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[HOUSTON PRESS] Mr. Big: Greg Smith, from D-League to Rotation Player on Playoff-Bound Rockets

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Jeff, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2013/03/mr_big_hard_work_sends_greg_sm.php

    After a recent practice, Rockets players Greg Smith, Thomas Robinson, Dontas Montejunas and James Harden spent a few rare minutes working on their post up games with coach Kevin McHale. While Harden was there just to give the young players a hard time and get in some extra reps, Smith and Thomas spent extended time with the Hall of Fame coach, soaking in the knowledge he gained through years banging on the low block and winning titles with the Celtics.
    Robinson was a top 10 draft pick this year and after being traded to the Rockets at the trading deadline, he is hoping to be a long-term starter in the post. The Rockets have high hopes as well believing that his raw athletic skills could translate into success at the power forward position.

    Smith was not drafted. He spent his first year playing in Mexico, eventually joining the Rockets last season logging all but 49 minutes in a Rio Grande Valley Vipers uniform, the Rockets D-League affiliate. He has spent most of his time on the Rockets NBA roster this season, but he is still figuring out how to be a big man in the NBA.

    "It's great to just learn from [McHale]," Smith told Hair Balls after the aforementioned extra work. "He's played against everybody. It's good to get his insight."

    If there is anything Smith has tried to do since coming out of Fresno State as an un-drafted rookie, it's learn the game. He spent his first season playing in Mexico and migrated a bit north to the Rio Grande at the beginning of last year to join the NBA minor leagues. Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who seems to have a knack for pulling players out of thin air (see this year's shocker, backup point guard Patrick Beverley), saw Smith's raw skills and imagined it would be a good fit for last year's height and athletically-challenged roster.

    But, while Smith was trying improve his game, he was also learning a more important lesson. "When you go out, you have to be prepared every night for battle," he said of his time in the D-League, "That's one thing I love about playing down there, it taught me to not take this for granted."

    And while the level of competition may not be quite the same as the NBA, the intensity is. "It's tough because you're playing against guys who all want to get call ups, all want to play in the NBA," Smith said. "If they have a good game against you, [they'll get] a call up."

    He has tried to bring that same focus and intensity to the Rockets. That effort has shown on the court. Smith is averaging 5 points and 4 rebounds in 53 games backing up Omer Asik. He still has a limited offensive game, but his size and athleticism has led to some highlight reel dunks like the one he had against San Antonio, a key play in a big win.

    "Every day I come out with high energy and play hard. That shows my teammates that you can't take days off," he said.

    Smith is young, eager and inconsistent, a description that fits many of the young players on this roster. His talents, while raw, are evolving, just like many of his teammates, which is why this has been such a fun team to watch this season. That inconsistency can also be frustrating, but as the season has progressed, there have been fewer hair pulling moments and more wins as a result. Because they are all so young, they are learning how to win on the fly, but, more importantly, they are doing it together.

    "I think that's why we are having a good year this year because everybody has trust for each other," Smith said, "We like each other, we have fun."

    And among these young players, much like in the D-League, competition is fierce. Whether it is on the floor -- like that after-practice session where Harden (Smith says he is the most competitive guy on the team) hammered the young big men with smacks on the arm and shoves in the back -- or off, to a man, they all want to win every battle.

    "Video games, bowling, playing pool, card games, it's going to get competitive because nobody wants to lose," Smith said.

    That time spent on and off the court together is helping to forge what Smith calls a "bond of brotherhood" between a bunch of guys, all about the same age, and surprising experts around the league who left the Rockets for dead before the season started. They still have a ways to go to count themselves among the league's best teams, but Smith believes they will get there.

    "In two or three years, we're going to be a very, very scary team."
     
  2. alethios

    alethios Member

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    I have a good feeling about this team; next year is going to be fun. I believe we're a better team than GSW already, just not experienced enough, but that will change.
     
