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ESPN Insider Request: Player profiles: Projecting James Harden and the Rockets

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by phantoman, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. phantoman

    phantoman Contributing Member

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  2. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    How will James Harden, Trevor Ariza and the Houston Rockets do in 2016-17 after last season's disappointment and the departure of Dwight Howard?

    Here are our player scouting reports and analysis.

    Projected starters

    James Harden
    Position: Guard
    Experience: 7 years
    Age: 27

    Scouting report
    + Ball-dominant guard who will be the primary ball handler this season
    + Premier shot creator who has endless tricks for drawing fouls
    + Disengaged defender who must refocus on both ends

    Analysis
    Over the past two seasons, Harden has effectively served as the Rockets' point guard, handling the ball more than any non-point guard (6.3 minutes per game last season, per SportVU tracking on NBA.com/Stats). So Houston has decided to embrace that. While Harden will certainly play with a nominal point guard at times, the addition of Eric Gordon means regular minutes as the only true ball handler on the court.

    Harden is up to the task, though running Mike D'Antoni's offense may require adjustments. Harden loves to pound the ball while setting up, something that's anathema for D'Antoni. Steve Nash dribbled a lot, certainly, but in the context of probing the defense -- which kept teammates involved, a problem last year in Houston. Harden certainly can create his own offense efficiently, largely thanks to his knack -- obsession, really -- with drawing contact and getting to the foul line. Harden made more free throws (720) than any other NBA player attempted (DeMarcus Cousins was second with 663 tries), a key reason he can flirt with a .600 true shooting percentage while using nearly a third of the Rockets' plays. And Harden, who averaged a career-high 7.1 assists per 36 minutes, is good at using the threat of scoring to draw defense and set up teammates.

    The problem, of course, is defense. Harden's offensive output wasn't much worse than 2014-15, when he was a narrow runner-up to Stephen Curry for MVP (and won the inaugural player's choice award). But after improving his defensive effort, he fell into bad habits after a preseason injury affected his conditioning. Worse yet, Harden's defensive indifference seemed to infect his teammates, and Houston fell from sixth in defensive rating to 21st. If the Rockets are to improve, Harden will need to set the tone -- particularly after agreeing to a contract renegotiation and extension that locks him up through at least 2018-19. Playing fewer minutes might help. Harden played a league-high 38.1 minutes per game last season and shouldn't have to carry such a heavy load with more scoring on the roster.

    Eric Gordon
    Position: Guard
    Experience: 8 years
    Age: 27

    Scouting report
    + Injury-plagued shooting guard whose performance has suffered
    + Good catch-and-shoot option but not particularly efficient
    + Struggles to defend quick opponents due to poor lateral mobility

    Analysis
    For a team that emphasizes shooting 3s, Houston hasn't been particularly good at making them the past two seasons. In fact, the Rockets' 34.7 percent accuracy in 2015-16 was below league average, which partially reflects a willingness to try marginal 3s but also a lack of quality shot-makers. Enter Gordon, a career 38.3 percent 3-point shooter who should help Houston's offense when healthy. (Gordon played 45 games last season and hasn't topped 64 since his rookie season.)

    Early in his career, Gordon profiled as a well-rounded shooting guard in the Ray Allen mold. A series of knee injuries robbed him of much of his quickness and explosiveness. Gordon now gets to the rim infrequently and struggles to finish when he does (52.4 percent last season, per Basketball-Reference.com). So Gordon is now mostly a spot-up specialist, though he retains enough ballhandling ability to assist Harden with those duties. Last season marked the first time in Gordon's career that he shot more 3s than 2s, and perhaps not coincidentally he also had the best true shooting percentage (.565) of his five seasons in New Orleans.

    Gordon's knee problems have also taken a toll defensively, where he showed promise early in his career. Gordon now struggles to keep opponents in front of him, and at 6-foot-4 he lacks the size to affect shots from behind. Gordon's height will make it difficult to cross-match with Trevor Ariza, and D'Antoni's best solution might be putting Harden on the better offensive guard because he tends to be more engaged defending on the ball.

