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Breaking down Houston's preseason performances (long read)

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Streets 01, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. Streets 01

    Streets 01 Member

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    Now that the preseason is officially over, having watched every game, here's my analysis:

    Harden: Offensively he's about the same. He has missed a lot of easy layups and had some bad bounces that should have fallen but his shot selection has been great, ball-stopping has been non-existent, and he has been playing well within the offense. He seemed to be toying around a bit, trying some things and using preseason as glorified practice (like deliberately passing in Miami even when wide open for a layup). Defense is the real story though as he actually seems to be committed. While he's still the worst defender of the starting 5, just having him commit to defense and try has been huge for us. Wade lit him up but it seemed like every shot was contested, Green blew past him a few times, but he scrambled to recover. It's these little things that will make a huge difference, as the other team's SG will now have to work for theirs. Also from a leadership standpoint, Harden buying in as a leader has an effect on the while team's mentality.

    Howard: Pretty much the same guy as last year. The team seems MUCH better at feeding him the ball though so he's really benefitting from the work he puts in jockeying for position. This was often not the case last year. I argue Howard is as good as he was in Orlando, just the game has changed and become more ticky-tack. The refs punish power over finesse (definitely not the case in Shaq's day) and unfortunately Howard gets a lot of turnovers via traveling, offensive fouls, etc.- calls that would go his way if the league rewarded flopping less (I'm not complaining as the guy above lives off it, just saying how things are). Howard will never be Dream II, and the improvements to his post game seem minimal at best. However he does seem to be more mobile and active than last year (like earlier in his career) and has benefitted greatly from it getting some easy baskets, boards and blocks as a result. Whether this will sustain when the minutes are increased and the 82 game grind is there remains to be seen, but if Dwight buys into the pick and roll its going to be a good year.

    Ariza: Very very pleasant addition who is doing everything he was advertised to do (three/D/vet leadership) and yet still manages to shock me with how good he is and how well he fits in. I was not a fan of his first run but as a third option he fits amazingly well. The steals leading to easy points on the other end have been momentum-shifters that have come in droves. How he manages to play the passing lanes while still staying in front of his man is a thing of beauty. On offense he is always in the right spot and plays in his comfort zone unlike the last time he was here. There are definitely some things Chandler brought that are going to be missed but Ariza seems like he will ultimately be a better fit as the things he was brought in to do he does better than Parsons. Parsons will have the better year statistically but Ariza will be just as important to our team and overall it will be a net positive.

    Beverley: Easily having the most underrated preseason of all the Rockets as no one is really talking about him. My prediction is Bev will be the most improved Rocket. Offensively he looks much better than last year (which makes sense as he seems to be the hardest worker on the team). His shot, handles, transition game and ability to finish are all crisp. He always seems to make the right play and makes good decisions. And of course the defense/energy/leadership qualities he displayed last year are still there. His biggest weakness at this point is his playmaking/ ability to create for himself and others (which was Lin's strength). At this point both Canaan and Smith are better in that area but Bev is a starting-caliber PG on a championship team in my opinion. He can shoot the open three and defend other elite guards. While not Chris Paul he and Harden do well sharing ball-handling responsibilities. As mentioned earlier he has become much better at feeding the bigs which allows them to be playmakers out of the post as well. Finally, I LOVE him and Ariza on defense together, just a joy to watch.

    Jones: I loved TJ every season, but this year he's just frustrated me. He's been wildly inconsistent and has not seemed to improve one bit. He has all the potential to be a great player but unlike Ariza and Bev has a tendency to make poor decisions and play outside his comfort area. He also has appeared lethargic in a lot of games and hasn't played with a sense of urgency like he WANTS that starting spot. Reminds me a bit of T-Mac in that regard with less talent and consistency. He should be the backup as his strength really is his ball-handling. His ability to put the ball on the floor, his transition game, and his ability to pass are his strengths but we are not going to run our offense through him if he's a starter, so his opportunities there are limited. So instead of using his strengths he's asked to spread the floor, play defense and rebound (none of which are places he excels). He has a decent jumper that you have to respect but he's not a deadeye. But as it stands he seems to be our starter. I can easily see this changing if TJ doesn't play with more urgency. And like I said, even if that does change I feel his skillset would be better utilized on the second unit.

