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What’s next for the Houston Rockets?

May 3, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

Dwight Howard, James Harden AP

The Rockets were eliminated from the playoffs in dramatic fashion on Friday, when Damian Lillard‘s incredible three splashed home at the buzzer to allow the Blazers to advance.

But Houston being ousted in the first round was no miracle. The Western Conference is as deep as ever, and Portland was simply a terrible matchup for the Rockets. LaMarcus Aldridge was too nimble and successful in the mid-range for Dwight Howard and Omer Asik to deal with, and the guard play of Lillard and Wes Matthews throughout the series — in terms of both quickness and shooting ability — was too much for Houston’s weak perimeter defense to deal with.

None of that makes being bounced in the first round any easier to accept, however, and the first season where Howard and Harden were paired to contend for a title will undoubtedly go down as a disappointment.

So, where does Houston go from here?

Target another big star via trade or free agency: Carmelo Anthony is the highest profile free agent on the market, but is more scoring really what Houston needs? The offense was rarely the problem this year, as the Rockets finished fourth in the league per 100 possessions. There is something to be said for simply outscoring people, however, and Anthony would certainly help if that’s the way Houston wants to go.

There’s Kevin Love to discuss, too, but it remains unlikely that Minnesota would trade him unless he essentially demands it by deciding well ahead of time he won’t be re-signing once his contract is up at the end of next season. ESPN’s Marc Stein also reports that Houston’s GM will revisit Rajon Rondo‘s availability in a trade with the Celtics, just in case Boston decides to go in a different direction.

Does Kevin McHale return as head coach? McHale technically isn’t under contract yet for next season, but he has an option for one more year that the Rockets are able to pick up. Being one of the greatest low post players to ever play the game, McHale is a natural choice to remain on to continue to work with Howard on developing his offensive game. But when a team underachieves, everyone’s job is in jeopardy, and McHale’s is no different.

Anytime you look to replace a decent head coach, you better have some options in mind that will make things significantly better. Depending what happens to the roster, McHale seems likely to return — but it’s far from guaranteed until his contract for next season is in place.

Upgrading from Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik: Asik was on the trading block earlier in the year, due to a combination of his unhappiness with a reduced role and the team realizing that the fit wasn’t the best with Howard now in place. But Houston’s asking price remained high, so Asik played out the season.

It’ll be even more difficult to trade him this summer, and the same goes for Lin, thanks to the way their contracts are structured. And because of that, Houston may have to part with an additional asset in order to get something done.

From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

Teams are likewise said to be telling the Rockets all the time, when Morey is shopping either Asik or Lin, that it will also cost you Parsons if you’re expecting us to take on one of those infamous balloon payments scheduled to lift both Asik and Lin to the brink of $15 million in annual salary next season … albeit with a salary-cap number of just $8.4 million.

Parsons is not someone Houston wants to lose, so it’ll be interesting to see how, exactly, the Rockets go about overhauling the roster. They need to improve a defense that was ranked just 12th this season, while providing enough of an upgrade around Harden and Howard to help the franchise reach its championship aspirations.

There are more questions in Houston than answers right now, which should certainly make for a fascinating summer.

  1. nfl4days - May 3, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Dwight is the only reason this series wasn’t ended in 4 or 5 games. Howard was a great on offense and later on in the series he started looking like the guy that won 3 consecutive defensive player of the year awards. Heck even his FT % went up I think like 10%. Despite that, people will still find a reason to talk negative about him.

    • mightbegoingtohellforthis - May 3, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      Howard missed 3 out of 4 free throws in the final minutes of the game. He hits those and Houston is in game 7.

      • detroitbasketballfan - May 3, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        If James Harden didn’t play likea clone of Brandon Jennings for the first 5 games

      • cantonb0und13 - May 3, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        Yeah, but Howard is obviously not a good free throw shooter. I blame Harden, he had 34 points but he disappeared in the 4th quarter. Harden always tries to get his points from flopping. I’m glad that this team is out of the playoffs, but I wouldn’t blame D. Howard. I mean where was Parsons and Beverly this entire series? This was a terrible matchup for T. Jones he was useless. Congrats to the Blazers.

