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On the post up thing - what prevents it from dying out entirely is that if you have someone post up who demands a double team, the shooting percentages of the rest of the team go up. Just as with Chris Paul you have to think about shot-creation, so you also have to do with a good postup player.


ST

1 year, 3 months ago on The Dirty Dozen: Twelve of the Best Offensive Players in the NBA.

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Using one's own Twitter feed as an aggregator of public reaction seems like flawed methodology to me (not that there's really a good, unbiased aggregator of public opinion available, it must be said). For example, the impression I personally got through media, both social and otherwise, was that people were generally critical of Mark Jackson for complaining about targetting of Curry when in fact the Warriors were just as if not more guilty of being overly physical. Similarly, the reaction I saw was more along the lines of how stupid Nazr was to do something like that and get himself ejected when the Bulls were so shorthanded than anything to do with flopping.

ST

1 year, 6 months ago on If it Bleeds, We Can Kill It: LeBron and the Myth of Physicality

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If you're going to do these, you need to do the converse stats as well. It's no use seeing what Philadelphia's W-L record is like with Pargo playing unless we also see the team's W-L record without him for comparison. If Philly has been losing all their games since Christmas anyway, then Pargo's numbers don't look quite so bad...

1 year, 8 months ago on Small Sample Size Theater: Jeremy Pargo

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Morey has stated several times that he feels the draft is the best way to build a contender. But he doesn't do it because the ownership doesn't want to tank. No reconciliation necessary ;).

1 year, 11 months ago on The Virtual Dreams Of An Alternate Reality, Or, Being Daryl Morey

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 @cricketrules509 Yeah, I agree that response was jarring in its inaccuracy. But then I'm a Rockets fan so cricketrules' counter-examples were the first ones that sprung to my mind too. Morris in particular is nigh-on unrecognisable from the slow, hesitant player who couldn't get on the court last year, and it's obvious the extra playing time has done him good.

1 year, 11 months ago on RTOE: HP Mailbag Roundtable!

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As a general rule, I would not read too much into poor performances from players last season when attempting to project their careers, especially the young guys. The lockout did terrible things to a lot of players' development - we've already got one example of that in Patrick Patterson, who basically stalled last year. Players were carrying more niggles than usual because of the compressed schedule, and were perhaps not in top shape because of the compressed offseason. So I'm willing to give Douglas a pass on that to see if he can get back to his form of 2010/11.

 

ST

2 years, 2 months ago on Writing about the backup point guard battle so nobody else has to

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 @chetshome  Agreed! There are some outcomes here that don't tally with the conventional wisdom (Drexler over Bryant, for example), and it would be great to dissect the unexpected results and figure out why they ended up that way.

2 years, 2 months ago on Mystery Statistics Theater: Hall of Fame Edition

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 @rahathuq  Like the other commenters, I disagree with you. Wins in January count as much in the final tally as wins in March/April, and Kyle was the one who got us those. We went 21-17 with him as our starter. In Goran's 27 starts, we went 12-15 (3-6 since Lowry came back, 9-9 before). The W-L statistics would indicate that there was a drop-off in team performance when Kyle went out, even though Dragic played out of his mind.

 

I also think it's unfair to hold Lowry's performance since the infection against him. The guy should not be expected to be playing at the same level he was before he went down - there has been no time for him to get his body back into the shape it was in before. It's enticing to compare the play of Dragic and Lowry at this point in time, but really it should be Lowry's play from January and February against Dragic now. And Lowry shades that comparison.

2 years, 7 months ago on Giving out awards for the 2012 season | Red94 | essays and musings on the nba and houston rockets

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I'd be interested in whether the clusters would look if you were to use some slightly more refined statistics (eg. per-minute numbers, TS%, etc.) in generating the initial regression set. I would imagine that players who are on the court more might get shuffled around a bit more - it might bring some of the clusters closer together. Selecting the top three players per-team based on PER does go some way to ensuring that you're only looking at players who've had a certain amount of time on the court though, I guess.

