Posts Tagged ‘Houston Rockets’

Do Not Drink the Rocket Kool-Aid, Just Yet

Monday, March 5th, 2018

by Gus Griffin






The Houston Rockets are very very good! Their winning streak is at 15 and counting. They have the best record in basketball, which if maintained would give them home court throughout the playoffs. They have won two of three from the defending champion Warriors. James Harden would get my vote for MVP up to this point.

Yet, if you tell me that Houston Rocket Kool-Aid taste like a team that will win the NBA title, I am just not ready to drink.

In no particular order, I am going to outline the four reasons why I refuse to drink:

When has a Mike D’Antoni coached team played enough defense to be a threat to win an NBA title? The answer is NEVER! It is a highly entertaining brand of basketball, without a doubt. His teams remind me of Big 12 college football teams; high scoring, very little defense, and as much as you may want to believe that they can win it all, you know in your heart of hearts, they will not beat defensive-minded SEC teams.

Another concern is that no eventual champion team has ever blown a 26-point lead to lose a game as the Rockets did earlier in the year to Boston. Some will cite the Cavaliers blowing the same lead last year against the Hawks. The difference is that they blew that after having won a title. It is indefensible in either case but Cleveland already achieved the essential goal. Houston has not reached that level.

Yet another reason is James Harden’s Game 6-elimination performance against San Antonio last year. After a disappointing overtime loss in game 5, in which Harden was great with 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. After averaging 20 shots in the first 5 games, at home in game 6 he only took 11 shots, making 2 to score 10 points. It is one thing to go 9 of 30 with the season on the line. At least we could say he left everything on the floor. However, this effort, in my mind, can only be classified as quitting. We have seen great regular season performers across sports that simply did not duplicate the performance in the post season. The best example is Dodgers Ace Clayton Kershaw. Even as a die-hard Giants fan, I freely acknowledge Kershaw as being the best….regular season pitcher in baseball. In the playoffs, he has simply been subpar.

The last reason, which if I were ordering would be the first: The Golden State Warriors. We should not over think this folks. If not for Draymond Green’s suspension in The Finals two years ago, the Warriors likely would be pursuing their fourth straight NBA title.  That ain’t luck. The simple reality is that they are that much better than everyone else. It is the only team that need not play its best to win it all this year. Health is a far greater threat than the Rockets or any other team, to the Warriors.

We have seen with LeBron James, especially in 2015, that even a Herculean effort by a team’s best player can at best stretch the series to six games….and that was before Durant came to Golden State. Even if you believe Harden is ready to play at that level, why would you believe it would be enough?

So in spite of these reasons to doubt, why are so many ready to crown the Rockets? I suspect it is Golden State Warrior fatigue. As sports fans, we prefer some degree of suspense about who will eventually wear the crown. With that in mind, people want to believe that there is a worthy challenger. In wanting that, many do what the human mind often does, which is to embellish evidence to validate its hopes.

What is the evidence that the Rockets are ready? The addition of Chris Paul? He is a great player and I believe is unfairly blamed for the failure of his teams to advance in the playoffs……but the fact is that they have not. Would it be the 15 game winning streak? Excluding this year’s Celtics, 11 other teams in NBA history have won 15 straight that did not win the title. James Harden? How can you trust him after San Antonio last year?

Therefore, as much as I want a worthy challenger for the title, I am holding off on anointing the Rockets as the answer. Maybe I should have been born in Missouri because you have to SHOW ME and the Rockets have not done so yet.


Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

NBA Quick Takes: Southwest Division Dominance!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

by Kamal Hylton

Kamal Hylton Blog





Hello War Room Nation!


This is Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia and War Room Sports blog back with your weekly dose of NBA Quick Takes.


This week’s column has a distinct Southwestern flavor to it, taking a look at the association’s toughest group of teams in the Southwest Division. Consisting of the Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, defending champion San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans, all you have to do is watch some of the divisional games and it’s clear there’s no sign of weakness.


They beat up on each other nightly and this only helps them develop a tough skin for when the playoffs roll around, matching up with any of these teams will be a tough test when we get down to the nitty-gritty. Looking at the standings we could be witnessing a rare feat of having an entire division make the playoffs, the only team really in doubt are the New Orleans Pelicans fighting to squeeze into the Top 8.


This leads me perfectly into my first Quick Take.