      • nfl4days - May 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM

        Or if the rockets had executed properly on the last play of the game. Or If Asik doesn’t commit a foul win Lin hits 3 to put the rockets up 5 late in the game that more than likely would have sealed it. Before the two misses howard made 4 freethrows in a row which both tied up the game in both situations. Then there’s the game that Lin let slip through his finger. I’m not saying he’s perfect, but this rocket team is MUCH better with Dwight and not overrated James harden who BTW missed the last shot to put Houston up 2.

      • sportsfan18 - May 3, 2014 at 3:51 PM

        Dwight Howard career free throw percentage .574%

        Shaq’s career free throw percentage .527%

        Shaq won multiple titles WHILE shooting worse than Dwight…

        Wilt Chamberlain career free throw percentage .511%

        AND Bill Russell and his 11 rings had a career free throw percentage of .561%

      • antistratfordian - May 3, 2014 at 4:17 PM

        No. There was no guarantee of that. Even if Dwight made his last two free throws and pushed the score to 98-94 with 1:24 left, that doesn’t mean that Portland still wouldn’t have won. That’s a lot of time.

        You can’t really ask for more than being up 2 on the road with 0.9 left in the game. If your opponent takes a desperation three and makes it in that 0.9 seconds – then hat’s off to them.

      • Observer157 - May 4, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        Jeremy Lin had guarded Lillard to 0 4th quarter points until the dumb McHale benching. Parsons torched again on defense. Harden choked in the 4th again no defense and more loser iso at the end. Hope this means Lin gets to leave Shawshank Houston, McHale fired, Harden exposed, David Hardisty out of the closet.

        James Harden epic choke job in the playoffs:
        Game 1- 8-28
        Game 2- 6-19
        Game 3- 13-35
        Game 4- 9-21
        Game 5- 5-15
        Game 6 – 9-15
        Plus WORST DEFENSE in the league all series and zero leadership.

    • apkyletexas - May 3, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      Portland could very well win the Championship this year – I don’t see anyone that’s going to match up well against them if they play like this. Houston should wait and see how things shake out. If they nearly took the eventual champs to the brink, they might not need to make such major changes to improve next year.

      • kb2408 - May 3, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        Dude, you’re getting way ahead of yourself, “eventual champs”?! Don’t get me wrong, Portland is good. LaMarcus is an underrated star and Lillard might soon be the best pg in the NBA. But what they did against the defensively challenged Rockets will not work as well against the likes of OKC, the Spurs, or the Clips.

      • apkyletexas - May 3, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        You should read my post before slamming me. I said “eventually”, and that “if they play like this” no one is going to match up well with them.

        I’m not crowning them. I’m saying Houston should wait and see how things shake out before deciding that their team sucks.

      • sire2334 - May 3, 2014 at 1:06 PM

        And I agree…Which is why I don’t think the Rockets should do anything crazy. They’re a good, good team. Harden needs to take a good look in the mirror and figure out what he’s playing for. It also seems like they fell in love with the 3.

      • kb2408 - May 3, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        “If they took the EVENTUAL champs to the brink”, that is what you said. That implies that Portland will be the “eventual champs.” Don’t get all sensitive, you said it, not me. I’m just quoting you.

      • bendover09 - May 3, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        @kb2408,
        I guess you havent been watching the spurs and mavs

      • apkyletexas - May 3, 2014 at 2:25 PM

        @kb2408 – you are just a sad Laker fan/troll – so excuse me for violating webernet protocol, I’ll stop feeding you.

      • kb2408 - May 3, 2014 at 4:19 PM

        Dude, we wouldn’t be having this misunderstanding if you would just say what you mean! And why am I “sad”? I have nothing to be sad over. My LAKERS have been good me for over three decades. In case you don’t know, franchises have form periods. The LAKERS can’t win the title “every” season. But they will be back.