 

It just seemed a bit disappointing that Durant, Westbrook, Lebron and Wade all ended up in the same category. Their skillsets would seem diverse enough that they might be split into different groups. Does the regression analysis work based on the distribution of a players skills, or just the total output? It feels like it needs to be, or else a player who is a bit better in every category than another might end up in a different grouping despite having the same skill set. If it isn't, that might go some way to explaining why they all ended up in the same category - cluster 2 ends up being "Players who are really good" by virtue of being found at the high end of many of the different statistical indicators used.

 

ST

2 years, 7 months ago on Clusters of Scarcity

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The interesting question to me is "at what granularity is winning everything?" Is winning everything on a per-game basis, or a per-year basis? Front offices are concerned with the latter, which is why they are willing to make moves that sacrifice games now. But players should never, IMO, feel anything but the former.

 

Tanking is a problem because of that clash of motivations, and that's what people are so up in arms about.  It would be nice if it were possible for there to be little to no difference at any granularity as to what the result of the game needs to be, but unfortunately that's not the case and that's what needs fixing.

2 years, 7 months ago on Tanking In The Kingdom Of Ends

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One thing I've noticed is that Dragic is taking a lot more threes as a starter than he does when he comes off the bench. I seem to remember seeing him pass up the shot several times - perhaps he felt like he needed to get his teammates involved more when coming off the bench? However, since taking up the starting job he's been much more willing to take that shot and is justifying that decision by making a lot more of them.

2 years, 8 months ago on Goran Dragic vs. Kyle Lowry: Looking into the numbers

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I think if the Rockets players felt like they play better when it's confrontational, then they would be more confrontational. But I look at the group of players we have and I see a group of heady players, ones who think well on the court. And when that's the case, too much testosterone can get in the way.

 

To bring in an anecdote from a different sport, players in Rugby have to make sure they don't get too pumped up. There's a lot of pomp and circumstance leading up to the start of the game (national anthems in international matches, that sort of thing), and players have a tendency to get fired up and then find that they make a lot of silly mistakes because of it. This is because rugby is a game that requires great technique and control to play properly.

 

I feel like the way the Rockets play basketball is similar. If you're juices are going, you might bite on that pump fake or be slightly over aggressive and get a foul when you don't need to. We don't really have anyone on the team who I feel can consistently channel that aggression into playing at a much higher level. So rising above it and drawing your passion from it in a controlled fashion seems to be the better course of action for the Rockets, IMO.

2 years, 8 months ago on Open question: Cheap shots against the Rockets

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I think the final part of your post is rather flawed. You say earlier "Keep in mind that we are always wary of small sample sizes", but then proceed to use Kobe's numbers in the playoffs as evidence. A single year's playoffs are almost certainly too small of a sample size. I think your conclusion is probably valid, but support your arguments more rigourously please!

2 years, 8 months ago on Understanding Advanced Stats: The Difficulty Of Defense

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It's worth noting that the Dallas pick we got from the Lakers is top 20 protected. If the draft were today, that pick would be the 16th pick and we wouldn't be getting our hands on it. Is it in our interests to cheer for the Mavs so they get their record good enough that we get their pick? Personally I think we should be hoping that they do badly so that we can get better playoff positioning.

2 years, 8 months ago on Houston Rockets acquire center Marcus Camby

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I agree that getting Bogut would be a huge coup for us. He is exactly the sort of player we've been looking for, and IMO is not considered a star only because he plays in Milwaukee. I say if you can get him, you do, even if it makes us less likely to make the playoffs this season (I never thought I'd say that). Would love to have that guy on our team, especially since we should be able to get him for much less than someone like Gasol, who has media visibility and isn't injured right now.

 

ST

2 years, 8 months ago on Ken Berger: Rockets trying to acquire center Andrew Bogut | Red94 | essays and musings on the nba and houston rockets

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 @gregwlsn  Lakers are contenders, actually. How about a Blake/Kapono/Walton/McRoberts/Gasol lineup?

2 years, 8 months ago on One day closer

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thecommoner21 - The extra points you get for the 3 point shot mean that you don't have to shoot anywhere near as high a percentage as you would for a two point shot in order to get the same expected return from your possession. A passable NBA 3-point shooter will have a 3PT% of about 33%, so right off the bat you need a 50% FG% from inside the arc to match up with that. But you would expect shooters to record a higher percentage on uncontested 3-pointers than their season average. That's what makes the shot so efficient.

