Welcome back to Five Out, appearing every Thursday at unpredictable times!
As always, run to the corner Houston Rockets fan! Run!
Return of The Blogs?
So much of NBA commentary, and really, fan participation, happens on Twitter now. I genuinely think it, far more than any other major social media platform, helped fuel the growth of the NBA.
If you aren’t aware, many people think the Twitter platform is due for a major crash, a return of The Fail Whale, a creature seldom seen in recent years. Much of the staff at Twitter was fired, and many more are quitting. Entire teams of crucial infrastructure maintenance have quit as of now, roughly, so it’s probably a matter of “when” not “if” it crashes, or is crashed by cyber criminals. Without those employees, it probably won’t get up again that quickly.
There are going to be an infinite number of think pieces, business case studies, legal cases (my God, the legal cases) and PhD dissertations written about this. But what does it mean for us, here in RocketsLand?
Hopefully it means more engaged and intelligent Rockets talk. Whatever problems the comment system has, character limits aren’t one of them. You can write complex thoughts if you choose. The system is working fairly decently, though I’m still deeply unsure WHY manual refresh of comments is winning strategy for VOX. I’d restructure to auto refresh if the user had posted within the last ten minutes, as a compromise.
Anyway, TDS remains here for you, if The Bird App dies, as far as I know.
New Boss of The Thieves Guild?
How good do you think rookie Tari Eason’s steal/passing disruption game is? Pretty good, right?
How about this:
Top right is the elite in the category. There’s one player, not getting that many minutes, sitting all alone in the corner. It’s Peso.
I’m not sure how good BBall Index is, they seem to have invented or integrated more metrics than you can shake a stick at. How useful they all are, I’m unsure, but this one does mesh with our idea “eye test” of high-level disruption of offense.
Here’s the BBall Index formula:
Formula: Passing Lane Defense = Deflections / 75 Possessions + Interceptions / 75 Possessions
This would suggest to me that Tari needs more playing time.
Block Party at The Mavericks House
First off, Dallas wasn’t playing their Sun King, Luka Doncic last night, entirely by their own choice. That made the contest a fairly even one with the Rockets.
Teams can’t easily switch their scheme when one player is out, even if he’s the sun around which their planets revolve. Dallas with Luka is much like the good Rockets teams with Harden. One player initiates almost everything, either shooting a 3pt shot, or driving to the basket and scoring or passing to 3pt shooters, and the occasional cutter.
That system without the sun though can look very different, when other players attempt to go to the basket just like Luka.
How different? The Rockets blocked 19 shots last night. Many, many, of those blocks were on Christian Wood. That’s nice.
The Roxblox outburst is good for 4th ALL TIME for blocks by an NBA team. The highest is 23. The Rockets record is 20, set not by a 1990s Hakeem team, but by the Twin Towers era Rockets with Ralph Sampson, Hakeem, Rodney McCrae, Andrew Wiggin’s dad Mitchell, and Rockets bench coach, Lionel Hollins.
Alperen Sengun was the life of the party with 5 blocks, putting the idea of a 5x5 game in play for him at some point.
High Individual Scoring, Minutes, Usage
The NBA currently has seven (7!) players averaging over 30 points per game. This is evidently the first time this has ever happened even this fairly early date. There are two more who could hop over the 30 point stile with a big night.
Doncic - 34.4, Curry 32.8, Embiid 32.3, Gilgeous-Alexander 32.3, Tatum 31.1, Mitchell 30.9, Durant 30.3, Antetokounmpo 29.9, Young 29.3.
The amazing Kevin Pelton explained that while scoring might be up a little due to the elimination of the take foul (and in many cases fouls in general - we often 3-5 minutes of basketball with no fouls called at all now), more of the scoring might also be due to the extra time between games in this NBA schedule (something the Rockets haven’t really seen so far, but will soon).
No player on this list averages fewer than 35 minutes per game, and Doncic is playing 37 minutes on average. Using the best player for more time, and more shots, is a good approach, if teams feel sure they’ll get rest.
Doncic is currently on pace to shatter Westbrook’s (and Harden’s) player usage record - clocking in at a staggering 39% usage. Not all the high scorers are using such a percentage of their team’s offensive possessions, though.
Pick Up The Pace!
A good part of this super high individual scoring is a function of efficient, and numerous three point shots, and high free throw rates. But it’s also partly a function of pace. Even the slowest offensive pace NBA teams are generally far quicker than the Seven Seconds Or Less Phoenix Suns.
There’s a Rockets angle here. It’s this: No team can afford to run slow developing offenses of the past.
No attritional offense will score enough points, unless it’s SUPER EFFICIENT. Multiple action offense is more of a last resort, again, unless it’s really efficient. Teams simply can’t run old stuff the old way, because they just won’t get up enough shots to really compete.
We’re seeing this right now with Golden State, which has exactly one high output, high efficiency player. A lot of Golden State’s winning possessions came down to getting good shots (layups in the lane off cuts, Curry or Thompson 3pt shots) late in the clock. Inefficient late shot clock actions will wreck a team in a high pace environment.
This is, aesthetics aside, why Rockets possessions where Daishen Nix simply dribbles the ball in one spot for 16 seconds must be sternly corrected. The team lowers its pace AND gets a low efficiency attempt (to put the late clock grenades Nix throws in the kindest possible terms). There is no quarter/half ending justification to start the offense THAT late, with such a poor idea of the attack.
PS - I want to expand on some things I’ve said about player development plans, and what can be done with 10 players 23 and under ALL needing developmental minutes, but it will keep until next week, which will either be an early, or late, Five Out. Plan accordingly.
Do we end the season with 7+ players over 30PPG?
This poll is closed
Yes, but not the same players.
Isn’t there some nasty NBA interpersonal drama we can talk about?
19 blocks, Dallas! 19! By kids!