      • sportsfan18 - May 3, 2014 at 4:21 PM

        kb2408

        Houston was the 12th best defensive team in the NBA this past season…

        No, they weren’t great… but THAT is better than saying they are “defensively challenged” as you did…

        Defensively challenged teams are those in the bottom third or so of the defensive rankings…

        Houston was 12th in the league with a defensive efficiency of 103.1

        The Miami Heat were 11th in the league with a defensive efficiency of 102.9

      • kb2408 - May 3, 2014 at 4:21 PM

        *down*

      • antistratfordian - May 3, 2014 at 4:23 PM

        Portland is not winning anything if they play like they did against Houston.

      • kb2408 - May 3, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        @sportsfan…all I know for sure is Houston’s best player couldn’t guard his own shadow. Harden made Matthews look like D. Wade. Asik, Dwight and Beverly are the only defensive minded players they have in the rotation. All I’m saying is Portland will not be able to do the same things to the remaining teams in the West. I’m not saying they’re not any good. I’m not even saying the Rockets aren’t good. I haven’t taken even one shot at Dwight or the Rockets. I don’t even know why apkyletexas got his panties all in a bunch. I guess last night was a hard pill to swallow…but why is he taking it out on me?

      • kb2408 - May 3, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        @bendover…the Mavs have the incomparable Dirk, championship experience and one of the best coaches in the NBA.

    • pharohislife - May 3, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      Should’ve got Rondo when they had the chance.

      • sportsfan18 - May 3, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        One head case with Dwight is all they need…

        Rondo IS talented on the court but he’s a head case too…

      • j0esixpack - May 3, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        They can still upgrade with Rondo – he’s still on the trading block. Ainge might even cut McHale a deal as he kindof owes him one for Garnett (and it’s going to take a max deal to keep Rondo)

        Ainge is seriously considering keeping Rondo but he makes more sense on a contender – and he’d probably fit in well – he’s mellowed just a bit in his 28 years

        … and despite his past temper, he’s good for a double double pretty much every night.

        That’s not a bad thing – especially the assists.

      • naterich21 - May 3, 2014 at 8:00 PM

        The Celtics offered Brandon Bass for Asik, not Rondo lol

      • gensoric - May 4, 2014 at 8:36 PM

        LOL, as if Rondo or even CP3 can solve HOU’s (Harden’s) problem. Talk about Melo-reruns for the next decade.

        Keep throwing everyone under the bus….

    • imakcds - May 4, 2014 at 10:09 AM

      NOBODY ever said he WASN’T a physically talented athlete, there’s no question there.
      But he is NOT the Superstar HE THINKS he is, he is but a piece of the puzzle.
      And he will NEVER be a superstar, he doesn’t work to improve his game.

    • kamauthabiti - May 4, 2014 at 10:16 PM

      yeah, because he baled on two teams.

  2. thekingdave - May 3, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    @mightbegoingtohellforthis

    Thanks for outing yourself as having flipped the tv on with 2 minutes left. The Rockets wouldn’t even have been in position to be A) playing a game 6 in Portland or B) battling for the lead during the 4th quarter as he scored 12 of Houston’s points consecutively at one point. Move along.

  3. mnsadsportsfan - May 3, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    wow jeremy lin is set to make 15 millionper year?! That is incredible I find it hard to beleive he is even a starter in the NBA

    • ranfan12 - May 3, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      we’ll hes come off the bench this year most of his games, but his millions of fans overseas might make up for his salary lol. he’s boosted their revenue a huge bit

    • sportsfan18 - May 3, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      NO, not per year… but NEXT year…

      after that, he is a free agent… he is NOT signed for year after year after year to make $15 million per year multiple times in a row… but just for next season…

      his salary cap number will only be $8.3 million though, but he will be paid $15 very large ones…

    • antistratfordian - May 3, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      I don’t know… sometimes I think when crunch time comes around that McHale should take Harden out of the game and let Linsanity do its thing.

    • rohlo - May 3, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      He is slated for 15 million but is only a cap hit of 8.4 million and it is an expiring contract since it’s the last year of the contract

  4. jburk003 - May 3, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    @Howard…
    Remember those 2 free throws u missed in a row in the last minute 30 ????