 

I would have guessed that a layup is probably slightly more efficient for most players than a 3 point shot. Let's pluck some numbers out of thin air and say that you expect 40% on uncontested 3-point makes. That is as efficient as a shot you'd expect to make 60% of the time from inside the arc. I'd have thought most NBA players are better than 60% at layups.

2 years, 9 months ago on Chandler Parsons' shooting woes

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I would take basketball where the players play hard, unselfishly and are generally likeable if a bit boring to basketball where the players think only of their paychecks and personal stats, are dysfunctional and unlikable off the court but occasionally say something intesting 100 times out of 100. No contest.

I no longer have to watch an inflated ego try to go 1 on 5, and I love it. Front offices around the league have realised that the mental side of things is at least as important as the athletic, and that makes the basketball on display much more attractive. And if that means there will be more meaningless platitudes in the press conferences, well that's a small price to pay.

2 years, 9 months ago on On the NBA: Where Have All the Delinquents Gone?

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I really liked his enthusiasm in that interview. Seems very happy to talk about his experiences. I wonder if that's just because he's new to it all or whether it's here to stay. In any case, it makes for a good interview. Very refreshing to hear a player avoid going to the cliches, anyway.

2 years, 9 months ago on Houston Rockets rookie Greg Smith makes his debut

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Interesting play, although it didn't look like the pass back out to Dragic from Lee was part of the plan. Scola had moved out to the 3 point line on the Right hand side, presumably to free up space for Dalembert in the middle. When Gasol comes out to try to prevent the pass to Scola, it gives Scola the time to get inside position. That allows him to get to his spot and receive the pass. But if Gasol had just defended Scola straight up and not tried to cheat on him, I don't think this would have worked. The right play would have been to swing the ball over the Parsons in the opposite corner (because his man has had to help on Dalembert). Because of where he was set up, Scola would have had to have thrown a fairly long pass to Dragic to make that happen...and the Grizzlies like to steal passes like that.

So my read was that it was great play by Scola to get free of Gasol to get to that position, but not that it was a pre-planned move. I can't believe that the skip pass Lee threw was in the playbook.

2 years, 9 months ago on [video] An interesting play by the Houston Rockets

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Now that was a win that might turn a few heads :).

2 years, 9 months ago on ESPN.com Daily Dime recap

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Well, Kyle did pretty well against Lawson in the end. Guess my theory is a bit off base :P.

ST

2 years, 9 months ago on Kyle Lowry's new and improved handles

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With Lin playing so well (was watching the first half of Knicks-Jazz game earlier), I suspect New York will come to the realisation that they've already got their PG.

More optimistic that LA will be willing to give us something for him, but somehow I think they'll end up shooting for someone a little better.

ST

2 years, 9 months ago on ESPN: Knicks, Lakers inquire about Jonny Flynn

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(continued...hit a character limit)

I hypothesize, therefore, that while Lowry is strong enough to defend against the bigger guards, he perhaps doesn't have the speed to match up well with the quicker ones, and thus fares poorly in those matchups. Tonight's game in Denver will be an interesting test of that what with Ty Lawson being among the quickest around.

Now, I would like to know if the data backs up what I think I'm seeing with my eyes. If you've got access to Synergy, Rahat, I'd be interested in seeing what it says in there about his pick and roll defense. I have never used Synergy Sports myself, but I understand they keep statistics on that sort of thing...

ST

2 years, 9 months ago on Kyle Lowry's new and improved handles

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I agree with this. Lowry has a good reputation defensively, but that's primarily because of his awareness as an offball defender (or at least that's my impression). You see him diving in for steals on unwary big men a lot. I don't think he's as exceptional an on ball defender as many people seem to think (I haven't gone looking for stats to back this up, mind you).

Defending PGs in the NBA is a thankless task at the best of times, but watching the games I keep getting the feeling that certain guys are getting the better of Lowry's defence, particularly on the pick and roll. Tony Parker, for example, seems to be able to do pretty much whatever he wants because Lowry doesn't seem to be able to go under the screen fast enough to catch up with him before he's penetrated to the paint. He also seemed to struggle mightily against John Wall, and the aforementioned Brandon Jennings.

