Rockets

Houston Rockets Analysis: Kevin McHale, 2011 Draft, Mavs and More

| by

How happy are you with the Kevin McHale signing?

Matt:

Lukewarm. When his name was first announced as a possible candidate, I considered him to be a joke because of the Timberwolves’ debacle, but his record as a coach really wasn’t that bad and most of the damage was done as GM. Players seem to like him and he certainly has knowledge of how to defend and score in the paint. Bottom line, I think the Rockets just needed a coach that aligned with what Morey wants to do with this franchise, and if Daryl doesn’t improve the team’s overall talent, it wouldn’t matter if Phil Jackson was the coach.

Nick:

Not happy.  His coaching record, 39-55, speaks for itself along with very questionable front office moves.  Cooling down and thinking about it more, the McHale is a charismatic individual who I can see getting his players pumped up before big games.  I can’t comment yet on his in-game adjustments, but what I am most excited about is the prospect of his coaching staff. 

Word is the Rockets are meeting with Grizzlies assistant Dave Joerger next week to discuss the possibility of him being named the top assistant coach under McHale.  Before joining the Grizzlies, Joerger became one of the most successful D-League coaches in history.  The Rockets are also expected to bring up current Rio Grande Valle Vipers coach Chris Finch which could be interesting to see which young coach will replace McHale when it is all said and done.

Searcy:

I am not a big fan of the signing.  It’s not that I think he won’t fit or be successful but I don’t see it as an upgrade from Adelman.

Julian:

At first, this hiring made little to no sense. After doing some research, it does seem that McHale could be a make a great fit for the Houston Rockets. The former Celtic great has only had one previous coaching tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves. To no surprise, McHale didn’t lead the T-wolves very far (for obvious reasons, this team is terrible).

However, Kevin Love loved playing for McHale as he cemented himself as more of a player coach. In an offseason of weak coaching candidates, it never hurts to experiment with a coach who has great potential. Kevin McHale is the sixth player from the 1985-86 Celtics to become a head coach. Out of those five other players, let’s hope McHale turns out more like Larry Bird and Rick Carlisle than Dennis Johnson and Sam Vincent. Overall, I believe it’s worth the risk to hire Kevin McHale.

Thomas:

First off, allow me to pat myself on the back for calling the unconventional hire weeks back when we had our first 5 questions – great job Thomas, you know your basketball.  I think Kevin McHale is going to play two roles for this Rockets organization, and for those two jobs there is no better candidate.  McHale is a cheap filler coach.  I think more than anything else his purpose in the Rockets organization is a placeholder for a guy I believe Daryl Morey is grooming for the head coaching job in the future: Chris Finch.  I’ll elaborate more on that later this week.  McHale’s second role is that of Daryl Morey’s puppet. 

The obvious disconnect between the management and Adelman towards the end of the season was Rick didn’t want to deal with the changes Daryl Morey was making.  McHale will.  I can guarantee you we will see more “prospect development” floor time than would be deemed necessary by any contending coach.  McHale’s unwritten job is to rebuild this team.  We have a lot of youngsters who need guidance in improving their game, McHale will help with that – particularly with the big men.

Who do the Rockets take with the 14th pick?

Matt:

Ideally I would like to see them trade up and get into the Enes Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas discussions. If that doesn’t happen, I’m crossing my fingers for Bismack Biyombo to fall to 14. I’ve been preaching Chris Singleton at No. 14 for months, but he’s been climbing on draft boards and could go top 10. Another possibility is Alec Burks from Colorado. He might not be quite big enough to play the 3 at 6’6”, but he’s a solid perimeter defender and can score from anywhere.

Nick:

The Rockets take Bismack Biyombo if he is available.  The 6-9 power forward, out of Spain, turned a lot of GM’s off in his last workout due to the sheer amount of jump shots he missed.  One GM commented, “He just played one on none and lost.”  The Rockets don’t need a scorer.  They need a defensive presence that can come in and have a Rocket-December Moomba type of impact on a game.  Bismack has a 7-6 wingspan, is an elite level shot blocker and rebounder, and has an NBA body.

Searcy:

I like Tristan Thompson.  He provides the Rockets with a big man who can play defense and has shot blocking ability. Hayes is a solid interior defender but isn’t exactly a shot blocking presence.