    LOL

    • asimonetti88 - May 3, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      But he doesn’t need to listen to Rick Barry’s advice on how to shoot FTs

      • smoothaswilkes - May 3, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        Are you one of the many Barry sons out there? I ask because you bring this up every chance you get. Nobody’s going to shoot underhand. Nobody. Quit beating the dead horse. We get it Barry was good at underhand FTs.

      • asimonetti88 - May 3, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        And Howard is terrible at shooting them normally.

      • ranfan12 - May 3, 2014 at 3:40 PM

        In game situations that is. Amazing how he sinks so many in practice -_-

      • sportsfan18 - May 3, 2014 at 4:27 PM

        asimonetti88

        Dwight Howard career free throw percentage .574%

        Shaq and his multiple titles career free throw percentage of .527%

        Wilt Chamberlain career free throw percentage of .511%

        AND Bill Russell and HIS 11 RINGS has a career free throw percentage of .561%

        MANY titles have been won by teams with centers shooting LESS from the line than Dwight does…

      • asimonetti88 - May 3, 2014 at 5:02 PM

        Shaq, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were also better players than Dwight Howard.

      • smoothaswilkes - May 3, 2014 at 6:30 PM

        sportsfan18

        Kareem Abdul Jabbar .721 career free throw, 6 championships.
        Hakeem .712 career free throw, 2 championships
        David Robinson .736 career free throw, 2 championships
        Pau Gasol .750 career free throw, 2 championships
        Tim Duncan .694 career free throw, 4 championships

        All of the modern titles, less Shaq’s, are won by big men that can hit their free throws. Dwight is going to be playing for the 60s Celtics or the ’72 Lakers, so I don’t think your Wilt and Russell comps are not valid. Modern day centers need to hit their free throws to win. Shaq being the exception but only because he was bringing 30/20 every night. Howard is not Shaq.

      • jimeejohnson - May 3, 2014 at 6:41 PM

        Saw RIck Barry up close in the old ABA for the Nets. Howard SHOULD try underhand FTs.

  5. thekingdave - May 3, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    I think the biggest issue is improving our shortened rotation for the playoffs as Bob Myers of Golden State sought out to do last offseason. Parsons has been great and all, but he doesn’t bring it on a nightly basis. Even though he was the recipient of the layup towards the end of regulation, he was virtually nonexistent in the second half. Plus, so much of his value lies in the fact he’s getting paid under a million still. Is he worth 10+ million? That’s up for debate, I’d say no. If you can package him with other stuff for Rondo, you do it and fill the roster with vets chasing a ring for veteran minimum contracts a la Miami. As far as the Asik/Lin balloon payment stuff, I’d say all that’s overrated. I think they’ll be easier to trade this season seeing that they are expiring deals (even though you’re paying more than the cap hit). Asik’s a great post presence and Lin brings fans in (as annoying as it is). Lastly, Harden’s got some soul searching to do this offseason. While he stepped up on D last night with the steals, he’s gotta bring it more consistently to shed the “Haren” label (Harden without the D). He’s gotta evolve his offensive game too. When he’s not getting to the line, you just get a bunch of dribbling around the 3 pt line with no separation unless they’re in transition. He wanted a max deal and got it. Time to take it to the next level.

    • kb2408 - May 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      I mostly agree with your comments, EXCEPT for the part about “Asik’s a great post presence.” The more he plays the more obvious his deficiencies become. He is limited offensively and has hands of stone. I can not see Ainge giving up a franchise type point guard for an inconsistent Parsons, an overrated Lin, or a center that is not a difference maker.

    • 5xchamp24 - May 3, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      I dont think a PG is the whole problem, unless hes a great defender. The article said it, they can score they just cant stop people.

    • dohoangquan35 - May 3, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      I cannot understand why people think Harden is a good faciliator on offense. Everytime this guy has the ball in his hand, he stops and the offense stop moving at the same time. And there’re moments in this series that I saw Harden drive to the basket without paying attention to his teammates (Game 4′s last minute of regulation). Lin even did a better job of making the opposing defense scramble than Harden even though he mostly played off the bench. Does Kevin McHale really have a plan?