2 years, 9 months ago on Kyle Lowry's new and improved handles

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Point of information: Rubio is not considered to be a poor defender. One of the things that has people salivating over his play is that he is actually very pesky on the defensive end - his long arms make him good at poking the ball away and give him some leeway to recover if he makes a misstep. In fact, here are some defensive statistics, both traditional and advanced, are better for Rubio than for Lowry:

Steals per 36min: Rubio - 2.4, Lowry - 2.0

Defensive Rating: Rubio - 100, Lowry - 101

Defensive Win Share: Rubio - 1.1, Lowry - 1.0

(All stats from basketball-reference.com)

So I think it's more than valid to take his play against Ricky as representative of his play against your average defense. The limiting factor is sample size, not quality of opposition.

2 years, 9 months ago on Kyle Lowry's new and improved handles

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@TwistedNematic As a 3 you're expected to be able to defend your opponent out on the perimeter. This is tremendously uncomfortable for someone used to defending the 4 (for an example of this, take a look at the tape from our recent games with the Spurs and you'll see that neither Scola nor Patterson does a good job of defending Bonner when he is spotting up for 3s because they don't want to be out there if they can help it).

Defensive rotations are very different as well - there's a lot more speed required to zip around the 3 point line to get to the open man as opposed to rotating from the weakside to help against penetration.

And as you say, players at the '3' spot tend to be much quicker than your prototypical '4'. Although in Morris' case I don't think this will make too much of a difference - everything in the NBA is so much quicker than the college game anyway, so no matter what position he plays he's going to be have to come to terms with that.

2 years, 9 months ago on On Marcus Morris, the D-League

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You mention Parker blitzing Lowry last time out. The thing is, Parker always blitzes Lowry. It's why I'm not really comfortable with calling Kyle an All Star - in head-to-head matchups, the eye test (and I would imagine the numbers too, but I haven't checked) would indicate that Parker is a better player than Lowry. The elite guys (Westbrook and Paul) will definitely be there, and I don't think there's room for 4 point guards in the squad.

2 years, 9 months ago on Houston Rockets vs Phoenix Suns - February 3, 2012 7:00PM

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One thing I've noticed is that Scola is no longer getting any points with his scoop shots. Can you remember any "Ice Cream Man" shout outs this year at all? I can't. I think it's because McHale has Scola operating out of the high post a lot more. Scola's got that elbow jumpshot down pretty well, but it's always going to be less efficient than a shot near the rim. Plus it removes Scola's footwork advantage, which was something he was so good at exploiting.

So I think it's less an age problem and more a system thing. If Scola got to play on the low block more, I'd bet we'd see an uptick in his efficiency.

2 years, 10 months ago on Five Notes on a String: January 20th, 2012

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I thought Marcus Morris had been assigned to the D-League? It made sense to me - I'm told in college Marcus was more of a 4 and that he's down with the Vipers to sharpen up his skills at the 3.

2 years, 10 months ago on Five Notes on a String: January 6th, 2012

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The media seemed to want to focus on how Houston was a poor road team (I got the impression they got that from something McHale said), but I think it's too early to draw that conclusion yet. Away from home we've lost to Orlando, Memphis and both LA teams. One of the things all these teams have in common is imposing frontlines. The teams we've beaten have been Atlanta (undersized) and SA (tired, and TD is now too old for them to beat us by himself). So to me it looks like the pattern is that we can't compete with teams who have the bigs to own us on the inside. Seems to fit with what has been happening on the court pretty well too.

I guess the question is, how will this translate to our matchup with OKC? I think we'll do better against them. Ibaka and Perkins aren't who they usually turn to for scoring. (although I seem to remember Ibaka getting hot when they played us last year...). Question is, who checks Durant? I guess we just go into a zone with Scola in the middle, that seems to be McHale's goto move at the moment. Hope CLee is back for that game, we're going to need him for Harden.