    Trevor Ariza
    Position: Forward
    Experience: 12 years
    Age: 31

    Scouting report
    + Big wing with 3-and-D skill set
    + Prolific, accurate 3-point shooter
    + Lost a half-step on defense last season

    Analysis
    Perhaps as soon as opening night, Ariza will crack the NBA's all-time 100 for made 3-pointers (he's currently one behind the active Leandro Barbosa and four behind retired Raja Bell). That says a lot about the NBA's growing interest in shooting 3s, but also about Ariza's growth from a player who made just nine total 3s in his first four seasons into one with three consecutive seasons of 180 or more.

    After shooting roughly league average from downtown in his first season back in Houston (35.0 percent), Ariza improved to 37.1 percent in 2015-16. He was particularly effective when playing power forward, boosting his true shooting percentage to .574 from .551 at small forward, per Nylon Calculus' lineup tracking. Those units were also some of the Rockets' best, outscoring opponents by 5.4 points per 48 minutes. The development of young forwards Sam Dekker and K.J. McDaniels may allow Ariza to slide to the 4 spot more this season.

    Defensively, Ariza may have shown the first signs of aging at 30. He was no longer as effective as a one-on-one defender, though he's still good at denying the basketball. Playing time may have been a factor there, as Ariza played nearly 3,000 minutes, the league's fourth-highest total (Harden was first). Again, growth from Houston's young backups could help Ariza lighten his load.

    Ryan Anderson
    Position: Forward
    Experience: 8 years
    Age: 28

    Scouting report
    + Stretch-4 whose all-around game has declined due to injuries
    + Has quick release from 3 and is capable of creating own shot
    + No longer athletic enough to hold his own as one-on-one defender

    Analysis
    Anderson has long been linked to the Rockets as the stretch-4 they've craved to boost their offense. With Anderson hitting the market as an unrestricted free agent, Houston signed him for $80 million over four years, a massive investment that might not end well given Anderson's age (28) and history of injury trouble. In the short term, however, Anderson makes the Rockets much tougher to defend.

    For a shooting big man, Anderson is relatively prolific. He used 24.7 percent of the Pelicans' plays last season, a figure that will likely come down slightly playing with more weapons in Houston. (My SCHOENE projection system estimates Anderson's usage at 23.1 percent.) A quick release helps Anderson get off 3s, though he has been less accurate the past two seasons (35.3 percent, versus 37.7 percent career shooting). Inside the arc, Anderson post-ups are generally a vehicle for fadeaway jumpers. As the league has emphasized playmaking from power forwards along with shooting, Anderson's middling assist rate (1.3 per 36 minutes last season) is a shortcoming.

    Defensively, Anderson fit better with the Rockets when they had Dwight Howard as a defensive anchor. A relatively poor defensive rebounder who doesn't offer much as a help defender, Anderson needs that kind of player next to him, and Clint Capela will have to prove he can fill that role. Because of age and his injury history, Anderson has become a one-on-one liability. ESPN's real plus-minus rated Anderson one of the league's 10 worst defensive power forwards last season, bad enough to offset the top-10 offense he provided from the position.

    Clint Capela
    Position: Center/forward
    Experience: 2 years
    Age: 22

    Scouting report
    + Promising young center will look to translate productivity in starting role
    + High-percentage finisher around the basket who runs pick-and-roll well
    + Effective shot-blocker who is still learning nuances of positioning

    Analysis

    Rather than investing in a high-priced replacement for Howard, Houston has turned the position over to Capela, who averaged 13.3 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes last season. Playing both behind and alongside Howard, Capela saw nearly 20 minutes of action a night, and the Rockets went 21-14 in his 35 starts -- including 7-4 when he started at center -- so he certainly appears ready for a bigger role at age 22.

    Most of Capela's production last season came on cuts and putbacks. However, when given the opportunity to play pick-and-roll, he was effective. Capela's 68.4 percent shooting as a roll man was sixth-best among players with at least 50 such shots, per Synergy Sports tracking on NBA.com/Stats. He rolls hard and can finish lobs around the basket, so the primary factor limiting his pick-and-roll contributions is that Harden prefers to look for his own offense rather than the roll man. One concern with Capela playing bigger minutes is that opponents will likely hack him more than the 21 times they did last season (already fourth-most in the league). Curiously, despite making a credible 59.6 percent of his free throws in the D-League during 2014-15, Capela has shot a dismal 35.9 percent during NBA games.