      • antistratfordian - May 3, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        He does have very good vision, and he plays a lot like a small point forward when he’s not asked to score so much. In Houston, though, I think he feels like he has an obligation to put up large scoring totals to justify his contract.

        So there is a lot of pressure on him to be an elite scorer, and fans are more forgiving if he does something like scores 28 points but only has 1 assist, than they are if he scores 8 points but has 10 assists – even though the latter can amount to more points on the scoreboard (via assists for threes).

  6. void96eater - May 3, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    I agree with the statements above. Howard has nothing to be ashamed of.

    Harden on the other hand…..

    Good grief.

    • cantonb0und13 - May 3, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      I can’t describe in one word how bad Harden’s defense is.

      • 5xchamp24 - May 3, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        In the words of Stephen A. Smith, EGREGIOUS

      • ranfan12 - May 3, 2014 at 3:42 PM

        Hard to describe something that doesn’t exist

      • sportsfan18 - May 3, 2014 at 7:03 PM

        And what does this say about Carmelo Anthony’s defense if Harden’s is that bad?

        For his career, Harden gives up 106 points per 100 possessions when he’s on defense (and he scores 118 points per 100 possessions when he’s on offense) – that plus 12 is a a great number (MJ for his career was plus 15, Lebron James is at plus 14 right now).

        Carmelo Anthony, for his career gives up 107 points per 100 possessions when he’s on defense… AND he ONLY scores 108 points per 100 possessions when he’s on offense…

        Basically, Melo GIVES BACK all the points he scores to the other team due to his complete lack of D…

        Harden, with poor D still ADDS a lot to his team as a plus 12 is VERY good, not quite MJ or LeBron good, but VERY good.

        Let’s compare Harden to Kobe and his career numbers.

        Kobe gives up 105 points per 100 possessions (very good, not quite 103 MJ good, but still very good on D).

        Kobe scores 111 points on offense per 100 possessions so he’s at a plus 6 for his career, compared to Harden being at a plus 12 right now

      • cantonbound13 - May 3, 2014 at 9:42 PM

        You’re an idiot.

    • dohoangquan35 - May 3, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      I watched Game 4 and nearly punched my own television set when Chandler Parsons called for a flagrant foul against LaMarcus Aldridge. The reason? Harden gambled, failed to intercept a pass to Aldridge (with no teammate behind to cover the rim), and Aldridge had a nearly clear path to the basket, forcing Parsons to go hard.

      The worst thing about James Harden is if we only look at the box score, we will NOT truly know how this guy costed his team the series.

  7. harshedmellow - May 3, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    Yeah, Howard did great. I really hope this loss isn’t used as some example of him sucking. As a PDX fan, it was scary every time he got the ball on offense. Guy is a physical freak, a beast.

  8. imnotyourbuddyguy - May 3, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    I’m fairly certain what’s next for the Rockets is a lot of talk about Melo this offseason.

  9. vikes69 - May 3, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    lin isnt the problem, he can be a solid starting pg in a pick and roll environment. He needs the ball, the combo of harden and lin is the problem.

    • kinggw - May 3, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      Over and over again Jeremy Lin has proven he isn’t anything more than a backup pg. He is good for a offensive spark, but his defense and decision making should keep him coming off the bench.

    • sportsfan18 - May 3, 2014 at 7:07 PM

      Uh, AND Howard does NOT want to run the pick and roll even though his numbers show he is GREAT at that, he scores at a VERY HIGH rate on the pick and roll… yet he insists on playing down low on the block with his back to the basket. He’s still efficient but NOT nearly as efficient as he is when he runs the pick and roll…

      So, if Lin plays better with the pick and roll… not gonna happen that much with Dwight “I don’t wanna play pick and roll” Howard…

  10. daydreamer3075 - May 3, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    This was a well thought out and written article. Regardless of the specific moves the Rockets make in the future, if the goal is to substantially improve their defense, then they need to acknowledge the elephant in the room: James Harden is one of if not the worst perimeter defenders in the NBA.

