Defensive-Minded Teams Hurting Rockets
According to 82Games.com, the Rockets are 0-6 against good defensive teams (i.e. teams that allow the fewest points per game) and are 1-4 against teams who play at a slow pace (slow-paced teams are usually better at defense).
If the Rockets are going to participate in a shootout, they'll certainly be in the game until the end. But if the Rockets are forced to slow down and work for good shots throughout a contest, they haven't been able to come away with more than a single win. This is as much of an indictment of the Rockets' poor defense as it is of their inability to adjust on offense.
Jordan Hill's Shortcomings
To say I dislike Jordan Hill would be an overstatement. However, I feel that I am much quicker to point out his faults than most. In accordance with these tendencies, here are a few statistical reasons why Hill hasn't exactly been the apple of my eye, none of which account for my questions about his abilities as a defender:
... is Hill's defensive rebounding rate (DRR), which basically accounts for how effective one is at snatching up defensive rebounds. Hill's mark, to no surprise, falls below Luis Scola's (22.6). But once we enter the murky waters - the group of Rockets bigs with whom you'd think Hill may be able to compete on the defensive boards - things become a little troubling. Brad Miller leads the pack with a DRR of 19.2, followed by Chuck Hayes with a DRR of 18.8. You'd think Hill would be next on the list, but he's actually behind Chase Budinger as well (15.1). Budinger might be a decent rebounder for his position, but Hill shouldn't be trailing him on the defensive boards, nor should he be so far behind Miller or Hayes.
Hill's offensive rebounding rate (11.8) is good for first on the team among players who have played in ten or more games. However, for Hill to be trusted with more minutes, you'd like to see some consistency on the defensive boards, as opposed to him being that "energy" guy who specializes in offensive boards but can't box out to save his life.
... is Hill's turnover rate (TOR). It is the worst on the team, even worse than Ishmael Smith's (14.82).
... is Hill's assist rate (AR). It is also the worst on the team, even worse than Jermaine Taylor's (4.69). And we're talking about Jermaine Taylor, the man somewhat notorious for his tunnel vision and someone who would do his best to take as many shots as he could in the limited minutes that he saw, before he was eventually traded.
This may be picky of me, to criticize a big man for his inability to pass, but the number is so low that it's worth pointing out.
Nobody is asking Hill to turn into Miller - a first-class passer out of the post - but in an offense predicated on ball movement and versatility, you'd think Hill would look up for help just a bit more, especially once doubled or forced into a bad shot. To me, this illustrates Hill's stage of development: he's not yet comfortable enough on the block to look for open teammates - he's still trying to "get his" a little too often.
Hill has shown plenty of promise at times, but he's still inconsistent, and for every good thing that he does, there's another shortcoming that brings him back to mediocrity. I expect disagreement on how good he is and how good he can be, but I don't think he he has taken any giant steps towards becoming a better player in this, his second season.
Kyle Lowry Is Making The Most Of His Assists
Of Kyle Lowry's seven assists per game, 2.7 result in three-point shots. That's good for third in the league, behind Steve Nash and Rajon Rondo. Kyle's mark is nearly a full assist ahead of Jason Kidd's (1.8).
Though the Rockets do make and shoot more three-pointers than the majority of the league, the percentage of three-pointers assisted -- as a team -- falls below the mark of many teams who do not make or shoot as many threes. In other words, Lowry's contributions to the Rockets' three-point successes are more vital than that of most point guards. It's a statistic that no doubt reflects the level of appreciation for Lowry's vision by three-point shooters such as Kevin Martin, Shane Battier, Chase Budinger and Courtney Lee.