    Anchoring a defense that will test him with frequent penetration will be key to Capela's development. He blocked shots at an above-average rate for a center last season, but possibly because of the defense around him, his rim protection numbers were not as good (though better than Howard's). An average defensive rebounder for his position, Capela will also have to compensate for playing with several weak rebounders. With the mobility to defend power forwards on the perimeter and show against the pick-and-roll, Capela has all the tools to excel defensively. It's just a matter of getting the experience necessary to read the play and be in the right place.
    Reserves

    Patrick Beverley
    Position: Guard
    Experience: 4 years
    Age: 28

    Scouting report
    + Defensive-minded point guard with 3-point range
    + Not a creative ball handler or playmaker
    + Aggressive defender on the ball who welcomes contact

    Analysis
    Following a down 2014-15 when he missed 26 games and the Rockets' run to the Western Conference finals due to injuries, Beverley lost his starting job to newcomer Ty Lawson. Thanks in part to Lawson's ineffective play, it took Beverley less than a month to reclaim it. Now, after a solid and mostly healthy season, Beverley may again be headed to the bench with the addition of Eric Gordon. Either way, he remains an important part of Houston's guard rotation.

    A point guard in name more than style, Beverley mostly cedes ballhandling duties to Harden when they're on the court together and plays off the ball. That makes Beverley's career-high 40 percent 3-point shooting critical. Beverley was reasonably efficient despite rarely getting to the free throw line and slumping to 68.2 percent there -- probably a product of randomness. When he does run the offense, Beverley infrequently penetrates and isn't much of a creator. He's mostly setting up the play.

    The production Beverley provides on offense is a bonus. He's on the court to terrorize opposing point guards with his pressure defense. Don't blame Beverley for the Rockets' defensive issues. He ranked fifth among point guards in defensive RPM. Beverley plays bigger than his listed size (6-foot-1) because of his toughness, strength and physical style. The one concern with how Beverley plays is that it may lead to more injuries and might cause him to wear down at a relatively young age (he's 28 now). That may explain persistent trade rumors and Houston's attempts to replace Beverley as a starter.

    Nene
    Position: Guard
    Experience: 14 years
    Age: 33

    Scouting report
    + Fragile big man who remains agile for size
    + Good high-post center who can score in low post
    + Not a shot-blocker but mobile defensively

    Analysis
    Nearly five years ago, the Rockets were set to sign Nenê upon completion of the three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the L.A. Lakers and brought Pau Gasol to Houston. When the league office scuttled that deal, Nenê re-signed with the Denver Nuggets. Now, the Rockets finally have their man, albeit at a much lower price ($2.9 million for one year) and at a different stage of his career.

    This version of Nenê likely comes to Houston as a reserve, having averaged just 19.2 minutes per game during his final season with the Washington Wizards. Anything more taxes Nenê, who has missed an average of 22.5 games over the past four seasons with various maladies. In that role, Nenê can still be a valuable contributor. He shot 54.4 percent on 2-point attempts last season, his best mark since 2010-11, and despite going gray, Nenê still has the quickness to beat centers off the dribble from the perimeter while keeping them honest with the ability to hit the midrange jumper. Nenê can still score in the post on smaller defenders, but given D'Antoni's disdain for post-ups, he's probably likely to play more pick-and-roll basketball instead.

    Never anything better than an average shot-blocker in his prime, Nenê relies more on his mobility than his leaping ability at this point. His steal rate, always terrific for a center, remains strong. And Nenê is quick enough to pressure centers without worrying about them going by him. Nenê played some power forward last season in Washington but won't likely play that role for the spacing-inclined Rockets.

    Corey Brewer
    Position: Guard
    Experience: 9 years
    Age: 30

    Scouting report
    + Erratic wing who too often lacked energy needed to succeed
    + Good transition player who makes bad decisions in half-court offense
    + Has tendency to gamble for steals on defense

    Analysis
    Brewer has always relied on his energy, so it was confusing to see him playing seemingly at half-speed early in the season. While that improved somewhat after Houston's coaching change, Brewer was never the same player. Given he also depends on athleticism, the Rockets have to fear that Brewer -- who has two years and $15 million remaining on his contract -- might decline quickly after turning 30 in March.

