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5 Reasons Why I Think The Rockets Could Be Better Next Season

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by crash5179, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

    Dec 9, 2000
    Likes Received:
    After the Rockets misfortune in free agency this summer it took me a while to get over almost having what was most likely the early season favorite for the NBA Championship leading into next season. Prior to that my last memory of the team is the disastrous last second shot by Damien Lillard. So there hasn’t been a ton of inspiration for me this summer.

    But now that I have had a chance to process the events of this past summer and analyze what the Rockets look like going forward, without the heavy burden of all the negative emotions I was feeling about the team, I’m excited about the upcoming season and think the Rockets can actually be significantly better with this team than the one that ended last season. Following is a very long write-up summarizing 5 reasons why I think the Rockets could be better than last season.

    1. Terrence Jones

    Most of us consider the play at the Power Forward position or the lack of play as the primary reason the Rockets lost in the 1st round. Ok, many probably think as much or more blame should go to James Harden but it was LaMarcus Aldridge that buried the Rockets in the first two games of the play-offs in Houston this past post season. LMA had back-to-back career nights.

    So just how bad was Terrence Jones defense against LMA? As painful as it was, I watched all of LMA’s scoring possessions and made a clip of each one where Terrence Jones was on the floor for the 2nd play-off game. His crimes included a lack of court awareness, he had a habit of watching the shooter and not getting a body on LMA which lead to second chance points and he allowed LMA on multiple occasions to bully him in the paint. In all Terrence was on the floor during 8 of the possessions where LMA scored his 43 points but of those 8 possessions he was responsible for guarding LMA 7 times.

    Here is a clip of those 8 possessions:

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    Those clips basically showed all the things that made Terrence such a bad defender.
    - Lack of court awareness
    - Not finding someone to block out during available rebounds
    - Lack of strength holding defensive position

    So lets just cut him now right?

    He’s Only 22!

    And he has only played in 95 games an only started 71 of those games in his NBA career so far. He made huge progress from his rookie season to his sophomore season and for all of the warts I pointed out in the previous video the guy has a lot going for him as well. One of the players mentioned the most often, as a possible addition to the Rockets and as a replacement to Terrence Jones is Paul Millsap. So just for the sake of comparison I decided to compare the production of each player as they were in their 2nd years.

    Paul Millsap 6’8” 245 lbs.
    Terrence Jones 6’9” 252 lbs.

    This is just a general comparison of their on court production and not a comparison of their particular styles of play. A couple of notes to remember while comparing their production is that Millsap averaged 18 minutes per game as an NBA rookie and played in all 82 games while Terrence Jones in his rookie year was essentially a D-League player most of the year and averaging only 14 minutes in the 19 NBA games he actually played in.

    Since Terrence Jones was a starter in his 2nd season and Paul Millsap was not I did a “per game” comparison as well as a “per 36 minutes” comparison.

    Each Players Per Game Stats From Their 2nd Seasons:
    Player	        Age	Pos	G	GS	MP	FGA	FG%	3PA	3P%	2P%	FT%	TRB	AST	STL	BLK	TOV	PF	PTS
    T. Jones	22	PF	76	71	27.3	9.4	0.542	1.3	0.307	0.581	0.605	6.9	1.1	0.7	1.3	0.9	1.8	12.1
    P. Millsap	22	PF	82	2	20.8	6.1	0.504	0	0	0.508	0.677	5.6	1	0.9	0.9	1.1	3.3	8.1
    Each Players Per 36 Minutes Stats From Their 2nd Seasons:
    Player	        Age	Pos	G	GS	MP	FGA	FG%	3PA	3P%	2P%	FT%	TRB	AST	STL	BLK	TOV	PF	PTS
    T. Jones	22	PF	76	71	2078	12.3	0.542	1.7	0.307	0.581	0.605	9.1	1.5	0.9	1.7	1.2	2.4	16
    P. Millsap	22	PF	82	2	1702	10.6	0.504	0.1	0	0.508	0.677	9.7	1.7	1.5	1.5	1.8	5.7	14
    Their production while on the court is remarkably similar. Blocks, Assists, Rebounds are all very similar. Terrence does have a decided edge on the offensive end as his shooting percentages are significantly higher than Millsap’s. Millsap also fouled a ton more than did Jones in their 2nd years.