    Motiejunas: Motiejunas has improved quite a bit from last season. Defense is still not great (though he's moving his feet more), but his post game and shot looks much better. Still error prone, but Motiejunas makes far less stupid mistakes than he did last year. The biggest improvement has been to Motiejunas' post game as his work with Dream seems to be paying dividends (if he's even worked with him). The footwork is great but the problem is once he beats you he beats himself by missing the easy shot or making things more difficult than they need to be. The announce team has said time and again that he does the hard part and screws up the easy part (paraphrasing) and it sums him up well. Also not an ideal fit to start as his rebounding, defense and shooting aren't great (he seems to be a slightly better shooter than Terrence) but he's one of two realistic options and I already mentioned why I like TJ off the bench.

    Terry: The main thing to watch with JET has been mobility, quickness, and all the other things that go with age. We knew his shot would be there as that's one of the last things to go on a player. But I've been pleasantly surprised at how active he's been in meaningless preseason games. He's sadly one of the best ball handlers we have, and while he's not going to create shots he's excelled in lineups with Bev, Harden and with Cannan where he can float between the one and two. His defense is not horrible (Harden level) as he can stay in front of his main quite well for his age. If we limit his minutes he will be a big asset for us. While he was likely brought in to spell Harden, his role will more likely be to play backup point guard as (despite Canaan's awakening: discussed later) he still seems to be the best option going forward.

    Papanikolaou: If Ariza alone wasn't a nice replacement for Parsons, Papanikolaou providing some wing depth was sorely needed and definitely helps fill the gap. His best asset is his creativity with the ball and his grit. Like Battier or Ginobli he does a lot with a little. His outside shot has been awful, and he has had some costly turnovers, but overall his decision making, passing, and ability to create something from nothing makes him a player to watch. I think he needs another year of seasoning before the jury is out on him but our bench depth won't give him that luxury. So it'll be trial by fire for Papa. I know we're all hoping Papa isn't Casspi 2.0 as he's the most likely candidate, but Casspi was lauded mostly for his super hot shooting (and he cooled off). Papa has impressed despite poor shooting so really, I only expect him to get better. He is definitely raw, but a joy to watch who should make a solid contribution to the bench. Though nowhere on Chandler's level, he can fulfill some of the point forward duties and I think it's really cool that you can run him with the starters and anyone 1-4 can handle the ball and run point. A great compliment to the stars.

    Daniels: Spoiler alert: Troy is my favorite Rocket aside from #13 so view this through that lens. I'm just a fan of his jumper (like we all are). He has such a smooth release and is capable of hitting from anywhere. I know the popular tagline is lack of defense, but I don't see it. He's quick and pesty and plays good man D on the perimeter (just as well as any other guard we have not named Bev). Obviously he gets eaten alive on switches due to his lack of power but I think it's actually his offensive game that holds him back more than defense. He lacks creativity has a hard time running through screens to get open, and obviously isn't a threat to get to the cup with the ball in his hands. He needs to learn to move off the ball (this is mostly a coaching issue) and if he can then he can be effective despite his lack of power or handles like Ray, Reggie and Rip before him (not saying he's as good as them). Most of this comes down to coaching as he's young and McHale is not the best coach in my opinion. Still I hope he becomes a rotation guy as I'm a fan of his game, think he's a net positive and will only get better. I'd love to see him in that 6th man microwave off the bench role dropping 8-15 pts in limited minutes. The potential is there but unfortunately he seems buried on the bench.

    Black: Though he's cooled off a bit since his hot start I think Black is the best option for backup center (not counting Motiejunas). I'd honestly like to see him in the starting lineup at PF but his lack of shooting and seniority will prevent that. Still Harden with 4 energy/defense guys would be reminiscent of Iverson's Sixers, only we'd be a much better team overall. Plus Harden is a lot less selfish than AI and wouldn't chuck as much. But I digress. Black is pretty much an energy/hustle guy like Hayes who has played some good D and unfortunately had some rookie calls go against him when matched up against elite bigs. I know that's his scouting report but what has sulfide me most about him is his post game... He has one. And he has caught some defenders off guard with fakes and spins I didn't know he had, but like Motiejunas has been unable to finish consistently. I think he could be the big man Bev who's known for energy and D but through hard work and dedication develops a sneaky offensive game. I don't think he's one we want to let go of.