Julian:

Other than the obvious trade possibilities, the Rockets need forwards and big postmen. After checking out a few mock drafts, Tristan Thompson seemed to have been sliding into the 14th slot. Having watched nearly all Thompson’s games last year, he most certainly has great potential, but I was generally surprised when I heard of intentions to declare. Keeping with the Longhorns, Thompson immediately reminds me of a younger, less developed version of LaMarcus Aldridge. I would much rather take my chances on a young Thompson than an international or older big man. And with McHale coaching, there isn’t a better coach for young big men.

Thomas:

Daryl Morey has stated that there is a lot of room to move around in this draft.  I predict we make a minor jump into the bottom of the top 10 and nab a player who fits our needs at either center or small forward.  Jan Vesely, Kawhi Leonard, and Chris Singleton are all guys I would love to take with a higher pick.  More athleticism, defense, and rebounding at the small forward would be welcomed.  At center, there aren’t many options that are likely to fall out of the top 5.  Enes Kanter is the most NBA ready center.  He’s got offensive skill and will make an immediate impact. 

Unfortunately he’s enamored many teams with high picks, including the Cavs and Timberwolves.  Jonas Valanciunas isn’t nearly as NBA ready as Kanter but he has a higher ceiling.  The only way he falls to 14 is if his buyout attempts prove to be futile and even if he’s locked in for another 2 years in Europe I’d still take him.  I see this guy being a future all-star after a little NBA development period.  There are two other picks that might fall to 14, Biyombo and Montiejunas, who are in my opinion high risk picks.  There is a chance neither one will turn into an adequate NBA player so I’m not sold on taking either.  Montiejunas, I think, will have a better career.

Which Houston franchise has the brightest future?

Matt:

It’s certainly not the Astros. Between the Texans and Rockets, I’ll say Rockets. Yes, I’m a Titans’ fan, but homerism aside, the Rockets still have the ownership and front office in place to build a strong franchise. With the T-Mac and Yao contracts finally off the books, it feels like a fresh start for a team that still has a lot of young talent in Lowry, Patterson, Lee, Budinger, etc. They’re still at least a center away from the playoffs, but I trust them before I’d trust the Texans’ defense.

Nick:

Being a Titans fan, it pains me to say the Texans.  Peyton is getting older, the Jaguars haven’t found THE answer in Blaine Gabbert, and the Titans are in a state of disarray dealing with a new staff and the piling up of police reports (thanks Kenny Britt).  The Texans are one great coach away from knocking at the doorstep.  Even with one of the worst defenses’ in NFL history last year, they almost made the playoffs.  They have one of the best offenses in the game of football and moving Mario Williams to LB could have a tremendous impact as rookie J.J. Watt will boost the front four.  If Wade Phillips can have as big an impact on Mario’s career as he did DeMarcus Ware, we Titans fans can expect a long couple of years.  Hopefully we get football back soon.

Searcy:

Hands down the Houston Texans.  They have one of the best offenses in the league and a young defense that is sure to improve with Wade Phillips taking over as the defense coordinator.  Astros are in complete rebuilding mode and aren’t even in the conversation.   The Rockets have a lot of good pieces in place but until they get a star player they won’t be serious contenders.

Julian:

Houston Texans. The Texans can make the playoffs every year but somehow seem to fall short. They seem to have a similar problem to the Rockets…lack of defense. I liked the hiring of Wade Philips to plug in as defensive coordinator, and when you have a dynamic trio of Schaub, Foster, and Johnson, your defense doesn’t have to be perfect every game. Rockets would be second, followed by a distant Astros team. Sorry Astros fans, it’s going to be at least 5+ years before restoring this franchise to relevance.

Thomas:

I’m going with the Rockets.  We’ve cleared out all the bad contracts and it looks like Yao might finally be a thing of the past.  We’re clearly building from the ground up now and our ground just so happens to be a 40 win team.  Things will only get better for the Rockets.

Is Dirk Nowitzki the best foreign player of all time?

Matt:

If we’re talking players that went straight from overseas to the NBA, then yes, and there isn’t a close second. They talked about it in the playoffs constantly, but Dirk really is one of the most un-guardable players in NBA history. And this postseason allowed him to shake off the 2006 Finals and be considered a “clutch” superstar. Perhaps it’s unfair, but because of the ring, you at least have to consider him on the same level as Barkley and Malone. If we’re just talking foreign born players, but then I think he’s got a way to go to catch Hakeem and Tim Duncan, who are superior defensive players.