    What the stats don’t tell is how good of a defensive player each was in their 2nd years. While I did not watch much Paul Millsap in the 2007/2008 season I can assume that he probably would not have been on the court and playing for Jerry Sloan if he did not play defense. I have already pointed out Jones defensive deficiencies in the previous video clip.

    Traditionally, players make their largest jumps between year 2 and 3.

    If Terrence Jones continues to develop in his 3rd year as much as he developed in his 2nd year, he could very well be all we need at Power Forward. If he continues to develop throughout his career then there is pretty high probability IMO that he turns out to be better than Millsap.

    But as I’m sure some are eager to point out, it’s not the 2nd year version of Paul Millsap most people are wanting to trade for, it’s the 2014/2015 version they want. Still, is Millsap good enough to warrant giving up on a player that is 6 years younger, bigger, more athletic and has a very good chance of being just as good as him next season or even better in a couple of seasons? Terrence Jones ceiling is an All-Star (not superstar) caliber player IMO, although he would still be a couple of years away from that if he eventually develops into that caliber of player.

    In case we have forgotten, here is a video clip of some of the things that Terrence Jones already does exceptionally well.

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    There are 4 things that Terrence Jones needs to be working on this summer:
    - His on court awareness, specifically on defense
    - Man to Man Defense
    - 3 point shooting
    - Free Throw Shooting

    His court awareness should get better regardless just as he matures as a player. If he works to become a respectable man to man defensive player and if he can increase his 3pt percentage from last season’s .307 to around .330 or .340 then we are set at the Power Forward spot. And for those that think a 22 year old can not improve his 3 point stroke I would suggest telling that to the following players:

    Kyle Lower
    22 year old 3pt% = .255
    Last Season 3pt% = .380

    Trevor Ariza
    22 year old 3pt% = .278
    Last Season 3pt% = .407

    Jeremy Lin
    22 year old 3pt% = .200
    Last Season 3pt% = .358

    At 22 years old, Terrence Jones (.307 3pt%) was a better 3pt shooter than all of them.

    2. Troy Daniels

    Last season, despite leading the NBA in 3pt shooting attempts, the Rockets were a below average 3pt shooting team hitting only .358 percent of their shots. The Rockets best 3pt shooter last season was Chandler Parsons who shot .370. The only other players that had a significant role on the team to finish above the league average of .360 were James Harden at .366 & Patrick Beverly at .361 (Aaron Brooks had a .408 average but was used sparingly and traded at the deadline). Jeremy Lin who was the Rockets most important bench player finished below the league average at .358, no one else on the team was even close. For a team that relies so heavily on the 3pt shot, thats not acceptable.

    Troy Daniels, despite only playing in 5 regular season and 4 post season NBA games, might already be an elite 3 point shooter.

    Regular Season Per Game Averages:
    Minutes – 15
    3pt Attempts – 5
    3pt Makes – 2.4
    3pt Average - .480

    Post season Per Game Averages:
    Minutes – 17
    3pt Attempts – 3.8
    3pt Makes – 2
    3pt Average - .533

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    Of course I have to include this clip from Clutch:

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    I know, small sample size, yada yada yada. But what makes me so optimistic about Troy Daniels is the same thing that should make everyone optimistic, what he did in the Regular or Post season with the Rockets is no different than what he did for Rio Grand Valley Vipers which was no different then what he did for VCU in college. His last season at VCU he average .401 while taking almost 9 three point attempts a game. At RGV he averaged .401 while taking almost 13 three point attempts a game. Troy Daniels is not shy about shooting the 3pt shot, as a matter of fact he is an aggressive 3pt shooter.

    The league has plenty of guys that can average .400 or better only taking 1 or 2 three point shots a game. How many of those same guys could average .400 or better while taking 9 to 12 three point shots a game?