    Cannan: Spoiler again: I have been a fervent Cannan hater due to the fact that I've always seen him as overhyped and overvalued (in large part due to the Lin hate I'm sure). Canaan is who he is, an undersized 2nd round two guard playing point that has been unable to crack the rotation since he's been drafted. That said, he has earned my respect these last few games by playing with confidence (which turns out has been his biggest weakness). Once Canaan started playing his game he has taken over and shown a lot of heart, clutch and leadership. Sure he's a score-first point guard, but I think his age and the flashes he's shown are enough to keep him over Ish (who a week ago I was saying should be the backup and Canaan should be cut). Canaan has earned my respect. I still think he's a third PG on most teams with the potential to be a solid backup. But like with Papa, bench depth might mean trial by fire for the backup PG as well when Terry needs rest. Still, I'd feel okay going to war with Canaan as our backup. I'd rather a net neutral than the inconsistency of Lin. So there's that.

    Smith: I was a HUGE fan of Ish during his first run here. His speed and handles were just unreal. So when we reacquired him I was super happy, especially since he had been playing backup in Phoenix. However, having seen him play throughout preseason he seems to have had a solid start and kind of trailed off. His gift is his curse as he's literally faster than every other player, so what happens is he's four steps ahead while everyone else is two. He breaks his man down or streaks up the court and no one else is where they're supposed to be, Ish gets trapped and turns it over. Ish has a lot of potential but lacks the ability to control the tempo and exercise patience by making the right plays. He also is a poor finisher despite his ability to get the the rim, and a terrible shooter for a guard. So you really don't have to respect him as a threat which of course makes his job much harder. Physically Ish has the tools and he has all the confidence that Canaan lacks, but he needs much better coaching to help him understand the importance of pacing and not always going break neck speed as a PG.

    Dorsey: Joey is currently my least favorite Rocket by a landslide and I hope he gets cut. Every time I watch him it seems 4 out of 5 times he's making stupid mistakes. Fumbles a rebound out of bounds, misses a point blank shot, offensive goaltends, sets a bad moving screen resulting in a turnover. I wasn't a fan of his first run and have no idea why we brought him back. I hate that he has guaranteed salary because honestly that's the only thing that he has over Black or even Adrien at this point.
    Black: Though he's cooled off a bit since his hot start I think Black is the best option for backup center (not counting Motiejunas). I'd honestly like to see him in the starting lineup at PF but his lack of shooting and seniority will prevent that. Still Harden with 4 energy/defense guys would be reminiscent of Iverson's Sixers, only we'd be a much better team overall. Plus Harden is a lot less selfish than AI and wouldn't chuck as much. But I digress. Black is pretty much an energy/hustle guy like Hayes who has played some good D and unfortunately had some rookie calls go against him when matched up against elite bigs. I know that's his scouting report but what has surprised me most about him is his post game... He has one. And he has caught some defenders off guard with fakes and spins I didn't know he had, but like Motiejunas has been unable to finish consistently. I think he could be the big man Bev who's known for energy and D but through hard work and dedication develops a sneaky offensive game. I don't think he's one we want to let go of.

    Nick Johnson: I need to see more to assess him but think he'll be in the d-league as most suspect as he needs a bit more seasoning. He shows flashes of being a great athlete and scorer but isn't consistent and doesn't always make the best decisions on the court.

    McHale: The commitment to defense is there. That's the biggest thing you notice right off the bat. Offensively it's hard to say where we're at as the lineups have been inconsistent and experimental. We don't seem to run a lot of plays but the ball seems to be less stagnant. While I'm not really a fan of McHale I'd like to see what this team can do without any Lin/Asik drama. I often think of the beginning of coach Carter where he essentially says "my way or the highway" and the team's two leading scorers quit. To which, Carter replies, "then I guess we'll have new leading scorers this year". I think McHale lets the inmates run the asylum a bit and you could see a lot of chemistry problems last year. This year I think everyone has been humbled and we seem to be more willing to dig and do the dirty work. I'm hoping McHale can keep this tougher identity going throughout the grind, but the jury is out.
     
    30 people like this.
  2. Voice of Aus

    Voice of Aus Contributing Member

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    quality effort breh, ill rep you and read it later
     
  3. Spacemoth

    Spacemoth Contributing Member

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    You start clicking on a billion links on Clutchfans and other sports websites, and next thing you know you've worked yourself into such a frenzy that you can't sleep and instead post a WALLOFTEXT thread onto Clutchfans. I've been there. It'll pass.
     
  4. BonziWellsGOAT

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    You guys are missing out on a hell of a post then. Good stuff man
     
  5. JH13

    JH13 Member

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    You can't be so narrow-minded about Dorsey. He was DPOY in Europe for a reason.
     