    Harden’s defense makes him not just a liability but he ends up having a negative impact on the defense of his teammates (doesn’t matter how well they other four defend if Harden is letting his man blow by him). If you think this is a controversial thesis, watch the below video of Harden’s defensive prowess:

    • campcouch - May 3, 2014 at 11:03 PM

      @ 1:23…I got a good laugh out of that one.

    • pdub923 - May 4, 2014 at 1:02 AM

      In game 5, 4th quarter, Howard got multiple plays called for him in a row and Harden actually quit playing defense on at least one possession. Just standing straight up and walking around.

  11. m4a188 - May 3, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    The Rockets will never win if Harden is going to continue to play so inefficiently on offence, Howard can only do so much.

  12. rodge1 - May 3, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Harden’s terrible defending played great defense against the Rockets’ chances.

  13. charlutes - May 3, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    Does anyone, even people in Houston really root for this team? You’ve got an amazing scorer who is the worst defender at his position in the NBA and Howard…don’t think I need to give examples of how unlikeable he is…and a bunch of 3 point shooters and poor Omar Asik. It’s just a mess of a team structure from where I’m sitting. I don’t know how this was ever expected to work. Go Raptors. There’s a real team, drafted and crafted over time not bought and patched together with some arrogant notion that this would make them a championship team. Please.

    • dohoangquan35 - May 3, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      So what’re you gonna say if the Nets beat the Raptors? All I saw today is you clicked on Rockets’ articles and criticized them and berated Jeremy Lin. Just plainly explain your true agenda here, troll.

    • jimeejohnson - May 3, 2014 at 6:38 PM

      Some people even root for the Knicks, Lakers, and even the Pelicans! Mets, too.

  14. gomybirdsgo - May 3, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    The rockets problem is their best player is a loser. He might be a good player but he is a loser. A team with d Howard a it’s star will never win a chip.

    Dwight’s loserdom has now rubbed off on other players such as harden.

    Before I get flamed I am not talking about basketball stats or anything like that. I am talking about heart. Kobe is a winner Jordan was a winner lbj was a loser but learned from wade how to be a winner.

    Until Dwight figures this out the rockets will be a one and done team.

    • Kurt Helin - May 3, 2014 at 9:59 PM

      Ahh, the always brilliant “nobody is a winner until they win” argument.

  15. thekingdave - May 3, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    @charlutes

    Jesus Christ. Yes, a “few” out of the millions of people in Houston do indeed root for the Rockets. Quite a shock isn’t it (insert sarcasm)? Mess of a team? They’re not perfect but GTFO. You’re a Raptors fan who’s team is third by virtue of being in a godawful conference. Do you watch the games? Harden’s D leaves a lot to be desired, but he was solid when it mattered last night and is far from being the “worst defending 2 guard” in the league. As far as D12 being “unlikeable”, what the hell does that have to do with anything? He came to play all series when criticism has been at its highest. Speaking of “unlikeable”, as stated earlier, you’re a Raptors fan. I’m probably one of the few people with a Rockets Kyle Lowry jersey (had to get it custom made), but talk about the pot calling the kettle black. You know about these things right, or did you just come out of the woodwork this year since the Raptors are halfway worth a crap and just figured out who Kyle Lowry is? Go google it. From his borderline bipolar outburst against a female ref to his constant sulking as Dragic was cutting into his minutes, Lowry was a perpetual malcontent in Houston. Get a clue.

  16. ProBasketballPundit - May 3, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    James Harden is the worst defender I’ve ever seen. He constantly ball watches which makes no sense since he’s not capable of stopping the ball either… then his guy slips behind him for endless layups and alley oops. He’ll never win a championship as the best or even second best player. Houston needs perimeter defense before anything else.

    • sportsfan18 - May 3, 2014 at 7:12 PM

      Lets go to the stats…

      Harden gives up 106 points per 100 possessions when he’s on defense for his career…

      Carmelo Anthony gives up 107 points per 100 possessions when he’s on defense for his career.

      AND, Harden scores 118 points per 100 possessions while on offense for his career while Melo only scores 108 points per 100 possessions he’s on offense for his career.

      In looking at these numbers, Melo is basically giving back all the points he scores to the other team due to his poor D and Harden is at a plus 12 (118 less 106).

