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(Justin Russo) James & The Giant Leech

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by dream2franchise, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. dream2franchise

    Jul 1, 2002
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    Nothing new or original here so wasn't sure if it was worth posting. but some may want to read.

    There is a segment which says McHale and JBB shouldn't be blamed, yet later on...
    I mean...that's coaching, right?

    I really hope the Rockets can turn the season around to shut everyone up.:mad:


    That sound you hear in Houston is the Rockets' season imploding
    February 24, 201614 minute read by Justin Russo
    Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

    When their careers are over, James Harden and Dwight Howard are going to remember these days for how much it made them hate the game of basketball — and each other. In the grand scheme of things, their inability to find a common ground with each other will prove to be the one thing that their careers are always remembered for the most. And that’s the true shame of everything. Their incompetence to function as a unit — nay, brothers — will be the one thing that undoes their entire legacies as they strive to etch their names in the annals of history. Both men will likely achieve entry into the Hall of Fame, but they could have accomplished so much more if only they could have moved out of their own way.

    You can’t fix stupid, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, and you can take a dog to a tree but you can’t make it bend its leg. All of these, all three of them, could be used to describe the season that the current incarnation of the Houston Rockets are having. 2015-16 has been one of the worst disasters in basketball in recent memory — perhaps even more catastrophic than the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers and 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets combined. It’s been that bad. That isn’t an exaggeration, either. The Rockets went into this season with title aspirations, especially after picking up troubled point guard Ty Lawson via trade towards the end of July 2015, but all that’s happened since then is a plethora of ineptitude.

    Numbers, at least per game and counting stats, don’t tell the whole story about this season. On the surface, both Harden and Howard are having really good seasons. You could even argue that they might be having fantastic individual seasons. Then again, therein lies the problem — individual. That’s all they are. They’re just merely individuals. They don’t operate within a team construct anymore. They’re just bandits roaming the basketball periphery doing what they can to survive in the dusty mesa without caring about their fellow man or brother. They’re the Wild West shooter who yearns for companionship without knowing how to be a companion. Truth be told, they deserve each other.

    As it stands, the Houston Rockets are 28-29, and they sit a half-game behind the Utah Jazz for that eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. On top of that, the team is just 3-7 in their last 10 games. To put it bluntly, they stink. They’re 25th in Defensive Efficiency this season, and that’s been a major part of all their problems. Nearly everyone on that team defends like a blind mouse trying to stay alive against a python in a feeding tank. They mostly don’t care, don’t try, and don’t stop anyone. It’s a culture of losing now. They’re losers. They’re losing at a bad rate with good players because of bad attitude.

    Dwight Howard will take defensive possessions off when he feels he’s not getting the ball enough on offense. Trevor Ariza‘s defense has declined to staggering levels. Ty Lawson is trying to audition for a role as a traffic cone at a driving school near you when he’s out there. James Harden, don’t even start. Sure, he can be a solid on-ball defender when he actually tries, but how often is that? It all starts at the top. Former head coach Kevin McHale was fired just 11 games into the season, and he seems to be the lucky one out of this group. At least he doesn’t have to stick around to see this unfold anymore. The players did this to themselves, and it’s as clear as day.

    Normally, the second-leading scorer in the entire league would mean your team has a chance at being really good. Not this season. Not with James Harden at the helm. The 26-year old shooting guard is averaging 28.3 points, 7.0 assists, and 6.4 rebounds this season, not to mention 1.6 steals, on 42.9 percent shooting from the field, 34.9 percent from three-point land, and 86.6 percent from the charity stripe. The list of players to average 28-6-6 in the NBA since 1946-47 is an impressive one. It includes players such as Oscar Robertson, Richie Guerin, Jerry West, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook. If Harden’s able to keep it up, he’ll join that exclusive list. But he’ll join an even more exclusive list if his team isn’t able to finish at least .500, a list that Robertson was on three times and Guerin was on once. That list? Accomplishing 28-6-6 while being apart of a losing club.
    In the four years since Houston acquired him, Harden has averaged 26.6 points, 6.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.7 steals. He’s shot 44.0 percent from the field, 36.5 percent from deep, and 86.3 percent from the line. Despite all of that, one constant truth has been present — it’s hard to become a legitimate threat in a conference when one player dominates the ball as much as James Harden does. It’s nothing against him, but unless you’re the two-way savant that LeBron James was, controlling the ball a ton could be seen as a vast negative. In fact, Harden ranks 15th in Time of Possession per game among all players in the league. He’s the top non-point guard, and it’s by a considerable margin.