Pelicans Playoff Bandwagon

Since they’re not on national TV often, I’m not sure how often a lot of you watch the Pelicans play but when things are going well they’re one of my “League Pass teams” and a fun bunch to watch. I’ve watched quite a few of their games (including covering them once for NBA Nation Australia when they played the Toronto Raptors) and they are very underrated, showing resiliency and fight. A perfect example of this was on Sunday night, witnessing them go toe-to-toe on League Pass against the division foe Dallas Mavericks and coming away with a 109-106 victory on a key defensive stop by Anthony Davis. This is a team I want to see under the bright lights of playoff basketball.




Even in the absence of star point guard Jrue Holiday, who’ll hopefully be returning from injury soon, they’ve had great performances by others holding down the fort. The main man in this regard has been Tyreke Evans, efficiently providing scoring punch and back court leadership. Evans has reinvented himself slightly from his Sacramento Kings days, showing an ability to guard multiple positions, be much more team oriented, and still have the capability to take over a game when called upon. Coach Monty Williams and the front office should also be given credit, securing two very strewed moves by adding Omer Asik in the offseason and the recent acquisition of Quincy Pondexter. Both have helped ease the burden on Davis defensively, Asik giving him a partner down low that will do the “dirty work”, allowing Davis to play his more natural power forward position (something he couldn’t do last season) while Podexter helps on perimeter defense. These players along with others like Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson are helping this team compete, but the main reason why I’m jumping on the Pelicans Playoff Bandwagon is to see the next stage of Davis’ development. He has quickly become one of the league’s dominant bigs, but we as NBA fans should hope he doesn’t get stuck in purgatory of a losing franchise (something his fellow University of Kentucky alum is experiencing in Sacramento).


Embrace Grit and Grind Basketball

Another team that doesn’t get much attention, despite being second in the Western Conference, are the Memphis Grizzlies. Most fans aren’t flicking through League Pass and landing on the Grizzlies, nor do they have the same “wow factor” as other teams. They aren’t nearly as exciting as those Golden State Warriors with their up tempo style and the “Splash Brothers” raining threes at the “Roaracle”, or as flashy as the Los Angeles Clippers high-flying act known as “Lob City”, but in its own way the style known as “Grit and Grind” basketball is a beautiful thing to watch.




This team is built for the playoffs, displaying a defensively focused mindset that is anchored by its two bigs, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. They take pride in stifling offenses, clog the lane, forcing bad shots, getting into the passing lanes, and being cerebral in half court sets. Grit and Grind is more than that though, it’s hard-nosed perimeter defense by players like Tony Allen, high basketball IQ from its point guard Mike Conley, and contributions from unheralded players.


Watching last night’s game against the Mavericks displayed just how deep this team can be, as they had players like Courtney Lee, Nick Calathes, and Beno Udrih step up seamlessly in the absence of Allen and Conley sidelined with injuries. Lee and Calathes combined for 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and Udrih managed the game without playing beyond himself, proving the system works and makes players better.



Do yourselves a favor the next time you watch the Dallas Mavericks, watch the effortless way Monta Ellis can take over a game. He has always had this ability, but this time it’s different. As mentioned on the latest episode of Court Vision, on War Room Sports TV, Ellis is showing that he has grown up from those bad Warriors and is far more efficient.


I recently wrote an article for NBA Nation Australia ( on the Mavs masterminding a championship contender and my thoughts are now confirmed, that although Dirk Nowitzki is the face and leader of this Mavs team, Ellis’ role has arguably become much more important. During key stretches of tight games it’s the Jackson, Mississippi native that has the ball in his hands, his teammates knowing that he’s the first option on a pick and pop with Nowitzki.




This is in no small part due to coach Rick Carlisle putting the ball in his hands and giving him the confidence and responsibility to create while at the same time not overburdening. Enter Rajon Rondo. While most people were quick to say a Rondo/Ellis back court wouldn’t work I was on the opposite side (if you don’t believe me you can check my Twitter timeline). It’s still early, and it won’t be truly tested until playoff time, but having a player like Rondo buy into Carlisle’s system has been essential. With two legit threats in the backcourt, it becomes a “pick your poison” situation for opposing defenses and Ellis has been the major beneficiary so far. At times he becomes too much to handle, which has led me to adopt the hashtag #TooMuchMonta.


I borrowed this from Nowitzki’s line in this Mavs parody video of Run DMC’s ‘Can’t Be Stopped’.