    Based on what Troy Daniels has done his entire basketball life, up to and including the end of last season in the NBA, if he doesn’t launch a ton of 3pt shots while making at least 40% of them I will be shocked. If he does take and make a lot of 3 point shots next season then we will finally have someone that can help limit James Harden’s minutes. The last two seasons, James averaged 38 minutes a game and decent back up. If Troy can give the Rockets 14 to 15 quality minutes while providing a spark he can help limit James minutes to 34 to 35 minutes a game.

    3. Defense

    Last season the Rockets did not have many good defenders on the team. Chandler Parsons defense went from outstanding in his rookie season to non-existent last season. Omer Asik was an elite defender but he was hurt most of the season. Lin, Parsons, Harden, DMo and Casspi were all average to below average defenders at best, in some cases they were absolutely atrocious on defense. Typically, Patrick Beverly, Omer Asik and Dwight Howard were the only good defenders the Rockets could put on the floor.

    The new Rockets that should help the defense immensely this season are Trevor Ariza, Nick Johnson, Joey Dorsey and Jeff Adrien all come to the Rockets with the reputation of being plus defenders. Ariza will be starting and Dorsey, Johnson and Adrien all have a very good chance at being part of the regular rotation.

    Imagine throwing out Beverly, Johsnon, Ariza, Adrien and Howard to defend any last second shot. That group would represent a significant defensive upgrade over the group that allowed Damian Lillard to drain that last second 3pt shot against the Rockets in the play-offs.

    Additionally, if Daniels can provide the depth at the shooting guard position that the Rockets have desperately needed the last two season, the James Harden might have the ability to expend a little more energy on the defensive end of the floor. And in case anyone has missed it, read the following Clutchfans thread about the improvement of James Hardens defense this summer.


    While I think Donatas Motiejunas has improved over the last couple of years and has likely cemented himself into the rotation, he still has to show he can play defense with out getting into foul trouble. With Asik gone to the Pelicans it would appear that all of the center minutes belong to him…but there is another.

    Joey Dorsey was made fun of when he was shipped out of Houston a few seasons ago because of comments he made about being the basketball version of Ray Lewis, his inability to stay out of foul trouble and the fact that his head was not completely screwed on straight. But make no mistake about it, Joey Dorsey has a lot of athleticism and when he is on the floor, he rebounds at an elite rate as well as plays defense with terminal intensity. This is one of those moves that most people probably roll their eyes at but if Joey has his head on straight and can stay out of foul trouble then he could have the same type of impact on defense that Omer Asik had. I he is a solid addition to the bench.

    4. The Offense

    Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin are sizable hits to the offense, both in the starting unit and the bench. But there are reasons the offense could be better this season over last season. Beverly, Harden, Jones & Howard are just finished their 1st season starting together. James Harden had never played with an elite Center like Dwight Howard until last season. Terrence Jones and Patrick Beverly had never been starters in the NBA until last season. Now they all have a full year playing together I expect a reasonable amount of organic growth.

    Terrence Jones is poised to take a major step forward in his carrier as an offensive option. I believe Terrence will step into Chandler’s spot as the 3rd offensive option this season averaging 15 to 17 points per game. If he improves his 3pt stroke from .307 to .330 or more then he becomes exponentially more deadly because he is so good at putting the ball on the floor when opposing Power Forwards try to close out on his jump shot. And opposing Power Forwards will be forced to close out on his 3pt shots if he improves in that area.

    I expect Houston’s 3pt shooting to be much improved next season.
    - Trevor Ariza as a starter and Troy Daniels off of the bench adds two players that hit over 40% of their treys last season.
    - Both Patrick Beverly and James Harden should return to their career 3pt averages or better after below career averages last season.
    - The addition of 3pt shooter Isaiah Canaan as the back up point guard

    Houston’s 3pt shooting could be among the best in the NBA next season.

    I expect Donatas Motiejunas to have a bigger role on the offensive end off of the bench this coming season. He has proven that he has good post moves and can score in the NBA. Much like in Terrence Jones case, Donatas should make his biggest leap forward in development this season since players historically make their biggest improvements between years 2 and 3.

