the 4 and us getting dominated on the boards for it
     
  5. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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    Love topten lists by topfive.

    I would've tried to work in, "we got spun around and lost direction by turning the corner too many times."

    For instance, I think basketballholic alone spotted us turning the corner three times, which puts you back where you started.
     
  6. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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    Brewer never played PF. I don't know why this was such a popular sentiment. Yes, he'd sub in for a PF, but Ariza would slide over to play PF, and Brewer would man the SF position. Just because Brewer subbed for a PF does not mean he played PF.

    Here are Brewer's top 10 line-ups. They all have a Center with either a PF or Ariza in the lineup.

    spoiler for page width
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    #6 heypartner, Sep 20, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
  7. mfastx

    mfastx Member

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    Good list, agree with most everything said, but one thing that you forgot to put down was that McHale and his staff ran possibly the worst training camp of all time. Obviously hyperbole but damn it was awful. Entire team was not ready to go coming into the season, and while there were injuries, there was no emphasis on defense and no plan to integrate Lawson (even though he turned out to be a bum). It was basically the same offense from last year, which would never have worked with another good ball handler. And defensively the guys just were not ready to go and you could see it even in preseason.
     
  8. HR Dept

    HR Dept Contributing Member

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    1. Dw
    2. i
    3. gh
    4. t
    5. H
    6. o
    7. w
    8. a
    9. r
    10. d
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Exiled

    Exiled Member

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    with Cannan trade ,D12 lost passion for balls
     
  10. cdrive

    cdrive Contributing Member

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    #1 McHale is not a real coach and it caught up to him. JBB aint one either.
    #2 The #1 focus of improvement w/ a 2nd playmaker in Lawson was a complete abject failure.
    #3 The #1 focus of improvment 2 seasons ago, defense, took 2 steps back.
    #4 #2 and #3 fall on Morey, as does building a roster of terrible 3pt shooters for a system designed for taking a million 3pt shots.
    #5 When Dwight Howard is insubordinate to PnR, he is not a marquee $20 million tandem superstar, and when he admittedly sulks and quits on the court, he is terrible.

    And you damn right I didn't just do the cheap easy out of blaming it all on Harden. Do not even get me started on how unfair the b---s--- is that he got last year.
    And now you truly know how much BSPN and many of the talking heads in the national media hate H-Town and Harden when they actually went full 180 on the Howard narrative.
    And how they coddled Lawson and blamed us for his performance besides doing the same thing in Indiana and being radioactive in the off season free agency.
     
  11. topfive

    topfive Contributing Member

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    Good point. I kind of hinted at it in my #3 reason, but it truly seems like Harden wasn't the only person who didn't prepare much for training camp. It's almost like McHale return from summer vacation on the first day of practice, took a look around and said, "Okay, now where were we?"
    <BR>
     
  12. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member

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    We'll see if this team can play a lick of defense.
     
  13. Mathloom

    Mathloom Contributing Member

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    Dwight never wanted the offense to go through him, he just wanted post touches, which he was not particularly efficient at converting into points.

    Also, Harden should play defense. I don't accept the "why should Harden play defense when..." excuse. Harden is the leader of this team. It's understandable that he would not be the best defender on the team or that he is too gassed to put as much effort into it as Beverley or Ariza, but it is ridiculous to call his defense last season anything other than shameful.

    When you lose, people complain more. If we were winning, Dwight would have been more motivated and Harden would have put in some more defensive effort. Lawson had no effect on the team. We started losing a lot because our star player was human on offense and non-existant on defense, our starting PF was injured, Jones had a shockingly bad season by even bballholic's standards, McHale - like most old school coaches - ran out of loud colloquial punch lines and JB was woefully unprepared for such a complex situation, not to mention he showed (to me) an unacceptable level of favouritism towards certain players.

    Dwight thought one solution to the mess is to use him more. When he was turned down, he played poorly and that made the defense collapse, which made the team collapse, which demotivated everyone.

    Dwight played a major part in the season being a flop, but a better coach than McHale or JB from a stat-minded organization pushed to sign Dwight this offseason because of his ability to be an effective player on the inside. Some things can be resolved with people management. A lot of fans have developed the "our way or GTFO" attitude towards different personality types but that quality simply doesn't exist in winning organizations. A winning organization makes a diverse group of people work together more efficiently than we did last season. We could have done a better job at that, even with the above factors pulling us down.

    Basically, everyone from the top down failed except a few role players. Let's hope the lessons are learned.
     
  14. topfive

    topfive Contributing Member

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    I won't disagree with any of the above. Harden definitely needed to step up when Dwight stepped down, and his reluctance to do so arguably hurt as much as Dwight's season-long pouting. Hopefully he's learned from that big mistake and is ready to assume a true leader's role on the team. At this point, we can't be sure he really has that in him, though. Historically, many great players were lacking that "leader gene": T-Mac, Pippen, Earl Monroe, etc. It happens. Carmelo seems to finally be moving towards that, but the jury's still out on him. Let's just hope Harden's name doesn't end up on that list when his career is over.
    <BR>
     
  15. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Contributing Member

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    Turning the corner three times is what you do when you suspect you're being followed.

    Carry on.
     
  16. don grahamleone

    don grahamleone Contributing Member

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    Good list. I never thought about 6 but it makes sense.

    The WCF year, Dwight claimed and probably lived his words on being number 2 to Harden. Something clearly changed. I never thought about Dwight using the new coach as the leverage.

    Poor Atlanta, they have no idea what they're in for.
     
  17. abaker28

    abaker28 Member

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    You forgot letting Dorsey leave.
    The season before last Dorsey was a regular starter whilst Dwight was injured.
    We let Dorsey go and Dwight was back and look how things ended up.
    Bring back Dorsey! :)

    All rear vision mirror stuff now. Looking forward to the new season!
     
  18. SF3isBack!!

    SF3isBack!! Member

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    How many times does it have to be said that Harden injured himself before the start the start of the season? Why is that totally ignored on this site?
     
  19. SF3isBack!!

    SF3isBack!! Member

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    Brewer was horrible at every position and anything he tried to do. He couldn't even run without falling. He was probably the worst basketball player in the league receiving as many minutes as he received.
     
  20. baller4life315

    baller4life315 Contributing Member

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    Still, to this day, completely dumbfounded as to how everybody got worse. Literally, every single player regressed in some way this past season. Some by a small margin; some fell off a friggin cliff.

    Fresh off a WC Finals run, it's very difficult to make sense of this. Sure, it's quite obvious we overachieved during that deep playoff run, but to go from a team seemingly on the cusp of greatness to a team I was hoping would miss playoffs altogether? It's almost incomprehensible to me.
     
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