    Whether due to effort or athleticism, Brewer generated fewer of the fast-break opportunities on which he thrives last season. That's a problem because Brewer is a dreadful half-court player. Always a poor shooter, Brewer missed his last 17 3-point attempts of the regular season and 24 in a row before finally making one in Houston's last playoff game. While the Rockets want 3-point attempts, Brewer's 224 attempts at a 27.2 percent clip were too many and reflect his poor shot selection.

    During his first partial season in Houston, Brewer's length and frenetic defense had been key to a successful second unit. Not so last year, when Brewer was no longer flying around the court and his gambles for steals went from justifiable to problematic. Because of his long arms and athleticism, Brewer looks like a wing stopper. In reality, he's too frail and inconsistent as a one-on-one defender to merit that label. If Brewer's effort isn't better this season, the Rockets' young forwards may push him for playing time.

    Donatas Motiejunas
    Position: Forward
    Experience: 4 years
    Age: 25

    Scouting report
    + Burly combo big man whose 2015-16 was ruined by back surgery
    + Capable of shooting 3 or scoring on smaller defenders in the post
    + Not a good enough rim protector to anchor a defense

    Analysis
    There's bad contract years, and then there's Motiejunas' 2015-16 campaign. He was unable to return from back surgery the previous spring until early December, then saw back pain recur at the start of January and keep him out of NBA action (he saw some rehab time in the D-League) until after the All-Star break. By then, the Detroit Pistons had rescinded a trade for Motiejunas because of concerns about his physical. Forced to return to Houston after being traded, Motiejunas actually started at power forward down the stretch but never looked healthy.

    After sitting out the Olympics due to his free agency, Motiejunas is ready for a fresh start under D'Antoni. His skills are an interesting fit for the Seven Seconds or Less system. While D'Antoni may not have much use for Motiejunas' ability to score in the post using accurate hook shots with either hand, his 3-point range (Motiejunas shot 36.8 percent from downtown in 2014-15) is more intriguing. He's most comfortable shooting from the top of the key, which allows him to shoot trail 3-pointers or pop after drag screens in the early offense. D'Antoni may also ask Motiejunas to handle the ball in dribble handoffs much like Boris Diaw with the Phoenix Suns.

    Playing Motiejunas alongside Nenê in a possible second-unit frontcourt would allow the Rockets to match him up with the burlier option while Nenê takes the quicker opponent. In the past, Motiejunas has been much more effective defensively at power forward, since he's only an adequate shot-blocker. Having Nenê alongside him might help compensate for that shortcoming.

    Michael Beasley
    Position: Forward
    Experience: 8 years
    Age: 27

    Scouting report
    + Talented combo forward who thinks score first (and second and third)
    + Likes to isolate slower defenders to drive or shoot pull-up jumpers
    + Indifferent defender who isn't an effective team defender

    Analysis
    Beasley returned from China in March ready to shoot. Having averaged 31.9 points per game in his second season in the CBA, Beasley fired up an incredible 10.3 shots per game in just 18.2 minutes a night after signing with the Rockets for the veterans minimum. Houston was pleased enough with the results to guarantee Beasley's 2016-17 salary over the summer.

    On a team that emphasizes 3-pointers and attempts at the rim, Beasley is an outlier. Per NBA.com/Stats, 35 percent of his shot attempts were 2-point jumpers outside the paint. Remarkably, Beasley's 72 such shot attempts ranked third on the Rockets in just 20 games. While he eschewed the 3-point shot, attempting just nine total, Beasley did take advantage of Houston's floor spacing and the ability to beat slower defenders off the dribble as a power forward to get to the basket for a career-high 36.1 percent of his shot attempts inside three feet, according to Basketball-Reference.com. So despite using a career-high 29.7 percent of the Rockets' plays (putting him just outside the league's top 10), Beasley posted an above-average true shooting percentage (.563) for just the second time in his career.

    Playing the 6-foot-9 Beasley at power forward did carry a defensive cost. Houston gave up 109.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the court, 8.7 more points per 100 possessions than the Rockets allowed with Beasley on the bench after he joined the team, per NBA.com/Stats. Beasley has never had the help instincts of a power forward, and aside from his time with the Miami Heat, he hasn't been disciplined at executing a defensive scheme. So he's probably best deployed situationally when the Rockets need buckets and can live with the defensive risks.