    5. The Bench

    I think the bench has the ability to be light years better than the bench we had last season.
    1. 3rd year DMo will be better than 2nd year DMo.
    2. A healthy Joey Dorsey will be better than a grumpy, injured, unmotivated Omer Asik.
    3. Jeff Adrien will be a better back up to Ariza than Casspi was to Parsons.
    4. I like Daniels, Canaan & Johnson backing up Beverly and Harden as opposed to just Lin. Those guys represent both improved 3pt shooting and improved defense over what we had off of the bench behind Harden and Beverly last season.

    I would still like to see one more addition for another 3 and D small forward since Adrien plays more like a power forward on the offensive end. Overall though, I think the bench has some potential scoring punch with Canaan, DMo and Daniels as well as players with extreme defensive reputations.


    Like everyone I am disappointed that we did not sign Chris Bosh and then follow that up with matching Chandler Parsons. But I’m glad that Daryl Morey has not just gone out and started signing used up veterans like Jameer Nelson that have nothing left to offer or a bunch of former high draft picks that never amounted to anything as a reaction to losing out on both Bosh and Parsons in the same weekend. Instead Daryl does what he always does and finds pieces in Europe, D-League etc… that other GM’s did not think of that are infinitely more productive than the recycled non-productive journeymen type of additions that most GM’s do. Having said that I would still covet Ray Allen or Shawn Marion as championship veterans with something still left in the tank.

    The Rockets, IMO have improved their bench as well as their starting unit by way of better Defense, better 3 point shooting and at least one draft pick that looks like he is ready to contribute right now.

    The team has 3rd year players in DMo, TJones and Beverly that should make some step forward in their games. The addition of Daniels at the shooting guard spot should help regulate Hardens minutes, making him better on both ends of the court.

    Plus the Rockets still have use of their 8.4 million Jeremy Lin trade exception and an almost guaranteed lottery draft pick for next summer at their disposal.
    #1 crash5179, Aug 4, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
    42 people like this.
  2. Gimmmethemike

    Gimmmethemike Member

    Apr 21, 2009
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    Cool story bro. ;)
  3. BigShasta

    BigShasta Contributing Member

    Apr 26, 2014
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    Wow. Nice write up.
  4. Amel

    Amel Contributing Member

    Mar 4, 2006
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    5 stars for effort
  5. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine

    May 15, 2000
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    I'm hoping for big things from TJones as well. Not so much from Daniels though, he's pretty bad defensively.
  6. TheMystery008

    TheMystery008 Member

    Jul 26, 2012
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    I agree on points one to four.

    I'm looking forward to Jones progress.

    I like the upside of Daniels, but I still need to see him play a full season before I judge him.

    Our defense will be better with Ariza at the small forward position.

    Finally, your points regarding the offense is pretty accurate.

    Even though we lost some firepower in Lin and Parsons, we have the three point skills of Ariza.

    Also, the chemistry between Beverley, Harden, Jones, and Howard should be better than last year.

    The only thing I didn't agree on is the last point --- our bench.

    I can't judge them right now since half of them are unproven.

    Clutchfans is known for overrating their personnel.

    I don't want to hold them in a pedestal right now.

    Hopefully, they'll be as good as you said.

    But, I doubt it.
  7. Sherlock31

    Sherlock31 Member

    Dec 28, 2013
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    ROFL, you gotta to be a superfan!


    Jun 26, 2008
    Likes Received:

    Enjoyed it. Nice Job.
  9. Voice of Aus

    Voice of Aus Contributing Member

    Jun 28, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Great work crash, love reading your work!

    Loved the mention of Adrien, I think he will be the best offseason move we make and it won't even be close
  10. ZJP3

    ZJP3 Member

    Sep 2, 2010
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    This made me smile. Thank you Crash.
  11. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

    Jun 18, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Good write-up; agree with a lot. I do have a question, and I'm serious - - other than a knock-down 3pt shooter, just what is Troy Daniels?