    Positional logistics aside, Harden dominates the ball in a way that not many other players around the league really do now. The entire offense is predicated upon his ball-handling. It’s all on his shoulders, and that’s a heavy burden for any player to have to deal with. Perhaps that’s why he’s such a negative defender, often leaving him a Vine sensation for his lack of defensive knowhow and initiative. It’s just that he’s expending so much energy on offense that it leaves him unable to give it a go defensively for 48 minutes. It’s one of the things that Kobe Bryant made famous. The ol’ reach-around steal attempt that looks great in the box score, but not as great when you actually watch the tape. Harden’s made that a staple of his defensive acumen.

    The Rockets are actually better defensively this season with Harden off the floor than when he’s on it, as they sport a 107.1 Defensive Efficiency in the 2131 minutes he’s played but a 103.5 mark in the 635 minutes he’s sat. Even the 103.5 number would rank 18th in the league in Defensive Efficiency, so it’s not just a Harden problem when he’s on the floor. It’s an everyone problem. But as they say, crap rolls downhill. And it all starts with the bearded shooting guard who wanted a team of his own. He got it, but now he doesn’t put in the effort needed to instill the leadership qualities that Houston needs out of a superstar. He’s not alone in that regard, but he’s certainly “the guy”, and “the guy” needs to act like it.

    It also explains why opponents are shooting 1.6 percent better against James Harden when he’s guarding them than when they’re guarded by other players. All told, according to the numbers, Harden’s allowing opponents to shoot 46.2 percent against him this season. When the perimeter breaks down defensively, the interior is not too far behind. And if the superstar on the team, the perceived stud who is supposed to lead you, doesn’t give a crap about defense, no one else is going to care. That’s exactly what is happening, and the other superstar in Houston has started to follow suit in a lot of ways.

    In Howard’s case, he’s averaging 14.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.1 steals in 32.4 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 60.9 percent from the field and 53.0 percent from the line. His Total Rebound Rate of 20.4 percent this season actually sits close to his career average (20.7 percent), and it’s his highest since 2011-12 when he was still with the Orlando Magic. According to the website Nylon Calculus, Howard ranks first on the Rockets in Rebound Win Percentage at 47.3 percent. That percentage also ranks higher than players around the league such as Greg Monroe (46.7 percent), DeMarcus Cousins (46.3 percent), and Derrick Favors (46.3 percent). While Howard is winning 42.1 percent of all Defensive Rebounds he chases after this season, it is slightly down from the 43.2 percent it happened to be last season. On top of that, his Offensive Rebound Win Percentage has dropped. It was 56.9 percent last season, but is now 51.4 percent this year. He’s definitely going after more rebounds, but he’s unable to secure as many as he was able to in the past.

    Even his credibility as a rim protector has taken a major hit this season. According to Nylon Calculus, Howard has a negative impact when protecting the rim this season. How much so? Well, he’s worse than Zach Randolph and Kelly Olynyk. He’s a -0.70 in Points Saved Per 36 Minutes. While opponents are attempting 3.4 fewer shots at the rim per 36 minutes with him on the floor, he’s unable to prevent the opposition from making Houston pay when he’s on the floor. Last season, opponents shot just 45.7 percent at the rim against Howard. However, this season, they’re shooting 49.5 percent at the rim in such settings. There is some decline happening on that side of the ball for the once heralded three-time Defensive Player of the Year and future Hall of Famer.

    At his peak, Dwight Howard averaged 20.6 points, 13.9 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 1.5 assists, and 1.1 steals on 59.0 percent shooting from the floor from 2007-08 through 2011-12. That’s a five-year stretch of unbridled dominance. But then the back injuries started to flare up. And once your back goes, it’s all pretty much downhill after that. Since his trade to the Los Angeles Lakers prior to the 2012-13 season, Howard has averaged just 16.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.5 assists, and 0.9 steals on 59.0 percent from the field. While the shooting percentages haven’t changed, he’s seeing nearly two fewer field goal attempts and two fewer free throw attempts per game since leaving the comfort of Florida. You’re talking a potential six points left on the floor each night. If you factor in his field goal percentage and free throw percentage, he’s leaving 3.3744 points per game on the floor every night with his lowered attempts from both the field and the line.