    Pablo Prigioni
    Position: Guard
    Experience: 4 years
    Age: 39

    Scouting report
    + Veteran point guard who is a stabilizing force on offense
    + Slumped badly from 3-point range last season
    + Willing to mix it up defensively despite declining athleticism

    Analysis
    The narrative last season was that Houston's stats-inclined GM Daryl Morey had ignored chemistry while building the roster, which was tough to understand given the Rockets brought back seven of the nine players who saw regular action during the 2015 Western Conference finals run. One exception was Josh Smith, whom Houston reacquired in a midseason trade. That wasn't the chemistry solution, so clearly the problem was the loss of Prigioni. The Rockets rectified that over the summer by re-signing Prigioni to a two-year contract for the minimum.

    While he obviously isn't actually the missing link, Prigioni was an effective backup point guard in Houston who can serve as insurance should the team move away from playing Harden at the point. Despite Prigioni shooting poorly from 3-point range during his one season with the L.A. Clippers (29.5 percent, down from 34.3 percent in 2014-15), the Clippers still benefited from his veteran presence at the point. They were outscored by 2.8 points per 48 minutes with him at point guard, according to Nylon Calculus tracking, as compared to minus-8.3 per 48 with Austin Rivers at the point. Prigioni's conservative style is a good fit for the Rockets, who don't really need or want their point guards to penetrate.

    Prigioni's defense was a pleasant surprise for Houston in 2014-15. Though he'll turn 40 in May, Prigioni still is an active defensive presence who bothers opponents in limited minutes. His steal rate (3.2 per 100 plays) was the league's fourth-best last season among players who saw at least 500 minutes of action.

    K.J. McDaniels
    Position: Guard
    Experience: 2 years
    Age: 23

    Scouting report
    + Athletic wing who has yet to make good on potential in Houston
    + Poor outside shooter who doesn't contribute much in half court
    + Terrific shot-blocker who still must commit to individual defense

    Analysis
    Acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers at the 2015 trade deadline and subsequently re-signed to a three-year, $10 million deal as a restricted free agent, McDaniels has yet to make much of an impact on Houston. He played just 235 minutes all of last season -- less than he played in the D-League -- and now has a healthy Dekker pushing him for playing time.

    While McDaniels has the tools to be a plus wing defender, part of the issue was the Rockets' coaching staff felt he needed to relearn defensive fundamentals. A phenomenal shot-blocker for a wing as a rookie in Philadelphia (he actually blocked shots at a better rate than the average center), McDaniels saw that figure cut in half last season. He is a versatile defender who offers enough help defense to play power forward as well as the quickness to defend point guards in addition to both wing spots.

    In the D-League, McDaniels did show progress as a 3-point shooter, making 35.3 percent of his 85 attempts. He has worked to shorten his release, since becoming a capable outside shooter is McDaniels' best path to productive half-court offense. Otherwise, he's most dangerous running the wings in transition and crashing the offensive glass for putback opportunities.

    Sam Dekker
    Position: Forward
    Experience: 1 year
    Age: 22

    Scouting report
    + Talented forward who missed most of rookie season
    + Adequate outside shooter who's more comfortable off the dribble
    + Has enough size to play some minutes at the 4

    Analysis
    Dekker's rookie season never really got going. While he was able to participate in training camp and saw action in three early games, a recurrence of the back trouble that had sidelined him during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas eventually required surgery in November. Dekker never saw game action upon his return before back tightness ended his season. So it was good to see him back on the court in Vegas, where he averaged 14.4 points per game.

    Before Dekker was injured, the Rockets had him playing power forward for what he told the team's broadcast crew was the first time in his career. At 6-foot-9, Dekker has enough size to hold his own at the 4, and his quickness becomes a strength at the position. While Dekker showed promise as a 3-point shooter this summer, making nine 3s in five games at a 39.1 percent clip, he has historically been more effective scoring with the ball in his hands, and he should be able to take many power forwards off the dribble.

    The key concern with Dekker at power forward is whether he can hold his own on the glass, where he was above average for a small forward but nothing exceptional at Wisconsin. He'll also surely struggle against some more physical opponents. Dekker's frame is more ideal for defending on the wing.