    I just have no handle on what he will be bringing to the court in terms of his total game. Any legit insight will be appreciated.
  12. dje243

    dje243 Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Likes Received:
    I agree with this. Good job sir. I don't really see Adrien as a 3 at all though. I figure he'll get the majority of the backup 4 minutes.
  13. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

    Dec 1, 2000
    Likes Received:

    It could happen.

    Go Rockets.

    Don't forget Capela. I think he will be great on defense, but maybe not next year.
  14. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

    Dec 9, 2000
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    Guilty as charged. But if the Rockets are in fact better this season I'll be here ready for your apology ;)
  15. KlutchQT

    KlutchQT Contributing Member

    Jun 2, 2013
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    Agree with virtually all of it. I'm genuinely excited to see what this group looks like.
  16. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

    Dec 9, 2000
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    He certainly plays more like a 4 on offense but I think he is athletic enough to play 3. I still think we need a 3 & D small forward though.
  17. SmeggySmeg

    SmeggySmeg Contributing Member

    Feb 23, 1999
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    crash - great post and love the optimism, one concern for me is the aside from Haren who can create off the dribble, within the offence having multiple dribble penetrators was such a big component, struggle to see who replaces that.....or will the offence change, if not that is a massive burden for Haren, sure Ariza will help spread the floor but have seen what he can do when asked to do to much and Beverly is below average on offense......
    1 person likes this.
  18. The_Yoyo

    The_Yoyo Contributing Member

    Dec 25, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the detailed write-up

    I am optimistic that the Rockets will be just as good if not better than last year despite the idea that they will not be as good because they lost a starter and 2 key bench players.

    some things though I would counter to your argument

    1) As much as I like Dorsey - he isnt going to be as good as an unmotivated Asik. Dorsey will help offset the loss of Asik, but I have yet to see his man to man defense on NBA level talent. If he has improved overseas as reports say I would like to see that in action prior to making assessments to his level of play.

    2) The Terrence Jones 'leap' I think he will come back a better player than last year (essentially his 'rookie' year) but really what I would be super happy for out of Jones is consistency. There were far too many games where he looked like an all-star followed by an almost complete no-show. I would rather have like 12-14 points per game from averaging 12-14 a game rather than scoring 20 one game and 4 the next. The people you compared the 3% were all guards/wings - none of them were a PF - so not sure if its really comparing apples to apples here in terms of developing an outside shot. Outside shooting is something traditionally those positions focus on and coaching staffs train on.

    But that leap has a lot to do with coaching as well - in your example Milsap had one of the best in Jerry Sloan coaching him - unfortunately I dont have as much faith in our current coaching staff right now to help Jones take that leap.

    3) Bench -- It would be great if all 3 - Canaan, Johnson and Daniels played to add depth in the backcourt as I felt Bev and Harden played a lot of minutes last season - though the problem would be we would be really undersized. Really Johnson is the only one with size out of those 3. I can see teams abusing that small ball backcourt if its Canaan and Daniels.

    As for the other points I do agree with them. Having Daniels play a bit more and giving Harden a rest is going to be huge - it will let him use a bit more energy on defense. Adrien is going to be an upgrade coming off the bench - we never really found much from Casspi or Garcia last season.

    I am not really worried by the office - I believe Canaan, Johnson and Daniels can more than offset the loss of Lin. Ariza can put up the same numbers offensively as Parsons - even if its done in a different way and you figure Jones will improve on his scoring average in his third year a little.

    I am curious to see how the team will do with Ariza, Dorsey, Adrien and Johnson being added to the team -- guys who put just the same if not more effort defensively as they do on offense. If this team can become a more consistent defensive team than there is no reason why they cant be a top 3 team in the west.
  19. jerrios

    jerrios Member

    Jun 29, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Really don't see what's wrong with what he said and I have been saying the same thing.

    Last year the rockets were a 3 point shooting team with no pure shooter on the team. We have now added a 2 much better 3 point shooters.
  20. zeeshan2

    zeeshan2 Member

    Feb 20, 2013
    Likes Received:
    What an awesome write up! Very informative; thank you sir!+

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