2 years, 10 months ago on Rapid Reaction: Houston Rockets 89, Los Angeles Clippers 117

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@rahathuq@James_Schmidt1

I've watched a bit of Minnesota basketball and I can say with some certainty that we do not want Randolph on our team. He just looks clueless. On offence, he is either a (terrible) black hole or timid and useless. And defence? Apart from the occasional block it's pretty abysmal. He has the physical tools, but as far as I can tell the mental side is gone. I'd hope we stay away. We've already got one low-basketball IQ guy in Thabeet, I don't think we would be able to handle another one.

2 years, 11 months ago on Orlando Magic 104, Houston Rockets 95; Dalembert glorious in debut while the Kevins struggle

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IIRC Orlando absolutely destroyed us last year, so I thought I'd take a quick look at the box scores from those games to see if they back up my memories.

In the first game we didn't have Hayes, but Howard got in foul trouble and was limited to 26 minutes. They still beat us by 25 - Brandon Bass got 18/9 and Ryan Anderson got 16/8. No Brandon Bass this year, but perhaps a sign that without Hayes this is going to be difficult. They've got Anderson and Big Baby to cause us problems at the 4 spot and we're missing Paterson, who is our best defender at that position.

In the second game, we had Hayes back but it didn't make any difference. He could only manage 19 minutes as Howard got him in foul trouble. Bass had another 18 point game. Orlando only won by 14, but only because of we outscored them by 10 in the 4th quarter.

We've had a few personnel changes since then, and so have they, but not enough to make the comparisons to last year's games useless. Howard may be unsettled, but this Orlando team loves playing against a Yao-less Houston. Admittedly they're on the second night of a back-to-back, but I expect a comfortable Orlando win tonight, with Big Baby stepping into the shoes of Bass and having a big game.

2 years, 11 months ago on Houston Rockets @ Orlando Magic – Dec. 26, 2011 6:00PM

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@rahathuq

Enumerate those teams that successfully drafted a franchise saviour and won multiple championships after having tanked. There aren't actually that many in recent history. And in any case for each one, I can give you several examples of teams who took a high draft pick and were left good enough to get to where we are now (eg. lower seed/outside of playoff contention) but no better.

IMO, the poster child for the tanking process is not OKC, but rather Milwaukee. They drafted Bogut as a franchise saviour, and he's been a very good player for them. But not one good enough to make them relevant. I haven't noted excessive mismanagement from Milwaukee in the same way that you see from, say the Knicks. But they are where they are for all to see. By your logic, they should have to go through the process again...it's taken them 5 years to get this far, and that would cost them at least another 3 years with no guarantee of success. That's what you're most likely to get out of tanking - persistent mediocrity.

To illustrate my point further: in the last 5 years, there have been two teams that have tanked successfully - OKC and Chicago. And even then the latter had to get very lucky with the lottery. (Perhaps you could make the case that New Orleans did OK out of Chris Paul...but that's borderline). At the same time, we have seen Milwaukee, Minnesota, Charlotte, Toronto, New Jersey, New York, Sacramento, Golden State, Memphis and the LA Clippers mired in awfulness for multiple seasons without reward (Clippers might be someone to add to the list of successes in a year or so, perhaps, but it has taken them 6 years to get there). It's not a good ratio of success to failure. And while there are a couple that can be blamed on bad management, they can't all be. Sometimes the star draft pick just doesn't pan out quite as well as you'd hoped. And when that happens, you're back where you've started.

2 years, 11 months ago on Thoughts from the Houston Rockets' preseason opener

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@pterp He's still recovering from the surgery he had a few months back. Morey said on the commentary that he was expected back in the next week or so.

2 years, 11 months ago on Thoughts from the Houston Rockets' preseason opener

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As I said in the other thread, I think we've got to see J Hill against some stiffer opposition before we can tell whether he's turned a corner. There were encouraging signs last night, but you have to put a huge asterisk next to the performance because of the level of competition and opposition.

Similarly, the jury is still out on TWill. He showed us both sides of his game - the out of control stuff that got him in the doghouse with Adelman and the explosiveness that shows what we hope he would be. The question is, can excise the first-halfesque performances from his game? We'll need to see him in some serious competition to determine that. If he can, then great! He'll be a good player for us. If not, well you'd have to weigh up whether the cost of bad T-Will is worth the benefits of good T-Will.

