The Rockets finished their three game summer league debut tonight in a tough loss to the Trail Blazers. So far, the Rockets have easily handled both the Mavericks and the Suns but today we started to see how this group of youngsters fares with little rest. Jermaine Taylor has been given the go ahead to force his offense and has been scoring with relative ease. He’s leading the summer league right now in points at 23 points per game (excluding today’s game). The back to back games have taken their toll on the Rockets and today they looked tired and unmotivated.
The biggest story for Houston fans has been Patrick Patterson. In his first professional game against Phoenix, Patrick scored 18 points and looked comfortable. He even stepped back and hit two three pointers as Nick previously recapped. Since that game, Patrick has fallen into the shadows putting up fewer points but more rebounds. Today Patterson had a great block against one of Portland’s mid range jumpers. One of the best things that has stuck out to me about Patterson is he is showing the ability to command the floor. He’s talking. He’s attempting to rectify flaws on defense. He’s moving out to the three point line on defense. Those intangibles don’t show up on the stat sheet but you better believe they catch Daryl Morey’s eye as well as Rick Adelman’s.
The biggest disappointment to me has been Jordan Hill. Perhaps playing the center position isn’t his forte. Jordan looks lost and tired. His defensive presence is not there and Houston has been suffering in the paint due to his inability to defend the rim. Jordan has hit a couple of deep mid range jumpers showing some of the range that he has been rumored to have.
Chase Budinger has been somewhat of a rock. This summer Chase is trying to play the role of distributor. He has been playing just hard enough to prove that he has not regressed as an offensive threat but the focus seems to be on his passing. Today he seemed to be the only player on the court for Houston who was used to playing at an NBA level for an extended period of time.
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Jermaine Taylor had 7 turnovers to go along with a lackluster performance. Out of the guaranteed contracts, Taylor has to know that he is the one at the bottom of the barrel fighting for minutes. Today’s game did not show that enthusiasm.
Daryl Morey said it best when commenting on the Rocket’s effort tonight:
There was no intensity in today’s game and I’d like to think that this is solely because of the amount of effort put into the past week or so. Getting the summer league team together, practicing, learning plays, and then playing three games in a row is no easy feat for any player. Whether that excuses tonight’s performance or not is up to the audience.
What I’m thinking:
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- Jordan Hill does not look comfortable at the 5. His defense has been horrible, his offense has been spotty, but for the most part poor. The jumper would suggest to me that he is clearly better suited for the power forward position. Overall, I was expecting a lot more from Jordan Hill and I’m beginning to see why NBA fans in general have no problem labeling him as a bust. I will reserve my own judgment on this because I see so much potential in his game.
- One of the biggest complaints about Chase at Arizona was that he never showed the ability to consistently take over a game. We’re seeing more of the same in summer league although this time it looks as though Chase is intentionally limiting his role.
- Jermaine Taylor has been our scorer and had a great first two games. Against Portland, JT showed a very regressed game. He defaulted to his chin down charge the basket mentality that we saw more than enough of during his first minutes last season. At the end of last season we saw JT get thrown into matching up against Kobe due to injuries and his defense seemed to have grown. Jermaine needs to understand that his scoring ability and athleticism are not the problem as much as his boneheaded ball-holding and half assed defense are.
- Patrick Patterson wasn’t really there tonight, but he has shown an ability to score and command. He really is looking to be our Landry replacement; he may not have the offensive polish, but he’s going to be a spark of the bench on both ends of the floor and his vocal tendencies speak volumes as far as him becoming a glue guy for this team in the future.
- Ishmael Smith, our point guard, is great at pushing the tempo but unless he can find some resemblance of a jump shot he will not play in the NBA at his size (6′)
- Obviously the Rockets team in the third game is not the group of guys we saw in the first two games. They were exhausted and it would be foolish to judge their performance as standard.