1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

Rocketscast/Kevin Pelton on why the Rockets are beating expectations

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Carl Herrera, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2007
    Messages:
    45,153
    Likes Received:
    21,570
    Kevin Pelton, who writes for ESPN and Basketball Prospectus, was on Rockets.com's podcast today (video here: http://www.nba.com/rockets/news/rocketscast-live-ringing-new-year-right ). It's worth listening in full.

    As you may know, Basketball Prospectus is published before each season and contains projections of each player's performance for the upcoming season, which are made via a system called "SCHOENE" based on factors such as past performance and age. Basketball Prospectus also uses the SCHOENE projections of the players on each roster to project each team's win total for the upcoming 82 game season.

    Prior to the James Harden trade, SCHOENE projected the Rockets to win 28 or so games. After the trade, the projected win total was bumped up to 33 games. These numbers are roughly in line with what the Vegas betting line was for Rockets win total before and right after the Harden trade (I think the numbers were 30 and 35 wins, respectively).

    Knowing that Pelton will be on, I asked him, via twitter, whether he thinks the Rockets current winning pace, which exceeds SCHOENE and Vegas projections, are sustainable. He addressed the question during the podcast.

    Pelton said that the biggest reason why Basketball Prospectus has underestimated the Rockets performance, even after accounting for the Harden trade, is minutes distribution. Specifically, Basketball Prospectus had made its projection on the basis that the rookies will get a lot of minutes as the Rockets uses this year as a "development year" for them. What happened is that these minutes in fact did not go to Jones, Motiejunas and White, but went to Marcus Morris and Greg Smith instead and these two have performed significantly better than the rookies were projected to perform. A revised projection, based on the assumption that Smith and Morris plays these minutes and making no other change, would have the Rockets win 44 games, which is more in line with their current pace.

    Pelton further clarified (via twitter: https://twitter.com/kpelton/status/286896252443045888 ) that the issue wasn't so much that the rookies projected particularly poorly, but is instead that, based largely on D-League stats from last season, "both Morris and Smith rated notably well, as has been born out this season."

    A few thoughts:

    1. Based on Pelton's explanation, it seems to be a good guess that, even if the Rockets do "regress to the mean" going forward, the "mean" that they "regress" to is more likely to be "slightly above .500" than the 33-35 win pace that SCHOENE/Vegas projected them to be (barring, of course, big shifts in rotation due to major injuries and what not).

    2. So, maybe this also helps answer the "why McHale no play rookies" question? Some of us have noted that the guys who do play look to have a better clue on the court and are less lost than the rookies have shown in their limited minutes. Looks like at least one set of numbers seem to agree that playing the current rotation guys contributes more to wins than throwing the rookies out there right away.

    3. It seems that D-League performance has some relevance to NBA play and is not just "a joke" or "glorified pick-up ball" as some argue.


    UPDATE: Kevin Pelton followed up on where the extra projected wins come from:

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-in-reply-to="286923532758286339"><p>@<a href="https://twitter.com/dhylnp">dhylnp</a> Saw the ClutchFans discussion. Rookies projected for -2 WARP; Morris/Smith on pace for ~5. Asik/Harden/Parsons also playing more mpg</p>&mdash; Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) <a href="https://twitter.com/kpelton/status/287012328803794944" data-datetime="2013-01-04T01:47:26+00:00">January 4, 2013</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
     
    #1 Carl Herrera, Jan 3, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  2. iconoclastic

    iconoclastic Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2007
    Messages:
    6,100
    Likes Received:
    422
    44 wins is right where I expected before the season. I think non-Rox fans just underestimated the amount of talent this team has.
     
  3. mike_lu

    mike_lu Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    Messages:
    2,159
    Likes Received:
    169
    Perhaps they just made up something to cover up being wrong? Essentially Smith and Morris were rookies also, and we've seen few DLeaguers translate so well. DMo could've translated well either with Euro stats.

    Perhaps it wasnt a genuine explanation. It seems Harden is worth at least 10 wins to our roster this year vs KMart.
     
  4. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2002
    Messages:
    46,550
    Likes Received:
    6,131
    Greg Morris and Marcus Morris are worth 11 wins?

    I like them, but come on...
     
  5. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2007
    Messages:
    45,153
    Likes Received:
    21,570
    I doubt it. All the info he referenced are right there in the book (available in PDF format here: http://basketballprospectus.com/products/pbp2012/). Would be fairly easy to verify if he's lying. Also don't see any incentive for him to lie. I mean, everyone agrees the projection was off compared to current performance, don't see why offering the reason he did offer makes them look better than an alternative explanation (like Harden and Asik are better than we thought, for example).

    A little surprising for sure. But the question is whether they are worth 11 more wins in comparison with giving the same minutes to rookies and that's not far-fetched. Rookies tend to contribute negatively toward winning (remember watching Austin Rivers last night?) with inefficient play and mistakes. Even 2nd year players tend to do significantly better (even if you don't play NBA minutes, a year's worth of training, practice, summer development, d-league play, etc. is worth something).
     