I was very impressed by Dragic. Thought he did a good job on defence and led the break well. He definitely looks like he can slide over and play the 2 if necessary...gives us more options on the wings (where I thought we might have been a bit thin coming in to the season).

Greg Smith looked quite lively when he came on. For a big guy, he seemed pretty quick to me, and I got the impression he was comfortable defending away from the basket a bit if need be. Might be a useful player to pick up and stash in with the Vipers for a while.

Have to say I thought Morris didn't look very good tonight. He seemed a bit overawed by the pace of the game. Willing to give him some time to adjust, but he didn't look quite as assured as say Budinger or Paterson did when they first started getting minutes. Of course, those years I wasn't quite basketball-starved enough to pay huge amounts of attention to the preseason, so perhaps they were like that too at first.

2 years, 11 months ago on Thoughts from the Houston Rockets' preseason opener

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One thing I noticed about Thabeet when watching the video of that big-man workout was that although his moves leading up to the shot were raw, all the shots he took went in. Seemed to happen in the game as well - IIRC he was 2 for 2. So while the rest of his game is nowhere near up to scratch, it does seem like he knows how to put it in the hole if you give him the ball near the basket.

Unfortunately that's not what we need him for, and on the defensive end he still looks clueless. He seems to bite on every fake - there was one play in particular where he basically jumped onto the guy who'd sold him one. At 7'3" he doesn't need to jump for those!

It was encouraging to see when his confidence was up - he fought for a scrappy rebound, fed JHill the ball for an assist. You could see the adrenaline kick in as he then ran back and swatted a shot at the other end. Just got to figure out how to keep him going like that for a full game.

Hill looked good tonight, but I'd want to see him against an actual centre before jumping to any conclusions. Hopefully the Spurs will play Duncan a bit in the return fixture and we'll get to see how he matches up.

2 years, 11 months ago on Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs

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I agree that Hayes leaving is a big blow to my anti-tanking agenda - without him we're going to lose a lot more. Plus he was my favourite Rocket and it will be tough to adjust to him not being there.

Nevertheless, I still don't think we should tank for several reasons:

1) Losing will have a psychological effect on the players. I watched quite a bit of Timberwolves basketball last season, and it was not pretty. A defining characteristic of their games was that they could hang with the other team for 3 and a half quarters, often holding big leads deep into the 4th quarter. But time and again those leads would disintegrate - they were not used to being in winning positions, so they could not close out games. There is a mentality that comes with winning that allows you to win games that you otherwise would lose - players accustomed to winning will unconsciously put in that extra bit of effort to ensure it keeps happening. Players who have got used to losing cannot do this, and I fear that this would happen to the Rockets.

2) It takes a LONG time to tank, and there are no guarantees, even with good drafting. When I have more time, I will go through a list of all the teams that have tried tanking in the last 6 years or so and evaluate how it turned out for them. I started going through them earlier, and found that apart from Chicago and Oklahoma City there haven't been many quick exits. My impression is that the draft lottery does its job - there are very rarely going to be superstars available outside the top 5 picks. So you either need one of the worst two records in the NBA or to win the lottery in order to get a superstar. If you only get a merely very good player you are in trouble - your team will be good enough to reach the mediocrity zone but no further, and eventually you'll have to break it all up and try again (see Toronto or Milwaukee for examples, off the top of my head. Sacramento, Charlotte for a couple more).

Now I know the 2012 draft is supposed to be stacked, but how many truly game-changing players are there going to be? Probably not enough for us unless we get lucky. Even if we tank, there is no way that we are going to be bad enough to be bottom 2 in the NBA this year. So we'd have to win the lottery to get a top 5 pick. Morey may be good at drafting, but he has no power over the ping-pong balls. And teams are averse to trading away top 5 picks these days.

3) I dispute your claim that tanking will bring in more fans. It certainly will if all goes well, but as I point out above, that is not a guarantee. Would you say that Sacramento has more excited fans now than they did in '05/'06 when they made the playoffs? How about Toronto or Milwaukee?

2 years, 11 months ago on Again, tanking revisited

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