    In essence, the man once referred to as Superman, the man who once flew through the air at the dunk contest in a cape, has been effectively neutered by a conscientious effort to get everyone the ball — except Dwight Howard. And, to be fair, that’s fine. He’s definitely in a declining stage of his career, both defensively and offensively. However, that doesn’t mean he should only have 69 possessions thus far this season where he actually gets ball as the roll man in pick-and-rolls. Especially not when he’s still one of the most effective roll men in the game today, even in his declining health and age. It’s like having a racehorse, but instead of taking him out for a morning trot, you only walk him over to the trough so he can get fatter. You’re not utilizing his greatest strengths, and that should be the motto for this Rockets squad. No one is being used in a way that benefits the team. It’s still a group of individuals — ragamuffins — who have no earthly idea what their purpose in life, and in basketball, seems to be.

    There needs to be a sense of camaraderie on the team, but as of right now there is none because they have no idea how to function as a unit without taking away from the individual. They are the antithesis to the Golden State Warriors, a team built primarily on the “me” rather than the “we.” It’s becoming more apparent by the day that their magical 2015 playoff run was just that, dark magic. It gave them the false hope and bravado that they were closer than they appeared to be, so they ran with that thought and traded for a player (Ty Lawson) who has given them less than nothing. The chemistry has taken a hit, and especially so with the top two stars on the team.

    At this point, the Houston Rockets are a mess. They’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic in the hopes that the ship sinks slower. As they mightily try to syphon the water out of the boat, they’re only sinking faster. It needs to hit the bottom of the ocean before any real progress is made in the long-run. Whether that means letting Dwight Howard walk in free agency, trading James Harden, or just hoping to god that someone can really right the ship is up to them. It’s clear that Kevin McHale wasn’t the problem, and it’s clear that J.B. Bickerstaff isn’t the problem, either. This plight that they’re stuck in is a byproduct of grown men acting like petulant children and not doing their jobs.

    You see it every single time they play when it comes to defense or offense. On offense, one player has the ball while the rest of the group on the floor stands around waiting to see what he’s going to do with it. There’s very little offensive movement, very little offensive imagination. James Harden has 415 isolation possessions this season, a number so staggering that it ranks higher than 11 NBA teams. That’s the hilarity of it all. It’s one man operating on his own. James Harden is the Lone Ranger, and he’s alone in more ways than he cares to admit right now.

    Defensively, they lack the wherewithal to move as a unit. They are devoid of the understanding of basic basketball principles. In a word, they are clueless, and in their line of work they cannot afford to be clueless. Yet here are they are, ignorant to the ways of winning again. Harden and Howard left their past teams to go somewhere and build something as the main attraction. The problem is that Houston is only big enough for one of their egos, and neither one deserves the place that has been carved out for them. Until they learn to function as a unit, they’ll die on the court as individuals, hopelessly tossing their hands in the air wayward pass after wayward pass, and botched defensive rotation after botched defensive rotation.

    You hear the word “heart” tossed around quite a bit by analysts too unknowledgeable to understand any better. If a player or team fails in the final moments of a big game, maybe they didn’t have enough heart or maybe they choked. Neither is the case. Not even with this existence of the Houston Rockets is that the case. They merely need to find the pride that they locked away a while ago. Pride can do a lot of things. It might goeth before a fall, but it can also be a fine motivating factor for people who are too disheveled to do anything. Speak to their pride. However, at this juncture, the Rockets have none, and it mostly points back to their two stars.

    James Harden and Dwight Howard might have teamed up to build some semblance of a dynasty out in Texas, but all they’ve built in their time together is growing animosity. There are reports that the two have tried to get each other traded and, while that’s quite hilarious in its own right, it’s very sad that they can’t work it out. Howard wants to return to Houston when he hits free agency this offseason, assuming he opts out, but there’s no telling how any of that will work out. If the Rockets are to succeed with this current duo, they need to clear the air, work more as a unit, and actually like playing with each other. They’re not having fun anymore. Find the fun, or find a new place to play.

