Friday, February 19, 2010

Houston Rockets at All-Star Break

The all-star break is a good time to review the Rockets' statistics. Early in the season would have been too early as the team was still in transition -- trying to redefine itself in the absence of both Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. When I look at basketball stats, I prefer to analyze them on a per-minute, or per-40-minutes, basis. The three traditional stats -- points, rebounds and assists -- are presented on that basis in the table below for the Rockets' key, "rotation," players. (click to enlarge the table)

Houston Rockets 2009-2010 Production per 40 Minutes Played

Houston Rockets Per Minute Statistics

Houston Rockets Per Minute Statistics

Carl Landry Tops in Production
Interestingly, the number one and two scorers, rebounders and assist generators all flip-flop when we switch from a total to a per-minute view of the data. In particular,
  • Carl Landry becomes the leading scorer, not Aaron Brooks
  • Chuck Hayes is the leading rebounder, not Luis Scola, and
  • Kyle Lowry leads the team in assists, not Brooks.
When I want one single number to summarize performance, I use my "Total Production" figure -- even though it admittedly undervalues defense. On that basis, we see Landry, Scola and Brooks pretty tightly grouped at the top of the heap. The surprise, to fans who haven't been paying attention, might be how close Lowry is to that top group.

For many fans, the disappointment is Trevor Ariza. However, if you had "run the numbers" when he was first acquired, maybe you wouldn't be so surprised. Here are Ariza's numbers per 40 minutes last year with the Lakers:
  • 14.6 points
  • 7.0 rebounds
  • 2.9 assists
His total production was 24.5 -- not all that different from the 25.8 this year. So, I think we're getting pretty much what we should have expected.


Now, of course, the team has changed again! Landry, arguably the top producer on the team, is gone. He will be missed. The key newcomers in the trade are Kevin Martin from the Sacramento Kings, and Jordan Hill from the Knicks.

What can we expect from Martin? Based upon his last full year with the Kings, ...

25.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per 40 minutes.

His total production was 32.4 -- awfully close to the 33.0 we're giving up in Landry. I use Martin's data from last year because he has been injured this year. Comparing numbers when both players were healthy, it looks like a pretty even swap. The advantage for the Rockets is that rather than having two of our best players playing the same position, power forward, the talent is now more evenly distributed.

Jordan Hill is a rookie who has played a grand total of 252 minutes all season -- not enough minutes to get a real good read on what kind of a player he is. One thing he brings is some "length." The Rockets have been one of the shortest teams in the NBA; the 6'10" Hill, along with 6'11" Jared Jeffries, will improve that situation.

However, probably the biggest thing Hill brings is potential. Hill was a lottery pick -- the 8th pick in last year's draft. He's a young athletic kid who is still developing -- especially since he was somewhat of a late bloomer. He is very much a work in process. If he develops the way the Rockets hope, a year or so from now this trade will be still another feather in Daryl Morey's cap, and the Rockets could be positioned for a run deep into the playoffs. That's, of course, assuming.... Oh, never mind.

Related Posts

For a more detailed introduction to my "per minute" approach, see Houston Rockets Total Production per Minute

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  1. I like your reads on the houston Rockets.

  2. Thanks. Next season I hope I'll have time to do more than one!


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