    Montrezl Harrell
    Position: Forward
    Experience: 1 year
    Age: 22

    Scouting report
    + Active presence seeking to harness energy
    + Above-the-rim finisher with little range
    + Miscast as center defensively and struggled on glass

    Analysis
    As a second-round pick, Harrell saw occasional action as a rookie but failed to answer the question of whether he's a power forward or a center. For the most part, Harrell played alongside another big man (either Capela or Howard), but he has the offensive game of a center. Harrell had 26 dunks in his 379 minutes, per Basketball-Reference.com, accounting for nearly half his field goal attempts. Harrell shot 2-of-8 outside the paint, so suffice it to say he won't be confused for a stretch-4 any time soon.


    Before the draft, Harrell's athleticism drew comparisons to Kenneth Faried and other energetic big men. However, he has never been nearly that productive as a rebounder. In fact, Harrell's defensive rebounding as a rookie would have been below average for a small forward -- suggesting the issue goes far beyond playing alongside another big man. Despite good leaping ability, Harrell blocked shots at only an average rate for a power forward, an indication he wouldn't be able to protect the rim well enough to serve as a full-time center. Harrell's game may fit better alongside Motiejunas, who has a complementary skill set. But most likely he'll be Houston's fifth big man.

    Chinanu Onuaku
    Position: Center
    Experience: Rookie
    Age: 19

    Scouting report
    + Promising center who rated well in statistical projections
    + High-percentage finisher with some passing ability
    + Quality shot-blocker who boasts strong steal rate

    Analysis
    For the second year in a row, the Rockets drafted a big man from Louisville, and Onuaku may push his former teammate Harrell for the role of fifth big man. A favorite of statistical models (he ranked 24th in my WARP projections and 13th in ESPN Analytics' rankings), Onuaku has two years of college experience but is more than three months younger than one-and-done No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons.

    By far the most notable thing about Onuaku is how he shoots free throws: underhanded, as taught by his head coach Rick Pitino between his two college seasons. After shooting 46.7 percent overhanded as a freshman, Onuaku improved to 58.9 percent on the underhanded attempts, though the sample sizes (30 and 56 attempts, respectively) are too small to conclusively say the change made a difference. Befitting his formerly poor foul shooting, Onuaku is mostly a garbage man on offense -- he used just 10.8 percent of Louisville's plays as a freshman before nearly doubling that rate last season -- though with one impressive skill: passing. He averaged 2.7 assists per 40 minutes last season, showing the ability to make plays -- though not really shots -- from the high post.

    Onuaku must make it in the NBA on the strength of his defense. He blocked nearly 10 percent of opponents' 2-point attempts last season and projects as an above-average shot-blocker for an NBA center. Onuaku also improved his rebounding dramatically as a sophomore after filling out and adding the strength necessary to deal with bigger opponents.

    Gary Payton II
    Position: Guard
    Experience: Rookie
    Age: 23

    Scouting report
    + Son of Hall of Fame point guard brings similar defensive intensity
    + Still learning to run offense and working to add 3-point range

    Analysis
    The son of "the Glove" (he occasionally goes by the fitting nickname "the Mitten"), Payton II carved out his own legacy at his dad's alma mater, Oregon State. A junior college transfer, Payton joined his dad as the second player in Beavers history with a triple-double and led Oregon State back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the elder Payton's senior year in1989-90. Undrafted largely because of his age (he'll be 24 in December), Payton quickly signed with Houston but is probably headed to the D-League because the Rockets have 15 guaranteed contracts.

    If he does make it to the NBA, the Rockets are an ideal fit for Payton because he's not a true point guard at 6-foot-3. He stepped into the role of point guard as a senior but is still developing his ability to set up teammates. Payton also isn't much of a 3-point shooter, having made 31.4 percent of his attempts last season, which separates him from the similar Beverley. Like Beverley, he excels defensively, where he led the Pac-12 in steals both years. A better leaper than his dad, Payton also frequently blocked shots for a point guard and was the Beavers' leading rebounder.