To catch all my NBA writing, photos and videos visit ( or on twitter @NBANationOz (


Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia, for War Room Sports

How Much Money did Dwight Howard Leave on the Table? ($9 million, not $30 million)

Monday, July 8th, 2013

by Aquil Bayyan

Quil Blog






(Image courtesy of

(Image courtesy of


In light of the 2-3 year Dwight Howard drama that has allowed him to play for 2 different teams and 3 different coaches, it seems that it is finally over. The All-Star center has decided to take his talents to Houston and play for coach Kevin McHale and with James Harden.

The big story surrounding where Dwight Howard would sign revolved around coaches, style of play, the current roster, roster flexibility, and (drum roll please)…MONEY. By staying with the L.A. Lakers, Dwight could have signed for 5-years and $117 million. By signing with Houston, Dallas, Golden State, or Atlanta he could only sign for 4-years and $88 million (the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement allows the current team of a free agent to offer 1 more year and more money to the free agent).

The big question has been, why would Dwight Howard leave $30 million on the table to go play in Houston? If you are aware of the U.S. tax structure, he is leaving far less on the table than $30 million. He is actually only leaving $9 million on the table. Here is how it all works out:

1. The effective tax rate for those who earn over $400,000 in the U.S. is 39.6%.

2. The effective state income tax rate for California residents who earn over $1 million is an extra 13.3%. (That’s what pro golfer Phil Mickelson was complaining about.)

3. The effective state income tax rate for Texas residents is 0%.

4. NBA players are taxed for 41 games in their home state and 41 games in the other states (plus Canada) that they play games in. It is understood that states like CA, TX, FL, and NY have multiple teams.

5. The average state income tax level for all of the states that have NBA teams is 4.6%. We will add the 4.6% state average rate to the 39.6% federal rate for away games to come up with a 44.2% tax rate for away games.

Now let’s do the math:
Staying in Los Angeles, CA with the Lakers, with a 5-yr/$117 million contract:

41 homes games = $58.5 million (52.9% tax rate) = $27.5 million left
41 away games = $58.5 million (44.2% tax rate) = $32.6 million left

Totals: $27.5 million + $32.6 million = $60.1 million after taxes

Moving to Houston, TX with the Rockets, with a 4-yr/$88 million contract:

41 homes games = $44 million (39.6% tax rate) = $26.6 million left
41 away games = $44 million (44.2% tax rate) = $24.5 million left

Total: $26.6 mil + $24.5 million = $51.1 million after taxes

$60.1 million – $51.1 million = $9 million


To see/hear a verbal breakdown of the comparison of Dwight Howard’s projected earnings, click HERE!


Aquil Bayyan of The War Room, for War Room Sports



Did Being Asian Work Against Jeremy Lin Pre-NBA?

Monday, April 8th, 2013

by B. Austin






Houston Rockets PG Jeremy Lin said that if he wasn’t Asian he would have been offered a Division 1 basketball scholarship.

There is absolute validity to what Jeremy Lin is saying.  Lin is addressing the social lens and perspective with which people generally view him and people of his ethnicity through.  That isn’t preposterous, groundbreaking, or shocking.  This is just the reality of the American social landscape and the larger narrative of human nature and racial prejudices.  There are two things that I think would serve us well to acknowledge and address:
1) Professional sports is one of the only places where racism, prejudices, and social rifts can be mended because of the closeness of a team and a locker room.
2) Also the fact that competitive professional sports is the ultimate meritocracy.  It’s based on competitiveness and greed.  Once you realize the dude CAN play, all the other shit becomes irrelevant.  But let’s not act like that huge “white elephant” or “8000 pound gorilla” isn’t in the room.  “White men can’t jump”, “Asian people aren’t athletic outside of martial arts”, “Black guys are superior athletically and aesthetically in sports and porn”, “Black guys don’t score well academically and are almost all ‘gangbangers with speed'”.  These are all dumb generalizations and stereotypes that are a part of the social and (at times) morally corrupt social fabric.  We have almost all at times heard them, and we may even have allowed them to creep into our psyche.  To act as if Lin is crazy or off-base for addressing this is delusional.  The road to the NBA had to be damn-near impossible for this kid.  He started from the bottom, but now he’s here…and the NBA is going to capitalize on the international appeal and the large following in Asia (particularly China) because at the pinnacle of this thing, it’s about revenue, profits, and economics.  Lin drives revenue, increases profitability, and is economically viable – all the social issues are in the rear view mirror.  I like the fact that he’s willing to still address them and talk about his journey, and we’d do well to heed his words and look at what he’s addressing.

HOF or FOH? (Robert Horry)

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Shaq vs Yao! Who was better in their prime?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011