    The Rockets’ season hinges on their two stars getting everyone else involved, including each other, while working the balance between offense and defense as a unit. There’s no understanding, no respect, no signs of getting there at this moment. Until they work it out, or until one (or both) of them leaves, there’s going to be a divide among the team. Harden gets all the pub because he’s putting up stats we’ve seldom seen, but Howard’s also making an impact when on the floor. The two sides need to find a happy medium or, like most marriages thrown together out of lust rather than love, they’re going to have to fold up shop. And that’ll be something they each truly regret years from now.

    REEKO_HTOWN I'm Rich Biiiiaaatch!

    Jun 26, 2008
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    Well I laughed hard at the Lakers when they failed with Dwight and Nash. Guess this is what we get.
  3. Dhoward12

    Dhoward12 Member

    Jul 17, 2014
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    Harden and Howard are the least of the rockets concerns right now.

    3-7 in Past 10 Games is with
    Harden avg 30/7/7
    Howard avg 17/13/1.5
    Ariza 14/4/2
    Bev 10/3/3

    And thats the end of the rockets production. Thats the problem with the Rockets.

    Counting on anybody else to show up like playing a game of dice at his point.
  4. YaoMing#1

    YaoMing#1 Member

    May 20, 2002
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    The media is half r****ded.

    The rockets have the 5th most wins in the league since howard got here and that's including this garbage season.

    This jack is acting like the rockets haven't done anything at all and had no success since harden and howard got to houston.

    This is getting out of hand every day it's somthing new.

    Last year when Westbrook was doing his one man wrecking crew leading his team to no playoffs and a .500 record he was the man, he was playing the same way they say James is now.

    This rockets team has more playoffs succes in 2 years of harden and howard than the clips have with cp3 and Griffin in 4 years.

    I hope the rockets blast Portland and SA and go on e major year and win 10 games in a row.

    Us against the world mentality it's clear nobody likes the rockets.
  5. dawesome

    dawesome Member

    Dec 28, 2014
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    Hmm..its true. Never thought of it.
  6. linkz1993

    linkz1993 Member

    Mar 3, 2015
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    I hate how stats are saying Howard has declined as a rim protector..... Of course the stats are gonna be **** when everyone else other than him cant ****ing rotate or defend for **** !
  7. rocketpower2

    rocketpower2 Member

    Jun 27, 2008
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    That guy is a Clippers fan who hates the Rockets so much because of what happened last year. Look him up on twitter, just a terrible writer in general.
  8. for-three

    for-three Member

    Feb 11, 2016
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    I agree, the media seem to be downright gleeful reporting the failures of the Rockets this year. Harden is now getting labeled as a cancer that only puts up empty stats, despite making the playoffs six years straight since his rookie year, two separate trips to the WCF, and getting to the finals as well. I guess his past winning resume doesn't count, only this year matters. Let's not forget the Harden/Howard duo leading the team to 54 wins, followed by 56 wins.

    Sports media is the worst at parroting whatever popular narrative is being overreported at that time.
  9. coachbadlee

    coachbadlee Member

    Feb 5, 2010
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    What a way to ruin one of my favorite books.
  10. DreamShook

    DreamShook Member

    Jun 26, 2008
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    Dam, Daniel!
  11. OpenLayup-Why3?

    Mar 4, 2015
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    It's like jumping off a cliff without a parachute and before hitting the ground hopping to turn around and grab the parachute you left on the cliff.
  12. Roxoff

    Roxoff Member

    Jul 17, 2014
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    Spitting hot fire this morning. Keep up the good work!
  13. J Sizzle

    J Sizzle Member

    Feb 27, 2012
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  14. ksny15

    ksny15 Member

    Mar 9, 2013
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    And who else on the Rockets is capable of having the ball in their hands? TY Lawson? LOL funny. The bottom line is STILL Houston doesn't have a 2nd playmaker therefore the ball will be in James hands a lot.
  15. topfive

    topfive CF OG

    Jun 12, 2002
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    This guy is such a horrid writer that I can't even tell whether or not he's making valid points. Just a sports "writer" with no discernible skill in his own field taking easy shots at Harden and Howard.

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