  6. OremLK

    OremLK Member

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    I read it all... nice post bro. These fools need to get more literate.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Panda23

    Panda23 Member

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    needs more creatine
     
  8. AstroRocket

    AstroRocket Member

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    As a long time poster that is fervently NOT an a-hole and remembers when initial replies to threads weren't competitions to see who can be the biggest dick, I'd like to say thanks for that well written and informtive post. I agree with most of your points, especially regarding Canaan's late surge and disappointment in Ish. The last couple of preseson games did a lot to solidify the picture at backup/3rd string PG. Unlike you, I didn't see much starting potential from Black. Like his hustle, but his lack of size really hurts him since he doesn't hve the skills to offset this disadvntage like soeone like TJones. Still, I agree that to this point he has definitely outperformed Dorsey.

    The defensive mindset to this team that you mentioned is the biggest takeaway I've gotten from this preseason. There's a grittiness, very reminiscent of the Grizzlies, that I haven't seen from the Rockets since the JVG/Thibs years. Really liking that. If Mchale can continue what he's been doing so far in demanding more from the stars and holding the rest of the team to a tight leash when it comes to defensive accountability, this team will definitely outperform expectations.
     
  9. drowsy12

    drowsy12 Member

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    nice post
     
  10. J Sizzle

    J Sizzle Member

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    Heck...this was better than a lot of threads that get made around here. I liked the post, and agree with a lot of what you said. Repped.
     
  11. Kevooooo

    Kevooooo Member

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    I read through DMo, but had to stop there to say this.

    DMo is not a bad defender. He isn't a great defender, and he still needs to work on some things, but he is a pretty damn good defender for a 7 footer coming from Europe. He is moving his feet remarkably well, and doesn't seem bothered by shooting bigs. I think by the end of the season, he'll be capable of guarding the Aldridge's and Nowitzki's of the league.
     
  12. finsraider

    finsraider Member

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    Canaan still has a ways to go, but the kid has starter potential.

    People forget that the main reason we drafted him was for his shooting. They gave up too quickly when the 3s weren't falling, but that was bound to fix itself over time. He's got a sweet shot and can draw fouls. Ball handling and distributing aren't bad. His defense and finishing need some work, but they will get there with time.

    We are trying to strike gold without investing much. Beverley, Canaan, Llull, Johnson........one of those guys is going to be an above average NBA starter, and none cost us more than a 2nd round pick.
     
  13. HamJam

    HamJam Contributing Member

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    I agree with this. DMo is a solid defender. If his offense was where his defense was then there would be no debate on the GARM about who the starter should be.

    Also, OP, good write up. I don't agree with everything you said, but quality stuff. Thanks for taking the time.
     
  14. Streets 01

    Streets 01 Member

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    Thanks for the kind words and to those saying it was too long, you were warned in the title lol. If I had the ability to edit posts I'd drop each player in spoiler tags so you're not immediately hit with a wall of text.

    I purposely made it long because I know there's a lot of people who haven't had the chance to watch any preseason games whatsoever and like in-depth write ups like these. Again these are just my observations so people are of course able to disagree. I tried to be unbiased or at least acknowledge my biases.
     
  15. Nippystix

    Nippystix Member

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    Great post. Long post, but well worth the read. Thanks OP!
     
  16. don grahamleone

    don grahamleone Contributing Member

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    Did not reed. I did read it though. Looks like you duplicated the part about Black.

    I disagree with some of what you're saying, but it's good to hear different perspectives. I think you've undersold Papanikolaou. I think you oversold Ish. But good read overall. Thx.
     
  17. HakeemOnlyFan

    HakeemOnlyFan Member

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    Really hope most of us are proved wrong about Dorsey. He has looked pretty bad. Nice post, sir.
     
    1 person likes this.
  18. Streets 01

    Streets 01 Member

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    Ish is GONE, so there's that lol.

    With Papa, I'm cautiously optimistic. He's shown flashes of brilliance, is heady and creative, but I really don't want Casspi 2.0 so I'm not heralding him as the next big thing quite yet. Like I said, the fact that we are praising Papa in spite of his shooting is a REALLY good sign as that can be fixed and it means he's doing everything else well. He's going to take some time to adjust to the game here, but I see nothing but good things from him going forward. Really I just want to see more. He's a fun player to watch but with all the young guys the limited sample size means being more tentative when talking about their abilities.
     
  19. mrhookshot

    mrhookshot Member

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    very nice post. and though i don't agree with everything, thx for the effort. :)
     
  20. spdngyns69

    spdngyns69 Member

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    Superb, repped.
     

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