    Isaiah Taylor
    Position: Guard
    Experience: Rookie
    Age: 22

    Scouting report
    + Quick point guard who wasn't particularly efficient in college
    + Not much of a defensive presence due to short arms

    Analysis
    With Payton limited at the NBA Summer League by a hernia that eventually required surgery, Taylor stepped into the role of starting point guard for the final three games but averaged just 5.0 points and 4.0 assists per game. The two are likely both headed to Houston's D-League affiliate in the Rio Grande Valley, with Taylor as the offensive-minded half of the platoon.

    Known for his quick first step, Taylor nonetheless wasn't an efficient scorer in college because he had trouble finishing when he got to the basket. Even during his third and final year at Texas -- when he shot a career-best 44.2 percent on 2-point attempts -- Taylor shot just 53.9 percent at the rim, according to Hoop-Math.com. Against professional rim protectors, Taylor will have to look to drive and dish instead of trying to score himself. Taylor also isn't much of an outside shooter, making 35 triples in three seasons from the college line. And though he's listed at 6-foot-3, a small wingspan for his height means Taylor doesn't have much of an impact defensively.

    Kyle Wiltjer
    Position: Forward
    Experience: Rookie
    Age: 23

    Scouting report
    + Collegiate stretch-4 with NBA 3-point range and ability to create shot
    + Too slow to defend on wing and too small to defend big men

    Analysis
    During two seasons at Gonzaga, Wiltjer was one of the NCAA's most productive offensive players, averaging 20.4 points per game as a fifth-year senior. Physical limitations figure to make it difficult for Wiltjer to translate that success to the pros, explaining why he went undrafted before signing a deal with the Rockets that will likely send him to the D-League.

    Wiltjer is a legitimately outstanding shooter with NBA range. He shot 44.9 percent from 3-point range at Gonzaga and has a strong post game when opponents put smaller defenders on him. However, though he has good size for a power forward at 6-foot-10, Wiltjer is a poor rebounder who doesn't do well with physical play. And he's slow-footed for a big man, so moving to the wing isn't realistic. The best-case scenario for Wiltjer defensively in the NBA would be a fringe rotation player along the lines of Luke Babbitt.
     
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  3. Exiled

    Exiled Member

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    Nene
    Position: guard !




    this could be the new designed uniform to match expectations


    [​IMG]
     
  4. Captain Hook

    Captain Hook Member

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    Corey Brewer
    Position: Guard
    Experience: 9 years
    Age: 30

    Scouting report
    + Erratic wing who too often lacked energy needed to succeed
    + Good transition player who makes bad decisions in half-court offense
    + Has tendency to gamble for steals on defense


    Since when Corey Brewer lacked energy?
     
  5. alethios

    alethios Member

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    FIFY! Truly, this is what he meant to say...
     
  6. J Sizzle

    J Sizzle Member

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    Lolz.

    I WISH Brewer lacked energy
     
  7. HardenTime

    HardenTime Member

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    The problem, of course, is defense. Harden's offensive output wasn't much worse than 2014-15, when he was a narrow runner-up to Stephen Curry for MVP (and won the inaugural player's choice award). But after improving his defensive effort, he fell into bad habits after a preseason injury affected his conditioning. Worse yet, Harden's defensive indifference seemed to infect his teammates, and Houston fell from sixth in defensive rating to 21st. If the Rockets are to improve, Harden will need to set the tone


    Curry is a 2x mvp, but does he set the tone defensively for the warriors or is it draymon. The goal posts are always moved for Harden
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. OTMax

    OTMax Member

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    No more ESPN please, lazy writing again, and again, and again...
     
  9. Liberon

    Liberon Rookie

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    I think that $20 million a year to sway for Bogut trade and renegotiation or pry Dirk away from the Mavs would have been better spent than Ryan Andersen. Don't like the Rockets off season moves.
     
  10. emcitymisfit

    emcitymisfit Member

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    Nene
    Position: Guard
     
  11. scolandry1

    scolandry1 Member

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    I recommend that everyone listens to this in the background while reading:

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XmIFhvlxxYc?start=209" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
  12. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum Houston Knicks fan
    Supporting Member

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    media conspiracy.

    the reality? Harden is the greatest player in NBA HISTORY.
    :cool:
     
  13. PeterKingX

    PeterKingX Member

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    ESPN article is always disappointed.
     
  14. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    And the most underrated player in nba history
     

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