Nick:

Now that he has his ring, I consider Dirk the best foreign player of all-time.  This run in the Playoffs and Finals really opened my eyes to the transformation the Big German had gone under becoming a clutch player.  Before you start screaming Rockets fans, I don’t consider any player who plays collegiate basketball in the States a foreign player.  It is a subjective argument, but my take is any player coming straight from overseas to the NBA. 

However, I think Hakeem and Dirk are very similar in one respect…we will likely not see another similar individual at their position for some time.  Bill Simmons (on Hakeem) writes, “You will see fifty reasonably close replicas of Jordan before you see another Dream.”  The same could be said about Dirk.  I have never seen another big man shoot the way he does, and some of his fadeaways seemed impossible to make (Dream-esque).  If you do consider Hakeem a foreign player, there is no argument he is above Nowitzki.  No modern big man was better offensively AND defensively than Hakeem.  He had the rare combination of having a tremendous impact on both sides of the court.

Searcy:

It’s between him and Hakeem in my opinion.  I give Olajuwon the slight edge right now because he has two championships but Dirk could easily change my opinion by the time his career ends.

Julian:

Yes. Assuming you don’t count Tim Duncan or Hakeem Olajuwon (both of which went to school in the states). Other than that, I see no comparison. A stat I keep hearing: Dirk is the 11th player ever to achieve an NBA MVP, Finals MVP, and 10 All-Star appearances. Not too shabby for a German.

Thomas:

After this playoff run, it’s clear to me that no other current international player in the league comes close to Dirk.  That includes Yao.  If we’re including Olajuwon, then Hakeem gets the nod.  He got two rings.  During his first championship run Hakeem’s supporting cast was nowhere near as good as Dirk’s this year.  Nonetheless, both players put the teams on their back and won their teams championships and that deserves some serious respect.

Is it okay for Rockets fans to be happy with the Mavericks winning the championship?

Matt:

It is okay to be happy for Dirk, Kidd, Marion and Terry, because they’ve been so close so many times and they clearly wanted it more than everyone else. However, as a sports fan, you should never be “happy” with a rival winning a championship, especially when they’re in the same state. I have a lot of respect for the Mavs and Spurs, but when I consider that Texas teams have won five titles since 1999 and none of them are Houston’s, it makes my skin crawl.

Nick:

This has been a heated topic of discussion for me for some time now.  I don’t think it is okay for Rockets fans to root for a rival.  While they may not be as big of a rival as Texas is to OU, they are the closest thing the Rockets have to one.  For me, it is like rooting for OU or A&M being a Texas fan.  I know some people can do it with no problems, claiming “it makes us look better.”  I don’t care if it does…I just can’t do it.  The Finals this year was a no win scenario for me…like who would I rather hook up with Rosie O’Donnell or Roseanne. 

I couldn’t root for either one.  It might be selfishness or arrogance but I want my teams to be on top.  I think the better team won and I gained a lot more respect for Dirk during the playoffs.  I was very surprised by how many people were rooting for the Mavs at Bonnaroo due to their sheer hatred for Miami…and also by how many people at Bonnaroo actually cared about the Finals.

Searcy:

I think its okay for Rockets fans to support the Mavs.  Not only did they defeat the “Evil Big 3” but they brought Texas their first championship in a long time that doesn’t have to do with Spurs.

Julian:

Yes. Either that, or consider the next five years of the NBA a wash. If the Miami Heat were to have won the title it would have been only the beginning. To the average NBA fan, it is always more intriguing to have some parody in the NBA than another dynasty (just look at the ratings). Plus, the Mavericks and Rockets have never been heated rivals. I know playing in the same state introduces a rival of some sort, but in the end a rivalry only exists in the playoffs.

Thomas:

This year’s playoffs was like the 2000 presidential election in the sense that I had to choke down my pride and pick between the greater of two evils.  Back then it was Bush vs. Gore, this summer it was the Heat and the Mavs.  I sided with the Mavs, mainly because they were a Texas team, but in the end the Mavs truly won me over.  When I saw Dirk holding his jersey up to shield the cameras from his tears after the buzzer went off I knew that the better man won the series.  LeBron’s post-game presser only confirmed that.  The Mavs may be an enemy of Clutch City but considering we weren’t even contending, I’m a-ok with rooting for Dallas.  I think I’d rather the Rockets had traded Kevin Martin for Andrei Kirilenko than see LeBron hold a trophy this year.