Nov 12, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets team owner Leslie Alexander (standing) applauds the action against the San Antonio Spurs during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
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Space City Scoop writing team offer our annual Houston Rockets Round Table sessions. Next up the Regular Season, part 2.
Next up the SCS team dives deeper into the Houston Rockets with the staff predicting how the regular season will play out.
This segment of the round table focuses on the regular season which is broken into 4 sections. Part 2 looks a the Rockets wings and sophomores. Further, the team answers the questions on James Harden’s capacity to average double digit assists and discuss iron man Trevor Ariza.
We invite you to peruse our input and offer your own opinions in the comments section at the end of the post.
Contributing to the series are Space City Scoop writers:
Oct 21, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Houston Rockets small forward Corey Brewer (33) shoots the ball in front of San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol (16) and point guard Tony Parker (9) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Q6: In his first season with Houston Corey Brewer was a key contributor. Last season his numbers regressed and the ever present smile was gone. In his third year what does he have to do to return to his 2014-15 production?
Ben: The good news about Brewer’s production is that he has nowhere to go but up. He posted career lows in many categories last year, and now he’ll be playing in a system that puts emphasis on transition, the strongest aspect of his game. If his teammates as a whole are more excited about playing basketball together (hint: they are), then Corey Brewer should return to his normal, smiling, productive self.
Andre: I believe Corey Brewer’s regressed to a point of no return. Hopefully he won’t see many action this year. If Morey can flip him than he must do it fast.
Coty: I think Corey Brewer will have one of the best seasons of his career. Playing in a high-pace offense under Mike D’Antoni is right up Brewer’s alley.
Jason: Corey doesn’t have to do much. This offense is suited for his type of play
Tamberlyn: He’ll get points off transition, but I hope he ends up getting traded. Sure he gets into hot streaks, but do you honestly want to wait for that streak to happen all season?
Nov 12, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) handles the ball outside while Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) defends during the third quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Q7: As per above does McDaniels end up stealing minutes from Brewer and who do you think will have a larger role on the squad (why)?
Andre: K.J. McDaniels gets a larger role, particularly because he is younger, faster, stronger and I believe he’ll be starting as well.
Ben: As I said before, McDaniels is probably the best defender on the team and D’Antoni knows it. If he can figure out how to be more of a threat on offense and maybe learn to control himself in transition, he’ll have a spot. Additionally, if something happens with Brewer to where he somehow, by some act of evil, shoots even worse than last year, he’ll be pulled from the lineup in favor of McDaniels. For now, the backup spot is Brewer’s.
Coty: KJ McDaniels may be more exciting, but Brewer will still get more playing time. The Rockets will need all the help they can get on defense and Brewer is one of their best defenders.
Jason: If brewer can get back to the player he wasn’t before last year then it’s not even a question. But that was a different team.
Tamberlyn: My concern is D’Antoni tends to favor vets and because of that Brewer will be given more leeway than McDaniels. I pray I’m wrong, but we’ll see.
Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Houston Rockets forward Sam Dekker (7) passes to forward Montrezl Harrell (5) against the Atlanta Hawks in the first half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Rockets 112-97. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Q8: In their second season Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell should factor into the rotation. Who makes the bigger impact and why?
Coty: Perhaps Sam Dekker. After watching his summer league performance, I believe Dekker is ready to make an impact on this team.
Jason: I see them having an equal impact. Trez will help on the inside and dekker from the 3
Andre: Both Dekker and Harell are probably immediate backups on SF and PF. I believe Dekker will surprise us as a great offensive weapon thus making the bigger impact, but only because he disappointed so much last season. I predict they’ll both likely be solid bench players this year.
Ben: I’ve been extremely impressed with Dekker. I didn’t know much about him before he was drafted, but he looks hungry and ready to play. Most likely, they’ll both line up at power forward. If that is the case, I think Dekker will take the spot simply because of his ability to shoot from distance. He isn’t the next Kevin Durant, but he’s certainly more stretchy than Harrell.
Tamberlyn: Both bring tangible qualities to the court. Dekker suits D’Antoni’s system better, but Harrell offers energy, rebounding and effort. That said, I see Dekker getting more playing time from D’Antoni.
Nov 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) reacts during the third quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Q9: James Harden (as of this writing) leads all players in assists per game (10.6). Can he maintain double digit assists this season? And, where will he rank in assists per game league wide by season end?
Jason: Coach believes he can average Nash like asst numbers. That may be a stretch but even still I say top 5
Andre: If Harden can mantain double digit assists this season then he’ll probably be ranked in the top three by season end. That being said I wonder if Harden’s numbers aren’t inflated by the preseason games and him focusing more on sharing the basket. The Beard will most likely get between 8.5 – 9.5 assists per game.
Coty: I believe Harden has a chance to rank in the top five in assists. However, he will not be able to maintain his double-digit average. Let’s not forget, Harden is a scoring guard first.
Ben: I see no reason, barring injury or some other catastrophe, why James Harden can’t lead the league in assists. He’ll almost certainly have the highest usage rate in the league (Westbrook’s might be higher, but he has fewer shooters around him than Harden and isn’t as good a passer), and will have some of the best spot up shooters in the league on the court with him. The fact that Harden will play with a center who ranked in the 83rd percentile on pick and roll scoring along with three 40% three point shooters should terrify the rest of the league. 10 assists per game should come easily for Harden.
Tamberlyn: Yes he’ll maintain the double digits based on the style they play. The bigger question might be will he also lead all point guards in turnovers? I’d rather see him get fewer assists in order to lower his turnovers, but the system isn’t built for him to slow down.
Oct 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) shoots the ball during a game against the New York Knicks at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Q10: Other than Harden, Trevor Ariza has been the Rockets iron man and key defender. With the additions to the team does Ariza’s role change and how are his stats affected?
Andre: Hopefully with so much added firepower Ariza won’t be loaded with defensive as well as offensive tasks thus being able to focus more on the defensive end. In this manner Ariza’s efficiency will improve as well.
Ben: For the team’s sake I hope Ariza can continue to be a solid defender. His defense did slip a bit last year, but he was still tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best player on a nightly basis. Ariza’s role, if he can handle it, will remain the same. I wouldn’t hate seeing McDaniels come in early to relieve him of his defensive duties on tough nights though. On offense, Ariza probably won’t shoot as often with Anderson and Gordon on the court. However, that will probably make his FG% go up and make him more effective when he does shoot.
Coty: Even with all of the Rockets changes, Ariza’s role will stay the same. After Harden, he is the second most important player on this team.
Jason: Ariza is the glue for our team. His minutes are secure since he is our “go get em'”defender
Tamberlyn: I’m afraid Ariza’s defense is going to be required to a greater degree given Anderson’s short comings. He’ll get some shots, but his attempts should be lower given the number of shooters now on the team. He might see similar results though assuming he gets more wide open looks than last year.