      MJ for his career was a plus 15 (118 on offense and 103 on defense).

      Lebron is at a plus 14 right now for his career.

      Kobe Bryant is at a plus 6 for his career right now (111 on offense and 105 on D).

      Melo, plus 1 (108 offense and 107 on D).

      Yeah, Harden CAN improve but there ARE worse than him out there and many who don’t bring as much to the team overall. What Harden gives up, he MORE than makes up for on the other end… unlike others…

      • ProBasketballPundit - May 3, 2014 at 7:37 PM

        I appreciate the work you put in to argue your point. I love advanced stats but I’m not 100% how they collect that data. Here’s the thing; Harden often gets blown by or snuck behind for back door passes etc. That leaves Asik and/or Dwight Howard at the rim to rotate over to try and protect the paint. So if that guy makes a floater over Howard does it count against Howard? Furthermore, if Harden gets blown by and Dwight shift over then the ball handler dumps it off to Dwight’s guy and THAT guy dunks over Howard you know for a fact they don’t count that possession against Harden’s defensive PPP even though his terrible defense started the whole sequence.

        You see what I mean. Harden’s inattentiveness on D causes tons of problems for Houson. He isn’t the only one but he’s the worst. He’s also being judged by a lot higher criteria now that he’s in the spotlight and kind of a superstar. That may not be entirely fair. All I’m really saying is he played bad in the Portland series. He didn’t score as efficiently and he killed his team on D. Maybe he’ll get way better but for that to happen I think Houston needs a new defensive minded, tough coach.

  17. grantgoodman93 - May 3, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    McHale’s gotta go. Their half court offense is pitiful. Literally either a Harden iso or feed Howard.

    • adoombray - May 3, 2014 at 4:17 PM

      You know who would kill it with that roster? Rick Adelman. Adelman would put Howard in the MVP conversation.

  18. adoombray - May 3, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    I think this might be more of a case of Lillard being ice cold and hitting the biggest shot of the playoffs, but Harden punted this series harder than Shane Lechler on steroids.

    The beard is a distraction. There, I said it

    • jimeejohnson - May 3, 2014 at 6:35 PM

      Thumbed you up just for having the balls to say it.

  19. jimeejohnson - May 3, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    Humidity, oysters, steak, golf, and boating, although not necessarily in that order.

  20. jimeejohnson - May 3, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    “Shaq, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were also better players than Dwight Howard.”

    Understatement of all time, especially where Wilt’s concerned. And you don’t coin a phrase like “Shaq attack” for a spastic. Bill Russell, it goes without saying, was a sick athlete. Hondo John Havlicek was an athlete’s athlete.

  21. scbaby2013 - May 3, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    I’m glad Dwight Coward lost. Only person I like on the team is Jeremy Lin. What rockets should have done is trade Omar for some bench help in my opinion. Also give credit to Portland they have good players.

  22. campcouch - May 3, 2014 at 11:13 PM

    Phil Jackson would’ve worked wonders with this Rockets team. It’s almost a clone of his Bulls and Lakers teams…minus the defense at the 2.

    • pdub923 - May 4, 2014 at 1:07 AM

      ???????????????????????????

    • pdub923 - May 4, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      In what way, other than Harden/Howard being a VERY poor man’s Kobe/Shaq, does this team resemble any of Phil’s past teams, especially the Bulls?

  23. pdub923 - May 4, 2014 at 1:11 AM

    Sign Anthony and trade Harden, Lin, Asik, and Parsons for Rondo, Bradley, Green, and Sullinger?

    • pdub923 - May 4, 2014 at 1:19 AM

      Just looked at Trade Machine. Rockets throw in some picks and Celtics add in G. Wallace.

  24. bigmeechy74 - May 4, 2014 at 3:19 AM

    If lillard doesn’t make that miracle shot, then Houston probably wins game 7. oh well

  25. rbbbuehs - May 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    the problem is D12 he is not that good, he thinks he is, however. He wants to be the go to guy, but he can’t delivered, Orlando over again. Am just glad he left LA

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