    #5 Carl Herrera, Jan 3, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
  6. shortfuse3

    shortfuse3 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,912
    Likes Received:
    59
    I don't think anyone predicted Morris to be able to play better than T. Jones, White, and even Patterson at times. Morris was definitely an unknown and I'm not buying his response that Morris would have projected more wins than the other rookies.
     
  7. Arthurprescott2

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    77
    Thanks for the summary Carl!

    W/R/T your point about McHale not playing rookies, even those of us who were calling for more rookie playing time would not make the assertion that the rookies would get us more wins in this season. My take on the rookie playing time problem was balancing development of the rookies vs. wins this season. Coming into the season when I thought there was little chance of making the playoffs, I valued rookie development over wins, but obviously the my position has changed somewhat with the Rox currently on track for a playoff spot. Blame it on my pessimistic nature.
     
  8. bongman

    bongman Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Messages:
    4,213
    Likes Received:
    1,411
    I feel that this guy is just back pedaling. Adding 2 guys that rarely got PT last year would give us 10 more wins? Yet adding a Harden to the lineup only adds 5?

    Just admit that you were wrong and that you underestimated the team and move on. Everybody makes a mistake... sheesh
     
  9. seyton

    seyton Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    13
    Your #2 is not an accurate conclusion to make. It appears that this gentleman's system is built to automatically reduce teams' winning projections based of they play rookies, no matter how good the rookies are.
     
  10. seyton

    seyton Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    13
    * should be based on if they play rookies....
     
  11. bongman

    bongman Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Messages:
    4,213
    Likes Received:
    1,411
    Just looked at that and was surprised that our very own Daryl Morey endorsed them...

    "Anyone who reads what Brad and Kevin have put together cannot help but come out a smarter fan on the other end. Basically, if you consider yourself a basketball fan and you are not reading this book, then you ought to turn in your serious fan credentials."
    - Daryl Morey, general manager, Houston Rockets

    Wonder what Daryl thinks of the book now? :p
     
  12. CantGoLeft

    CantGoLeft Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Messages:
    982
    Likes Received:
    31
    I assume the previous poster meant Greg Smith and you just copied him/her.

    I'm not sure if it means anything, but the Rockets are (8-1) when Smith scores 8pts or more. They're (6-0) when he scores in double digits. One telling stat in favor of Smith's impact is his 16.3pts per 36min.
     
  13. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2002
    Messages:
    17,492
    Likes Received:
    2,883
    Some Rox fans, too.

    And some Rox fans underestimated the coaching staff.
     
  14. topfive

    topfive CF OG

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Messages:
    19,011
    Likes Received:
    37,383
    Exactly. McHale has no problems playing rookies who have learned the plays and do what he as a coach expects of them. That's why Parsons played last year and Morris didn't -- Parsons acted like a vet all season long, preparing and executing in a way helped the team instead of hurting it. When McHale starts to see that level of preparation/execution from Jones, D-Mo and Machado, they'll start getting more PT.
     
  15. fishguy91

    fishguy91 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2012
    Messages:
    385
    Likes Received:
    5
    I'm sure if the rookies does play significant minutes we wouldnt be as good.. but as someone has posted, 35 win verses 44 win is pretty big difference.
     
  16. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    Messages:
    37,971
    Likes Received:
    15,445
    That's part of it, but the overriding thing is there just needs to be a spot available in the rotation. Realistically, the Rockets aren't going to play more than 9 guys in the regular rotation. If there's an injury or a regular hits a massive slump, the rookies need to be ready to step up and show how they've improved. That's how playing time is earned mid-season.
     
  17. Commodore

    Commodore Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2007
    Messages:
    30,925
    Likes Received:
    14,435
    <iframe width="640" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/U1FAg8FKduA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
    1 person likes this.
  18. Rip Van Rocket

    Rip Van Rocket Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Messages:
    7,152
    Likes Received:
    356
    Well, you're a lot smarter than I am. I've been a Rockets fan since they moved to Houston and I didn't think they had a chance at winning more that 30 games. I thought the Harden trade might give us a few more wins, but I never thought we would finish above .500. I just didn't see Morris, Smith, Patterson and Parsons improving as much as they have. And Asik has performed at a level that is impressive. McHale must know what he's doing.
     
  19. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2000
    Messages:
    16,465
    Likes Received:
    1,290
    Not accurate. He said that Mook and Smith are performing better than expected. Plus the D-league has panned out quite a bit for the Rockets.

    Carl Landry
    Aaron Brooks
    2Pat

    etc...
     
  20. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2000
    Messages:
    16,465
    Likes Received:
    1,290
    I agree with you except I had them at a whopping 33 wins. Looks like I have been educated!
     

Share This Page

  • About ClutchFans

    Since 1996, ClutchFans has been loud and proud covering the Houston Rockets, helping set an industry standard for team fan sites. The forums have been a home for Houston sports fans as well as basketball fanatics around the globe.

  • Support ClutchFans!

    If you find that ClutchFans is a valuable resource for you, please consider becoming a Supporting Member. Supporting Members can upload photos and attachments directly to their posts, customize their user title and more. Gold Supporters see zero ads!


    Upgrade Now