  3. PopItRockets

    PopItRockets Member

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    I literally laughed out loud haha. I also like the part where they talk about a bond of brothers who are all young and around the same age. It feels like a movie everyone counted them out and as underdogs are shocking critics. Can't wait for this team to get better and better.
     
  4. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

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    In two or three years, most of them won't even be on the team.
     
  5. alethios

    alethios Member

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    Dude...really? The loss of PPat has really affected you deeply. Go find your EAP counselor, stat.
     
  6. RedDynasty

    RedDynasty Member

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    This. I can only see Harden being a lock to be on this roster for years to come, with Lin and Asik coming in as close seconds. I think Greg has a good chance. He likes Houston and he's a good backup big man. I sure want to keep him.
     
  7. zxcvbn193

    zxcvbn193 Member

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    This. We have cap room, we good amazing talented 3 PF's in DMO, Robinson, Smith, there is no way Morey is going to pass an opportunity to get an PF allstar this summer.
     
  8. SexyButIgnorant

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    This is true. Either Lin or Asik (or both) will be gone to trade for a big star. Either D-Mo or TRob will be gone, Smith probably gone too, all our expirings will be gone (Delfino, Garcia).

    All this while the great Royce White stays.
     
  9. STR8Thugg

    STR8Thugg STR8Thugg Member

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    This might be right, but hopefully not...

    One thing is for sure though. In two or three years, PPat will be league MVP, Defensive player of the year, Rebounding champ, lead the league in blocked shots, highest TS% among starting 4's, NBA Champion, and Finals MVP...

    amirite?
     
  10. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    That's the name of the blog. Standard though weird. :)
     
  11. Rockets0515

    Rockets0515 Member

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    You are honestly the worst poster on this forum now.
     
  12. MonKing

    MonKing Member

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    You must have a lot of guys on your ignore list. Carl is beating the heck out of the dead horse of the Sacto trade, agreed, but at this point he hasn't reached the level of some of the raving posters here on CF.
     
  13. RocketRaccoon

    RocketRaccoon Contributing Member

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    Damn Carl, here's a quote from my old drill instructor: "Pvt. you DO know how to f*** up a wet dream!"
     
  14. Aruba77

    Aruba77 Contributing Member

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    no doubt the track-record would indicate such, but i also think that if the home-run opportunities don't present themselves for Houston (like adding another Hardenesque franchise piece through trade), standing pat and letting these guys develop is not a bad alternative. I hope Morey sees that; i have confidence he does. Sure they'll look to add another allstar, but to some extent that's out of our control. Glad we have the pieces in place to continue to improve.

    ...and Greg Smith's right: in a magical world where we could keep everyone together, this team would be scary good in 2/3 years ...just not Miami good ;)
     
  15. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
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    CH is right. Even stable teams like Spurs turnover half the roster over a three year period. The Rockets will be more stable than they have been though for next two seasons. That's not saying much though.

    I have a hard time seeing the Rockets trading Parsons, Beverley, and Anderson because they are so cheap, but productive. Not saying these guys are untouchable, but just see it tough to get good value for them at their cost. Harden will stay.

    For Smith, he will be kept if the Rockets can afford him. Decent big men are hard to get and he may be one by end if next season.
     
  16. Jmcballer88

    Jmcballer88 Contributing Member

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    Hair balls wtf
     
  17. pbthunder

    pbthunder Contributing Member

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    Carl's been pretty decent through the years, IMO.
     
  18. LosPollosHermanos

    LosPollosHermanos Houston only fan
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    This. Given how this team does things I don't know why anyone would be surprised.
    CH is actually right on this. Not sure why anyone ever considered him a great poster, he just has his shtick that's all but the team's track record should clearly show that. How quickly they were willing to pull the trigger this year should be an indicator of that.
     
  19. Rockets12

    Rockets12 Member

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    Morey has been changing the roster year afrer year, what he is saying could probably happen. Say we trade for a superstar, we lose like 3 or more of our players.
     
  20. sfayner

    sfayner Member

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    Do you guys really wish we still had last year's roster instead of current roster?
     

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